Sakyong Mipham Jampal Trinley Dradül Rinpoche, eldest son of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was born as Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo in 1962 in Bodhagaya, India.
Ösel Rangdröl spent his early years with his mother in a Tibetan refugee village in northwest India. At the age of seven, he went to live with his father at Samye Ling Meditation Centre in Scotland, and in 1971, he joined his father and stepmother, Diana Mukpo, in Boulder, Colorado. There he continued his Buddhist studies as well as his western education. In addition, he began to receive training in various contemplative arts, such as kyudo (Japanese archery), calligraphy, flower arranging, tea ceremony, and horsemanship.
In 1978, Trungpa Rinpoche performed a ceremony conferring on Osel Rangdrol the title of Sawang, "Earth Lord". At the time he empowered the Sawang as his heir, with particular emphasis on the propagation of the Shambhala teachings, which he felt were fundamental to establishing the dharma in the West. With the understanding that his son would one day be empowered as Sakyong, as he himself had been, Trungpa Rinpoche continued the Sawang's training under his close guidance.
The Sawang also received many teachings and empowerments from the great teachers of the Karma Kagyü and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, among them His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, the Venerable Tenga Rinpoche, the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche, the Venerable Tülku Urgen, and His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, supreme head of the Nyingma lineage. The great Nyingma teacher and late head of the Nyingma lineage, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, was like a second father to the Sakyong.
While the Sawang was continuing his western academic studies in England, Khyentse Rinpoche requested that he come to Asia to live and study with him, telling him that he would have to "take responsibility for continuing his father's teachings." In 1987, after the death of his father, the Sawang moved to Nepal and studied with Khyentse Rinpoche for many years, receiving teachings and empowerments from him.
In 1990, following the death of the Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin, who had served as head of the organizations founded by Trungpa Rinpoche since his death, Khyentse Rinpoche, knowing that the community was experiencing difficulties, asked the Sawang to return to the West and assume his responsibilities as leader. At that time, the Sawang began travelling to teach throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe while continuing his personal meditation practice and study.
In 1992, while conducting a three-month program of advanced studies and meditation, the Sawang announced the creation of an umbrella organization, Shambhala, to encompass the activities of the many organizations founded by Trungpa Rinpoche. Shambhala now includes Vajradhatu, a path of traditional Buddhist teachings; Shambhala Training, a secular program of meditation and warriorship; and Nalanda Foundation, dedicated to educational, social, and artistic programs. In the Sawang's words, the guiding force behind Shambhala International is to allow "all the various traditions that we have inherited to blossom in their own way."
In 1995, the Sawang was formally installed as Sakyong--leader of both the spiritual and secular aspects of Shambhala. The Sakyong Enthronement ceremony, which had previously been conferred on his father, Trungpa Rinpoche, was directed by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. During the ceremony, His Holiness confirmed the Sawang as Mipham Rinpoche, a descendent of the revered 19th century Tibetan meditation master and scholar Mipham Jamyang Namgyal and bestowed upon him the title of Sakyong. The Sakyong, or "Earth Protector," is one who inspires a sense of sacredness, caring for others, and basic goodness in both individuals and society as a whole. The enthronement formalized Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's lifelong commitment to work with others towards creating an enlightened society.