For anyone who knew His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, it does not need to be said that he was a great and enlightened master, for those who may not have known him, the following words from the Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, may give a glimpse into the death of those who have realized the true nature of mind.
Buddha and beings are merely names-- In actuality they don't exist at all. Nonexistent, and yet they appear. The mistake results from ignorant action-- Attached to illusion they are beings, Freed from illusion they are buddhas.
Look into the sphere of birthless mind! Let dawn the enjoyment of ceaseless play! When free of hope and fear--that's the result. Why speak of birth and death? Come to the natural, unmodified state!
When mind and space are united Through union of body and mind, Dharma-body is revealed And desired goals attained. Why so unhappy at that?
My two-fold form-body for other's sake Will reappear till samsara's emptied, An uninterrupted flow of help for beings Like a wish-granting gem Or divinely worshipped wishing tree For those who need training, wherever they may be
Furthermore, I -- your old father -- have shown you the essence of the true natural state. I've punctured the myth of samsara, crushed the hidden core of illusion, and split samsara and nirvana apart. I offered you buddha in the palm of my hand. What more could you want? But still you lounge back into samsara. You were praying and lamenting out of attachment to illusory appearances. Phooey!
At the end of life comes death; at the end of composition comes dispersion. . . after falling asleep with great bliss in the space-bed of reality, I'll provide for the welfare of other trainees. What's the need for mourning this? You must make effort in cultivating intense compassion, the mind aimed at enlightenment, and expansive supplication as long as life lasts for the sake of beings lost in samsara, overcome with its miseries.
[From "Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint, Milarepa"]
His Holiness Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche was born in 1932, the year of the Water Monkey, to father Sonam Gyurme and mother Dzom Khyid, fulfilling the prophecy of the fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche that:
“In a supreme and sacred place, in the upper region of Puwo, close to an attractive, large, rocky mountain that is adorned with various trees, surrounded by large and small lakes, and a large cold river flowing from the south, a child of noble birth will be born in the year of the Water Monkey. His parents of method and wisdom will bear the names Sonam and Khyid. I have received indications that this child will be of great benefit to the doctrine and sentient beings.”
From A Garland of Wish-fulfilling Trees, 121.
In 1936 at the age of four, the child was invited to Palyul monastery where he took his Refuge Vows and was recognized as the Third Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche, 11th Throneholder of The Palyul Lineage. He is considered to be one of the foremost living masters of the Buddhist tradition of Tibet and an incarnation of Vimalamitra, the 8th century master who established one of the two lineages of the Nyingthig (heart essence) Dzogchen teachings in Tibet, the Vima Nyingthig. The other heart essence lineage was transmitted through Guru Padmasambhava and is known as Khandro Nyingthig.
In the year 1960, among thousands of other Tibetans fleeing the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet, Penor Rinpoché also fled his homeland and with a handful of monks and lay people relocated to the Karnataka district of South India, where the Government of India had donated tracts of land to the refugees. Living in a tent and working beneath the scorching heat of the Indian sun, with his own hands, Penor Rinpoché carried the stones, bricks, sand and water to build what is presently the largest Tibetan Nyingmapa community in the world. It includes Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, the largest academic institution in exile for the Nyingma tradition, the Tsogyal Shedrup Dargyeling Nunnery, Samten Osel Ling, a Three-year Retreat Center, many beautiful temples, and a guest house for visitors. Throughout the Buddhist community Penor Rinpoche is respected for his vast knowledge and accomplishment and for the integrity and strength with which he upholds the Buddhist teachings.
His Holiness Penor Rinpoche succeeded His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche as the supreme head of Nyingma tradition in 1992; he relinquished this position in 2001 to be able to focus full time on the spiritual needs of his numerous disciples. For more details on the life of HH Penor Rinpoche and the monasteries and centres under his spiritual guidance, please see www.palyul.org