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The Parinirvana of Lama Norlha Rinpoche

 Lama Norlha Rinpoche

It is with great sadness that we share the news that our precious teacher, Lama Norlha Rinpoche, passed away on February 19, 2018, the fourth day of Losar, after a long illness.

lama norlha rinpocheThe day before he passed, Rinpoche and KTC were inconceivably blessed with a visit from His Holiness Karmapa, who bestowed the empowerment of Buddha Akshobya on Rinpoche in his room. Rinpoche had very much aspired to receive this empowerment from the Karmapa, and His Holiness fulfilled his wish with profound warmth and care. This was the second time His Holiness visited Rinpoche during his illness. Karmapa Khyenno!

Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, His Holiness Sakya Trichen Dorje Chang, Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and many other venerable lamas are making prayers.

We chanted special practices during the 49 days following Rinpoche's passing including Akshobya, Red Chenrezig, Dorje Sempa and Amitabha.  The practices concluded on April 8.

image2On the first day of Akshobya practice for Lama Norlha Rinpoche, we were blessed by a visit from Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. Khenpo Rinpoche, accompanied by Khenpo Urgyen, Lama Karma Drodul and Ani Karuna, came to perform The Guru Yoga in Four Sessions (Tun Shi Lama Naljor) before Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s kudung. Khenpo Rinpoche said that he has no doubt that Lama Norlha Rinpoche was already in a pure land, but was performing the practice in order to fulfill a promise he had made to Lama Norlha Rinpoche before he passed.

Afterwards, Khenpo Rinpoche spoke to everyone gathered about his pure connection with Lama Norlha Rinpoche over 40 years, and about Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s life accomplishments and extraordinary qualities.

We rejoice in the great fortune that Lama Norlha Rinpoche was able to privately receive the Akshobya empowerment, first from HH Sakya Trichen Dorje Chang, then from Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa, and finally on the day before his passing, from HH Gyalwang Karmapa. Khenpo Rinpoche mentioned that it was very auspicious that Lama Norlha Rinpoche received these empowerments from these great masters, and that it prepared him well for his passing.

Khenpo Rinpoche concluded by stating the importance of being kind to one another at this time, and that we take care of this monastery that Lama Norlha Rinpoche so lovingly established for our future.

lama norlha rinpoche

Beginning at 5 am on Wednesday, the Tibetan 6th, we began chanting Akshobya and preparing the kudung for cremation. We were blessed to have special guests for the service, including Chamsing-La (HH Karmapa's sister), Tsewang Rinpoche from Danang Foundation, Lama Sangye, Lama Tratop, Lama Nyima, and representatives from the Karmapa Service Society.

lama norlha rinpocheSoon after Lama Norlha Rinpoche's cremation, there was a rainbow near the sun over the Maitreya Center.  The sun was unusually bright, and the winter day was as warm as summer. Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa said this was a very rare and auspicious sign after viewing the photos. He said the rainbow was a proper “འཇའ་," which is translated as rainbow but is distinguished from the common bow-shaped rainbow caused by rain. This straighter type that is near the sun is the rare type that is considered auspicious to see in these circumstances. 

Situ Rinpoche said, "it is a real, genuine sign, and it is very, very good."

All of us at KTC are extremely grateful for the loving support we are receiving from the Lamas, the Sangha, and the community as a whole.

lama norlha rinpochePractitioners at home who have the Akshobya empowerment and instructions are encouraged to participate by chanting the short Akshobya practice if you have it. Others may chant the Akshobya mantra or the Chenrezig practice or mantra, as well as any other practice you find helpful.

It is also helpful to rest the mind in awareness or mix the mind with the lama’s mind (the mind of enlightenment). Any amount of practice you are able to do will be of great benefit.

The first 49 days following the passing of one’s lama are traditionally considered an extraordinarily sacred and powerful time, when his or her pure awareness may be experienced by disciples as vividly present.

From Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche’s final teaching, “The Lama’s Mind is Like the Sky,” bestowed upon his students a few weeks before he passed away in 1989: “The essence of the lama or buddha is emptiness; their nature clarity; their appearance the play of unimpeded awareness. Apart from that, they have no real, material form, shape, or color whatsoever – like the empty luminosity of space. When we know them to be like that, we can develop faith, merge our minds with theirs, and let our minds rest peacefully. This attitude and practice are extremely important.”  

Remembrances, submitted pictures and videos can be found here.


Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery and Retreat Center

Under the Spiritual Direction of
Guru Vajradhara the 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa

Founded by Lama Norlha Rinpoche
in the tradition of Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche



Top: H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche (Photo: K.S. Lhamo); Left: Lama Norlha Rinpoche (Photo: Robert Hansen-Sturm); Center: Buddha statue in main shrine room; Right: Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche

Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery and its affiliate centers are branches of the Palpung Institution under the spiritual direction of Guru Vajradhara the 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa.

Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery and its Retreat Centers were founded in 1978 by Lama Norlha Rinpoche in the tradition of Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche. An internationally respected meditation master in the tradition of the Kagyu Lineage, Lama Norlha Rinpoche personally guided this active Dharma community until his retirement in 2017.  Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa Rinpoche has served as the overall spiritual head of KTC since 2016.  Under his direction, KTC provides opportunities for students at all levels. In addition to a daily schedule of practice, study and work, the monastery offers weekend seminars and special courses led by visiting Lamas.

Over more than 30 years, we have been fortunate to host two visits from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and to receive blessings from both the 16th and 17th Karmapas, as well as numerous teachings and empowerments from the spiritual heads and other notable Lamas of all four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

Since its founding, a major focus of Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery has been the three-year retreat program which was initiated in 1982 and offers training to serious students in the core teachings and practices of the Kagyu Lineage.  Three-year retreat graduates offer classes in Tibetan language, meditation, and traditional rituals, both at KTC and at our affiliated centers located in many cities throughout the U.S. East Coast and Peru.  They also serve as mentors in the Dharma Path Program, a program created by Lama Norlha Rinpoche to provide serious practitioners in the lay community with comprehensive instruction in the progressive stages of meditation and contemplation.