Realization of the nature of the mind can follow great effort at study and meditation practice. This is the goal of the Buddhist path, and the guidance and experience of the trained human teacher is felt to be critical for its accomplishment. The relationship of teacher and student rests upon accurate instruction, exploration, questions and respect. At its best, the relationship is the basis of the student’s ever-growing confidence. Lineage is a living link with the line of masters back to the teachings and experience of the historical Buddha, 2600 years ago.
Kagyu Sukha Chöling is the fortunate recipient of two flourishing lineages, the Karma Kagyu and the Shangpa.
Vajradhara Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – 1989) was born in eastern Tibet and received early Dharma teachings from his parents. At the age of fifteen, he entered Palpung Monastery, receiving advanced training from the 11th Situ Rinpoche and completing two three-year retreats. At twenty-six, he began the nomadic life of a yogi, seeking realization of his meditative training in the solitude of forests and caves. After fifteen years, he was asked to return to Palpung Monastery to lead three-year retreats. He was entrusted with the Shangpa Kagyu lineage by his main teacher, Norbu Döndrub. In the 1950s, as China dominated Tibet, Kalu Rinpoche was invited by the royal family of Bhutan to settle in that country. He founded a retreat center in Bhutan and later founded a monastery-in-exile at Sonada, Darjeeling, India. From 1974 until his death, he traveled on behalf of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, accepting invitations to give Dharma teachings in Europe and North America. He founded sixty meditation centers and six centers for the traditional three-year retreat. Kagyu Sukha Chöling was founded by Kalu Rinpoche in 1982. www.kagyu.org
Kyabjé Kalu Rinpoche was born in Sonada, India in 1990. He entered the monastery of Venerable Bokar Rinpoche to begin his monastic training at age ten. He completed his three-year retreat in 2008, and has assumed leadership of the Shangpa lineage. Rinpoche visited his North American centers, including KSC, in 2011. www.paldenshangpa.net
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje (1985 – present), was born to a nomadic family in eastern Tibet. He was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnate Karmapa and enthroned in 1992. He was recognized as well by the People’s Republic of China, which allowed him to travel in Tibet and twice to China. His education proceeded at Tsurphu Monastery until such time as the government refused permission for his main teacher to visit from India. The Karmapa then designed and arranged his escape from Tibet, arriving in Dharamsala, India on January 1, 2000. He currently lives in a monastery near His Holiness Dalai Lama, and made his first trip outside India to the United States in May, 2008. www.kagyuoffice.org
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche (1934 – present) was renowned as a cave yogi in Tibet. He left personal retreat when nuns asked his aid in escaping Tibet after its annexation by China in the 1950s. He led them to Bhutan, where he still supports their practice, nunnery, retreat center and temple. During nine years in a refugee camp in north India, Khenpo Rinpoche studied for and completed the advanced scholastic degrees of khenpo and geshe lharampa. Rinpoche has been a tutor for the senior monastic students of the 16th Karmapa, as well as for the current 17th Karmapa. Khenpo is much beloved for his commitment to training translators in the major languages of the modern world and for translating the songs of the yogi Milarepa into those languages. He resides in Kathmandhu, Nepal. KSC received annual visits by Khenpo Rinpoche in 2001 – 2004. www.ktgrinpoche.org
Venerable Lama Lodru Rinpoche (1939 – present) has been the Director and Resident Teacher at Kagyu Droden Kunchab Dharma Center in San Francisco since 1976. At the age of eight, he entered Rumtek Monastery, the seat of His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. There he studied the traditional subjects of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Lama Lodru was a close disciple of His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche, the late great meditation master and head of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage. For more than thirty years Lama Lodru has taught the Buddhadharma to Western students. During that time he established numerous centers for the study and practice of Buddhism, and has been the sponsor and guide for three three-year cloistered retreats for his American students. He is the author of Bardo Teachings, The Quintessence of the Animate and Inanimate, and Garden of All Joy. www.kdk.org