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The Teacher: His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang + Zoran Josipovic


Friday, February 21, 2014
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

The head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage recounts the trials of his early life and the challenges of surviving the Cultural Revolution and offers some advice on the mindset required to overcome adversity.
The Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang was born in 1946 into an aristocratic family in Lhasa. His formal enthronement took place on the eve of the first Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. In 1956, at the age of eleven, Rinpoche gave his first public teaching and transmission. Subsequently he was enrolled at the Nyima Changra monastic college of Drikung, but was forced to endure months of Communist indoctrinations during the Tibetan uprising of 1959. Unable to flee like many other Tibetans, he was assigned to a commune in the countryside, enduring back-breaking physical labor. Finally, in 1975, he found a way to escape to Dharamsala. He was reunited with his parents in the US, but needed to learn English, earning his living as a part-time employee at a McDonald’s and other restaurants. During his third year in the US, he received a very rare ancient Tibetan text uncovered in Nepal dealing with the history of the throne holders of the Drikung Order and written by his former incarnation, the 4th Chetsang Peme Gyaltsen. His study of the text brought him back to India in 1978, where he took on the lead of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage as its throne holder. In India, after many years living a secular life in occupied Tibet and the US, resumed his monastic lifestyle, taking up residence at Phyang Monastery in Ladakh. In 1985, Rinpoche received his full monk’s ordination from the Dalai Lama, and since 1987 he has been teaching throughout the world. In 2003, Chetsang Rinpoche established the Songtsen Library, a center for Tibetan and Himalayan studies. Two years later he built a large College for Higher Buddhist Studies, the Kagyu College, nearby.
Zoran Josipovic is a research associate and adjunct faculty at NYU, where he researches the effects of contemplative practices on the brain organization. He is also a founding director of Nonduality Institute, a center for theory and practice of nonduality.