Drikung Rinchen Choling (DRC) is H.E. the 8th Garchen Rinpoche's main Dharma Center in southern California. It provides a place for students to practice daily and for short term retreats under the guidance of H.E. Garchen Rinpoche and Ven. Lama Thupten Nima.
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche is one of the most revered guru in the Drikung Kagyu tradition. He is famous for his vast realization, attainment, and great compassion.Ven. Lama Thupten Nima is the current resident abbot of DRC. He served as the Disciplinarian, Chant Master, and Retreat Master in the Gar Monastery in Tibet and Garchen Buddhist Institute in Arizona
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche is one of two heads of the Drikung Kagyu order of
Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1946 in Lhasa, Tibet, he was recognized at the age of four as the reincarnation
of the previous Drikung Kyabgon and formally enthroned and educated at Drikung Thil, the main monastery of the
Drikung Kagyu order in central Tibet. During the Tibetan exodus in the late 1950s, his parents fled to India
while he remained at Drikung Thil. In 1959, Communist China closed the monastery, and His Holiness Drikung
Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche was adopted by his former tutor, His Eminence Gyabra Rinpoche. After completing
his elementary and middle school education in Lhasa, in 1969 he was assigned to a countryside farm, working
fifteen hours a day doing hard physical labor.
In 1975, His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche crossed the Himalayan border separating Tibet from Nepal on foot and
all alone except for fortuitous help from two strangers at one impassable point. He traveled to Dharamsala,
India, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, where he was received by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
and formally enthroned once again.
Then, after eighteen years of separation, His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche was reunited with his family in the
United States. He stayed for several years, completing courses in English and adult education and working after
school at McDonald to practice his English.
In 1978, he returned to India, taking up rigorous Buddhist practice, retreats, and instruction from many of
the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1985, in Dehra Dun, India, he founded the Drikung Kagyu
Institute, Jang Chub Ling, which provides traditional monastic and modern education to c. 450 monks and nuns;
a meditation retreat center; and a project to collect and preserve all the Drikung Kagyu texts, as well as document
the ways of life, philosophy, and religious traditions of the peoples of the Himalayas.
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche is a Drikung Kagyu lama who was known in the thirteenth century as the Siddha Gar Chodingpa, a heart disciple of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In ancient India, he had incarnated as Mahasiddha Aryadeva, the lotus-born disciple of the great Nagarjuna. In the seventh century, he was known as Lonpo Gar, the minister of the Tibetan Dharma King Songsten Gampo.
Garchen Rinpoche was recognized and enthroned in eastern Tibet by the former Drikung Kyabgon Zhiwe Lodro.
When he was seven, he was brought to Lho Miyal Monastery, which he administered from the age of eleven.
Studying and practicing under the direction of the Siddha Chime Dorje, Garchen Rinpoche received vast and
profound instructions on the preliminary practices (ngondro), the fivefold practice of Mahamudra and the six yogas
Then, at the age of 22, after completing a two and a half year retreat, he was imprisoned for 20 years
during the political turmoil of China's Cultural Revolution. While in the labor camp, he received meditation
instruction from his root lama, the Nyingma master Khenpo Munsel. Enduring hardship and practicing secretly,
Garchen Rinpoche attained realization of the lama's wisdom mind. Since his release from prison in 1979,
Garchen Rinpoche has made great effort to rebuild the Drikung Kagyu monasteries, reestablish the Buddhist teachings,
and build two boarding schools for local children in eastern Tibet. Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual director of
the Garchen Buddhist Institute in Chino Valley, Arizona.
Garchen Rinpoche is known for his vast realization, as well as for his great kindness.
Ven. Lama Thupten Nima
Lama Thupten Nima was born in 1965 into conditions of political turmoil and exile associated with the
Chinese Cultural Revolution. Lama Thupten Nima had the good fortune to receive instruction at the age of
fourteen on the effects of virtuous and harmful actions by the great yogi Tamga, and he completed the four
hundred thousand accumulations of the preliminary practices according to the Buddhist Yangzab terma.
His family having long been associated with Gar Monastery prior to the Cultural Revolution, Lama Thupten Nima made
great efforts to travel to the Gar Monastery where he received refuge ordination from His Eminence Garchen
Rinpoche. He then received full monastic ordination and the bodhisattva vow from the great siddha Karma Norbu,
and was admitted to the Gar Monastery. There, he trained in the ritual practices of the tantras of Old and New
Schools and other diverse religious activities. He was selected for special training at Lho Lungkar Monastery,
including the Eight Heruka Sadhanas, the Embodiment of the Masters' Realization, Vajrakilaya, and Essence of
Great Bliss. He served as chant master and, later, as disciplinarian of the Gar monastery.
Thereafter, he received teachings from many of the great living Buddhist masters including Dzogchen trekchod and thogal
from Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche, the entirety of the Drikung Kagyu protectors and the higher and lower tantra
sections from HE Garchen Rinpoche, and received from Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok his own terma (mind treasure) of
the Kilaya cycle of teachings. At Drigung Thil, he received from Drubpon Tendzin Nyima some of the profound
teachings of the Drikung Kagyu such as the Fivefold Mahamudra and the Six Yogas [of Naropa]. He studied the
Gong Chig (Single Intention), Essence of Mahayana, The Bodhisattva Way of Life, and the Thirty-Seven
Bodhisattva Practices with Drigung Khenpo Namzig. Under the elder Drigung chant master Konchog Samten,
he trained in the ritual practices of Chakrasamvara, Varahi, the Yangzab, Sarvavid and Akshobhya.
Thereafter, HE Garchen Rinpoche entitled him an Vajra Master and asked him to undertake a series of assignments to help
reorganize and reestablish Buddhist practice and monastic discipline in monasteries throughout the region
after, in some cases, a twenty-five year breach in the Buddhist practice tradition including Lho Miyel
Monastery, Khargo Monastery, and later Tseri Monastery in Sichuan where he reestablished the Great
Accomplishment (Drupchen) practice of Yamantaka and gave other teachings. Then, again at the request of
HE Garchen Rinpoche, he served as Lama (religious teacher and minister) for two years at Tamgo Monastery
in Central Tibet, the former dwelling place of Chung Dorje Dragpa, the fourth lineage holder of the Drikung
Kagyu. There, Lama Thupten Nima established the summer retreat, set up a yearly teaching schedule, and
appointed a chant master, disciplinarian and shrine master.
Subsequently, at Gar Monastery, Lama Thupten Nima took responsibility for instructing the nuns at the Fivefold Mahamudra
Meditation Center of Gargon Nunnery. He then came to America to do a Yamantaka Retreat with HE Garchen Rinpoche. At present,
he serves as the Resident Retreat Master and Chant Master for the Garchen Institute in Arizona. Furthermore, he is the
founder of the Drikung Rinchen Choling Foundation in Los Angeles/CA, where he continues to oversee the center
as the Resident Lama.
We offer all our Dharma programs for free. If you would like to donate to RinchenCholing, it would be greatly appreciated. Your donations will be used to help support the center in its various offerings and activities for the benefit of all beings.
You may donate via the following 4 ways:
1. Donation via checks:
Please mail your check to:
4048 E Live Oak Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006
2. Donation via “Zelle”:
**Please specify “(your donation purpose)” in the Zelle Memo.
3. Donation via PayPal / credit card payment:
(Suggestion for people who are NOT living in the US ONLY).