Lha-Tri Khenpo Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche
My name is Lha-Tri Khenpo Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche. I am the abbot and lineage holder of the Lha-Tri monastery in the Kham / Derge region of Eastern Tibet.
I was born in Tibet in 1959 and grew up in Nepal at Dorpatan, the first refugee Bonpo community. My family is the lineage holder of the Lha-Tri lineage. My father, Lha-Tri Gyaltsen Nyima, was the third reincarnation of Tsultrim Phuntsok, a great practitioner of Eastern Tibet. When I was six years old, I began to learn to read and write Tibetan. At this time I also started my religious studies under the guidance of my father and Tsultrim Nyima Rinpoche, the abbot of Dorpatan monastery. When I was thirteen I moved to Kathmandu (Nepal) with my family where I had to work in a sweat shop and learned the art of carpet design.
Most Bonpo people who live in Kathmandu have come originally from the Dorpatan area. The majority are devotees of the Te-Wa monastery, located in the North of Tibet. My father was the lama of the Te-Wa monastery. As long as lived he was in charge of all annual religious activities. His main goal was to keep the Bonpo community alive and to grant young people to get in contact with their original Bon culture. For that reason he re-established the Bon community Te-Wa (Te-Bon Kyi Dun) in Kathmandu. Until this day this institution is still active.
When I was fifteen (1974) my father took me to the Menri monastery at Dolanji, India (in the Himachal Pradesh region) so that I could become a monk there. He was worried about the future of Tibet and wanted to make sure to leave a successor from within our family. He expected me to become a spiritual practitioner and to serve the Bonpo community as a spiritual master later on. But I became very homesick and returned to my family in Kathmandu.
Three years later the senior Menri Lopon, Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche, asked my father why I had not yet become a monk. By that time I realized that as the eldest son and with the name of the lineage holder Lha-Tri it was my duty to become a monk and serve the Bonpo people.
At a family gathering my father talked about the message from Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche and all my family encouraged me to take up the challenge, and so I decided to return to Menri monastery at Dolanji.
It was during the Tibetan New Year, on the birthday of Nyammed Sherab Gyaltsen that I took the vow to become a monk. From that day on I have been cared for and guided by H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin, the spiritual head of the Bon.
In 1978 I was among the first students to enter the newly founded Bon Dialectic School, a monastery school that teaches philosophy (sutra, tantra, dzogchen), astrology, medicine and all other traditional Bon disciplines. There I received all my teachings from Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Lharam Geshe Yung Drung Nam Gyel. I had made a commitment not to take any vacation before graduating from the dialectic school and so I did not return home before 1987. By then I had received my Geshe degree which equals a Western PhD.
During the whole period of my studies and up to now I have been assisting His Holiness with the administration of the monastic centre as well as the school (CST) at Dolanji. I have had the honour of representing His Holiness the 33rd Menri Trizin at meetings and conferenses held away from Dolanji.
After having received several letters from the people of the Lha-Tri monastery asking me to join them and help them educate the young monks of their monastery I travelled to Tibet in 1987. There, in addition to visiting the Lha-Tri monastery, I also made a tour of thirty-eight other monasteries. The purpose of my visit was to enforce the connection between the monasteries in India and Tibet. Respectively my most important visits in Tibet were to the Menri monastery as well as the Lha-Tri monastery, where I was enthroned as abbot.
In 1988 I returned to Menri monastery at Dolanji. In April of the same year His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the monastery and discussed the school system of Dolanji with H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin. By then the school had only 6 grades and H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin asked for the permission to add a 7th and 8th grade. Thus the children would have even a more profound opportunity to study their original Bon culture. H.H. the Dalai Lama agreed to the project and wished as many children as possible to be brought to Dolanji to be raised in the Bon culture. The Minister of Education of the exiled government of Tibet at that time, Juchen Thupten, gave the thousand rupees for the project.
I was assigned not only the task of working out the project (including the dealings with the Indian government) but also to encourage the various Bonpo communities to send children to the Bonpo school at Dolanji. I made an official visit to Kathmandu to talk to the local Bonpo community about the project and spread the information to Dolpo, Lubrak, Zomsom and Tankye as well as to remote Bonpo communities in Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and India.
In addition to the school project H.H. the 33rd Menri Trizin asked me to set up a home for girls and boys at Dolanji. So in 1988 I founded the Home known today as the Bon Children`s Home (BCH). There boys and girls are brought up together. Here they find not only a place to receive an education but also a real home. I have been the director of the Bon Children`s Home up to now.
Most children at the Bon Children`s Home are from very remote Bonpo communities such as Dolpo and Lubrak (Nepal). In the beginning there were 45 children. Today the number has grown up to 280 children between 5 and 20 years of age. Some of them have already graduated from the school at Dolanji and continue their education at Shimla, Varanasi and Dera Dun (UA).
Besides I am also the chairman of the local advisory committee of the Central School for Tibetan at Dolanji.
Already in 1987 I created and edited “sBon sGo” (Door to Bon), the only Bonpo magazine published in Tibetan language. The editorial staff has six members and will soon publish the regular issue of the annual magazine.
In May 1996 I was assigned by H.H. 33rd Menri Trizin to set up the Mongyal monastery at Dera Dun in India. The land for the project had been donated by the Prince of Lingtsang and the Tibetan Kham Lingtsang society already in 1974. The project has been aimed at re-establishing the original Tibetan educational system.
Every year since 1991 I have travelled to the United States and various countries in Europe, for instance Austria, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland, to spread the Teachings of Bon and raise funds for the Bon Children`s Home. Regularly I have returned to give Teachings at the Bon centre I have founded: Yeru Bon Centre in Los Angeles (United States), Shen Chen Ling in Minsk (Belarus), Bon Shen Ling in Moscow (Russia) and Shen Chen Ling Bon Centre in Vienna (Austria), Bon Gyi Drup De in Donetsk (Ukraine), Bon Shen Drup De in Kharkov (Ukraine).
The motivation to spread the Bonpo religion not only to the Tibetans who had to flee their native country but also to other parts of the world and the love and care for “my” children give me the remarkable strength to take up so many different tasks like teaching, organising, collecting funds, founding new schools, managing the Home, editing a magazine and travelling around the world and to go on with so many different projects.