Rigdzin Shikpo grew up in Dalston in East London, and at an early age he took a keen interest in Buddhism, which he has now studied for over 65 years. As a young man, he previously worked as a physicist, mathematician and a computer consultant and practised for nine years under the instruction of Theravadin monks while becoming closely associated with the Buddhist Society in London.
In 1965, he met his root guru Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche who was studying in Oxford at the time. Trungpa Rinpoche entrusted Rigdzin Shikpo at a very early stage with some of most profound Nyingma Dzogchen teachings and together they translated seminal Dzogchen texts and Sutras from Tibetan into English. Trungpa Rinpoche also encouraged him to take teachings and guidance from his own teacher HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. In 1975 Trungpa Rinpoche established the Longchen Foundation in consultation with HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, appointing Rigdzin Shikpo as spiritual director.
When Chögyam Trungpa left to teach in the United States, Rigdzin Shikpo continued to follow his instruction, from time to time travelling to America to see him to receive further teachings. Khyentse Rinpoche also told him to take further Dzogchen instruction from Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, an eminent yogin and scholar who was also a student of HH Khyentse Rinpoche. Since the deaths of Trungpa Rinpoche and Khyentse Rinpoche, Khenpo Rinpoche has been Rigdzin Shikpo’s main source of guidance.
In 1990, Rigdzin Shikpo went into a traditional three year retreat under the supervision of Khenpo Rinpoche in a semi-detached house in Marston, Oxford. On finishing his retreat in 1993, as a sign of his accomplishment, he was given the title ‘Rigdzin Shikpo’. ‘Rigdzin’ (Skt. vidyādhara, ) means ‘awareness holder’ and ‘Shikpo’ means ‘beyond concepts’. Rigdzin Shikpo teaches his students the whole of the path according to the lineage transmissions he received from his own teachers. They encouraged him to transmit the teachings according to his inspiration in response to the needs of his students.
Khenpo Rinpoche emphasises that the Longchen Foundation lineage is more than simply an organisation—it is a Buddhist school in its own right. It is the living embodiment of the Mahayana and Maha Ati (Dzogchen) teachings and as such has a particular significance for the expression of the Buddha’s teachings in the West.