His Holiness 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
The Karmapa is the supreme head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Karmapa means “the one who carries out buddha-activity” or “the embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas”. The first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, was born in 1110. He was the first of the great Tibetan masters to establish an incarnating lineage. Throughout the centuries, Karmapas have been the central figure in the continuation of the Vajrayana lineage in general and the Kagyu lineage in particular, and have played a very important role in the preservation of the study and practice lineages of Buddhism.
The present 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was born to nomadic parents and was found by a search party using directions left by the 16th Karmapa in a sacred letter that was left in the care of the Tai Situpa. The Karmapa is seen as a living embodiment of wisdom and compassion and is regarded by his followers as a ‘Living Buddha’. The 17th Karmapa is greatly respected as a scholar, poet, playwright and artist; and he currently resides in Northern India.
His Eminence 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa
The lineage of the Tai Situpas is traced to one of the main disciples of the Gautama Buddha, the Bodhisattva Maitreya. The present 12th Tai Situpa is a Buddhist master of the Karma Kagyu tradition and is the founder and Spiritual Head of Palpung-Sherabling, his seat in exile in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas. Tai Situ Rinpoche was one of the closest students of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, and in turn became the main teacher of the current Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. Tai Situ Rinpoche oversees a vast network of Karma Kagyu monasteries, retreat centers, and Dharma centers worldwide, and has made great contributions toward training the next generation of Buddhist masters. Tai Situ Rinpoche has toured the world giving teachings and empowerments and offers long-term Mahamudra courses at Sherabling Monastery in India to guide students through the most profound of the Karma Kagyu teachings. He is also a scholar, poet, calligrapher, artist, author, architect, and geomancer. In 2005, Tai Situpa transmitted the entire teachings of the Mahamudra lineage (which he had received from the 16th Karmapa) to the 17th Karmapa.
The Guru – Disciple Relationship
In Tibetan Buddhism there is great weight placed upon the guru/disciple relationship. This is because there are tried and tested methods for gaining a real and lasting realization that has been practiced in an unbroken lineage from the Buddha himself to the present day, making the lineage a living accumulation of real experience and wisdom that spans generations. When you become a practicing Buddhist and take a teacher, then you gain access to the wisdom of this lineage yourself.
That doesn’t mean that you blindly accept the first person to come along as your teacher though, the Buddha advised that you check the teacher out, and they check you out for a period of up to five years before committing yourself to them, and them to you. Then any guru/disciple relationship cannot help but be strong, stable and built on trust and understanding. At the same time keeping in mind that the Buddha himself advised people not to blindly accept everything he said just because he says it, but to think things through thoroughly for oneself first, so that if you do accept what is presented, then it will truly be a part of you and the way you think.
Buddhadharma or Buddhism spread from India to Tibet sometime in the seventh century. Over the centuries, the Buddhism of Tibet developed into four main streams or lineages known as the “Four Major Schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineages of Buddhism were transmitted from teachers to students thus maintaining the unbroken lineage of the blessings. All Tibetan Buddhist schools and practice traditions trace their origin directly back to Buddha Sakyamuni. In addition, each school traces its founding in Tibet to a particular person, who in turn is connected to a particular tradition in India.
Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Mingyur Rinpoche is the seventh in a string of revered incarnations and was born in 1976 in Nepal. The sixteenth Karmapa, Rigpe Dorjee, (1924-1981) identified him as being the authentic reincarnation of the previous Yongey Mingyur Dorje. Current Mingyur Rinpoche is a scholar as well as a great meditation master, who did his first three year retreat at the age of 13. He has made several world tours and has been warmly received, being acknowledged as one of the greatest living masters of the Kagyu & Nyingma lineages, passing on his great wisdom with a humour and insight that has won great acclaim across the globe.
Venerable Chungpo Gyalton Rinpoche
The previous Gyalton Rinpoche, Orgyen Jigma Chokyi Senge Gyalton Rinpoche (1908-1970), was the spiritual head of Chungpo monastery in Eastern Tibet. He was one of the principal students of the 11th Tai Situpa, and of Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. While in Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of the Karmapa, the 16th Karmapa bestowed on him the title of Khenchen, meaning Great Learned One, as did Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Choling Rinpoche in recognition of his high attainments and learning. The present, seventh reincarnation, Karma Palden Lungtok Trinley Rangye, was born in Sikkim and identified as Gyalton Tulku in 1983 by the Tai Situpa and shortly after enthroned in the palace temple in Gangtok, Sikkim. Rinpoche speaks fluent English, Hindi and Nepali and is perfectly at home with Western cultural norms.
