Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, senior lama in the Nyingma school, has died

Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior lama of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, died on Saturday April 8.

Lilly Greenblatt
10 April 2023
Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche on the cover of “Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga,” published by Shambhala Publications, 2002.

Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior lama of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, died on Saturday April 8, 2023 at his home in Half Moon Bay, California surrounded by his family members, close attendants, and personal physician, the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies announced.

As a remembrance page posted by Shambhala Publications notes, Gyatrul Rinpoche was instrumental in establishing Nyingma centers throughout the U.S., including Tashi Choling in Oregon, Orgyen Dorje Den in the San Francisco Bay area, and Norbu Ling in Texas, and Namdroling in Montana. He also established a dharma center in Ensenada, Mexico.

Born in 1925 in Szechuan Province, China, Gyatrul Rinpoche was recognized as a reincarnate tulku in his eighth year by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Tulku Natsok Rangrol. He was enthroned and taken to Dhomang Monastery, where he underwent many years of formal study and training. In 1959, at the onset of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, Gyatrul Rinpoche fled to India where he lived for 12 years. In 1972, he was chosen as the Nyingmapa representative accompanying the first group of Tibetans to resettle in Canada.

After arriving in North America and traveling across the U.S. and Canada, Gyatrul Rinpoche was appointed as His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s spiritual representative in 1976. He went on to establish Buddhist centers across the United States and Mexico and authored books including Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga, translated by two of students, Sangye Khandro, and B. Alan Wallace and The Generation Stage in Buddhist Tantra.

Following his death, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche posted a remembrance of Gyatrul Rinpoche to his Facebook page.

“There are many teachers in my life who I have known to possess great wisdom and knowledge. One who could read others’ minds without obstruction, however, as transparently as looking at the palm of one’s hand — there are very few. Gyatrul Rinpoche was one of them,” he writes.

“He was in this world for almost a century, living into his late nineties according to the Tibetan calendar. In all his activities Gyatrul Rinpoche was exemplarily in carrying out the benefit of beings. Even in his passing he wanted his remains to be a gift of generosity to beings. This sums up who he was — not wasting a single drop of blood or an ounce of flesh in benefiting beings.”

In their announcement of his passing, Tashi Choling states the traditional 49-day ceremony will be held in Gyatrul Rinpoche’s honor in monasteries in Asia and at their center in Ashland, Oregon. Further information will be posted to their Facebook page.

Lilly Greenblatt

Lilly Greenblatt is the digital editor of LionsRoar.com. You can find more about her at lillygreenblatt.com