As he grew older, he studied at Benchen Monastery and was eventually given the name Karma Tenzin Thinle Namgyal from Situ Rinpoche. Soon after, he was given ordination by Situ Rinpoche and entered a three-year retreat.
He was an expert in mandala painting and sculpture.
In 1959, Tenga Rinpoche left Benchen for Lhasa. After the 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet in relation with the 1959 Tibetan uprising, he escaped with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and the brother of Dilgo Khyentse, the 9th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. He then eventually traveled to northern India. In India, he settled at Rumtek Monastery, the main seat of the 16th Karmapa. Tenga Rinpoche served the 16th Karmapa for seventeen years, nine of those years in the position of Dorje Lopön.
On 30 March 2012, at 3:24 in the morning Nepali time, Tenga Rinpoche died.
- Cho: The Garden of All Joy and Generosity of the Body, trans. Yeshe Gyamtso, Peter O'Hearn, ed. Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Charitable Trust, 2007, ISBN 1-877294-38-1, ISBN 978-1-877294-38-9
- Transition and Liberation: Explanations of Meditation in the Bardo, trans. Alex Wilding, Susanne Schefczyk, ed. Lorenz Dobrot Khampa-Buchverlag, 1999, ISBN 3-9805251-2-0, ISBN 978-3-9805251-2-1
- Gampopa's Mahamudra: The Five-part Mahamudra Practice Taught to Phagmo Drupa by Gampopa, Sgam-po-pa, Phag-mo-gru-pa Rdo-rje-rgyal-po, ed. Padma Karpo Translation Committee, 2008, ISBN 9937-2-0607-3, ISBN 978-9937-2-0607-5
- Visions in Exile p. 193-197, in Brilliant Moon: The Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse, Dilgo Khyentse, Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse, Ani Jinba Palmo, Dalai Lama
- Mahamudra kagyu tradition 10/13/91, New York : ARC Audio-Video, OCLC 48251788