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Shambhala Congress

Vajra Regent, Ösel Tendzin

Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin

On August 22, 1976, the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche empowered Thomas F. Rich, Ösel Tendzin, as his Vajra Regent, and lineage holder in the Karma Kagyü and Nyingma lineages. During his 1977 visit to the United States, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyü lineage, confirmed the Vajra Regent's appointment as a lineage holder. Ösel Tendzin was the first Western student to hold such a position in the Kagyü lineage.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1943, Thomas F. Rich attended Fordham University, graduating in 1965. After graduation he worked as a physical therapist in New York and in Los Angeles. He first encountered the Vidyadhara in 1971 in Boulder, Colorado, and made an instant and strong connection with him. In 1973, he was appointed to the first Vajradhatu Board of Directors and was later appointed executive vice-president of both Vajradhatu and Nalanda.

After being empowered as the Vajra Regent, Ösel Tendzin taught extensively throughout North America and Europe. In 1977, when Trungpa Rinpoche went on an extended retreat, he left the management and primary teaching responsibilities of Vajradhatu in the hands of the Vajra Regent. Trungpa Rinpoche and the Vajra Regent worked closely together on many projects, including co-founding the Shambhala Training Program. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, the Vajra Regent also practiced dharma art, including calligraphy, poetry, and photography.

For many years, Trungpa Rinpoche had indicated his intention to relocate the executive headquarters of Vajradhatu and Shambhala Training in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1985, the Vajra Regent and his family moved to Nova Scotia to take up residence there. He guided the sangha through this transition, as well as through the difficult period following Trungpa Rinpoche's death in 1987. In 1988 the Vajra Regent himself became gravely ill with AIDS and there was dissension in the community around the leadership of the organizations. On August 25, 1990, he passed away in San Francisco, California. The Vajra Regent's wife, Lila Rich, their four children, and a group of his students continue to live in Ojai, California.

The Vajra Regent was both an inspiring teacher and an effective administrator. His example was powerful as well as provocative. Through his inspiration, joyful energy, and hard work many students encountered the teachings of Buddhism and Shambhala Training and embarked upon the practice of meditation. He played a vital role in the task of planting these profound spiritual teachings firmly in the Western world.

Calligraphy Exhibit

Information on ordering the book
"Space, Time and Energy


Read talks from "Health in the Buddhist Tradition", a seminar given at Naropa in 1981.
Talk I, Talk II, Talk III

Information on ordering an unpublished Vajrayogini Tri
(Sadhakas Only)

Information on ordering the 1988 Seminary Transcripts (Vajrayana students only)

Calligraphy Exhibit | Stupa of Awakened Mind | AudioTapes of the Vajra Regent | Kalapa Recordings | Recommended Readings

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