Lineage of Teachers
His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, the 33rd Menri Trizen, is the spiritual leader of the Bon tradition. His Holiness became a monk at the age of 8 and at 24 received his geshe degree, specializing in Tibetan medicine, astronomy and astrology. At the time of the Chinese invasion of Tibet he fled on foot to Northern India. On March 15, 1968, he was selected to be the 33rd abbot of Menri Monastery, the spiritual leader of the Bonpo. Many lamas came from Tibet, Nepal and India to give him their initiations and teachings; and for more than a year he intensively trained and practiced for his role as abbot, the leader who would guide the Bonpo and hold all the teaching lineages. His Holiness joined Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche in rebuilding Menri Monastery, and in establishing a Bon dialectic school that awards geshe degrees certified by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He then created the Bon Children's Welfare Center, an orphanage for Bonpo boys and girls who had lost their families during the Chinese invasion.
Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche was born into the Jyab 'Og family, a family lineage held in very high esteem within the Bon tradition. He became an accomplished master of sutra, tantra and dzogchen. Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche lived a very simple life, yet he was considered by many to be the greatest Bon scholar of his generation. Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche was a teacher of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and was known for his very direct, clear and strict teaching style. As Tenzin Rinpoche's first root master, for three years Lopon Sangye Tenzin gave Tenzin Rinpoche the formal dzogchen teachings of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyu (Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung). A few months after completing these teachings and entering a new cycle of the same teachings, he became gravely ill and asked Yongdzin Rinpoche to take on his role as lopon at the monastery. Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche died in Dolanji in 1977 at age 67. After his death, according to his wishes his savings were used to found the dialectic school.
Yongdzin (Lopon) Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche is the most senior teacher in the Bon tradition. He became a monk at the age of 15 and in 1953 was elected to the position of lopon (head teacher), the same year that he obtained his geshe degree from Menri Monastery in Tibet. After fleeing to Nepal in 1960, Yongdzin Rinpoche went to London on a Rockefeller scholarship and collaborated on “The Nine Ways of Bon,” the first scholarly study of the Bon tradition in the West. In 1964, he returned to Himachal Pradesh, Northern India, and founded the Dolanji Settlement for Bonpo people in exile, and then established a traditional dialectic school to preserve the Bonpo philosophical tradition. In 1987, Yongdzin Rinpoche founded the Bon monastery Triten Norbutse, just west of Kathmandu, Nepal.
H.E. Menri Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche is the lopon, or head instructor, of Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. Born in Dolpo, a remote region of western Nepal, he has the family name of “Yangton” and an ancestry that traces back to Yangton Sherab Gyaltsen, a famous dzogchen and tantric master of the 11th century. H.E. Menri Lopon Rinpoche began his training in 1976 at the age of 10. He received his geshe degree in 1989 from the Dialectic School at Menri Monastery and has been teaching at the school since that time. He became lopon of the monastery in 1992.
Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche is the abbot (khenpo) of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the two main Bon monasteries outside of Tibet. Khenpo Rinpoche was born in 1969 in Dhorpatan, a remote area of western Nepal that hosts a small Tibetan refugee settlement and a Bon monastery. Khenpo received his geshe degree from Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. In 1986, Khenpo Rinpoche began teaching philosophy and general Tibetan sciences to younger students. After graduating, Khenpo Rinpoche went to Kathmandu to further his studies of tantra and dzogchen under the guidance of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1996 His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Yongdzin Rinpoche appointed Khenpo Rinpoche as ponlob (principal teacher) of Triten Norbutse Monastery. In 2001, he was appointed as khenpo of the monastery by H.H. Menri Trizin Rinpoche and H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche.
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is recognized as the reincarnation of the famous master Khung Tul Rinpoche, a great meditator and scholar. Beginning at age 13, Rinpoche practiced dzogchen under the guidance of masters from both the Bon and Buddhist schools, including His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche, Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Geshe Yungdrung Namgyal. An accomplished scholar in the Bon Buddhist textual traditions, Tenzin Rinpoche completed an 11-year course of traditional studies at the Bon Dialectic School, where he received his doctoral, or geshe, degree. Tenzin Rinpoche came to Rice University, Houston, in 1991 on a Rockefeller scholarship and has remained in the West to teach the ancient Bon traditions to Western students. In 1992, Rinpoche founded Ligmincha Institute.
Tulku Pondse Jigme Tenzin—born Jorge René Valles Sandoval on Aug. 17, 1996, in Chihuahua, Mexico—is considered the reincarnation of the great Bon master Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche. Only a few weeks after Jorge René’s birth, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche informed his parents that their third child was the incarnation of Lopon Sangye Tenzin; His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche confirmed this soon afterwards. Tulku Jorge Rene was enthroned at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, in December 1999 by His Holiness and given the name Pondse Jigme Tenzin. He also was enthroned at Triten Norbutsé Monastery in Khatmandu, Nepal, by Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche. Tulku Jorge René has received teachings at both monasteries and in Mexico. Since 2000 he has attended summer retreats at Ligmincha Institute at Serenity Ridge in Shipman, Virginia, and has attended most of the retreats and seminars organized by Ligmincha Mexico.