A day with Damcho Rinpoche

With a warm smile and twinkle in his eye, Damcho Rinpoche (b. 1973) has lived a life suffused by Dharma, immersed in the activities of Thrangu Monastery and its global work. He was a personal attendant to the late Kagyu master, Vajradhara Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche (1933-2023), having received the Barma Rabjung vow from Thrangu Rinpoche (and given the dharma name Karma Damcho) in 1987, at the age of 14. He is also famous among the Thrangu community for being an expert of sadhanas, deploying them to immense efficacy at pujas, consecrations, and other rituals.

From 2013 onwards, Thrangu Rinpoche asked Damcho Rinpoche to represent him at important events in Nepal, such as the opening of Nar Satek Monastery in the same year. Since 2013, Damcho Rinpoche also has been visiting the Gurung Society Monastery in Pokhara annually. He leads the local community in pujas and gives regular empowerments and teachings. He is known among the Thrangu community as a consistent supporter of young monks from Nubri Hinang Monastery and Nar Thrangu Monastery.

He also sponsors the meals of monastic teachers spending winters at Lumbini’s Thrangu Monastery. Generous and proactive, he gifts resources to a general pool of monks, female monastics, the underprivileged, and his own students.

Image by the author

Damcho Rinpoche was in Taiwan this March to tend to his Taiwanese practitioner community, but also swung by Hong Kong. By the scenic beach of Shek O, Rinpoche enjoyed a delightful reunion with his friend and student, Vajrayana artist Rebecca Wong. The last time they had seen each other was during Rebecca’s trip to Nepal, where she visited Tara Abbey, an important institution for female monastics that he supports.

Back in January, he imparted to her words of wisdom about the goddess Tara, and this month, he performed various empowerments for Rebecca and her friends and family, including the Vajrayogini sadhana. He had especially selected this sadhana because of his awareness of the importance of feminine deities and feminine principles of enlightenment. Listening to his recitation of these sadhanas, I could not help but notice that he visibly enjoyed conducting the ritual: something that I am sure other teachers do, of course. But his voice, strong and articulate, brought forth the holy syllables in a truly sublime fashion.

Since 2009, when Thrangu Rinpoche asked him to do so, Damcho Rinpoche has been travelling the world giving Dharma teachings. He teaches at Kamashila Buddhist Center in Germany and teaches mainly in Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Americas, among more. Of course, he has devoted students all over the world, but I see in Damcho Rinpoche’s friendship with Rebecca an affirmation of the Thrangu bond between Hong Kong and Nepal, which dates back to pre-handover Hong Kong, to 1990, when the city’s first Samten Ling center was founded by Gyalpo Rinpoche.

Thrangu Vajrayana Buddhist Centre in Kwun Tong, founded in 1985, is one of the earliest and most beautiful Buddhist practice centers in the entire city. The presence of other Vajrayana teachers that fly back and forth between the Asian hub and their hometowns and monasteries in Nepal (like Khenpo Dawa, who leads the Thrangu Centre in Hong Kong, and Lama Tsongdue), is indicative of a spiritual bond that will only solidify as Hongkongers’ hunger grows for authentic Kagyu and Vajrayana practice.

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