Thinley Norbu

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Kyabjé Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche (Tib. གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ་ ) was a major modern teacher in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and patron of the Vajrayana Foundation.[1] He was the eldest son of Dudjom Rinpoche, the former head of the Nyingma lineages, and also the father of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and Dungse Garab Rinpoche. His association with the Dudjom Lineage is a long one: he is held to be the incarnation of Tulku Drime Oser, who was one of seven sons of Dudjom Lingpa (sGas-gter bDud-‘joms Gling-pa Khrag-‘thung Nus-ldan rDorje 1835-1904). He also was considered to be an emanation of Longchen Rabjam, the great 14th-century Nyingma scholar and siddha who composed the Seven Treasuries. He died in California on December 26, 2011, according to the Tibetan Buddhist Lunar Calendar the 2nd[clarification needed] day of the 11th month of the Iron Rabbit year.[2] His cremation was held in a public buddhist cremation ceremony in Paro, Bhutan on March 3, 2012, [2] which was attended by several thousand people, including some of Bhutan's royal family. [1] [3] [4] [5]


Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche was born in 1931 in Lhasa, Tibet. In his autobiography he states: "I was born in Lhasa, between east and west, in the center, near the Rasa Trulnang Tsuklakhang (Temple of Miraculous Goat-Earth Phenomena) in Lhasa, known as the Jokhang Temple.[6]"

His father was the renowned Nyingma Buddhist master Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, and his mother was Kusho Tseten Yudron. In his youth in Tibet, he studied for nine years at Mindrolling Monastery, one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma school in Tibet, and received many teachings from many great saints throughout the region, besides his own father.

In the mid 1950s, Thinley Norbu left Tibet at the onset of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Having fled his homeland, he spent some time in Bhutan, where his sons were born. There he served as the chief architect of the Thimphu Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 under the guidance of his father, to honor the memory of the third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72).

Thinley Norbu first came to the United States of America in 1976 to seek medical treatment,[7] before permanently settling in the US in the early 1980s.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, after spending a number of years in New York City, Thinley Norbu sought out a quiet place for practice in the countryside of the east coast of the United States. After a long search, in 1991 he chose some land in the rolling hills of upstate New York and named it Kunzang Gatshal, Always Noble Joyful Park. For the next twenty years, Kunzang Gatshal served as Thinley Norbu's primary residence and focal point of dharma activity. He gave teachings to disciples on this land, and was visited by other lamas, including Kyabje Penor Rinpoche and Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche. In the mid-1990s, Thinley Norbu built a temple on the land, personally directing all aspects of the construction and design until every statue and offering had been set. At around the same time, he founded a school for young children to learn pure dharma tradition and practice, White Lotus School, which he looked after with particular care.[8] The rest of his time was spent writing more than a dozen books, many of which were published posthumously and several that still remain unpublished. Thinley Norbu's books have become quite popular in the west, but in contrast to many other Tibetan teachers he did not seek publicity or large numbers of students.[7]

Since Thinley Norbu's death in 2011, Kunzang Gatshal has been guided by his sons, Dungse Garab Rinpoche and Dungse Jampal Rinpoche, other family members and senior disciples, and others.


During his exile in the West he wrote a number of books, including many that were published or distributed posthumously:

  • (1974) Account of the Great Chaitya of Thimbu. Thinley Norbu. Thimpu, Bhutan. LCCN 74901523 [9]
  • (1984-1989) ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཇིགས་མེད་ཆོས་ཀྱི་བདན་པོ། (Patrul Rinpoche) The Practice of the Essence of the Sublime Heart Jewel, Meditation and Action, The Propitious Speech from the Beginning, Middle and End (in English and Tibetan) Translated by Thinley Norbu New York, NY: Jewel Publication House. ISBN 0-9607000-6-4.
  • (1985) The Small Golden Key to the Treasure of the Various Essential Necessities of General and Extraordinary Buddhist Dharma. Translated by Lisa Anderson (Second Edition) New York, NY: Jewel Publishing House ISBN 0-9607000-2-1
  • (1982) Magic Dance: The Display of the Self-Nature of the Five Wisdom Dakinis. ISBN 0-9607000-0-5
  • (1992) White Sail: Crossing the Waves of Ocean Mind to the Serene Continent of the Triple Gems. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 0-87773-693-6
  • (1997) Welcoming Flowers from Across the Cleansed Threshold of Hope: An Answer to the Pope's Criticism of Buddhism. New York, NY: Jewel Publication House. ISBN 978-0-9607000-5-9
  • (2006, 2008) A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1-59030-526-3
  • (2013) The Sole Panacea: A Brief Commentary on the Seven-Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche That Cures the Suffering of the Sickness of Karma and Defilement. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1559394390
  • (2015) A Brief Fantasy History of A Himalayan: Autobiographical Reflections. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1611802054
  • (2015) Sunlight Speech That Dispels the Darkness of Doubt: Sublime Prayers, Praises, and Practices of the Nyingma Masters. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1570622441
  • (2016) Gypsy Gossip and Other Advice. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1611802085
  • (2016) Echoes: The Boudhanath Teachings. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications. ISBN 978-1611803020


  1. ^ a b "Blog Archive » Dungse Rinpoche passes away". kuenselonline. Retrieved 2011-12-29.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Information Regarding the Parinirvana of HH Dungsé Thinley Norbu Rinpoche « Palyul News". 2018-08-23. Archived from the original on 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  3. ^ "Thousands attend the Purjang of Late Dungse Rinpoche - BBS | BBS". 2018-08-23. Archived from the original on 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  4. ^ "Thinley Norbu Rinpoche - Rigpa Wiki". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  5. ^ "Purjang ceremony of Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche - CNN iReport". 2018-08-23. Archived from the original on 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  6. ^ Thinley, Norbu (2015). A Brief Fantasy History of an Himalayan. Shambhala Publications. pp. 12, 98. ISBN 978-1611802054.
  7. ^ a b "The Gradual Path of Raising Buddhist Children - A Conversation with Thinley Norbu Rinpoche". Originally appeared in the Vajradhatu Sun, February/March 1992. Reposted on The Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche by permission of Shambhala Sun Magazine in May 2013. 2013-05-31. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  8. ^ "About Kunzang Gatshal". Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  9. ^ Thinley Norbu (1974). Account of the Great Chaitya of Thimbu (in Tibetan and English). Thimbu: s.n.

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