Remembering Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

His Eminence was a shining star in this very darkened world that we live in.


Report from the Cremation Ceremony

More than 15,000 devotees gathered near Paro, Bhutan on March 3, 2012, to attend the last rites of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. The ceremony began at four in the morning, with the kudung [Rinpoche’s body] housed in a small temple. At around 8:30am, the kudung was carried in ceremonial procession, led by their eminences Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and Dungzin Garab Rinpoche. Tenzin Namgyel, Paro, of Bhutan’s daily news site, Kunensel writes:

The kudung was dressed as Long Kui Choe (Sambhogakaya), one of the three manifested bodies of Buddha. The head was dressed with the tshuktor (hair-knot), rignga (five crowns of Buddha) right below the hair-knot, thug gen (precious ornaments like coral and cat’s eye) adorned on the neck, drilbu (ritual bell) on the left hand, and dorji (Vajra) on the right hand, with special bracelets worn on both the arms. The legs were in dorji kultung (meditation posture)…

Students of Trungpa Rinpoche in attendance commented that the atmosphere of the event was very evocative, calling to mind a day in the upper meadow of Karme Choling, Vermont 25 years earlier. Devotees circumambulated the purkhang (cremation stupa) all day long — some in silent prayer, others chanting for the swift rebirth of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.

Remembering Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

By Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing this obituary for His Eminence Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. His Eminence was a shining star in this very darkened world that we live in.

I grew up in the Tibetan monastic system, I had contact with many elderly lamas, whom I received teachings from, and they all passed away one after the other. In recent years I had no connection with lamas of that generation except for His Eminence Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. He was very generous in accepting me to be one of his students. I had the great fortune of spending time with Rinpoche and being in his presence over a prolonged period of time.

I am saddened by his passing, as are many devoted followers. He was an exceptional teacher. His Eminence embodied two qualities, which are essential in Buddhism. One is learning and the other is practice. Due to his learning and impeccable conduct he attracted Tibetans, Nepalese, Bhutanese and even people from East Asia and the Far East.

As many of you would know Rinpoche was the eldest son of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, a very accomplished and incomparable Nyingma Master. I also had the opportunity to meet with His Holiness and in fact I attended pujas on several occasions with him in Darjeeling.

The first time I met His Eminence Thinley Norbu Rinpoche was in the 1960s when I was at His Eminence Thuksey Rinpoche’s monastery and reconnecting with him years later was a great blessing for me. Personally, I think Rinpoche possessed all the qualities that His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche possessed. He was a great scholar, a great meditator and very compassionate. The kind of role model that is very difficult to find in this changing world.

It goes without saying that I am very saddened by the news that His Eminence entered into parinirvana. Masters of such calibre are not bounded by time and space. Even so, not having the opportunity to see him again weighs heavily on my heart. I am praying as I am sure many others are for a very swift return.

With Deep Devotion,
Traleg Rinpoche