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Troru Tsenam(1928 - 2005) 

Khempo Tsenam was born in 1928 in the Derge Kingdom of DhoKhams in a place which is presently known as Troru Deshok, in the District of Terton, within the Chamdo region of the Autonomous Region of Tibet. From 1933-43 he lived as a monk in Troru monastery where he received his first tuition. Having learnt to read and write, he studied continuously and completed his training in the general skills related to monastic ritual. Under the guidance of the then Khempo (Professor) of Troru monastery, he received instruction in the three stages of Buddhist vows and in the most profound aspects of meditation of the Kagyu tradition. For the latter, he studied commentaries on the profound and secret yoga practices of Naropa and teachings on mahamudra, the meditation treasure of the Kagyu tradition which unveils the very nature of the human mind. From other teachers he received instruction in grammar and composition and teachings on both element-based and planetary astrology.

Having successfully completed this first phase of his education, he spent the years from 1943-46 in pilgrimage, going first to Lhasa and f rom there to India, Bhutan and Sikkim. In 1946 he returned to Eastern Tibet and after staying for a few months at his home. Throughout the earlier parts of his studies and his pilgrimage, the masters under whom he studied recognised a tremendous potential in him and encouraged him to carry his studies to their fullest conclusion. One of his traveling companions in particular, a Khempo (professor) of Katok monastery in Eastern Tibet, insisted that he pursue his education at Katok, as it was a very great seat of learning.

Shortly after his return to Tibet, Troru Tsenam did go to Katok monastic university where, for the five years up to 1951 he studied medicine, elemental and planetary astrology, poetic composition and the various fields of study proper to all the traditions of Buddhism, namely madhyamika, prajnaparamita, abhidharma and vinaya. Besides these, he received a thorough training in vajrayana Buddhism, becoming well-versed in both the Nyingma and the Kagyu traditions, whose theoretical teachings he mastered in their totality. In particular he became one of the rare person entrusted with the secret medicinal science of preparing "detoxified mercury". He received the latter teachings from Tachung Lama Tsering Chopel. Thus he became a physician-monk, learned in all domains and particularly gifted in medicine. The monasteries in Tibet, like those of Europe in the Middle Ages, were major centres of learning and of medical study and practice. They served as bases from which lama-doctors would tour surrounding areas. The religious aspect of Tibetan medicine was a vital one: the whole science of medicine was presented as being teachings given by the Buddha, through his emanation as the Healing Buddha. The collecting of medicinal plants, their preparation and administration were all accompanied by prayer and performed as a semi-religious act. When medicines could not help the patient, specific healing religious ceremonies were performed. Besides providing this spiritual context to healing, the monasteries were important seats of medical study inasmuch as medical knowledge was seen as a key part of an overall education in the nature of the human condition and hence something which needed to be understood, in the Buddhist quest for a complete wisdom. Medicine forms the second of the five main fields of Buddhist study. (Source Accessed Jan 27, 2023)

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