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What is the Lineage of Rimay Dzam Ling Zhi Dei Cho Khor Ling?

The lineage of Rimay Dzam Ling Zhi Dei Cho Khor Ling is the Rimay non-sectarian tradition of Tibet.

The Rimay movement is a Buddhist school of thought founded in Eastern Tibet in the late 19th century largely by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The former is often regarded as the founder.  It seeks to create an environment of openness and respect for all of the various traditions and their philosophies, and is responsible for a large number of scriptural compilations.    The goal of Rimay is not to form a new school, but rather to bring an end to the idea that any one school has exclusive rights on the true Buddhist teachings and practice.  The Rimay movement recognized, and still recognizes, that although each school of Tibetan Buddhism is unique, they all share in common the essential teachings of the Buddha.  The true purpose of Rimay is to create mutual respect and openness between all of the traditions, while encouraging each tradition to maintain its own unique perspectives and practices.  This honors the Buddha’s own teaching, that there are “84,000 gateways to the dharma”, and they all have value.  A Tibetan expression captures the essential meaning:   If you have a cake with six corners, which ever corner you eat, it tastes the same, and the benefits will be the same.



The movement's name is derived from two Tibetan words: Ris (division, border, one sided, sectarian) and Med (refutation, no) combined to express the idea of openness to other Buddhist traditions, as opposed to sectarianism (or a fundamentalist style approach that says “My way is the right way, and yours is the wrong way”). The Rimay movement is often mistaken as trying to unite the various sects through their similarities, which is not the case. Rather, Rimay was designed to recognize the differences between traditions and appreciate them while also establishing dialogue that would create common ground. It is considered important that variety be preserved, and therefore, Rimay teachers are generally quite careful in emphasizing differences in thought, giving students many options as to how to proceed in their spiritual training.

Students who are associated with Rimay do not leave their old traditions, but rather continue practicing as their own tradition ascribes.  Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo were both from different schools.  Jamgon Kongtrul was from the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions, while Jamyang Khyentse was raised within the Sakya order.  At the time,Tibetan schools of thought had become very isolated, and both Wangpo and Thaye were instrumental in re-initiating dialogue between the sects. Rimay was, to some extent, the re-establishment of a rule or principle that had always been present in Tibetan Buddhism, but had been de-emphasized or forgotten. That is: to disrespectfully criticize other traditions is wrong, and this activity should not be allowed to flourish.

Rimay is not a separate school,  but it is a unique, living lineage that seeks to establish, preserve, and cultivate dialogue between varying traditions, appreciating their differences, and emphasizing the need for variety or choices. It was initially created to counteract the growing suspicion and tension built between different traditions, which at the time had, in many places, gone so far as to forbid studying one another's scriptures. Rimay became thereafter an integral part of the Tibetan tradition, and continues to be an important inluence in Tibetan Buddhism.

According to Rimay Gyalten Sogdzin Rinpoche:

“The Rimay movement actually started much earlier than the generation of Jamgon Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo in the 19th century.  In fact, in the teachings of Milarepa the Great and Great Mother Machig Labdron in the 12th and 13th century, the Rimay movement was already in existence.  Furthermore, great masters like Longchenpa (14th century) and Jigme Lingpa (18th century) and later on Dza Patrul Rinpoche (19th century), Mipham, (19th century) and many other lesser-known yogis, mahasiddhas, and masters have carried down this tradition to the present day.

The First Drubgen Rinpoche, Toden Dropa Gyaltsen, down to the Eighth Drubgen Rinpoche Karme Singe Yizhin Norbu, my own precious Root Guru, carried the Rimay tradition and handed this down to myself.”

Who is the Head of the Rimay Lineage?

The Spiritual Head is both His Holiness Drubgen Yizhin Norbu and Rimay Gyalten Sogdzin Rinpoche.  In Derge, Kham, Eastern Tibet during the year 1995 it was decided by a committee of the important representatives from the major schools of Buddhism in Tibet,  led by His Holiness the 8th Vajradhara Drubgen Yizhin Norbu,  that Gyalten Sogdzin Rinpoche holds the title Rimay Rinpoche, or Head of the Rimay School in Tibet. In the Tibetan community in the west, there are many Rimay leaders, like Kalu Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse, and many others.

Our Path – Teaching and Practice

What is the body of teachings of the Rimay Dzam Ling Zhi Dei Cho Khor Ling?

The Rimay Lineage belongs to the Vajrayana branch of Mahayana Buddhism.  It is a Triyana, or all Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma school, where monks and nuns keep the vows of Vinaya and the lay practitioners hold the upasaka vows.

The central teaching of the Rimay Lineage is the synthesis of two systems, Mahamudra (Cha-gya Chenpo), the Great Seal, and Maha-Ati (Dzogchen), the Great Perfection.