Venerable Choje Lama Rabsang
Venerable Choje Lama Rabsang is a resident teacher at Palpung Changchub Dargyeling in South Wales. He was born in 1971 in a small remote village in Eastern Tibet. He took robes when he was eleven years old, inspired by his uncle’s example in meditation and realization. Lama Rabsang spent his early years studying under the direction of his uncle and later studied under the guidance of HE Tai Situ Rinpoche and Very venerable Mingyur Rinpoche in Sherabling in India, where he also conmpleted a traditional three year retreat and served as a discipline master for four years. He moved to UK in 2001 at the request of his Western students, and was appointed as Choje Lama to Palpung Changchub Dargyeling. His warm, joyful presence and profound understanding of Dharma is a guiding light for many of the students and visitors at the Centre and during his travels as a visiting teacher at Kagyu Centres around the world.
HE Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche
Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche was born in 1968 as the eldest daughter of the 11th Mindrolling throne holder of the renowned Mindrolling lineage withinthe Nyingma School. Mindrolling has also had the unique lineage of great female masters who have been great teachers and yoginis who have been inspiration for generations to come. When Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche was ten months old, she was recognized by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa as the reincarnation of the great Dakini of Tshurphu, Khandro Orgyen Tsomo, the consort of the 15th Karmapa. Khandro Orgyen Tsomo was known throughout Tibet as one of the most respected and revered female masters who spent most of her life in retreat and was known to all as Khandro Chenmo or the Great Dakini. Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche began receiving teachings and transmissions from a very young age from some of the most revered Tibetan masters of our age. Thus, Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche,as a Jetsünma within the Mindrolling lineage and a Tulku within the Kagyu lineage holds both the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages.
Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche has been teaching extensively in North America, Europe and Asia since 1992. She hasestablished the Samten Tse Retreat Center in Mussoorie, India and Lotus Garden Retreat Center, the North America and she leads various centres and associations in many countries all over the world. Rinpoche also heads various charitable projects and sponsorships and has been actively engaged in the preservation and flourishing of the authentic dharma.
Khandro Rinpoche divides her time between teaching and personal retreats and studies in India and, teaching engagements and growing dharma activities in the United States and Europe.
Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist Master of the Kagyu Order. He was trained in all schools of Tibetan Buddhism under many great masters such as HH the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and HH Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche. He took his formal education at Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Gangtok and Sampurnananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi, India and has served as Professor of Tibetology in Sikkim for 17 years. His doctoral thesis was on the Ecumenical Movement in Tibet.
Since 1990 he has been traveling and teaching Buddhism and meditation at more than 50 Universities, Institutes and Buddhist Centres in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and Asia. He also participates in various interfaith dialogues. He authored several books on Buddhism as well as some children’s books both in Tibetan and European languages.
Venerable Lama Samten
Lama Samten was born in West Tibet in 1944, fleeing his homeland with his brothers, sisters, and parents in 1959 when the Communist Chinese invaded Tibet.His entire family of 13 perished crossing the Himalayas. He took his ordination in India with the Very Venerable Khyabje Kalu Rinpoche and completed ten years of solitary retreat with his guidance in the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1980, Lama Samten was sent to New Zealand by H.H. 16th Gyalwang Karmapa and spent 24 years there developing the Buddhadharma. Retired in 2004, he now travels worldwide guiding his many students and taking them on pilgrimage to holy Buddhist sites.
He is the author of many books on Dharma practice including Living with Death and Dying on the 6 Bardos. He was the creative force behind the 2004 Grammy Award winning music recording Sacred Tibetan Chant – the monks of Sherab Ling and has recorded a series of his own chanting CDs entitled Sounds of Liberation.
Venerable Ato Rinpoche
Ato Rinpoche (b.1933), was recognised by the 11th Tai Situ as the eighth incarnation of the Tenzin Tulkus of Nezang, a Kagyudpa Monastery in Kham. There he received the education usual for a Lama and completed a three-year meditation retreat. He also studied under the Second Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and his Uncles Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and the Ninth Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and is qualified to teach both Mahamudra and Maha Ati.
In 1957 Ato Rinpoche broadened his studies, spending some time at Thargye Gonpa, a Sakyapa monastery near his home, then travelling to Lhasa, where he studied at Sera Monastery and also at Tsurphu Monastery, where he became an attendant to His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.
