Sogyal Rinpoche was recognized as the incarnation of a Tibetan master and visionary saint of the 19th century, Terton Sogyal Lerab Lingpa.
24 Facts About Sogyal Rinpoche
Sogyal Rinpoche was born Sonam Gyaltsen Lakar in 1947 in what the Tibetans called the Trehor region of Kham, Tibet.
Sogyal Rinpoche studied traditional subjects with several tutors, including Khenpo Appey, who was appointed as his tutor by Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro.
Sogyal Rinpoche attended a Catholic school in Kalimpong, India and then studied at Delhi University in India's capital before coming to the West.
Sogyal Rinpoche continued to study with many masters, of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, especially Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche.
Sogyal Rinpoche first began to translate for Dudjom Rinpoche in Kalimpong in India and later continued in the role of his translator in Europe and during a tour of the United States.
Dudjom Rinpoche asked Sogyal Rinpoche to take care of his centre in Rue Burq, Paris, which opened in 1978.
In 1987, Sogyal Rinpoche was invited to become spiritual director of the centre in County Cork in the west of Ireland which was to become Dzogchen Beara, Rigpa's first long-term retreat facility.
In 1991, Sogyal Rinpoche founded the retreat centre of Lerab Ling near Montpellier in southern France.
In 1983, Sogyal Rinpoche met Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Kenneth Ring and other figures in the caring professions and near-death research, and they encouraged him to develop his work in opening up the Tibetan teachings on death and helping the dying.
Sogyal Rinpoche was a regular speaker at conferences around the world, addressing topics such as Buddhism in the modern world, death and dying, meditation and happiness.
Sogyal Rinpoche taught regularly in India, especially in Delhi at the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Sogyal Rinpoche taught in the Himalayan regions of Sikkim, where he lived for part of his childhood, and Bhutan.
Sogyal Rinpoche had been teaching annually in Bhutan since 2007 and his teachings were regularly shown on television there.
Sogyal Rinpoche said that he decided to make teaching in Bhutan a priority since it is the only remaining independent Vajrayana Buddhist country in the world.
In 1998, Rinpoche was formally offered the throne of Terton Sogyal's home monastery in Tibet, Kalzang Monastery, by the abbot, Sherab Ozer Rinpoche, in a ceremony in France.
Sogyal Rinpoche died, aged 72, of a pulmonary embolism on 28 August 2019 in Thailand where he was being treated for colorectal cancer.
The letter describes that Sogyal Rinpoche has a lavish and indulgent lifestyle, and depicts a cavalier use of donations to support this lifestyle, and a tyrannical and abusive manner towards those who worked closely with him and who were often key in managing the Rigpa organization.
The letter states that the public face of Sogyal Rinpoche was carefully crafted and managed to promote a person who was wise, compassionate, and virtually infallible, an image which was greatly at odds with the private Sogyal Rinpoche, whose abusive and narcissistic personality and deeds were kept hidden at great effort from the public and the wider Rigpa sangha by his inner circle.
On 11 August 2017, Sogyal Rinpoche retired from his position as Rigpa's spiritual director in the wake of the abuse allegations.
Sogyal Rinpoche appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1993 film Little Buddha in the role of Kenpo Tenzin.
Sogyal Rinpoche featured in Frank Cvitanovich's The Making of a Modern Mystic, made for the BBC in 1993.
Sogyal Rinpoche was the subject of a documentary by German filmmaker Boris Penth called Sogyal Rinpoche: Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World, which includes interviews with John Cleese and former Tibetan prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche.
Sogyal Rinpoche is featured in Sasha Meyerowitz's 2008 documentary Teachings on Milarepa.