Kunzang Dechen Lingpa’s Parinirvana

Kunzang Dechen Lingpa Rinpoche (1928-2006) was a tertön of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.  He was renowned in his homeland of Northeastern India as a realized master of Dzogchen and terton.  He was especially famous for the special healing ceremony known as Chöd practice.

KDL bumpa

Kunsang Rinpoche was born in the Earth Snake Year – 1928, in Southern Tibet in Lhodrak.  He was the13th reincarnation of the Buddha Rinchen Tsug Tor Gyen.  From childhood he was only interested in spiritual things.  At 16 he went into full time spiritual retreat, and studied with Dudjom Rinpoche for 10 years.

He became a terton or treasure revealer at age 20.  Rinpoche was recognized by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche as the Lodhak Terton, the reincarnation of Terton Longsel Nyingpo, of the Drubchen Melong Dorje lineage.

Healing Chod

From the Zangdokpalri website:

Rinpoche was fond of performing the Healing Chöd for masses of Buddhist disciples who were instructed just to lay down and rest for about forty minutes or however long the ceremony lasted.

Chöd is a unique spiritual practice and a path to complete enlightenment.  It is an extremely effective method for healing our body, mind and spirit.  The chief way it does this is by clearing the karmic obstacles and blockages arising from our negative interaction with others in countless past lives.

Normally, obstacles stem from taking lives, vitality, property, honor, confidence or hope from others.  They may also arise from past actions, speech and thoughts, based on greed, attachment, apathy or egotism.

Similarly, the limitless ways in which humans disrespect or despoil the material and spiritual forces of nature, the planet, or the elements (fire, water, air, earth) are the basis of numerous difficulties and life obstacles; socially, materially, physically and mentally.  The way these many debts are repaid in Chöd is by offering our most previous and closely guarded possession – our own bodies – to the universe.

A Short Story:

I had the good fortune to meet Rinpoche back in the summer of 2004.  There are many stories about Kunzang Dechen Lingpa (KDL) but this one stood out in an overwhelming way because of Rinpoche’s compassion and his heroic action knowing his health might diminish.

One time, KDL had met a native Shaman and both got to know each other quite well and after some time became good friends.  Since the Shaman was amazed at the qualities KDL possessed and learned that the Bardo Ceremony would be useful to help deliver his soul during the intermediate stage, he requested help should he pass away before him.

When the Shaman actually did pass away, his disciples notified Rinpoche to fulfill his duties.  As KDL visited the home where the deceased body lay, the Shaman’s disciples said, “OK, now get in bed and lay next to our teacher and for the next few days perform the death ritual.  This is how things have to be done according to our tradition.”

To the horror of Rinpoche’s disciples, they protested vehemently believing that this would severely affect Rinpoche’s health for hygienic reasons.  Despite everyone’s objections Rinpoche acquiesced saying, “Since I made a promise, I have no choice but to uphold my word and perform the Bardo Ceremony and do it according to their needs and fulfill their wishes.”

After this, Rinpoche came down with an illness which affected his knees so much that he always had trouble walking after that day for the rest of his life.  It was obvious that KDL took on the karma without concern for his own well-being.


It’s also good to investigate the various namthars that are available in print to really aide us on our own spiritual path.  A namthar is a spiritual biography or hagiography and in Tibetan Buddhism it can gives us great insight in the conduct of extraordinary Mahasiddhas on their path to liberation.  Namthars can be outer, inner and secret in scope.  Here is a portion of KDL’s Namthar and the rest of the biography can be found here: Namthar

One night, just before dawn, I dreamt of a lama with a body slightly bigger than a human and with an overwhelming and extremely peaceful shining presence.  I was wondering whether or not this was actually Pema Jungney, then he spoke to me, saying “Son, eat this peach” and immediately gave me three peaches.

 I suddenly rose up, and, holding on to his index finger, just like that, we arrived instantly to Zangdokpalri, in the Southwest land of Orgyen.  At the door of a great gonpa, he said to me “Wait here, son, I will go request for you an audience with Guru Rinpoche.”  After saying this he went up a staircase.  Although I waited for a long time no one came.

Now I was wondering where that Lama was, so I went to see.  He was seated on top of a throne, in front of him were placed empowerment implements such as bumpas and so on.  I thought to myself “He is actually Guru Rinpoche”.  Then, while I was requesting vase empowerment, I suddenly arrived back in my bed.

Parinirvana Dates:

KDL passed away on March 28th, 2006 and sat upright unassisted for 2 and half days in what the Tibetans call Tukdom.  The anniversary of his passing is traditionally held on 29th day of 1st month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar.  The ganachakra feast (tsok practice) ceremony is the best way to generate vast stores of merits.  Tomorrow is the day to make butterlamp offerings, light candles, offer incense and especially perform the grand ganachakra tsok feast to honor this great master.

The Kalachakra Tantra of Holding the Qualities of the Lama teaches:

“The merit accumulated by making offerings on the anniversary of one’s lama will dispel negative karma and obscurations accrued for countless eons, like the rays of the sun dispelling darkness.”

Previous Tsok dates have fallen on these dates:

  • 2016 – March 8th
  • 2017 –  March 27th
  • 2018 – March 16th

The next ceremony will be held on: March 5th, 2019

Texts & Prayers:

The embodiment of the infallible Precious Jewels,

The Sole Father and Mother Lotus-Born, Pema Jyungnye;

By your blessings may the tamer of sentient beings, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa’s

Bodhisattva reincarnation manifest swiftly, I pray!

These four lines are the brief form of the prayer commonly recited in the assembly.

Other rebirth prayers can be found here: Rebirth



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Filed under Masters, Parinirvana

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