BUDDHA SHAKYAMUNI, literally 'the Sage of the Shakyas,' is our historical buddha. The teachings of the historic Buddha form the basis of the Buddhist world-view and practice. The Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) was born about 2565 years ago in what is now part of Nepal.The most fundamental teachings of the Buddha are encapsulated in the "four noble truths":
1. the normal condition of this world is misery or suffering;
2. suffering stems from desire or attachment to this world that is in its essence impermanent;
3. the end of suffering can be attained by quelling attachment to this world;
4. quelling attachment can be achieved through following the eight-fold path of right views, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
Padmasambhava - Guru Rinpoche
Padmasambhava was an 8th-century Buddhist master from the Indian subcontinent. Although there was a historical Padmasambhava, little is known of him from the historical record apart from helping the construction of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samye, at the behest of Trisong Detsen.
He is widely venerated as a "second Buddha" by adherents of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, the Himalayan states of India, and elsewhere. He is held to be an emanation of Amitābha who appears to tertöns in visionary encounters and a focus of guru yoga practice, particularly in the Rimé schools.
The Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism considers Padmasambhava to be a founder of their tradition.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lamas are believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are realized beings, inspired by the wish to attain complete enlightenment, who have vowed to be reborn in the world to help all living beings. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of 6 and at 23, His Holiness sat for his final examination which he passed with honors and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to the highest doctorate in Buddhist philosophy.
Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche
His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche was the 11th Throne holder of The Palyul Lineage of Nyingma. He was considered one of the of the foremost masters of the Buddhist tradition of Tibet. Throughout the Buddhist community he was respected for his vast knowledge and accomplishment and for the integrity and strength with which he upheld the Buddhist teachings. His Holiness attained Parinirvana on March 27, 2009. Palyul is one of the six great "mother monasteries" following the Nyingma School, or Ancient Translation Tradition, of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded in 1665 in the Kham province of eastern Tibet (present-day Baiyu, Sichuan, China) by Kunzang Sherab.
Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche
Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual director of Pema Karpo Meditation Center in Memphis, Tennessee. When PKMC is open, he teaches there in person or online and occasionally at other centers.
In 2006 he received his Khenpo degree, the Buddhist equivalent of a PhD from the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute (Buddhist College) of Namdroling Monastery in South India.Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche first came to the United States in 2004 at the invitation Shambhala International and became an American citizen in 2012. Since 2007 he has made Memphis, TN his home and has established Pema Karpo Meditation Center where he teaches regularly.
Rinpoche is the author of Your Mind Is Your Teacher (Shambhala Publications) and The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha (Jeweled Lotus Publications). He co-translated with Gerry Wiener the text, The Excellent Path to Enlightenment by Longchenpa along with other texts which are available through Amazon.
Before returning to Namdroling Monastery in 2018 and continuing after his return to Memphis, Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche has lived a simple life in semi-retreat. He practices meditation in the mornings and spends his afternoons and evenings in study, contemplation and translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts.