Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933 – 2004) was a Nyingma lama from Golog. His family were nomads. At the age of two he was identified as the reincarnation of the Terton Sogyal, Lerab Lingpa (1852–1926). He studied Dzogchen at Nubzor Monastery, received novice ordination at 14, and full ordination at 22 (or 1955).
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was the most influential lama of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in contemporary Tibet. A Tibetan Buddhist meditation master and renowned teacher of Great Perfection (Dzogchen), he established the Serthar Buddhist Institute in 1980, known locally as Larung Gar, a non-sectarian study center with approximately 10,000 monks, nuns, and lay students at its highest count. He played an important role in revitalizing the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism following the liberalization of religious practice in 1980.
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was also an extraordinary Terton (Buddhist treasure revealer), uncovering many treasures texts in Tibet, as well as other parts of China, and India.
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was born in 1933, the third day of the first month of the year of the Water Bird,[clarification needed] in Golog, Amdo of Tibet, or the rugged washul Sertar region of the Tibetan cultural region of Kham, a vast expanse of high-plateau grasslands. He adopted Manjusri as his personal deity and he is said to have had visions of him several times, including once in 1987 when he visited Mount Wutai, the holy mountain abode of Majushri in China. At the age of five, Khenpo was recognized as the reincarnate of Terton Sogyal, guru to the 13th DL Lama Thubten Gyatsho, and became a monk at Nubzur Gonpa, a branch of the Palyul monastery in Sertar. He received formal religious training under Thubga Rinpoche at Changma Rithro in Dzachukha and was selected to become abbot of Nubzur at the age of twenty-four. From the rise of the People's Republic of China, Khenpo’s religious career was greatly curtailed, to the point in 1959 he withdrew into the remote mountains, herding a small flock of goats and sheep. There he engaged in meditation and teaching to small numbers of people and was able to continue his religious practice.In 1987, Khenpo led hundreds of his disciples from Serthar Institute on a pilgrimage to the sacred mountains of Mount Wutai in China's Shanxi Province. En route in Beijing, he met the 10th Panchen Lama and gave teachings on the 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas to a congregation of over 5,000 people, including Tibetan Chinese, Han Chinese, Mongol Chinese, and other Buddhist practitioners. At Mount Wutai, the congregation for his teachings swelled to 10,000 on occasions. He also undertook retreats at sacred locations and caves.
Khenpo made extensive travels across Tibet and the rest of China teaching Nyingma traditional Buddhism and rediscovering hidden treasures. In 1990, at the invitation of Penor Rinpoche, he visited India, where he taught at various monasteries, including the Nyingma Institute in Mysore. At Dharamsala, the 14th D L Lama received teachings from Khenpo for two weeks.In 1993, Khenpo was invited to tour and teach at Buddhist centers in Europe and North America.There, he became disillusioned with the commercialization of Buddhist teachings in the West. In 1993, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok expanded his following during teaching tours of the United States, Canada, Germany, England, France, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Financial offerings made to him during this tour funded a major building program at the institute. On December 29, 2003, at age 70, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was admitted to the Military Hospital 363 in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, with heart problems, and died there on January 7, 2004.