Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo and her husband Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin Tridral are a teaching couple within the Aro gTér tradition of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. They amalgamate practice, teaching, and the pastoral care of their apprentices with professional and family life.
Ngakma Nor’dzin first became interested in Buddhism whilst writing a thesis on the Japanese Tea Ceremony during her BA (Hons) degree course in multi-disciplinary design. In 1980 she attended her first retreat at the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Wales and for several years was involved with this centre and the Gélug tradition. Ngakma Nor’dzin first met Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin, Khandro Déchen and Ngak’chang Rinpoche at this centre.
Ngak’chang Rinpoche had been invited to teach at the centre by a resident western Kagyu nun called Tsultrim Zangmo who was keen for people to hear Dharma taught in contemporary language by a western Lama. Chö-la Tsultrim was a great inspiration and friend to Ngakma Nor’dzin, but sadly died in 1984.
Finding it difficult to integrate the practices of the Gélug monastic tradition into her life, Ngakma Nor’dzin decided to commit herself to the gö kar chang lo tradition. After attending several intensive teaching retreats, Ngakma Nor’dzin asked Ngak’chang Rinpoche to become her tsa-wa’i Lama and was ordained in January 1989.
She was the first disciple of Ngak’chang Rinpoche to take vajra commitment, and the first Western Ngakma to wear the robes of the white sangha (dGe dun dKar po) in the West. Thus began Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s commitment to follow the advice of HH Düd’jom Rinpoche to establish a ngakphang sangha in the west.
After graduating, Ngakma Nor’dzin worked as a school teacher and craft worker, and then retrained as a professional homœopath. She has also trained in counselling, reflexology and hypnotherapy, and is a practitioner of the Aro Lineage medical techniques of pulse diagnosis and element balancing. Her interest in health and medicine reflects the abilities of her previous rebirth Ngakpa Dawa Ngödrüp, a herbalist at the Aro Gar encampment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Tibet. He was married to Khandro Chöying Nyima who was one of the five adoptive mothers of Aro Yeshé. Khandro Chöying Nyima has been reborn as Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin.
Ngakma Nor’dzin is a skilled craftswoman and has led several Aro Lineage craft projects: the creation of 111 ceramic treasure vases (gTér bum), and the creation of appliqués of Yeshé Tsogyel and Khyungchen Aro Lingma. Her ceramic damarus were highly praised by Kyabjé Chhi-mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche.
Ngakma Nor’dzin teaches on Open Teaching Retreats and other public events in the UK with Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin. They also host the Cardiff Vajrayana Buddhist Meditation Group. Together they embody the style of village ngakmas and ngakpas in the naturalness of their presentation. They exemplify the ancient tradition of Nyingma householder practitioners in the modern world.