Ponlob Tsangpa Tenzin Rinpoche is the Ponlob, the head teacher of the Yungdrung Bon Academy of Higher Studies at Triten Norbutse Monastery. A pivotal moment in Ponlob Rinpoche’s spiritual life occurred in 1986 when he met Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, an eminent master of Dzogchen practice, and the foremost teacher in the Bon tradition. At that time Ponlob Rinpoche had the great opportunity to receive ordination from Yongdzin Rinpoche who is a holder of the unbroken lineage of vinaya, the monastic disciplinary code of the Bon tradition. Since that time Ponlob Rinpoche has been unremitting in his quest to master the knowledge and practices of Yungdrung Bon that have been passed on from ancient times to the present day.
His studies began under the guidance of Tengchen Lama Sherab Gelek Rinpoche from whom he learned various skills used in Bon practice, such as ritual techniques, the use of sacred instruments and liturgical chants. In the same period he received teachings, transmissions and initiations from Tengchen Khenpo Woeser Jinpa Phuntsok. His main focus in this early period was gathering accumulations through the foundation practices; when he had completed these he went on to study Dzogchen for three years. He first studied Bon philosophy with Lungkar Ponlob Drangsong Tsultrim Namdak, under whose guidance he studied the systems of Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen in the Bon tradition. During this time he was able to expand and deepen his knowledge of the Bon teachings.
In 1992, Ponlob Rinpoche entered Menri monastery in India. For a further nine years he continued his study of Bon Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen, and the general Tibetan sciences under the great blessings and guidance of H.H. Menri Tridzin Rinpoche, and H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche, along with many other teachers, first in the Bon Dialectic School at Menri monastery and later at the Yungdrung Bon Academy of Higher Studies at Triten Norbutse monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal. Throughout these long years of intensive study, Ponlob Rinpoche received major initiations, transmissions and pith-instructions that are traditionally bestowed by the teacher to students with the aim of enhancing their understanding and experience of the teachings. He is widely known for his uprightness, intelligence and his keen dedication to practice. During his studies he also found time to serve the monastic community by teaching and organising the publication of Drepoi Beltam, the monastery’s annual journal.
Having successfully completed his studies, in 2001, Ponlob Rinpoche was awarded the degree of Geshe, making him one of only six Geshe that had graduated from Triten Norbutse up to that point in time. Following his graduation, he continued to study, practise and teach at Triten Norbutse. In 2004, he was appointed and enthroned as Ponlob Rinpoche of Triten Norbutse Monastery by and with the blessings of H.H. Menri Tridzin Rinpoche, H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, and now carries the great responsibility for maintaining high standards of monastic education and discipline. Since his appointment Ponlob Tsangpa Tenzin Rinpoche has been serving the Bon tradition, the monastery and the students through his exemplary teaching, knowledge and inspiration.