Khenpo Sherab Sangpo
Biography of Khenpo Sherab Sangpo
“Khenpo Sherab Sangpo studied under the lord of refuge Khenchen Padma Tsewang Rinpoche…and with numerous masters of all traditions. He has taught the profound Dharma of sutra and mantra to students of numerous nationalities. This teacher should be treated with reverence and respect. Doing so will bring goodness in this life and the next and establish a profound connection with the Buddha’s teachings.” -Katok Getsé Rinpoche
Khen Rinpoche began his studies in Tibet with the famed master Petsé Rinpoche (Khenchen Padma (Pema) Tsewang Rinpoche), with whom he studied for over twenty years. He became a monk at the age of seven at Gyalwa Phukhang Monastery, a branch of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Sechen Monastery. Under Petsé Rinpoche’s guidance, he first studied Tibetan Buddhist ritual, eventually becoming one of the monastery’s ritual leaders and chant masters. Even at a young age, he was renowned for his ability to memorize the vast number of texts used at the monastery and his command of Tibetan Buddhist ritual.
Recognizing his great potential, Petsé Rinpoche enrolled him in the monastery’s monastic college, Ngedön Shedrup Targyé Ling, when he was only thirteen years old. For years, the only task his master gave him was to memorize the countless texts that form the core of the Buddhist education system. Only once he had memorized them all and could recite them from memory did he go on to receive teachings on their meaning. A tireless teacher, Petsé Rinpoche taught the monks himself, which is extremely rare for such a high lama.
Khenpo studied for years, receiving teachings on the entire range of Buddhist philosophy and practice. The teachings he received were so extensive, in fact, that he studied many texts three, four, or even five times. His studies did not stop with philosophy, meditation and ritual, however. Petsé Rinpoche also gave extensive teachings on the “five sciences.” Khen Rinpoche is renowned for his knowledge of these topics, which include astrology, poetry, medicine and grammar. To this day, monks and practitioners seek him out not only to teach the subtleties of Buddhist thought and practice, but also to give astrology readings and consult him on other such topics.
In a further recognition of his talents and realization, Petsé Rinpoche appointed him as his personal teaching assistant when Khenpo was only 19. For years, he acted as his master’s “kyorpon,” a teaching assistant who leads review sessions that supplement the main class being taught. In the process, he became one of the most renowned Khenpos in Eastern Tibet, a “khenpo” being a formally recognized master of Buddhist philosophy. He also accompanied his teacher as he traveled throughout Tibet, Nepal and India, often giving teachings in his stead at monasteries that had invited Petsé Rinpoche to teach.
In addition to the rigorous academic training in the monastic college, Petsé Rinpoche locked the doors of the monastery for three months every year and allowed no outsiders in. During this time, he led his monks in strict meditation retreat. This allowed Khen Rinpoche to deepen his understanding of the Buddha’s teachings through meditation.
After his decades of study with Petsé Rinpoche, Khen Rinpoche traveled to Larung Monastery in a remote area in North-Eastern Tibet to study under the great Khenchen Jigmé Phuntsok Rinpoche. He spent six years with this master, at the end of which his abilities as a teacher were again recognized formally by the monastery and his teachers. He also received rare teachings, such as The Treasury of Precious Revelations (Rinchen Terdzöd), from great Rimé masters like Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche and Trulshik Rinpoche, both of whom are root teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Following his time in Larung, he returned to his home monastery. Shortly thereafter, Petsé Rinpoche gave him a letter of introduction and sent him alone to receive teachings from the famed meditation hermit Adzom Drukpa Rinpoche. From this meditation master, he received the most secret and profound teachings of the Dzogchen tradition, instructions that are forbidden from being written down or transmitted to more than one student at a time.
Khen Rinpoche received the entire “hearing lineage” of the Dzogchen teachings from one of the greatest masters in Tibet. At the end of this period, Adzom Drukpa Rinpoche recognized that Khen Rinpoche had truly mastered the teachings. He then commanded Khenpo to uphold all the Buddha’s teachings, formally empowering him to teach all aspects of sutra and tantra, give empowerments, and work for the benefit of others using whatever methods are appropriate. This great honor is a testament to the fact that Khen Rinpoche has mastered not only the theory of Buddhist philosophy and practice, but has also had direct experiential realization of the teachings as well.
Though Khen Rinpoche is renowned for his ability to teach virtually any topic, he is especially known for his knowledge of the tantras, Madhyamaka philosophy and his mastery of the writings of the great 19th century Rimé master Ju Mipham.
In short, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo has received a wealth of teachings from some of the greatest Buddhist masters of the century. His innate abilities and intensive training allowed him to master these teachings, both in terms of theoretical knowledge and experiential realization. For this reason, his knowledge and realization have been recognized time and again by some of the most respected masters in the Tibetan tradition.
“Khenpo Sherab Sangpo has completed his study and practice of Buddhist ritual and received a virtual ocean of teachings from great Buddhist masters, including Kyabjé Jigme Phuntsok, Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Adzom Druktrul Rinpoche, and Khenpo Pedma Tsewang. Not only has he thoroughly studied and contemplated all these teachings on Buddhist sutra and tantra, he has brought this process to fruition.” - Khenpo Pema Tsewang