The Passing of a Great Master: Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche
Dear friends around the world,
It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing of such a learned master and close friend of mine, His Eminence Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche. We had been friends for many years and it was truly my honour. He was not my teacher but I have deep respect for this erudite master, his learning and practice. When I was in residing in Gaden Monastery I would see him in Gaden walking, giving classes to his hundreds of students, attending ceremonies and or joining some spiritual events quite often. We would have Dorje Shugden pujas in my house or in the monastery and I would often invite Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche to attend the pujas. He would always gladly do so and he was always friendly and had a big smile. I will never forget his big smile. I was fortunate to bring over 100 Kechara members from my centre in Malaysia to have audience with him over the years and get his blessings in Gaden Monastery, South India.
I was told that Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche decided to passed away last week on Dec 21, 2016. Before he passed, he left instructions that he would not like his body to be embalmed and placed in a special reliquary which is normal for a personage of his high esteem. He didn’t want his body to be cremated with big ceremony and placed in a stupa. He also stated that is was not necessary to look for his reincarnation. He made these instructions very clear.
He said that after his passing, people may take his body, cremate it in a simple manner, and dispose of it in a normal way. His many students in Gaden Monastery obeyed and all was done a few days ago. He left all these instructions before he passed as he was in control of when his death will be. When he finally passed away and entered into clear light, he stayed in death meditation (thukdam) for nine days. So his body stayed in meditational posture, without moving, his heart area remained warm, yet he was not breathing anymore and his heart stopped for nine days. Upon leaving death meditation, his head slumped over and his students were able to remove his body for cremation. This is a sign of a tantric practitioner who has gained high realisations. Indeed Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was highly a realised Buddhist tantric master. He was a very devoted student of H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche and so forth. He spoke of them with great reverence always.
His passing is a great loss to the Gaden lineage, as he was a great master and lineage holder. I offer my prayers alongside the prayers of hundreds of his students, of which many of whom are eminent high lamas, geshes and great monks of Gaden Shartse monastery today and also in Shar Gaden Monastery.
I humbly offer my prayers and I know His Eminence Kensur Konchok Rinpoche will be greatly missed by his hundreds of students. Many were able to achieve the fruition of their studies to become Geshe Lharampa because of his tens of thousands of hours of dedicated teachings to them in his lifetime. He was tireless in giving teachings daily for over 8 hours without break and sometimes more. He was extremely passionate to give knowledge to the younger generation in order to preserve the Buddha Dharma as taught by Lord Tsongkapa. Mondays were rest days in Gaden. Even on Mondays, Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche would arrange to buy many vegetables and rice and have an abundance of food cooked up, and fed his poorer students. He took care of their bodies too. He was very much loved. He was known to be extremely loving, caring and fatherly towards his many students. He was direct with his speech yet very warm in his love and care. He was quick to scold but never held his temper long. Hundreds of students and peers respected his warm, kind and caring love. His erudite mastery of the scriptures of Panchen Sonam Drakpa and many other works by the six ornaments and two crown jewels (Nagarjuna, Araydeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, Dharmakirti, Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha. Along with them are the works of these masters such as Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka, Chandrakirti, Shantideva, Shantarakshita, Kamalashila, Vimuktisena, Haribadra and Atisha) was legendary in Gaden, Sera and Drepung among the scholars. Everyone, I mean literally everyone knew he was so learned and yet so humble. He is a fine example of what an institution of Lord Tsongkapa such as Gaden Monastery can produce. It was my greatest honor to have known him.
I will miss him deeply, with my hands folded,
Biography of H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche
H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche was an Abbot-Emeritus of Gaden Shartse Monastery and is well known for his mastery of Buddhist study and teaching. ‘Kensur’ is a title bestowed on an illustrious abbot who has retired successfully from office. Kensur Rinpoche was born in 1934 in Markham, Tibet. At the age of 13, he became ordained as a monk in a monastery located in his hometown. Upon turning 17, he travelled to Gaden Shartse Monastery in Lhasa, and studied there until the events of 1959 in Tibet, when Kensur Rinpoche managed to escape into India. In 1980, Kensur Rinpoche received the esteemed Geshe Larampa degree after years of study. This title is only awarded to scholar-monks who graduate their monastic examinations with the highest honours. After this, he entered the Gyuto Tantric College in 1985 to further his studies. In 1989, he was appointed as one of the official teachers of Gaden Shartse Monastery.
