Ngak’chang Khamtrül Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche

sNgags ’chang Khams sPrul Ye shes rDor rJe Rin po che


What follows is—in part—a brief autobiographical commentary from Ngak’chang Khamtrül Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche,
as dictated to Ngak’chang Rinpoche in 1982. The text was written with translation assistance from Johannes Frischknecht
(Ngakpa Lobsang, a disciple of Kyabjé Gangten Tulku Rinpoche) and Gélong Thubten Dadak (formerly of the Gyütö Ngakpa Dratsang).
To this original account, researched material has been added – in addition to clarifications and personal commentary
sought from Ngak’chang Rinpoche by Ngakma Shardröl Du-nyam Wangmo.
The completed text has been edited and abridged for general interest by Ngakma Shardröl Du-nyam Wangmo.

Ngak’chang Khamtrül Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche (sNgags ’chang Khams sPrul Ye shes rDor rJe rin po che, 1926-1993) was born on the 1st of March (the fifteenth day of the first month of the fire-tiger year) in Mar-Kham, the southern region of Kham in Eastern Tibet.

His mother was Jomo Sonam Drölma (Jo mo bSod nams sGrol ma) and his father was Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche (sNgags hang O rGyan Rig’dzin Dorje rJe Rinpoche). Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche was of the Drom-tsang Ngakpa Clan from Lharong in Mar-Kham. A Nyingma gö kar chang lo (gos dKar lCang lo’i sDe) couple with a daughter and three sons, they held a Ngak’changpa’i Rig-gyüd (sNgags ’chang pa’i rigs brGyud – Mantradharin Family Lineage) whose direct teaching transmission passed from father to son and whose incarnation lineage passed from grandfather to grandson.

The eldest son of Jomo Sonam Drölma and Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche was recognised as the trülku of Do-ngak-Ling Gompa, whilst Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche became the Family-Lineage Holder as the incarnation of the son of the Mahasiddha who initiated the lineage.

The Drom-tsang clan Ngakpas (sGrom gTsang sNgags pa rabs) were celebrated for their power as weather-makers. ‘Drom-tsang’ means ‘pure container’ and applies to the Inner Tantra lineage of teachings and transmission they held according to Dzogchen view. They had been relied upon for centuries by farmers for the prevention of hail. Hail storms in Tibet and the Trans-Himalayan regions can be catastrophic to crops, so in such regions the rôle of any ngakpa with weather-making siddhis is an extremely important one.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
There were many weather-controllers or rain-makers in Tibet, and many were ‘village ngakpas’ and ‘village ngakmas’ – people who performed shamanic services for the locality. Rain-making and hail prevention were primary amongst the shamanic services offered – but they also performed exorcisms, conducted healing ceremonies, made amulets, and proffered predictive services both through divination and astrology. The Drom-tsang clan Ngakpas, however, were not of this category. They were primarily Dzogchen yogis whose lives were dedicated to formless practice. They never accepted fees for their services – but, knowing their power, the local villagers would make entreaties for their help.

Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche described three types of gö kar chang lo practitioner: white, multicoloured, and black. The differentiation is made according to time spent in retreat and on the degree of essential practice in which the ngakpa or ngakma engaged. The lowest were ‘black’ by designation and dealt mainly with shamanic work for their locality. The ‘white’ were Inner Tantra or Dzogchen practitioners who prioritised meditation. The multicoloured ranged between the two previously mentioned designations. The Drom-tsang clan Ngakpas were white ngakpas. It should be noted that the terms ‘white’ and ‘black’ do not accord to ideas of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – ‘black’ relates to the protectors and to governing phenomena through the agency of the protectors and ‘white’ relates to Chöying (chos dByings – Dharmata) and to governing phenomena through integration with the elements.

Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche’s Family-Lineage began with the 17th century Lama Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche (sGrub thob bKra shis rin po che) – a siddha of profound accomplishment. He was a Dzogchen Togden who wore a white skirt, long matted braids of hair and the Tantric conch shell earrings. His main practice was the method of integrating awareness with every aspect of life.

During the life of Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche, the Lhasa government imposed inhumane taxes on many villages, and the people of Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s village suffered a great deal in consequence. The villagers protested that they could not meet the level of taxation imposed upon them, but the Dzong-pön (rDzong dPon – governor) was authorised by the Lhasa government to extract taxes by force.

Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche became aware of the situation of the people and was moved by their plight. He determined to assist them in their resistance to the government’s unreasonable demands. He decided to become directly responsible to the Dzong-pön in the rôle of Pönpo (dPon po – village head man) in order that he would carry the responsibility for the taxes rather than the villagers.

