History of Karma Gyurmed Ling and our Lineage Teachers

Our founder The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen

The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen
The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen

The story of our center begins in the early 1930’s in the fertile valley Kingdom of Gyalrong in Kham Eastern Tibet, where a wealthy landholder and his wife gave birth to Ven. Lama Karma Rinchen. His parents sent him, as a child, to the local monastery for his education, where he learned to read and write, as well as beginning his studies in Buddhism. This situation may be likened to a boarding school in the West. His father wanted him to ultimately handle and manage their estates, but Lama was determined to become a robe-wearing teacher, with the initial desire to help people find happiness and abandon pursuits of debauchery. Some traveling Lamas from Palpung Monastery came through the region, and his parents hosted a banquet in their honor. At that time one of the masters encouraged the father to allow his son to go to Palpung and become a Lama. The answer was a flat no. So, Lama ran away to try to find the monastery on his own. He was only ten, and he didn’t make it very far, when his family dragged him back home. On their way back through Gyalrong, the Palpung Masters again persuaded Lama’s father to allow him to study and become a teacher. His parents finally reluctantly agreed.

Palpung Monastery in Tibet was the seat of the Tai Situ Rinpoche XI. Lama finished five completions of the Four Foundations plus graduating top of his class from the Three Year Three Month Three Day Retreat, graduating as Lama Karma Rinchen. By this time he had met and bonded with The Vajradhara Kyabjay Dorje Chang 1st Kalu Rinpoche, his root Lama. Everywhere The Ven. Lama Karma Rinchen went, the people wanted him to stay and be their Lama. He was very popular.

When the Communists forced the Lamas out of Tibet, The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen escaped to India, where he helped The Vidyadhara Kyabjay Dorje Chang 1st Kalu Rinpoche establish a monastery in Darjeeling. The Vidyadhara Kyabjay Dorje Chang 1st Kalu Rinpoche and other High Lamas ventured out from India to the West (Europe and North & South America), establishing dharma centers and monasteries. The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen was assigned to Honolulu in 1977, where he successfully established Tibetan Buddhism.

He attracted university students and visitors to Hawaii. He was, again, very popular. One such student became devoted to Ven. Lama Karma Rinchen after losing the use of her arm in a skiing accident, which Lama helped in a complete recovery. She watched as he built up his retinue of followers, building two stupas on Maui. When she and her husband semi-retired and moved to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, she invited Lama to make a small stupa in her courtyard. She sent Lama a plane ticket, and when he arrived in T or C, he said he felt like he was back in Lhasa! Many people gathered around Ven. Lama Karma Rinchen, giving pot luck dinners, hosting teachings, and he had many students right away.

In 2007 three core students helped Lama to establish a nonprofit corporation. It was at that time that The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen remembered a powerful conversation he had with His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa XVI in 1980, while HH visited Honolulu. He told Lama, “When you are ready to start a dharma center, this will be a good name for it - Karma Gyurmed Ling.” He wrote it out on his stationery, and that paper hangs in the shrine room entrance to this day.

He and his students bought a building for the center in T or C, and he initiated the construction of a stupa, which was consecrated in 2011. He also had many students in the Questa area and Santa Fe, and visited frequently to give teachings. He often traveled and had students all over the world.

The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen is the author of The Story of All of Us: Simply Said and I Can See the Flea on Your Nose, but Not the Yak on My Own. His main residence until his death on January 18, 2022, was in Hawaii.

Lama Rinchen Rainbow
A rainbow appears at a public funeral for The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen.

His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche

Lama Mingma Sherpa, Kalu Rinpoche, Lama Rinchen

As mentioned above the founder of Karma Gyurme Ling, The Venerable Lama Karma Rinchen had a strong root connection with both The Vidyadhara Kyabjay Dorje Chang 1st Kalu Rinpoche and The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche.

His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche was born September 17, 1990, at Samdrub Darjay Choling Monastery in Sonada, India during the monthly fulfillment offerings to the Shangpa Kagyu Protector, Chagdrukpa (Six-armed Mahakala). Many auspicious signs accompanied his birth and a canopy of rainbows formed over his monastery identical to the rainbows that had appeared above the monastery after The Vajradhara Kyabjay Dorje Chang 1st Kalu Rinpoche’s Paranivana. His Eminence Kyabjay Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche Kalu Rinpoche’s Yangsi on March 25, 1992. Bokar Rinpoche stated, “That the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche chose to be reborn at his previous home, at his own monastery Samdrup Darjay Choling, is an indication of his complete freedom of mind.”

