DC - VGR on Chagdud throne 1984-crop-web-topaz

Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche in 1984, celebrating a joint Losar with Chagdud Tulku’s sangha. Photo by Douglas Col

The Passing of Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche

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We are saddened to share that Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche passed into paranirvana on April 8th, 2023 at his home in Half Moon Bay, California. Gyatrul Rinpoche was a senior lama of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, holder of the Dudjom Tersar Lineage, and a great master of the Dzogpa Chenpo Lineage. Since the 1970s he has been a pioneer of dharma in the west, teaching widely throughout North America and establishing dharma centers in Oregon, California, Texas, Montana, and Mexico.


When H.H. Penor Rinpoche enthroned Jetsunma in 1988, he recognized her as the incarnation of Ahkön Lhamo, who, in the sixteenth century, had helped her brother Kunzang Sherab found the Palyul lineage. Gyatrul Rinpoche is recognized as the present incarnation of Kunzang Sherab. Their bond as brother and sister continued in this life. Gyatrul Rinpoche has always been very supportive of KPC and Jetsunma’s activities, and is loved deeply by her and her students.

VGR & Dudjom & Tsewang Dongyal
VGR 1988 Terdzod
VGR & JAL 1988
VGR & JAL 1996 Namdroling Stupas
VGR at TCO- throne with toys
VGR & JAL at Stupa 1988-
VGR & JAL 1995 banana
VGR & Ngudrup 1995 squirt gun

His visits to KPC were always anticipated with joy, as Gyatrul Rinpoche brought humor and laughter to his teachings, and love and such kindness to every encounter with him – whether in the Dharma Room or walking through the Peace Park. Rinpoche could often be seen wearing giant silly sunglasses or pulling out rubber chickens and whoopie cushions during empowerments, playing with slinkies and rubber duckies during his own teachings, or pranking students with a water-squirting camera toy at sangha barbecues. Rinpoche’s playfulness and humor was both endearing and disarming, helping students to shake their usual ego defenses and wake up to their true nature.

Whenever a great master passes from this world, their wisdom mind is considered to be omnipresent and accessible to all students who have faith and devotion, even those who did not have the fortune to meet the master in this life. Therefore, we encourage everyone to make efforts to practice during this important time.

VGR 3-23-23- crop

Rinpoche wrote the following:

“All teachers must eventually leave this world, just as did the Buddha himself. Yet, the lineage that we still receive, the legacy of their enlightened awareness, is passed on from generation to generation through the teachings that remain. Since that is inevitable, what we have to call a lineage in their physical absence is the blessing of their unbroken lineage of teachings. This is what we, in turn, are expected to pass on to our and future generations. If we were to depend solely upon the physical presence of the teacher, then the lineages would have been lost long ago. The Buddha said, “I shall reveal the path that leads to liberation. You must practice the path in order to reach liberation.”