Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
The Venerable Khenpo Karma Tharchin Rinpoche (b. Spring, 1924), widely known by his abbreviated name Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, is a highly regarded Lama of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. He currently serves as abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery in Woodstock, NY.
Born in Kham, Tibet to a nomadic family, Khenpo Rinpoche is not (in contrast to most Rinpoches) a Tulku or reincarnate Lama, but has achieved his realization in this lifetime. He began his religious training under his parents, who were both devout practitioners, and at the age of 12 entered Thrangu Monastery to continue his education. At age 20, he received the Gelong ordination from HE the Tai Situ Rinpoche at Palpung Monastery. Following a series of retreats including the traditional 3-year retreat, he returned to Thrangu Monastery for advanced education in Buddhist studies. After five years of study, at age 30, he was awarded the Khenpo degree and began teaching.
In 1958, in the company of the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche, the Traleg Rinpoche and others, he fled the Chinese Communist destruction of Thrangu Monastery by undertaking an arduous several-month-long trek to Tsurphu Monastery. After a month's rest, HH the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa sent them on to take refuge in Bhutan, where Khenpo Rinpoche remained for eight years. In 1967, Rinpoche was called to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India to teach the monks and engage in pastoral ministry for the local community. For the next several years he was sent from place to place to teach and minister and in 1975 His Holiness bestowed upon him the title of Chöje Lama (Superior Dharma Master).
In 1976, His Holiness sent Khenpo Rinpoche to establish a seat for the Karmapas in North America and to serve as abbot for a new monastery there. Rinpoche traveled to New York City and then on to Woodstock, NY, where he founded Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) Monastery and a series of local teaching centers across the United States. He was joined by the 3rd Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and together with His Holiness' lay representative Tenzin Chonyi and local practitioners, they progressed from teaching in an old hotel to building both a traditional Tibetan monastery complex and a nearby retreat center with (separate) facilities for both men and women. In addition to having established 28 teaching centers in the USA, 3 in Canada and 4 in South America, Rinpoche has many students in Taiwan and Central America and is widely known and respected in Tibetan communities across Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and India.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche has been recognized at the highest levels as a master of both Mahamudra and Dzogchen and has served as Retreat Master for several successful three-year retreats (the tiny moustache and soul patch he wears are his modest compliance with the obligation of a great Tantric Yogi to allow the growth of a moustache and beard). He has taught Buddhist history and philosophy at every level, is the author of several books on both philosophy and the practice of meditation, and has conferred initiation at every level of Vajrayana practice, including Anuttarayogatantra. He has hosted visits and teachings by the highest Lamas of the Karma Kagyu and other lineages, including a visit to KTD by HH the 14th Dalai Lama in September 2006, and in late May 2008 presided over the enthronement of HH the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at His Holiness' principal seat in the West at KTD. Although Khenpo Rinpoche is over 88 years old (89 by Tibetan reckoning, which counts age from conception rather than birth), he maintains an active teaching and ministerial schedule.