His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, has been recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as the single most important living repository of Tibetan culture.
He was born in 1926 in the Kham region of eastern Tibet. At the age of seven, he began studies at Tengchen Monastery. In 1941, he studied at Yungdrung Ling Monastery, and in 1950 entered the original sMenri Monastery, where he received his geshe degree in 1953. From 1953 – 1957 he served as the Lopon (head teacher) of the original sMenri Monastery.
During the 1959 uprising, His Eminence was in spiritual retreat in Tibet. He attempted to leave in 1960, but was shot and imprisoned by the Chinese for ten months. He finally managed to escape to Nepal. In the 1960s, His Eminence was a visiting scholar in London and studed at Cambridge. He collaborated with David Snellgrove, an English Tibetologist, and the result was The Nine Ways of Bon. He also was a visiting scholar at Munich University.
In 1967, His Eminence assisted in procuring the land and establishing the Bön settlement at Dolanji, India. In 1968, His Eminence founded the Tibetan Bonpo Foundation, a charitable organization for the Bön community. He resided at sMenri Monastery from 1969 to 1987, continuing his work of writing, publishing, practicing, and teaching. In 1978 the Bön Dialectic School was established at the new sMenri Monastery in Dolanji India, under the direction of His Holiness the 33rd sMenri Trizin and his Eminence once again held the responsibility as head teacher to instruct the students of the newly founded dialectic school at the monastery.
His Eminence traveled to England, America and Italy in 1989, where he gave teachings on Dzogchen according the the Bön traditions of Atri and Zhang Zhung Nyengyu.
In 1987, His Eminence founded Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, which today houses approximately 170 monks. His Eminence also founded a new Bön center and temple in France, Shenden Targye Ling. He maintains a regular teaching schedule both in Kathmandu and France, and also visits the United States to give teachings. In 1993, Heardrops of Darmakaya, his commentary on Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s book of Dzogchen practice, was published in English. This is the first book in English that describes the practices of Dzogchen in detail.
His Eminence also collaborated with David Snellgrove the book, The Nine Ways of Bön, and is the founder of Shenten Dargye Ling (www.shenten.org).