Having taken this rôle Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche approached the Dzong-pön and proffered money on behalf of the villagers, saying: These are the taxes that I deem the villagers can afford. They have no more to give – so this must be enough for you and for the government.

The Dzong-pön—on hearing these words—flew into a rage, at which Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche returned to his home stating that he had nothing further to say. After some time, the Dzong-pön talked himself into a petulant frenzy and ordered the soldiers under his command to compel Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche by force of arms to provide the original sum demanded by the Lhasa government. Some sixty men-at-arms left the Dzong-pön’s castle and assailed Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s house. Whilst fifty or more soldiers surrounded the house, the others broke the door down with a battering ram and forced their entry. They bound Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s Sang-yum and children to internal pillars of the house.

Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche was not inside the house to assist his family when the assault commenced, as he had previously climbed to the roof to meditate – as was his custom. Unable to climb down to aid his family, he remained where he was in a state of meditative absorption and awaited the attack. The soldiers shouted their demands for him to descend and be captured, to which Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche replied: Release my Sang-yum and my children and I will certainly surrender to you immediately.

The soldiers, however, refused to release his family and instead scaled the wall of the house in order to arrest him. Once the soldiers had reached the flat roof, they threatened Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche with violence unless he paid the additional taxes immediately – at which point Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche threw off his clothes. Naked, he rose effortlessly into the sky and remained out of reach. This display of siddhi terrified the soldiers, who began making prostrations immediately, entreating him to forgive their execrable behaviour on the basis that they were ignorant of his supreme attainment. Below—in the house—the soldiers untied Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s Sang-yum and family and begged them for forgiveness for the vile treatment to which they had been subject.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
The reason that Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche would cast off his clothing before ascending into the sky dimension would have been a statement to the effect that he was not a black magician. A black magician would have employed magical means of a physical nature to perform such a feat. He would probably have employed amulets containing prescribed esoteric materials, so for Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche to divest himself of clothing would be to say, ‘There is no magic here – I have simply integrated with the air element.’

The story of Milarépa is useful in this context. Once when Milarépa flew through the sky, an arrogantly antipathetical farmer cursed him and abjured his son: ‘There’s that damn black magician Milarépa – don’t let his accursed shadow fall upon you!’ This does not mean that Milarépa was employing magic rather than integrating with the elements – but the Dzogchen nakedness of Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche proved the point – should that point have needed to be made.

Nakedness is a primary symbol in the Dzogchen teachings. Nakedness remains a custom in India amongst the sadhus, for whom the dictates of social conventions are meaningless. During the time of the Mahasiddhas in India, and during the First Spread of Vajrayana in Tibet, nakedness was common to Dzogchen as a display of realisation. This was also the case in the Aro Gar where Aro Lingma encouraged the traditions of the Mahasiddhas and the First Spread. Some traditions of this type have continued to the present day even within monastic settings – as recounted by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche with reference to tsog’khorlo. Whether this existed beyond the Kagyüd and Nyingma lineages is not known. In India and during the First Spread, in the gar’cham—Tantric Dancing—which occasioned the wearing of cemetery ornaments, dancers did not don the bone ornaments over brocade robes, but wore them exactly as depicted in the images of the Yidams. With the advent of the Second Spread, however, much of what had previously been manifested was reduced to symbol and nakedness practically disappeared in terms of both Tantric and Dzogchen practice.

When these events were reported to the Dzong-pön he understood the implications of his act and the extreme rashness of his decision. It was apparent to him that Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche was a Mahasiddha, and he became extremely fretful concerning the personal consequences of his behaviour. After due consideration the Dzong-pön promised to make an entreaty to the Lhasa government. This finally caused the taxes to be reviewed and thereafter the people of the village were no longer taxed disproportionately.

Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche was extraordinary in his siddhis. Having the power to transform himself into a white vulture, he often flew through the local valleys blessing everyone and everything over whom his shadow passed. In this way he relieved many people of illness. In the form of a vulture Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche gave transmission to the vultures who ate corpses during dur-trö (dur ’khrod – sky burial). Having received Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s transmission, the vultures would only begin to eat the human corpses after he had tapped them three times each with his beak. Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche would then reassume human form to return to his Sangyum and children.

Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s lineage was transmitted to his son Min’gyür Dorje Rinpoche, and thence to each succeeding son. Each alternate son was either the incarnation of Drüpthob Tashi or of Min’gyür Dorje (Drüpthob Tashi’s son). Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche’s father (Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche) was the incarnation of Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche, and Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was incarnation of Drüpthob Tashi Rinpoche’s son (Min’gyür Dorje Rinpoche).

Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was recognised as an incarnation after a series of miraculous events which occurred when he was five years of age. Before these events took place, his parents had no clear recognition that their son was a trülku, as Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche had displayed no extraordinary abilities or marvellous prodigies. At the age of five, however, he made a day’s excursion into the mountains with his father and older brother in order to gather medicinal roots, herbs, and flowers. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche—being young—was left to his own devices whilst his father and brother collected the herbs. Left alone for a considerable period of time, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche wandered wherever his fancy took him.

When his father and brother realised he was gone, his father saw through his own Clarity where Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was and set off without delay to rescue him from what appeared to be a life-threatening situation. Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche’s brother was astounded when they found him, because somehow he was sitting in a cave on the far side of the mountain. The cave was inaccessible by foot, or even by climbing, so they had had to walk for several hours to a point where they could reach Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche by lowering a rope from a cliff above the mouth of the cave. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche’s brother descended the rope in order to make the rescue but when he was level with the cave, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was just about to walk directly out of the cave mouth in to the air. That was the natural choice for Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche, as it was the way he had entered the cave. Just as Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was stepping off the cave ledge, his brother took hold of him and they were both pulled up to safety by their father.

Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche was well aware that it would not have been possible for Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche to have walked to the cave. He was too young for such a hike, and in any case it was not possible to reach the cave without a rope. It was evident that Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was a siddha – and in all probability the incarnation who would carry forward the Family Lineage.

Consequent to this event, Ngak’chang Ögyen Dorje Rinpoche consulted with several other Lamas, all of whom concluded that Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was indeed the rebirth of Togden Min’gyür Dorje Rinpoche (rTogs lDan Min’gyür rDo rJe).

After he was recognised as the incarnation of Togden Min’gyür Dorje Rinpoche (the son of Drüpthob Tashi) he was sent to study at Do-ngak-Ling, where his older brother had been enthroned as the presiding trülku. He studied there under the excellent Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche, but his tutor had grave concerns about his student – because Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche seemed unable to memorise, and had scant interest in academic matters. Pema Dorje Rinpoche attempted a greater degree of strictness with Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche, but to no avail. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche preferred teasing the monks to studying.

Once his residence was more established in Do-ngak Ling, however, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche had a dream of clarity in which many khandros manifested themselves to him. Consequent to these visions he found that the memorisation of texts no longer proved an obstacle to him. He immediately set about memorising the text set for him by Pema Dorje Rinpoche and had learned it in its entirety within a month. He then asked Pema Dorje Rinpoche to arrange a date for his official examination. Pema Dorje Rinpoche was aghast – finding it difficult to take the application seriously. He was unsure as to whether Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was playing tricks on him as he did with all the monks. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was insistent, however, and Pema Dorje Rinpoche had no alternative but to arrange the date for the examination – even though Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche spent no further time in study.

The day of the examination arrived and, to the astounded bemusement of Pema Dorje Rinpoche, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche displayed an unprecedented ability to continue reciting the text from whatever point Pema Dorje Rinpoche ceased reciting. More than this, however, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche showed no hesitation or pause. He also understood the entire text on questioning – down to its smallest detail. At the end of the examination Pema Dorje Rinpoche immediately offered prostrations and sat on the ground before Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche – promised that in future he would be both gentle and kindly in his manner. From that time onward, the monks at the gompa showed great affection and consideration for Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche, and took no further offence at being teased or of his making sport of them.

As Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche grew older he began to be asked to perform ’phowa and bardo practices for the local people. He considered himself to have little capacity in this regard and felt ashamed of his lack of expertise with Vajrayana ritual. One day three ngakpas arrived and requested permission to stay at the gompa. They were gÇodpas on an extended pilgrimage, practising gÇod wherever they halted for the night. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was intensely impressed by their manner and way of life. He talked with them extensively concerning the essential meaning of the practice, and resolved that the only way that he would deserve the respect he had been shown was not only to possess his natural powers, but to be able to apply them accurately for the benefit of others. He felt a keen sense in which he needed to look after himself rather than relying on the gompa of his brother for support. It also occurred to him that he was not free to be the yogi he should be in a gompa. He therefore concluded that it would be best to quit the sphere of academic training and follow the example of the three ngakpas. He would spend his life wandering and practising in the mountain wilderness, as he had little enjoyment of monastic strictures, and preferred to govern his life according to the style of his forbears rather than the style of monasticism.

