Ribur Rinpoche On Je Pabongka

I have had some success as a scholar, and as a lama I am somebody, but these things are not important. The only thing that matters to me is that I was a disciple of Pabonka Rinpoche. – Ribur Rinpoche

Pabongka Rinpoche: Excerpts from A Memoir by Ribur Rinpoche

The Venerable Rilbur Rinpoche was born in Eastern Tibet in 1923. At the age of five he was recognised by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as the sixth incarnation of Sera-mae Rilbur Rinpoche. He entered Sera Monastic University in Lhasa at fourteen and became a Geshe at twenty-four.

He meditated and taught Dharma until 1959, after which he suffered under intense Chinese oppression for twenty-one years. Ribur Rinpoche, himself a lifelong practitioner of Dorje Shugden, was held and tortured by the Chinese for two decades. He famously said “If I told you what happened on a regular basis, you would find it hard to believe.”

And yet, by all accounts, he emerged from his trials with a heart full of love and forgiveness. How? Well, according to him, it was due to the blessings and teachings of his root Lama Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. Below are some excerpts of a memoir of their time together…

My guru, kind in three ways, who met face-to-face with Heruka, whose name I find difficult to utter, Lord Pabongka Vajradhara Dechen Nyingpo Pal Zangpo, was born north of Lhasa in 1878. His father was a minor official but the family was not wealthy. Although the night was dark, a light shone in the room, and people outside the house had a vision of a protector on the roof.
– from Ribur Rinpoche’s “memoir”

Meeting his Root Guru…

Je Pabongka’s Root Guru, Dakpo Bamcho

His root guru was Dagpo Lama Rinpoche Jampael Lhuendrub Gyatso, from Lhoka. He was definitely a bodhisattva, and Pabongka Rinpoche was his foremost disciple. He lived in a cave in Pasang and his main practice was bodhichitta; his main deity was Avalokiteshvara and he would recite 50,000 manis [the mantra, om mani padme hum] every night. When Kyabje Pabongka first met Dagpo Rinpoche at a tsog offering ceremony in Lhasa, he cried out of reverence from beginning to end.

On his practical style of study (a recurring theme from Je Pabongka’s life)…

When Pabongka Rinpoche had finished his studies he visited Dagpo Lama Rinpoche in his cave and was sent into a Lam-rim retreat nearby. Dagpo Lama Rinpoche would teach him a Lam-rim topic and then Pabongka Rinpoche would go away and meditate on it. Later he would return to explain what he’d understood: if he had gained some realization, Dagpo Lama Rinpoche would teach him some more and Pabongka Rinpoche would go back and meditate on that. It went on like this for ten years (and if that’s not amazing, what is!).

Faithful minds see the miraculous….

One of (my) teachers had a picture of Pabongka Rinpoche that exuded small drops of nectar from between the eyebrows. I saw this with my own eyes, so you can imagine how much faith I had in Rinpoche when I finally came into his presence.

Ribur Rinpoche meets the great lama….

At the time of my arrival in Lhasa, Pabongka Rinpoche was living at Tashi Choeling, a cave above Sera Monastery. We made an appointment and a few days later my mother, my chang-dzoe (the man in charge of my personal affairs), and I rode up on horseback.

Although Rinpoche was expecting us that day, we had not arranged a time- Nevertheless, he had just had his own chang-dzoe prepare tea and sweet rice, which freshly awaited our arrival. This convinced me that Rinpoche was clairvoyant, a manifestation of the all-seeing Vajradhara himself.

After we had eaten it was time to visit Rinpoche. I remember this as if it were today. A narrow staircase led up to Pabongka Rinpoche’s tiny room, where he was sitting on his bed. He looked just like his pictures — short and fat! He said, “I knew you were coming — now we have met,” and stroked the sides of my face.

While I was sitting there a new geshe from Sera came in to offer Rinpoche a special tsampa dish that is made only at the time of receiving the geshe degree. Rinpoche remarked how auspicious it was that this new geshe had come while I was there and had him fill my bowl just like his own. You can imagine what that did to my mind!

More Wonderful Quotations about Je Pabongka from Ribur Rinpoche

From Pabongka Rinpoche: A Memoir
(Published in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand By Pabongka Rinpoche, Wisdom Publications 1991)

Venerable Ribur Rinpoche

Kyabje Pabongka reacts to having a beautiful residence built for him…

Rinpoche’s chang-dzoe (attendant) was a very fierce looking man said to be the emanation of a protector. Once, when Rinpoche was away on a long tour, out of devotion the chang-dzoe demolished the old small building in which Rinpoche lived and constructed a large ornate residence rivaling the private quarters of the Dalai Lama.

When Rinpoche returned he was not at all pleased and said, “I am only a minor hermit lama and you should not have built something like this for me. I am not famous and the essence of what I teach is renunciation of the worldly life. Therefore I am embarrassed by rooms like these.”

Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche

Something very special inside….

I took Lam-rim teachings from Pabongka Rinpoche many times. The Chinese confiscated all my notes, but as a result of his teachings I still carry something very special inside.

Whenever he taught I would feel inspired to become a real yogi by retreating to a cave, covering myself with ashes and meditating. As I got older I would feel this less and less, and now I don’t think of it at all. But I really wanted to be a true yogi, just like him.

On Visiting Pabongka Rinpoche…

Visiting Pabongka Rinpoche was what it must have been like to visit Lama Tsongkapa when he was alive. When he taught he would sit for up to eight hours without moving. About two thousand people would come to his general discourses and initiations and fewer to special teachings, but when he gave bodhisattva vows up to ten thousand people would show up.

Kyabje Pabongka gives the initiation of Heruka…


When he gave the Heruka initiation he would take on a special appearance. His eyes became very wide and piercing and I could almost see him as Heruka, with one leg outstretched, the other bent. It would get so intense that I would start crying, as if the deity Heruka himself was right there. It was very powerful, very special.

The Most Important Tibetan Lama of All…..

To my mind he was the most important Tibetan lama of all. Everybody knows how great his four main disciples were (these include Trijang Dorjechang and ling Rinpoche, the two tutors of the Dalai Lama)— well, he was their teacher.

He spent a great deal of time thinking about the practical meaning of the teachings and coming to an inner realization of them, and he had practised and accomplished everything he had learned, right up to the completion stage. He didn’t just spout words, he tried things out for himself. Also, he never got angry; any anger had been completely pacified by his bodhichitta.

Ribur Rinpoche

Gentle Protector…

Many times there would be long lines of people waiting for blessings, but rinpoche would ask each one individually how they were and tap them on the head. Sometimes he dispensed medicine. He was always gentle. All this made him very special.

Main Qualities….

I would say he had two main qualities: from the tantric point of view, his realization and ability to present Heruka, and from the sutra point of view, his ability to teach Lam-rim.

On Humility…

Whenever he visited his lama’s monastery, Rinpoche would dismount as soon as it appeared in view and prostrate all the way to the door — which was not easy because of his build; when he left he would walk backwards until it was out of sight.

Relics (not found in the cremation fires of ordinary beings)….

Je Pabongka’s ringsel (cremation fire relics)

(After rinpoche passed away,) an incredible reliquary was constructed but the Chinese demolished it. Nevertheless, I was able to retrieve some of Rinpoche’s relics from it and I gave them to Sera-mae Monastery. You can see them there now.

The Only Thing that Matters…

I have had some success as a scholar, and as a lama I am somebody, but these things are not important. The only thing that matters to me is that I was a disciple of Pabongka Rinpoche.

February 14, 2009 by truthaboutshugden (extracted from http://truthaboutshugden.wordpress.com)

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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