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Keith Dowman bio as taken from Snow Lion. - Keith Dowman

Posted 9/11/2011 12:00:00 AM By Sky Smith
Sky Smith
Keith Dowman bio as taken from Snow Lion. By Keith Dowman

Keith Dowman is a Buddhist translator and teacher based in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he has lived as a genyen for 25 years. His important translations from the Tibetan include Calm and Clear, The Divine Madman, Sky Dancer, Masters of Mahamudra, The Flight of the Garuda and The Sacred Life of Tibet as well as Longchenpa texts.

Keith Dowman has been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for more than thirty years, living among Newars, Tibetans and Western Buddhists in India, Nepal and Tibet. A spiritual refugee from his native England he travelled overland to India in 1966 where he explored Hindu religious practice in Banares, India, for some years before encountering the refugee Tibetan Lamas in the sacred places of Northern India. He then studied Tibetan language at the Tibetan Institute at Sanskrit university Banares and took refuge with Tartang Tulku who taught there. He practised vipassana meditation with Munindraji in Bodh Gaya according to the Burmese method of Maharsi Sayadaw over three years but he found his Root Guru in Kanjur Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche in Darjeeling where he lived for some time and began to study and translate Nyingma texts with Tulku Pema Wangyel in Sarnath.

These years were a mixture of pilgrimage, study and retreat and receiving teaching from the great Lamas then in Northern India. In particular years he met HH the 16th Karmapa and received initiation authorisation and instruction in the Milarepa tradition from him, extensive instruction from Lama Kalu Rinpoche, Mahamudra instruction from Kamtrul Rinpoche in Tashi Jong, Kangra Valley, and initiation and instruction from HH the Dalai Lama. He took lay ordination (Genyen) from Kanjur Rinpoche and initiation from Dudjom Rinpoche, Jorta Lama and other Dzokchen masters.

In 1973 he visited the Nyingma Centre in Berkeley, California, and translated two meditation texts of Mipham Rinpoche under Tartang Tulku which were published as Calm and Clear and The Legend of the Great Stupa. In 1974 he moved to Kathmandu, Nepal, and remained in retreat for two years. In Boudhanath, Kathmandu, he began ten years of intensive translation of Tibetan texts, particularly the biography of Drukpa Kunley published as The Divine Madman, Legends of the Indian Mahasiddhas published as Masters of Mahamudra and the biography of Guru Rinpoche's khandro, Yeshe Tsogyel,
published as Sky Dancer which he worked on with Choemphel Lama and Choegyel Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

At the Tersar wangs of Dudjom Rinpoche in Boudha, Kathmandu, he met Chimme Rikdzin Rinpoche and has maintained a close relationship with his lineage ever since.

The summers of the years 1985-88 he spent on pilgrimage in Tibet following the 19th century Central Tibetan pilgrimage route of Khyentse Wangpo, documenting the destruction and the remnants of the great monastery, hermitages and cave sites. The The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, was the product of those journeys. He translated The Flight of the Garuda an important Dzokchen text of Shabkar Lama during these years published with other Dzokchen texts as The Flight Of the Garuda.

Following a bout of serious illness, in 1993 invited to Switzerland he taught an introduction to vajrayana and thereafter he has taught Tibetan Buddhist topics and meditation retreats throughout the world.


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