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Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Our Spiritual Director
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche was born in 1924 in the Kham province of Tibet, to a nomadic family. His devotion and aptitude for Buddhist study and practice were noticed at an early age, and he was sent at the age of 12 to enter monastic life at Thrangu Monastery, which was the home of both Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. When he was 18, Khenpo Karthar first visited His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa at Tsurpu Monastery, and later received full ordination from the Eleventh Tai Situ Rinpoche. After completing the traditional three-year retreat, he wished to spend the rest of his life in retreat, but was subsequently asked by Traleg Rinpoche, the Abbot of Thrangu Monastery, to undertake advanced studies in the same class as the current Thrangu Rinpoche. Khenpo Karthar later traveled widely in Tibet with Thrangu Rinpoche, both teaching and pursuing further studies.
Khenpo Karthar escaped from Tibet together with Traleg Rinpoche and Thrangu Rinpoche in 1959. In exile, he was selected for several teaching assignments by the Sixteenth Karmapa, culminating in the request in 1976 that he travel to the U.S. to establish a Karma Kagyu monastery here. In connection with the Karmapa's 1977 tour of America, Khenpo Karthar became engaged in founding Karma Thegsum Chöling centers throughout the U.S. He became the Abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra when it was established in 1978, and continued traveling to affiliate centers in North and South America, and in Taiwan. At KTD, he established the tradition of 10-day teachings, to accommodate Western students whose commitments made longer retreats impossible.
Khenpo Karthar has revisited Tibet four times, re-establishing his close connection with Thrangu Monastery. In America, he was extensively involved in building the Tashi Gomang Stupa for the Sixteenth Karmapa at Crestone, Colorado, and personally directed the establishment of a Karma Kagyu three-year retreat center in New York state, Karme Ling, which has regularly trained new lamas since 1993. He has authored numerous books, including the excellent introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, Dharma Paths, a multi-volume set of teachings on Karma Chagme's retreat instructions, Mountain Dharma, and an extraordinary commentary on Karma Chagme's Quintessence of the Union of Mahamudra and Dzokchen. His many books as well as transcripts and video and audio recordings of teachings, are available through Namse Bangdzo Bookstore
(Adapted from the biography of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche on the KTD website.)