Director and Resident Teacher - Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche
an early age Khenpo Gawang had a strong interest in becoming a monk
and studying the Buddhist dharma. When he was 10, Khenpo Gawang
entered the Dzogchen Monastery called Marig Munsel (Dispelling the
Darkness of Ignorance). At Marig Munsel, Khenpo Gawang learned reading
and writing and began his Buddhist studies. He stayed at the monastery
until he was 17 when he left to study with Khenpo Karma Tsepten.
Karma Tsepten was an true Dzogchen yogi. He lived in retreat at
the top of a snow-capped mountain. Khenpo Tsepten never saw a car
or modern things. He wore simple clothing and would sit on a yak
skin wearing a sheepskin coat. On the days he wanted to give teachings,
Khenpo Tsepten would begin at 10 AM teaching a particular text.
He would continue the teachings until he was finished even if it
snowed. The students would follow along reading their texts using
their clothes to keep the snow off their heads. Life on the high
mountain was challenging. The students stayed in very small houses
with sometimes four or more living in one small room. Khenpo Gawang
studied the Dzogchen Yeshe Lama and the Bodhisattvacaryavatara with
Khenpo Tsepten. After Khenpo Tsepten passed away, Khenpo Gawang
stayed on retreat for a few months practicing ngondro in a cave
blessed by Padmasambhava.
leaving retreat Khenpo Gawang and two other monks, who had studied
with Khenpo Tsepten, talked together and decided they wanted to
continue their Buddhist education. They gathered a small amount
of money from family members and journeyed to India to the Namdroling
shedra (Buddhist university) which was started by His Holiness Penor
Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The Namdroling
shedra is one of the best shedras in all of India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Namdrolling Khenpo Gawang continued his studies for nine more years
earning degrees in Madhayamaka, Prajnaparamita and Mantrayana. Khenpo
Gawang studied the Mantrayana chiefly with His Holiness Penor Rinpoche
from whom he received many abhisekas (empowerments), reading transmissions
and oral instructions. Khenpo Gawang also studied with Khenchen
Pema Sherap Rinpoche, Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche and many other great
Mantrayana curriculum included studies in Ngondro, Tsalung and Dzogchen.
While Khenpo Gawang was studying Mantrayana, he was also teaching
classes on Madhyamaka, valid cognition and grammar to shedra students.
1999 Khenpo Gawang participated in a debate on Buddha nature at
Namdroling monastery attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His
Holiness Penor Rinpoche and approximately 10,000 visiting monks
and nuns. Shortly thereafter, as an offering to His Holiness Penor
Rinpoche and approximately 4000 monks and nuns, he gave a talk on
the Buddha's teaching.
his time at Namdroling, Khenpo Gawang met Kyabje Sakyong Mipham
Rinpoche and they became close friends. In 2003, Sakyong Mipham
Rinpoche invited Khenpo Gawang to come to the West to teach in Shambhala
centers. With the blessings of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche he moved
to America and began teaching western students.
April 2006, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche was formally enthroned as a Khenpo
by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and assigned to teach in the west.