Mahamudra focuses on four main stages of meditative practice, namely:

  • the development of single-pointedness of mind,
  • the transcendence of all conceptual elaboration,
  • the cultivation of the perspective that all phenomena are of a single taste, and
  • the fruition of the path, which is beyond any contrived acts of meditation.


It is said that through these four stages of development the practitioner attains the perfect realization of Mahamudra.

Maha Ati is the summit of the nine vehicles to enlightenment.  Ati means that the mind in its nature, naturally contains all the qualities of the three bodies: the   nature of emptiness (dharmakaya), natural expression of clarity (sambhogakaya) and all-encompassing compassion (nirmanakaya).  Maha means that this perfection is the natural condition of all things.

The teachings of Maha Ati are classified in three sections: sem de or mind section, long de or space section, and men ngag de or the pith instruction section.

Meditative practice is presented in a progressive manner.

Early practices include:

  • Shinay, or Shamanta, calm abiding meditation.
  • Introduction to Buddhist History and Philosophy.
  • Beginning Tantra Initiations of Avalokitesvara, Taras, Manjushri, Vajrasattva, Amitayus, Medicine Buddha, and more.


Middle practices for students interested in Mahamudra and other higher practices are:

  • Ngondro Preliminary practices,
  • Vipassana or Insight Meditation,
  • and Vajra Bond Guru Yoga.


During a traditional three year three month retreat, retreatants usually focus on the Six Yogas of Naropa, which are:

  • The Yoga of Inner heat  - Chandali or Tummo practice,
  • Dream Yoga,
  • Phowa practice,
  • The Yoga of Illusory body,
  • Bardo Practice,
  • Clear-Light Yoga.
  • At the Anuttarayoga Tantra level, a high level of tantric practice, the principal Yidams of the lineage are Vajrayogini and Kalachakra.


And the final level of practice is the Union of Mahamudra and Maha Ati

While there is an emphasis on meditative practice in the Rimay lineage, all forms of Buddhist history and philosophy are also taught, most particularly  Prasangika Madhyamaka or Consequentialist School of Middle-Way Philosophy


In General

A. Guru Lineage

The Guru who is the very first in our lineage is Buddha Shakyamuni..

Our teachers or Gurus come down to the present day in an unbroken lineage of teachings from Buddha Shakyamuni.

We follow the Triyana, or the three cycles of Teachings, the Three Turnings of the Wheel, from Buddha Shakyamuni.

The head of our lineage today is His Holiness Drubgen Yizhin Norbu and Rimay Gyalten Sogdzin Rinpoche.

We have a Sangha made of two communities: monastic; and household yogis or lay practitioners; they each adhere to vows of discipline unique to each community: vinaya for monks and nuns, upasaka or lay practitioner's vows for household yogis and yoginis. Also, as Vajrayana practitioners, each individual also follows specific Tantric Samaya vows, or vows of specific obligation and performance.

We are followers of the Mahayana or Bodhisattvayana Buddhist path, in particular, the Vajrayana Dakpo Kagyu cycle of Mahayana Buddhism.

We are all aspiring Bodhisattvas. Our main practice is Bodhichitta or Aspiration for Awakening.

Our highest teaching is the 'Union of Mahamudra and Maha Ati'


B. Path of Philosophical Study

Our main philosophical view is Prasangika Madhyamaka or Consequentialist Middle Way School.

Our main philosophical texts and commentaries are:

  1. Dorje Chang Thungma Kagyu Lineage Prayer by Bengar Jampal Sangpo of the 15th and 16th century
  2. Gyalse Ngulchu Togmey Rinpoche's “Thirty-Seven Trainings of the Bodhisattva Path”, or Gyalse Lag Len.
  3. Shantideva’sBodhicharyavatara” or “Bodhisattvas Way of Life”, or Jang Chub Sem Chod La Jug Pa
  4. Patrul Rinpoche’s “Words of My Perfect Teacher”, or Kunzang Lamai Zhelung
  5. Heart Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni
  6. Jowo Atisha's "Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment"
  7. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's "Torch of Certainty" or Ngedon Dronme


C. Devotional Tantric Sadhana Practice Path

Our main Sadhana practice is Vajra Bond Guru Yoga

Our main Yidam practice is Medicine Buddha

Our main Protector practice is White Mahakala and Six Arm Black Mahakala (Shadrupa)

The Highest Tantric Teachings of our lineage are:

  • Kalachakra, the Cycle of Time
  • Vajrayogini, or Indestructible Yogini
  • Six Yogas of Naropa
  • Final pith instructions (upadesha) on Union of Mahamudra and Maha Ati.