Even though this was his decision – it was not a simple matter to leave the gompa. Like most monastery-based dignitaries, his presence in the gompa provided significant encouragement with respect to donations from the laity, and his departure would be unwelcome in the eyes of the monastic bursar and other officials. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche therefore elected to flee by night in secret, never to return. He left on horseback with few provisions in order to gain as much distance as he could from those who might attempt to follow him. He slept in caves during daylight hours and travelled at night, relying on his horse to find its own trail.

After some weeks he reached Kongpo (kong po) where he could travel openly, and speak freely. In Kongpo he met Togden Künrig (rTogs lDan kun rigs) who invited him to journey with him. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche thought this an excellent proposal and journeyed for several months practising with Togden Künrig as they travelled. Through Togden Künrig, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche met his first Tsawa’i Lama—Ko-gyong Rinpoche—with whom he studied with for three years until Ko-gyong Rinpoche’s death. The last words of Ko-gyong Rinpoche emphasised the need to go beyond ritualism. He instructed Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche to concentrate on the inner meaning of Vajrayana and never to immure himself in the outer performance, as did so many Lamas. He said that if Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche were successful in his practice, they would meet again. Ko-gyong Rinpoche attained rainbow body.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
Rinpoche told me in 1984 that to his knowledge he had never met Ko-gyong Rinpoche again. He felt that he might meet him in the dimension of the bardo or possibly in his next life. Rinpoche said with a grin that Ko-gyong Rinpoche had not told him when they would meet or in what life – but he was sure that they would meet again as Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche had assured him of it.

Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche’s primary Tsawa’i Lama in his later life was Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche and from him he received transmission of the Nyingma Gyudbum and the Rin’dzin gTérdzöd. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche travelled everywhere that Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche gave teachings and empowerments – especially to Tso Pema, where Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche gave extensive teachings and transmissions at the request of Könchog Rinpoche.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche’s visit to Tso Pema was an event which stands out as one of the most remarkable occasions of the period of Tibetan exile. Many outstanding Nyingma Lamas were present – as well as over a hundred members of the gö kar chang-lo’i dé. Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche and Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche were there, as was Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche. It was a wonderful occasion. Only a few Western people were present as it was early in the history of interest in Vajrayana, and the sense of being utterly immersed in the Nyingma Tradition was vivid and deeply moving. Devotion was a natural and unfabricated response to the immanent dignity, power, and kindness with which we were drenched.

On the advice of Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche,Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche requested and received the Düd’jom gTérsar Tröma Nakmo cycle of practices from Kyabjé Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche (who was one of the five gö kar chang lo Tsawa’i Lamas of Ngak’chang Chöying Gyamyso Rinpoche). Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche asked Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche to confer this empowerment as he was travelling in Bhutan at the time of the request. Later Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche also received the empowerment from Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche in Nepal. Due to this fortunate occurrence he was able to obtain several copies of the Tröma Nakmo cycle – one of which he gave to Ngak’chang Rinpoche, along with detailed instructions on the manner in which the empowerments should be given.

Having received and practised these profound teachings, Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche became a renowned Master of the Düd’jom gTérsar Tröma Nakmo rites of coercion and suppression of negativity. He became widely revered as a Master of gÇod, and it was he who gave Ngak’chang Rinpoche his major instructions in gÇod according to the Düd’jom gTérsar. It was also under Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche that Ngak’chang Rinpoche completed the shorter Düd’jom gTér Ngöndro, the long Düd’jom gTér Ngöndro, the Khandro Thug-thig Ngöndro, and the Tröma Ngöndro.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
Completing the four Tantric Ngöndros under Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was extremely helpful to me in many ways. I was lucky to be able to complete them in India, since at that time British people needed no visa for India and could remain there as long as they wished. This was a great advantage to me as I was almost always poor at that time and it cost little in the 1970s to live in India—especially in the Himalayas. I would return to Britain for a few month’s factory work in the summer that would often take me to India sometimes for as long as a year and a half. Rinpoche was always extremely helpful in terms of enabling me to schedule my retreats around my need to return to Britain periodically to finance my studies. It would not be possible to live such a life now, and I am eternally grateful to Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche and to India itself for making everything possible for a working class yogi. In present times it would be implausible to receive the teachings I received and undertake the retreats I undertook without recourse to a substantial private income. It is for this reason that Khandro Déchen and I are dedicated to helping working family people to study and practise within the fabric of ordinary life in the West.

Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche helped many people, especially in the USA, with the practice of Tröma Nakmo. He was of invaluable assistance to the students of many Nyingma Lamas who followed Düd’jom gTérsar, as Tröma Nakmo is a widespread practice in the West amongst the students of Lamas such as Tharchin Rinpoche, Chag’düd Tulku Rinpoche, and Gyaltrül Rinpoche.

Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche specialised in shé-dür (rites of exorcism from the Tröma Nakmo Cycle of the Düd’jom gTérsar) and weather control for the benefit of those amongst whom he lived. He lived first in Forsyth Bazaar and then in McLeod Ganj – old Hill Stations left over from the British Raj, in the Kangra area of Himachal Pradesh. It was in Forsyth Bazaar that Ngak’chang Rinpoche met him for the first time.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
Khamtrül Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche only spoke a few words of English and the major terms were ‘yes’ and ‘good’. He had a way of enunciating these words in such a way as to portray a surprising variety of meanings according to the prevalent situation. When I first met Rinpoche, it was on a goat track leading through the wooded hillside of Forsyth Bazaar – I was simply strolling in search of a place to sit and practise. We were headed toward each other on the track and having almost come level with each other I was about to step off the track to allow him free passage, when Rinpoche stopped abruptly to look at me. He smiled broadly and said: ‘Yes!’ then ‘Good?’ beckoning me to follow him. I followed up the path and he took me to his hut – a two-roomed building with a tin roof. There I met his Sangyum—Khandro Ten’dzin Drölkar—who quickly set about preparing a fine lunch for me, whilst their daughter went in search of her elder brother who could speak English.

In the meantime much had occurred. I had eaten and drunk some rather excellent chang and Rinpoche had spoken with me at length in Tibetan. I sat and listened as he showed me a variety of objects. He showed me his various hats and implements, and with every item he intoned a sonorous ‘yes’. For some reason I cannot entirely explain, I replied ‘good’ each time, and something seemed to be understood. I did not know what it was that was understood – but I was extremely happy in my enchanted bemusement, and certainly wanted more.

Rinpoche’s elder son arrived and explained that Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche wanted me to come back in three days when he was to perform three days of tsog’khorlo from the Tröma gÇod. ‘Would I come?’ Certainly – without a doubt I would come. That was the beginning of ten years of wonderful teaching. I owe almost everything I know of Mahayoga ritual to Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche. He took me stage by stage through the making of gTormas, namkha (thread crosses), divination, jin sregs (fire ceremony), etcetera. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was a Siddha and an encyclopædia of symbolic activities for the benefit of everyone and everything everywhere.

Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche travelled widely as a weather maker, helping people especially in Southern India. Tibetan communities in the South suffered from drought, so he was of incredible help in bringing them rain. In Manali and in the valleys of Lahaul and Spiti he often averted hail.

Before his tragic death in 1993 he made a visit to Cardiff at the invitation of Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was one of the five gö kar chang lo Tsawa’i Lamas of Ngak’chang Rinpoche, and his main teacher of Mahayoga. Ngak’chang Rinpoche studied Mahayoga ritual under his guidance between 1972 and 1982 on the advice of Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche (from whom Ngak’chang Rinpoche had originally received the empowerment of Tröma Nakmo). Ngak’chang Rinpoche also received this empowerment in an extended form from Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche in order to study the many aspects of the practice.

Ngak’chang Rinpoche comments:
Just as Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche taught me almost everything I know with regard to Dzogchen, Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche taught me almost everything I know concerning the rituals of Mahayoga. Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche was unstinting in his efforts to provide me with details of every aspect of ritual performance. Unfortunately—as I said previously—I was extremely poor at the time and was therefore unable to provide the wherewithal for the empowerment of Tröma in its full form. Undeterred, Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche set about instructing me and working with me for weeks in the construction of a complete set of vajra weapons. These we made from tin cans that we cut with rudimentary ‘tin-snippers’ that often bit into our fingers. Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche would laugh every time I cut myself and say ‘Good!’ Somehow that always made me laugh – but more to the point, it impressed upon me the importance of effort and of endurance. It would naturally have been easier had I had the money to have a set of vajra weapons made – but it would not have been the same. It would have lost me the experience of working with Lama Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche every day with the monsoon rains beating on the tin roof of his little hut.

After his visits to Britain, Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche began to travel to the USA where he attracted students and performed shé-dür for the benefit of those with mental disturbances. He visited many of the centres established by Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, giving instruction on Düd’jom gTérsar Ngöndro and Tröma gÇod.

There is a chörten—built under guidance of Sang-ngak Tulku—in the mountains east of Santa Fe which commemorates the life and accomplishments of Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche. Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche visited Santa Fe annually from 1986 until his demise in 1993, to perform Shé-dür ceremonies at the Kagyüd Shen’phen Künkyab Changchub Chörten.

Khamtrül Ngak’chang Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche passed away at the age of 67 leaving his Sang-yum, children, and many students grievously saddened by his loss.