It must have been karma that carried Trokyab Anyen Rinpoche away from his traditional upbringing in the high, forested mountains of Amdo, Tibet to blue-skied Denver, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Rinpoche, who was raised by a family of yak herders in a place with almost no evidence of modern life, recalls having almost otherworldly visions when he was a just a child. At times he dreamt of foreign-looking people and technology. In one particular dream, he remembers seeing a vision of "two skies converging." After waking, Rinpoche ran to tell his father about the dream and ask him what it meant. However, the dream remained a puzzle until Rinpoche was much older, and was traveling away from Asia for the first time. While on a plane flying over the sea towards Korea, Rinpoche saw a beautiful vision of the ocean and the sky melting into one on the horizon: two skies converging.
Anyen Rinpoche's early days and education were colored by the presence of and instruction by realized masters. He was recognized as a tulku by the great Dzogchen yogi Lama Chupur at a very young age. Lama Chupur, who lived with Rinpoche's family in the same yak-wool tent, raised him and gave him all of his early instruction in the Dharma. Lama Chupur introduced seven-year-old Anyen Rinpoche to his root lama Khenchen Tsara Dharmakirti Rinpoche, after noticing the young boy's expression of uncommon and profound devotion upon hearing this name mentioned in ordinary conversation. After Anyen Rinpoche left his family home to live and study the Dharma at Khenchen Tsara Dharmakirti Rinpoche's shedra (monastic university) in Kham, Tibet, he not only gained recognition as a great scholar (khenpo), but also became a heart son of his root lama. Thus, Anyen Rinpoche became the fifth in an unbroken lineage of heart sons who received the uncommon lineage of the Longchen Nyingthig and introduction to the Dzogchen teachings directly from the renowned Dzogchen master Patrul Rinpoche. Anyen Rinpoche also received the transmissions, empowerments and instructions on the channels, wind energies and bindus from the eminent Ngakpa yogi, Tulku Dorlo Rinpoche, a close Dharma friend of his root lama. Additionally, Rinpoche studied Lamrim Chenmo, as well as the Gelugpa style of logic and debate, with Dehor Geshe, another of his root lama's close friends.
However, heritage and culture aside, we who know Anyen Rinpoche will tell you he is anything but traditional. His sense of humor, wisdom, and insight are extraordinary. While teaching, he speaks with such clarity that we cannot help but understand even extremely difficult ideas. He tirelessly answers our questions and encourages us to think more and more deeply. And just when we think we have things figured out, he surprises us into taking a closer look. This is what "traditional" wisdom looks like in the 21st century.