In 1996, Kensur Rinpoche was appointed Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He continued to serve as abbot for the next 5 years with great success improving the education of the monastery greatly, until 2001. Having begun his education decades ago, Kensur Rinpoche was a master from the last generation of lamas who were educated according to the monastic system of old Tibet. He is revered as a great scholar-teacher of both Sutra and Tantra, holding a life-long devotion and commitment to the way of the Dharma. Even after retiring as abbot, he continued to teach with great passion and love for his students and the preservation of Buddha Dharma. He greatly advocated meditation, preparatory practices such as prostrations coupled with learning.
Kensur Rinpoche was one of the old masters who brought the teachings and practice from Tibet to India in the 1960s, and as a former abbot, he was instrumental in re-establishing the grandeur and monastic system of Gaden Shartse Monastery in its new home in South India. Kensur Rinpoche is remembered as a great scholar and teacher, creating a whole new generation of highly qualified, committed practitioners and teachers. In fact one of his students is the current incarnation of H.H. Zong Rinpoche.
Kensur Konchok Tsering Gave Manjushri Initiation
In 2010 I had the great honour to request the erudite master and scholar Kensur Konchok Tsering to bestow the sacred Manjushri initiation to the sangha of Gaden Shartse Monastery. Kensur Rinpoche agreed and there was a large turnout in the grand debate courtyard of the monastery to receive the initiation from this master. I wanted everyone to be blessed by Manjushri and seeds of Manjushri planted in their mindstream for their future enlightenment.
Before monks engage in their daily debates, they invoke Manjushri to bestow his blessings for the spiritual education daily. Therefore I feel very lucky to have been able to have done this, because it was auspicious for the monks to receive this initiation, especially from someone as qualified as Kensur Rinpoche. In the video below, I provide a light commentary in regards to this initiation that I had the honour to sponsor. Please listen to the commentary to learn more. Thank you.
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/ManjushriInitiationGadenShartse.flv
Interview with H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche
Some of my students had the honour to have audience with Kensur Rinpoche. During the short audience, my students asked Kensur Rinpoche some questions to which Kensur Rinpoche replied. Below is the video from the event, where Kensur Rinpoche kindly took the time to speak with my students.
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/InterviewKensurKonchokTsering.flv
Interview with High Lamas of Gaden Monastery – Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche
Below is another video with Kensur Rinpoche which is a must see. He speaks very candidly and openly with his characteristic joviality to my students whom I sent to visit Gaden Monastery. Again, some of my students had travelled to Gaden Monastery and sought an audience with this holy master. During the audience, Kensur Rinpoche took time out of his schedule to speak to the students, and explain our relationship and what he remembered of me from the monastery. I was very humbled by all that he said.
Prayer For Me By Kensur Rinpoche Konchok Tsering
When I was ill in 2011, some of my students had requested Kensur Rinpoche Konchok Tsering to compose a long life prayer which they would recite to generate the merits for my long life and Dharma works to grow. In Tibetan Buddhism, when one’s teacher is ill, we can request the high lamas to compose special prayers to invoke upon the blessings of the Three Jewels to increase our teacher’s life. This is what my students had done, as such prayers are sought after and recited daily. These prayers are recited daily by devoted students to increase the merits for their teachers to live longer.
Kensur Rinpoche kindly agreed. I am indeed fortunate to have had such a high and renowned master compose this for me. I am humbled and honoured. I am grateful to this lama for composing something to increase my life. I have not done much and yet Kensur Rinpoche thought that my life is worth extending. I fold my hands humbly to Kensur Rinpoche, who tirelessly taught the Dharma to hundreds of his students which many now are great Dharma masters, some of which have become excellent teachers in their own right. Kensur Rinpoche is the perfect example of kindness, knowledge, practice, generosity, meditation, patience and compassion rolled into one great master. He has achieved great results in his meditation and therefore able to stay in thukdam (death meditation) for nine days. I fold my hands to Kensur Rinpoche for granting me his blessings.
The prayer is designed to be recited daily by students, well-wishers, friends and or those karmically connected with myself. The prayers have power due to the illustrious authors’ blessings.
*Traditionally, the Lama’s incarnate name is not written in long-life prayers; only his ordained named is used. However, for the benefit of non-Tibetan disciples, this translation includes my incarnation name– Tsem Rinpoche.
For more interesting information:
- Prayers For Me by HH Trijang Rinpoche & Kensur Rinpoche Konchok Tsering
- They were not wrong
- Manjushri Initiation in Gaden Shartse
- His Eminence Kyabje Late Rinpoche Enters Clear Light
- Various Aspects of Tantra by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche
- Dorje Shugden: My Side of the Story
- Visiting His Holiness Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche in Vermont
- My Short Bio in Picture
- His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang
- Trijang Rinpoche and Karma
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