Report of the visit of Khenpo Jikme Phuntsok

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Rigpa 1993 Summer Retreat: Visit of Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok Rinpoche


Between the months of June and August 1993, Sogyal Rinpoche led a second three month retreat for the international Rigpa Sangha at Rigpa's main retreat centre, Lerab Ling, in the south of France. More than five hundred of Sogyal Rinpoche's students from Europe, the United States and Australia attended the retreat, which was to become an important landmark in the development of the Rigpa Sangha as a whole. An extraordinary galaxy of teachers were present, including: Dzogchen Rinpoche, one of the foremost masters in the Nyingma tradition; Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok Rinpoche; Tulku Kalsang Rinpoche, spiritual director of Dzogchen monastery's Shri Singha Study College in Tibet; Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, a Lama and scholar in the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions; and the well-known Vietnamese master, writer and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh

The retreat culminated with the visit of Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok Rinpoche, one of the most outstanding masters now living and teaching in Tibet. Revered for his learning and realisation, he has made a crucial contribution towards the revitalisation of Buddhism in eastern Tibet. This was his first journey to the west, and his meeting with Sogyal Rinpoche was an event of enormous significance, as this was the first time that the two reincarnations of Tertön Sogyal, Lerab Lingpa, the ninteenth century visionary and teacher to the XIIIth Dalai Lama, had met.  On this inspiring - and historic - occasion, Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok Rinpoche made a remarkable address to Sogyal Rinpoche, acknowledging  him as the true incarnation of Tertön Sogyal and saluting his achievement in spreading the Dharma so widely in the world. He granted him the honour of enthronement as 'Dorje Gyalpo', offering him the representations of the Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddhas. He spoke of the greatness of Tertön Sogyal, and his predictions concerning his future incarnations and the spread of his teachings. Here are a few excerpts from what he said:  "Tertön Sogyal himself predicted that he would have two main incarnations and they would both be of enormous benefit to the Dharma and to sentient beings. Another prophecy says that one of them would be a monk, a holder of the Vinaya, and the other would spread the teaching of the secret mantra vajrayana far and wide. When I saw this, I thought that Sogyal Rinpoche must be the one to spread the teaching of the secret vajrayana, and I might be the monk.”  "The reason why I have such hope in Rinpoche is simply this: I believe without any doubt, that he is the authentic reincarnation of Tertön Sogyal and so I pray to him with complete confidence. I say this without any ulterior motive or trace of flattery. My confidence that he is Lerab Lingpa has been confirmed by the fact that he was recognised as such by so many lamas, and I have seen all the records and heard all the stories about it. In fact Lerab Lingpa's own great heart-son, to whom he transmitted the blessing of the entire realisation of his wisdom mind, was Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. He raised Sogyal Rinpoche, cared for him as if he were his own son, and actually gave him the name 'Sogyal'. One of the reasons he gave him this name was so that no-one could make any mistake about who he really was. Besides, Sogyal Rinpoche's vast activities alone are proof that he is Tertön Sogyal, if proof were needed. A master like Sogyal Rinpoche, whose work spreads so far and wide, is extremely rare.

"Tertön Sogyal predicted that during his own lifetime, his teachings would not spread very far, only to a small extent in central Tibet around the XIIIth Dalai Lama and himself. During his second incarnation, however, his teachings would flourish and become known all over the world. Not only that, but their impact, power and blessing would multiply a hundredfold, and they would remain, without ever declining, for five hundred years. Now, when I see the work of Sogyal Rinpoche, I am convinced that he is the reincarnation of Tertön Sogyal, and I am filled with faith and confidence in him." 

“Tertön Sogyal also predicted that if his two main reincarnations were harmonious and helped one another, their benefit for the Dharma and for sentient beings would be as vast as space. If we were to consider that Rinpoche and I were his reincarnations, I declare that our minds are inseparable, and that all our spiritual and material things are one. Considering that we are as one, I will do anything within my power to help Sogyal Rinpoche. He is very respectful to elders, very friendly to equals and very loving to his students, and I am confident that he will give me the same treatment! In front of you all here now I am making this important statement." 

Khenpo Jigmey Phuntsok Rinpoche conferred the empowerments of Tendrel Nyesel and Vajrakilaya from the termas of Tertön Sogyal, and gave Dzogchen teachings on the practice of trekchö and togal, in which he displayed his astonishing breadth of learning and wisdom. The spontaneous humour, the humility and the powerful presence of this great master at Lerab Ling made a deep and lasting impression on the Rigpa Sangha. 

From the Rigpa Calendar 1994-1995 Wood Dog year 2121