A Brief Summary of Kagyu Buddhist Centers in Albuquerque
  KTC Logo Albuquerque KTC  

Comparison of Three Tibetan Buddhist Centers in Albuquerque

Updated with corrections, and an expanded description of the Kagyu lineage, on July 26 2016

The City of Albuquerque, NM, is blessed with a variety of Buddhist centers (temples), including a Zen Center and three authentic Tibetan Buddhist Centers:

The above Tibetan Buddhist centers share a common ancestry in the Kagyu tradition.

At the same time, these three Buddhist centers differ in their later lineages, particular histories, and spiritual teachers. Therefore, they follow somewhat different approaches to the teaching and practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

A Brief Summary

The following paragraphs briefly summarize how the Albuquerque Tibetan Buddhist centers differ, and how they are related. To learn more about Tibetan Buddhism in general, see this article at Wikipedia, or this page of teachings at KTD monastery.

Photo at right:
His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Spritual Head of the KTC Buddhist Center in Albuquerque

Information about His Holiness (Lion's Roar magazine)

Albuquerque Karma Thegsum Chöling (KTC)

Albuquerque KTC is the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist centers in Albuquerque, having been founded in 1982 by His Eminence Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. It is one of 24 KTC centers in the US that are affiliated with Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) monastery. KTD monastery is located in Woodstock, NY, and was founded by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa in 1976. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is the prinicipal Lama (teacher) for the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

KTC holds regular weekly and monthly practices, including instruction for beginners and visitors Saturdays at 10AM, group meditation on Sunday mornings at 10:30AM, and a Wednesday evening (6PM) traditional puja (liturgical service). KTC also sponsors regular talks and teachings by Tibetan and Western lamas. Click on the heading above to see their calendar of upcoming events. Click on the link below to learn more about the Karma Kagyu tradition.

Karma Kagyu page at Wikipedia

Albuquerque Shambala Center

The Shambala center is affiliated with Shambala International, a Tibetan Buddhist organization with connections to the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. The Albuquerque Shambala center was established in 2004. Shambala International was founded in the 1970s by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and has strong ties to His Holiness the Karmapa. At the same time, Shambala differs from traditional Kagyu and Nyingma centers in its approach, which closely follows the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa and its current immediate leader, Trungpa’s son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Like KTC, the Shambala group holds the Karmapa to be its ultimate spiritual leader.

The Albuquerque Shambala center offers a variety of classes and practices, including meditation and traditional sadhana practices, as well as training in the Shambala way established by Chögyam Trungpa. To learn more about the Albuquerque Shambala center, click on the header above. Click on the link below to learn more about the Shambala tradition.

Shambala Buddhism page at Wikipedia

Albuquerque RigDzin Tibetan Buddhist Center

The RigDzin Center is the newest of the Kagyu-based centers in Albuquerque. It is affiliated with the RigDzin Dharma Foundation, which follows the Drikung Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Albuquerque RigDzin center was founded in 2005 by the Venerable Traga Rinpoche.

The RigDzin and KTC centers share the same early lineage of Kagyu masters (see next section, below). They also share many of the same tantric deities, including the bodhisattva Chenrezig, Amitabha Buddha, and Medicine Buddha.

A succession of different spiritual masters have led the Drikung Kagyu over the centuries. Today, there are two spiritual leaders:

  • His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche
  • His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chungtsang Rinpoche

The RigDzin center offers regular weekly practices, including meditation, sadhana practice, and teachings by senior students and visiting lamas. Click on the above header to learn more about the Albuquerque RigDzin center. Click on the links below to learn more about the Drikung Kagyu tradition.

Official Site of the Drikung Kagyu
Drikung Kagyu Om Center, Singapore
Drikung Kagyu page at Wikipedia

How are the Karma Kagyu and Drikung Kagyu related?

The Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism originated with the great scholar and meditator, Gampopa (aka "Dagpo" or "Dakpo"; 1079–1153 CE) and his students.

Gampopa combined three lineages into a single stream of teachings, including two lineages that began with the historic Buddha, Shakyamuni, and one lineage that arose from the primordial Buddha, Vajradhara (Tib. Dorje Chang), by way of the mahasiddha, Tilopa.

The Karma Kagyu and Drikung Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism arose from the same early lineage of realized masters, from Tilopa up to Gampopa:

After Gampopa, the Kagyu lineage diverged into 12 schools, each initiated by different students of Gampopa or his disciples.

The Karma Kagyu school was established by the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110–1193), a disciple of Gampopa.

The Drikung Kagyu school was established by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217), a student of Gampopa's disciple, Phagmodrupa Dorje Gyalpo (1110–1170)1, 2.

The different Kagyu schools that originated with Gampopa are generally considered to be of one cloth. For example, in his writings, the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (19th century) referred to the 12 schools as the “Four Major and Eight Minor” lineages of the Dagpo Kagyu.

Kongtrul designated the schools as either major or minor based on whether they arose directly from disciples of Gampopa, or were formed by later students of Gampopa’s disciples. Thus, Kongtrul placed the Karma Kagyu with the four major lineages, and the Drikung Kagyu school within the eight minor lineages.

At right: Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

Over the centuries, the Karmapas have acted as benefactor for all Kagyu schools:

"The Karma Kagyu lineage has played a very important role in preserving and continuing, not only the Karma Kagyu, but also the entirety of the Kagyu transmissions that have been passed down from Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa."

-- Official Site of the Kagyu Lineage

At right: His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, seated before an image of the first 16 Karmapas

Karmapa as Spiritual Head of the Kagyu Lineages

Some authorities ascribe an even greater role for the Karmapa, as being the spiritual head of all Kagyu schools. In her translation of Kongtrul's teaching on ngondro, The Torch of Certainty (2000 Shambala Publications), the Buddhist scholar Judith Hanson wrote:

"According to Kalu Rinpoche, the Karmapa is the supreme spiritual authority for all the Kagyud subsects."

His Eminence, The Second Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989) was held in the highest esteem among Tibetan Buddhist masters. His reincarnation, the third Kalu Rinpoche, resides at Sonada Monastery, in Darjeeling, India.

As His Holiness the 17th Karmapa said recently, while visiting the Drikung Kagyu Jangchubling Monastery:

“Various schools of Buddhism introduced in Tibet the Dharma teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. The different Kagyu schools are like siblings from one family.”

Through their shared lineage, Albuquerque KTC (Karma Kagyu lineage) is closely related to the Albuquerque Shambala Center (Kagyu and Nyingma lineages) and Albuquerque RigDzin Center (Drikung Kagyu lineage). The centers differ in their immediate spiritual teachers, later history of development, and parent organization.

From a practical perspective, while they may emphasize somewhat different practices and teachings, they are generally quite similar in their approach to Buddhism.

At right: H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama with H.H. the 17th Karmapa.

  1. http://www.drikung.org/drikung-kagyu-lineage
  2. http://www.dkomcentre.org.sg/drikung-kagyu-lineage