Ani Rigzin Choezom
Ani Rigzin Choezom is one of the great hidden yoginis of our day. Ani-la is the last living meditator to have received direct instructions from the great wisdom dakini Shuksep Jetsunma, Chonyi Zangmo. Since leaving Tibet, she has been in retreat outside Dharmasala for the past 29 years, practicing for 22 hours a day.
“Ani Rigzin Choezom became an Ani (nun) later in her life at the age of 20. Before entering Shuksep Gompa, Ani Rigzin-la was H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche’s Sangyum‘s attendant. During this time, Sangyum shone her sublime kindness upon Ani-la. She cared for her in every way, from providing food, shelter, and clothing. Sangyum-la bestowed extensive teachings upon Ani-la. At this time, H.H. Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche was with Sangyum as a young boy; it was a special time for her. During this time H.H. Jetsunma Shuksep Rinpoche, the most realized woman in Tibet in her time, was invited to Sangyum-la’s residence, and there, both Jetsunma-la and Ani-la received many teachings and lungs (empowerments).
After this, Ani-la went to Shuksep Gompa and served Shuksep Jetsunma Rinpoche for 3 years and received all the teachings of the Longchen Nyingthik lineage direct from Jetsunma herself. After 3 years, Jetsunma passed away. Ani la then went into retreat for 5 years at Shuksep. After this, in 1990, Ani Rigzin la came to India. Since then she has remained in retreat for 29 years now. She has now completed all the Mahayoga practices of the Longchen Nyingthik, Tsalung and Dzogchen.
Here in India, Ani la has maintained a life of simplicity, renunciation, and a pure yogini life-style. She travels nowhere; she’s humble, wise, radiant and formidable. Her accomplishment shines through in her simple appearance.”
~ Ani Tenzin-la, Ani Rigzin’s niece and attendant
Ani Rigzin Choezom was the successor of Ani Lochen, the head nun of Shuksep Nunnery.
“During Ani Lochen’s lifetime, Shuksep became a vibrant and active religious community attracting many well-known yogins and scholars. In a cave near her convent, one of the greatest scholars and adepts in Tibetan history, Longchen Rabjampa (1308-63), wrote his main works on Buddhist philosophy, thus making the mountain an important site of pilgrimage. Among religious masters and important persons visiting Shugseb during Ani Lochen’s days were the Regent of Tibet (Reting Rinpoche 1912-47), the abbot (Situ Chokyi Gyatso 1880-1925) of Kathok Monastery in Kham; the King of Lingtshang (Kham); the Sixteenth Karmapa (Rangchung Rigpe Dorje 1924-1981); and the father of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Among Ani Lochen’s teachers were also ‘crazy’ siddhas like the Tenth Trulshig Rinpoche (d. 1920s) and Taklung Matrul Rinpoche (1916-76), yogins employing unconventional means to reach the Buddhist goal of enlightenment. “
~ Hanna Havnevik
Photo: Olivier Adam.