Our Spiritual DirectorBiography of Khenpo Sherab Sangpo
Biography of Khenpo Sherab Sangpo
Khenpo Sherab Sangpo began his studies in Tibet with Khenchen Padma Tsewang (Petsé Rinpoché), with whom he studied for nearly 15 years. He became a monk at the age of seven at Ngagyur Nyingma Gyalwa Pukang Monastery, a branch of Terchen Gyurmé Dorje’s Mindrolling Monastery. Under his root teacher’s guidance, he first studied Tibetan Buddhist ritual, eventually becoming one of the monastery’s ritual leaders and chant masters.
Khenchen Padma Tsewang enrolled Khenpo Sherab Sangpo in the monastery’s monastic college, Ngedön Shedrup Targyé Ling, when he was only thirteen years old and asked him to memorize many texts that form the core of the Buddhist education system. Khenpo Sherab Sangpo received teachings on the entire range of Buddhist philosophy and practice from his first root teacher.
Though he has mastered virtually every aspect of Buddhist philosophy and practice, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo is especially renowned for his knowledge of Madhyamaka philosophy, the writings of Mipham Rinpoché, and Buddhist tantra. Concerning the latter, his expertise comes not only from his knowledge of the tantric scriptures, but also through his mastery of monastic ritual and the years he has spent meditating in retreat. In addition to this, Khenchen Padma Tsewang also gave extensive teachings on the five major and minor sciences that include logic, grammar, astrology, and poetry.
Khenchen Padma Tsewang appointed Khenpo Sherab Sangpo as his personal teaching assistant when he was only nineteen. For years, he acted as his master’s kyorpon, a teaching assistant who leads review sessions that supplement the main classes being taught. After years of study he was eventually honored with a khenpo degree. In addition to the rigorous academic training in the monastic college, Khenchen Padma Tsewang locked the monastery’s doors for a hundred days each winter and prohibited outsiders. During this time, he led his monks in strict meditation retreat. This allowed his students to deepen their understanding of the Buddha’s teachings through meditation. The time Khenpo Sherab Sangpo spent with Khenchen Padma Tsewang allowed him to complete years of meditation retreat and prepared him for guiding his own students with kindness and bodhicitta.
In 1992, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo traveled to a remote area in northeastern Tibet to study under the great dzogchen master Khenchen Jigmé Phuntsok at his Buddhist university called Larung Gar. He remained there intermittently for six years, furthering his studies and receiving dzogchen teachings directly from Khenchen Jigmé Phuntsok.
Following his time at Larung Gar, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo spent a year studying with Khenchen Chöying Chapdal, a great master who lead a simple life of renunciation. His third root teacher’s lifestyle inspired Khenpo Sherab Sangpo to devote his life to practice and meditation.
After this, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo returned to his home monastery and shortly thereafter, Khenchen Padma Tsewang gave him a letter of introduction and sent him to receive teachings for six months from Adzom Drukpa Rinpoché (Adzom Drukpa Thupten Padma Trinlé). From him, he received the most secret and profound teachings of the dzogchen tradition, instructions that cannot be written down or transmitted to more than one student at a time. These teachings are known as nyong-trid, which means heart essence or experiential instructions. In this style of teaching, short, direct instructions are given one-on-one to a student, who then immediately puts them into practice in strict retreat. Practicing in this manner, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo 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 Rinpoché asked Khenpo Sherab Sangpo to uphold the Buddha’s teachings, formally empowering him to teach all aspects of sutra and tantra and work for the benefit of others.
Thereafter, in 2000, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoché requested that Khenchen Padma Tsewang send a khenpo to teach at his monastery in Kathmandu. In response, he sent Khenpo Sherab Sangpo, who spent the next three years teaching both western students and Tibetan monks at Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling monastery in Nepal.
In 2006, the Rimé Foundation invited Khenpo Sherab Sangpo to teach in the United States. In May 2008, Bodhicitta Sangha | Heart of Enlightenment Institute was incorporated as a nonprofit in Minnesota to further the Dharma activities of Khenpo Sherab Sangpo.
During a trip to Tibet in the summer of 2013, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo was able to receive monthlong dzogchen teachings, including the Yeshe Lama, from his final root teacher, Khangsar Tenpé Wangchuk Rinpoché. He asked Khenpo Sherab Sangpo to practice a fifth ngöndro called The Chariot of Liberation by Dudjom Lingpa and instructed him to have his students practice this preliminary practice—which continues to this day. In this way, the students of Bodhicitta Sangha have a Dzogchen lineage that encompasses such great masters as Rigdzin Jigmé Lingpa, Dudjom Lingpa, Patrül Rinpoché, and Mipham Rinpoché among many others.
In addition to his five root teachers, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo also received teachings from other great masters. For a month in 1990, he received precious teachings from the great master Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoché during a trip to Tibet. These included The Excellent Wish-fulfilling Vase (Döjo Bumzang), which is the part of The Great Treasury of Rediscovered Teachings (Rinchen Terdzö), and the dzogchen text A Lamp to Dispel Darkness—An Instruction That Points Directly to the Nature of Mind in the Tradition of the Old Realized Yogis by Mipham Rinpoché.
While in Nepal in 2002, Khenpo Sherab Sangpo received teachings from Trulshik Rinpoché on The Treasury of Precious Oral Instructions (Damngak Dzö), a collection of 13 volumes by Jamgön Kongtrul. Khenpo Sherab Sangpo also received empowerments and the reading transmission of The Five Root Volumes of Rigdzin Jigmé Lingpa from Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoché.
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.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Please subscribe to our newsletter for video teachings from Khenpo Sherab Sangpo and updates to our event calendar. Your contact information will not be shared and you may unsubscribe at any time.