Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche
Abbot and Founder of Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling
Born at Chodrak Lungmagka, close by Chenjum Sengha, a sacred, holy place discovered by Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, in the province of Kham, East Tibet, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche commenced his monastic studies at the age of eight when he was ordained by His Holiness Chodrak Saljey Rinpoche. Under the guidance of His Holiness Saljey Rinpoche and Venerable Lama Yeshe Rabje Rinpoche, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche trained for ten years in both the Barom Kagyu and Karma Kagyu traditions. Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received full monastic training in all areas pertaining to monastic life, as well as completing secondary studies in Tibetan language, history and sociology. As an accomplished student, Rinpoche also received additional training at many other monastic institutions. At Palpung Monastery, Zokchen Monastery, Shechen Monastery and Arig Monastery, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received teachings and tantric initiations conducted by Khenpo Lotsul Rinpoche, Khenpo Daser Rinpoche and Chodrak Monastery under the auspices of Khenpo Dam Cho Dawa Rinpoche and Khenpo Shedrup Gyurmed. In the next eight years, as well as completing studies in higher Buddhist philosophy, Rinpoche mastered the arts of musical instruments, torma making, chanting and Cham, ritual dancing for sacred purposes that westerners often refer to as “Lama dancing”.
Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche was blessed to receive many initiations, instructions and teachings from His Holiness The 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje when he was enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery. From His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received essential and advanced teachings. In 1992, Rinpoche followed His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa from East Tibet to West Tibet. Because of the continuing uncertainty of the political climate in Tibet, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche and several other monks took this opportunity to escape Tibet and reached Nepal after an arduous and harrowing journey of twenty nine days.
In Nepal, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche commenced seven years’ study at Tenying Rinpoche’s Monastery in Kathmandu and undertook teaching, conducting pujas, practices and blessings at Chodak Thubten Dolma Shedrup Darjeling. After seven years’ intensive study and practice, Rinpoche completed three years, seven months retreat at Pharping Drubdey Osel Choling Monastery under the close guidance of His Eminence Khabje Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Venerable Tenga Rinpoche.
In the early months of 2002, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche was invited by Venerable Choje Lama Shedrup to become the resident teacher at Kagyu Thigsum Chokyi Ghatsal Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Launceston, Tasmania. On October 3rd, 2002, Rinpoche touched down at Launceston Airport. In his three years as Resident teacher and Spiritual advisor, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche has reached out to many, conducting classes in secondary colleges on meditation practices and Buddhist philosophy, regularly visiting the sick and elderly in local hospitals and hospices, conducting weddings, blessings for new born babies and house blessings. The outstanding delicacy and beauty of Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche’s artistry has been recognised by the Tasmanian government, and Rinpoche’s infectious pleasure in the joy of spiritual endeavour as expressed in classical Tibetan Buddhist sadhanas has inspired us all to more meaningful and dedicated practice. Rinpoche regularly travels between various cities in Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Tibet to meet with his students, give dharma talks, conduct pujas and guide us on our spiritual path.