Venerable Choden Rinpoche
is one of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born
in 1933 in eastern Tibet in a family of great practitioners and recognized
at the age of 3 as an important reincarnate lama. From that age onwards,
he began his studies in Buddhism. He took ordination with the great master
Pabongka Rinpoche at the age of 6, and received many teachings from him.
At the age of 15,
Rinpoche entered the monastery of Sera Je near Lhasa and over the next
14 years mastered all the philosophical teachings required for highest
monastic title of Geshe Lharampa - a qualification that normally requires
30 years of study. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama completed his studies
in 1959, Choden Rinpoche was one of the official examiners chosen from
many thousands of monks to debate with His Holiness.
When the Chinese occupied
Tibet in 1959, Rinpoche was arrested and spent several months in prison.
Eventually, as a result of some sickness he was able to persuade the Chinese
that he was an invalid and spent 19 years in a small room with no window,
doing retreat with his mind, without the support of any ritual objects
or texts. In 1985, Rinpoche left Tibet to settle at Sera Monastery in
India and pass on the teachings.
He is considered one
of the last great masters - particularly famed for his pure moral conduct
- and has traveled worldwide at the request of Lama Zopa Rinpoche to pass
on his insights. In the West, he has inspired many Western students to
ordain and follow his example.