Rinpoche was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1931, to parents
of Irish-Scottish descent. After leaving a Christian
Seminary College due to a 'crisis of conscience' he
became involved with 'socialism' for some time. After
a trip to Russia as part of a Canadian Youth delegation
he became dissillusioned with politics upon encountering
travelled to England where he pursued his interest in
the sciences and arts, especially healing, modern psychology,
metaphysics and the Western Mystery Schools, particularly
the Rosicrucion. In the late 1950's, he met a Burmese
Buddhist Meditation Master named Sayadaw U Thila Wanta
and travelled with him to Bodh Gaya in India, the place
of the Buddha's Enlightenment, where he received the
novice ordination of a Buddhist monk.
then travelled on to Burma and received the full ordaination
as a Buddist Monk and was given the name Ananda Bodhi.
After intensive meditation in Burma, Thailand and Sri
Lanka for several years he Awakened and received the
Therevadin [Southern School of Buddhism] title Acariya
- meaning an Awakened Meditation Master of the Buddhist
Tranquillity and Insight meditations.
by the English Buddhist Community to teach meditation,
he returned to England in 1962 and while there, founded
several retreat centres. He returned to Canada in 1965
and a year later, with a group of students, established
the Dharma Centre of Canada in Toronto, Canada's largest
city. They also established the first western study
and meditation retreat centre near Kinmount, Ontario.
the next five years, Rinpoche taught in Canada, mostly
in Toronto and conducted deep meditation retreats for
his students at the Kinmount Retreat Centre. During
this period he also travelled all over the world, accompanied
by up to as many as over 100 of his students, for retreats
and studies at the planet's energy centres.
visits to the principal Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist [Northern
School] monasteries in India and Sikkim, he met H.H.
the Dalai Lama, H.H. Sakya Trizin and H.H. the XVIth
Karmapa - the heads of 3 of the 4 major Buddhist Lineages
of Tibet. He was recognised by H.H. Sakya Trizin as
a Non-Sectarian Master of all the Tibetan Lineages.
the Karmapa, on their first encounter, recognized him
as a long-missing 'Tulku' [the Tibetan word for the
fully enlightened reincarnation of a very high master]
of the previous generation in Tibet - the first westerner
to be so acknowledged publicly. He was then enthroned
as a Vajra Acariya - Tantric Meditation Master and Initiator.
The Tibetan title of Rinpoche was conferred upon him
and he was given the Dharma name Karma Tenzing Dorje
Namgyal. He was usually referred to by Tibetans and
Westerners as Namgyal Rinpoche.
Rinpoche was unique in his ability to encompass and
bridge the traditional methods of Buddhism and Western
Forms of unfoldment and transmit the path of Awakening
in universal terms, according to beings' interests and
travelled extensively throughout the world giving teaching,
most frequently at centres established by his students
in Canada, United States, Guatemala, Britain, Ireland,
France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand and
love of travel, mainly by flying for many years and
over 40 years of teaching finally took a toll on his
health. Some long-standing problems, first generated
as a young man in the East, caught up with him and at
the end of a meditation retreat he was conducting at
one of his favourite places in Switzerland he stated.
"There is nothing else to say". He returned
to the small private cottage on a lake where he was
staying on October 22, 2003 and, in a final demonstration
of impermanence, he manifested the passing away.
luminary amongst Lamas, Namgyal Rinpoche was acknowledged
by His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin, Head of
the Sakyapa Tibetan Lineage in his Vajraghoshanam
(Diamond Declaration), addressed to the Buddhist
Community of Canada and written by him in July
of 1978, which says:
inaugurating the Sakya Society of Canada I wish
especially to acknowledge the pioneering contribution
of the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche to the effective
establishment of Tibetan Buddhism in Canada.
Because of the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche's
long and intimate association with the teachers
and teachings of all four Tibetan orders, including
the Sakyapa, and his valuable insights acquired
through his training as a Vajrayanist meditation
master, I am pleased to appoint him a Spiritual
advisor of the Sakya Society of Canada."