In 1959 he left Tibet for India, where he was asked by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa to become the Kagyudpa Representative in the Religious Office of H. H. the Dalai Lama in Dharmsala. Later, he was placed in charge of the Young Lamas’ Home School in Dalhousie, which provided both a general education and also appropriate teaching for Tulkus from all four lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1967 he married and moved to Cambridge, England, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He worked as a nurse at Fulbourn Psychiatric Hospital, until his early retirement, due to injury, in 1981.
Ato Rinpoche has since divided his time between teaching Buddhism and Meditation in the West and re-establishing Nezang Monastery in Kham, which has involved both re-building the fabric and giving teachings and initiations to the next generation of monks at Nezang and other monasteries.
Still based in Cambridge, he runs a monthly meditation class that is open to anyone who is interested.He often teaches at Centres abroad and also sees pupils at his home.
Venerable Chime Rinpoche
Lama Chime Rinpoche was born near Jyekundo, Kham, in East Tibet and is one of the four Tulkus of Benchen Monastery. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and the 9th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche were his maternal uncles.
Chime Rinpoche received the transmissions of Mahamudra from His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa & the 9th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, and Dzogchen from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He was introduced to the essential nature of his own mind by Khenpo Gangshar.
In 1959, the Chinese army invaded and occupied Tibet. On the advice of His Holiness 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Chime Rinpoche alongside Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and 9th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche and others, fled their homeland, reaching India via Bhutan.
Lama Chime Rinpoche was one of the first reincarnate lamas to come to the West, and has lived in England since 1965. Initially, He shared a small apartment with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Rinpoche in Oxford.
In 1973, Chime Rinpoche founded Kham House (now Marpa House) in Ashdon, Essex, UK, the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in England. In 1975, just two years after it was established, the 16th Karmapa visited this centre after visiting the Kagyu Samyé Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre earlier in the year.
Chime Rinpoche chose to stop being a monk and married. He and his English wife had three daughters, all of whom are now adults.
Rinpoche worked for 16 years as the curator of the Tibetan Language Collection at the British Library in London.
Through his profound understanding of modern life Rinpoche conveys in teachings the complete spectrum of Buddhism in a direct, poignant, and humorous, yet vivid style.
Venerable Kalu Rinpoche
The Venerable Kalu Rinpoche was born in Darjeeling, India on September 17, 1990. He was recognised as the 2nd Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche by H.E. The 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche and confirmed by H.H. Dalai Lama and many other Rinpoches of all lineages.
Rinpoche was raised in Sonada Monastery and Mirik Monastery. He completed a Three-year retreat in Shangpa Tradition at Mirik Monastery and re-assumed his seat at Sonada and Salugara Monasteries. In 2010 and Rinpoche began travelling to meet and care for his world-wide community of students.
Venerable Chamtrul Rinpoche
The present and Third Chamtrul Rinpoche, Lobsang Gyatso, is the recognized reincarnation of the Second, Pema Nangsel Dorje, who was one of the heads of Mardo Tashi Choling Monastery in Tibet, and the recognized reincarnation of the First, Kunzig Jigme Dorje. At fourteen, he entered his monastery , Mardo Tashi Choling, to study with his first root guru, the great dzogchen master Naljor Yeshe Wangchuk Rinpoche. Under this accomplished master he studied the preliminary practices (ngondro), heat yoga (tummo), and dzogchen, and completed the ngondro accumulation three consecutive times.
Chamtrul Rinpoche then joined the shedra program of philosophical studies, first at the great Katok Monastery, and then at Larung Gar, a highly renowned Buddhist institute that at its peak could hold ten thousand students.
For many years he engaged in rigorous studies of the Five Sciences curriculum, the traditional fields of knowledge of a Buddhist scholar. Closely supervised by his main root guru, His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, he gained a vast and profound knowledge of sutra and tantra and was conferred the title ‘Khenpo’ – roughly equivalent to ‘Doctor of Buddhist Philosophy’.
Chamtrul Rinpoche again received this title from Katok Monastery, where he was also honored with the traditional pandit’s hat of the Khenpos. Further, he received all the cycles of teachings, empowerments and transmissions from more than twenty five accomplished masters and scholars throughout India and Tibet.
Having completed his studies, he returned to his monastery, opened a monastic college, and stayed there for a number of years to teach the monks.
Since 1996, he has been teaching in numerous Buddhist institutes around the world, and regularly at the Bodhicitta Dharma Centre in the Indian Himalayan town of Dharamsala. Over the years he has taught thousands of students from about a hundred different countries.