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The Spirit of Tibet: Journey to Enlightenment, Life and World of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The Spirit of Tibet: Journey to Enlightenment, Life and World of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, produced by Beckmann Visual Publishing in 2006, is an authentic portrait of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of Tibet’s great contemporary teachers.


Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910 – 1991), was born in the Derge region of Kham, Eastern Tibet, in a royal lineage of the ninth-century King Trisong Detsen. He was a Vajrayana master, scholar, poet, teacher, and head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism from 1987 to 1991.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (‘Khyentse’ combines two Tibetan words: khyen, meaning wisdom, and tse, meaning compassion) and was recognized as the reincarnation of a renowned, enlightened Tibetan master known as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892).

Khyentse Rinpoche spent many years studying and meditating in a hermitage above the monastery.

He received teachings and transmissions from over fifty teachers from all four lineage traditions. From the ages of fifteen to twenty-eight, he lived in silent retreat, in remote hermitages and caves, actualizing all the teachings he had previously received.

His wife said about Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

“Rinpoche would never lie down at night, he slept sitting up straight in his wooden meditation box.”

Dilgo Khyentse’s wife also tells us that he was an avid reader during these early years. His retreat hut was so small that books would have to be piled up on the porch.

In the late 1950s, he was one of those lamas who had left with his noble family into exile, over the border into neighboring Bhutan.

From Bhutan, he managed to get to Sikkim, but along the route, lost all of his possessions, including all his precious books.

For many years, in consequence, Dilgo Khyentse lived in extreme poverty and misery as a refugee in Kalimpong. This situation did not get better until he made a spiritual pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. After that pilgrimage life for him and his family seemed to noticeably improve.

He traveled all over the Himalayas, India, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America, transmitting and explaining the teachings to his many disciples. He was not only a principal holder of the Longchen Nyingtik lineage of Dzogchen but a lineage holder of teachings from all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery

In 1980, he founded the Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal, where he transplanted the Shechen tradition to a new home near the great stupa of Boudhanath, just northeast of Kathmandu.

At this location over the years he gave many teachings, turning the wheel of the Dharma countless times for hundreds of other lamas, disciples, and students from around the world.

Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was eventually viewed by the Tibetan people, and by his many disciples, including the Dalai Lama, as a true living Buddha, a fully awakened human being.

He was given the highest respect and even awed worship by the Tibetan people in his own lifetime; a veneration that continues now that his reincarnation has been found. He has been without question the greatest living Tibetan exemplary of the Way of Enlightenment in our generation.

He was one of the few Tibetan Lamas accorded the honorific title of “His Holiness.”

Following the death of Dudjom Rinpoche in 1987, he became the head of the Nyingma School and remained so until his own death in Bhutan on 28 September 1991.

Final cremation ceremonies were held for him over a three-day period near Paro in Bhutan, in November 1992, and were attended by over a hundred important lamas, the Royal Family, and ministers of Bhutan, five hundred western disciples, and some fifty thousand devotees.

His last words:

“I shall go on the nineteenth.”

Some of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s books:

  • The Excellent Path to Enlightenment (1996);
  • The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most (2005);
  • The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel (2005);
  • The Collected Works of Dilgo Khyentse Vols. 1-3 (2011).

His reincarnation was found by Trulshik Rinpoche, his most senior and accomplished disciple, Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, which was born in Nepal in 1993.

READ MORE: The Yogis of Tibet: A Film for Posterity

The Spirit of Tibet: Journey to Enlightenment, Life and World of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche – Synopsis

This film is an authentic portrait of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of Tibet’s great contemporary teachers, considered to be a “Master of Masters” among the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Ten years in the making, this film began in 1989 when translator Matthieu Ricard and Vivian Kurz began taping extensive footage of their teacher.

Shot in rarely filmed Kham, Eastern Tibet, as well as Nepal, Bhutan, India, and France, the film shows the rich and intricate tapestry Of Tibetan Buddhism and is a witness to the strength, wisdom, and depth of Tibetan culture.

Watch on more documentaries, like: Unmistaken Child.