In 1951, accompanied by his teacher Gegen Sonam, the young Rinpoche traveled through Sikkim over three weeks on horseback on his way to Drikung Thil Monastery in Tibet. There he started his training, receiving teachings from many renown spiritual masters and completing many retreats.
From 1954-1959 he studied at the philosophical school of Drikung Nyimai Changra at Medro Gongkar. In 1959 when China took control of Tibet after nearly a decade of occupation, accompanied by his teacher and many Ladakhi monks, he came back to Ladakh.
While still in Tibet, Rinpoche was captured by the Chinese and kept detained for about a month. Surprisingly he was released by the Chinese government and sent off to the borders of India to return to Ladakh.
In the beginning of 1967, Rinpoche arranged for the Rinchen Terzod empowerment to be given at Tso Pema, which means Lotus Lake in Tibetan. Found in a small hill-station of Rewalsar in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya, Lotus Lake is one of the most sacred places of Guru Padmasambhava.
There H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche gave the empowerment to an assembly of 30 tulkus and thousands of people and consequently initiated Togden Rinpoche as his successor for imparting this great empowerment of Rinchen Terzod. Dudjom Rinpoche is widely considered as one of the greatest Buddhist Masters of the 20th century.
Rinchen Terzod, the Treasury of Precious Termas, is one of the The Five Great Treasures of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great and is said that it takes months to completely receive the oral transmission and empowerments.
Having completed his first one month retreat at the age of 11, Rinpoche has spent extended times in retreat, including a traditional three year retreat. Rinpoche is a renowned Buddhist scholar with profound experiential understanding of the Dharma, and holds the transmission of a vast array of teachings including Drikung Gongchik, Dzogchen Yangzab, Yamantaka, Phowa and Dharmapalas of the Drikung Kaguy Lineage.
In the landmark documentary Yogis of Tibet, Rinpoche says “A yogi thrives to put end to suffering that is found in cyclic existence. In order to do that, the yogi or yogini will have to train his or her mind. Simply put, a yogi or a yogini will strive to encounter all the negative emotions, and create positive ones.”