Remembering Urgyen Tulku Rinpoche- Reflections on Guru Devotion


Tulku Urgyen’s Bedroom at Nagi Gonpa Hermitage

I sat alone on a colorful wool woven
Tibetan carpet in a tiny bedroom of my guru

He used to say
“I don’t need much
I’m just happy to have a warm spot in the sun to sleep in.”

Later in his life when I met him
he was magnificent in his simplicity

he’d stay all day alone doing the mani mantra holding a large
plastic faux golden amber mala

whenever you wanted to see him
whomever arrived from mendicant to magi
everyone was welcomed
so warmly

he would call you over to him
and gently pull your
forehead to his
and touch it

everyone’s heart warmed
we all felt important
many times he gave us introduction to
the nature of our minds
and then some tris
on guru yoga
and said “you can think of it as me
but it’s not me”

he was always careful to never
stoke any projection or co-dependence
he did not threaten us with hell
trap, command or control us to do well- anything

he said only gently that we were fortunate to have received
these precious subtle teachings
and that he wanted to remind us that we would someday die
and that to practice this meditation could help so much
and if we didn’t there’s no punishment
but it would be “like going to the island of diamonds
and coming back empty handed.”

I had the good fortune to be there the morning after he passed
and from then on and before, my heart has been bound to his.
His was and will always be, the most important and significant relationship of my life.

He’s been gone since 1996
but I still remember the bright and clear
part of us that he showed me-
it helps so much when life hurts
as it often does

and the more I can break the momentum
and see, the less I get caught in the riptide
of the flux of phenomena.
Oh what a treasure
from the deep golden grail
that can never exhaust!

How sad he would be, I think
to see people ever use one
utterance of the vajra dharma to
frighten someone
for sexual misconduct
to exploit any child
and call that tantra

to degrade and mock students
to say that it’s ok to kill people
and cast them to a threat hell
oh how grotesque
to culturally co-opt what is most
beautiful on the earth
and use its tenets for
covert cult crime
like a Clockwork Orange
this can’t remain so

I am devoted…

heart bound to him
what he showed us
that he said was so very vast
even beyond him

devoted to ethics
devoted to forgiveness
devoted to clear seeing
devoted to the celebration of tsok
devoted to genuine dharma friends who are ethical and sound
devoted to protecting children and women
devoted to deep caring about our world
devoted to efforts to improve society and culture
devoted to bringing light to
corners where it may have
appeared to dim, even in me

this is my beloved Guru, my path, my dharma and my sangha

thank you all.






“Samsara is mind turned outwardly, lost in its projections.
Nirvana is mind turned inwardly, recognizing its nature.”

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche


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