His Eminence Garchen Triptrul 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. 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 Songtsen Gampo.
His present emanation appeared in 1936 in eastern Tibet and was recognized and enthroned by the former Drigung Kyabgon Zhiwe Lodro.
At the age of seven Rinpoche was brought to Lho Miyal Monastery. There, in a room full of status, he was asked to identify his lama. Pointing to a statue of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, he said, "He is my lama." Thus, he was recognized as the true holder of the Garchen throne. From the age of eleven, Garchen Rinpoche lived at and administered this monastery.
Studying and practicing under the direction of the Siddha Chime Dorje, he received vast and profound instructions on the preliminary practices (ngondro), the fivefold practice of mahamudra and the six yogas of Naropa. Then, at the age of twenty-two, after completing a two and a half year retreat, he was imprisoned for twenty years during the political turmoil of China’s Cultural Revolution.
While in the labor camp, Rinpoche received all the Dzogchen teachings and meditation instruction from his root lama, the Nyingma Khenpo Munsel, Enduring hardship and practicing secretly, Garchen Rinpoche realized the lama’s inconceivable wisdom mind. His accomplishment greatly impressed his teacher who praised him: there is no doubt that Rinpoche is the actual emanation of a great Bodhisattva.
Since his release from prison in 1979, Garchen Rinpoche has made great effort to rebuild the Drikung Kagyu monasteries of eastern Tibet and to re-establish the precious Dharma teachings there. He was involved in the establishment of a monastic college at Gar Monastery, two boarding schools for the children of nomadic families and also engaged in a variety of projects to restore Gar Monastery to its former glory. In the United States, Rinpoche has also established Ari Gar Zangchup Choling and Drikung Mahayana Centers for the teaching and practice of the buddhadharma.
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche has been praised by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche as "a great Drikung Kagyu yogi of the present time" and is respected by many Tibetan lamas as a pure and realized master, and as an accomplished practitioner of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Rinpoche’s radiant presence inspires and delights students as a loving mother gathers her children close by sheltering, loving, encouraging, admonishing, laughing, inviting, prodding, teaching, reminding, singing…
Always, Rinpoche seems to teach the specific meaning which one’s own heart yearns for. And his teachings and his example are both brilliantly inspiring and deeply satisfying – showing us the ideal and giving us the skillful means by which to realize it; through teachings on the Nature of Mind and Mahamudra, the Vajra Songs of Milarepa, limitless aspiration prayers offered for all beings, Tummo and Guru Yoga practices, the Refuge and Bodhisattva lay ordinations, and teachings on Bodhisattva activity through cultivating the Four Immeasurables and the Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices, Rinpoche pours out the lineage nectar: Devotion, Compassion, Mahamudra.
It is a very rare opportunity in our samsaric lives to meet a genuine Bodhisattva/Buddha. To be able to serve an authentic teacher who can guide us on the unmistaken Dharma Path is not only due to the causes and conditions from our past accumulated merits; the future is also dependent on the causes and conditions of what we do in this life. We should all cherish this precious human life and such a rare opportunity and keep to our hearts dharma practices and develop the faith towards authentic dharma teachers.