Kalu Rinpoche & Dalai Lama
Kalu Rinpoche and Dalai Lama

His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche was born to Lama Gyaltsen who served as Rinpoche’s secretary. His Eminence Kyabjay Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche officially recognized Kalu Rinpoche’s Yangsi (young reincarnation) on March 25, 1992, saying that he had received definite signs from Kalu Rinpoche Himself. His Eminence Kyabjay Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche then sent a letter of recognition to his father Lama Gyaltsen. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was then consulted and confirmed that the child, then one and a half years old, was surely and unmistakably the reincarnation of Kalu Rinpoche.

On February 28, 1993, His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche was enthroned at Samdrup Darjay Choling Monastery in Sonada at a profound ceremony of investiture. The 14th Chamgon His Eminence Kyabjay Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche and His Eminence Kyabjay Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche presided over the ceremony. His Eminence Kyabjay Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche performed the hair-cutting ceremony and bestowed on the young incarnation the name Karma Ngedön Tenpay Gyaltsen; Victory Banner of the Teachings of the True Meaning.

At a young age, His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche’s interest in meditation, chanting, calligraphy and the traditional musical instruments revealed his deep affinity for Dharma activity.his greatest joy was found in playing the various ritual musical instruments, such as ra-gung (long horns) and gya-ling (short horns). With his gentle and loving nature he naturally comported himself in a manner surpassing the behavior of other children and his character revealed peacefulness, discipline and complete fearlessness.

His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche received the complete Empowerments of the Shangpa Kaygu Lineage. Thereafter he entered into the traditional Shangpa Kagyu Retreat. In September of 2008 the His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche completed his first three-year retreat.

We are indeed extremely grateful to His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche, whose sole purpose in life is to bring benefit to all beings, and who, through his commitments and diligence to continue unbroken the precious transmissions of the Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages, ensures that the precious teachings remain available to those who seek to walk upon the blessed Path to Liberation.

Venerable Lama Mingma Sherpa, our spiritual advisor

Venerable Lama Mingma Sherpa was born in Nepal and became a Buddhist monk at the age of eight. He completed three-year retreat under the direction of the His Eminence The 2nd Kyabjay Kalu Rinpoche. In 2010, His Eminence asked Lama Mingma to come to Santa Fe to assist Ven. Lama Dorje and to assume responsibilities for the continuation of Dharma studies at the center. Lama Mingma recently relocated to help with Honolulu and other centers.

Lama Migma Sherpa
Lama Migma Sherpa

Our Lineages

The Shangpa Kagyu lineage

The Shangpa Kagyu lineage is often referred to as the secret lineage because Niguma instructed Khyungpo Naljor to transmit the teachings to only one student for the first seven generations (beginning with the Buddha Vajradhara and Niguma).

From Gyalse Mok Chokpa, the lineage was passed to Kyergang Chokyi Senge (Kyergangpa) , Nyentön Rigung Chökyi Sherab(Rigongpa), and Sangye Töngpa. The first seven masters are known as the Seven Great Jewels of the Shangpa tradition. Sangye Töngpa was the first teacher who gave these instructions to more than one of his disciples, and from this point on, several different lines of transmission developed. The intention for keeping the lineage secret in this fashion was to protect it from becoming an established monastic tradition. His Eminence The 2nd Kalu Rinpoche, is the current head lineage holder of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition.

As one of the more esoteric traditions, it is meant to be practiced rather than codified.

from “Shangpa Kagyu Teachings” by Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa Kagyu

Karma Kagyu lineage

The Karma Kagyu lineage is headed by His Holiness The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The Lord Buddha Shakyamuni foretold the coming of the lineage of the Karmapas. Karmapa means “the one who carries out buddha-activity” or “the embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas.” The lineage began with the primordial deity, Vajradhara (Dorje Chang in Tibetan). He passed the teachings down to Tilopa, a Mahasiddha from India. Tilopa taught Naropa, a scholar, who became enlightened through the teachings of Tilopa. Then a linguist from Tibet was interested, and he went to great lengths to find and learn from Naropa. His name was Marpa, and he took the teachings back to Tibet, translated them into Tibetan, and began to teach. His primary student was Milarepa, the poet-saint who wore only a thin cotton shawl and lived in caves. Milarepa had many students, but he passed the teachings to Gampopa, who wrote The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, which is still in print. Gampopa chose to pass the teachings to The First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Dusum Khyenpa vowed to reincarnate as the lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu Lineage for 25 incarnations and His Holiness the 17th Karmapa continues the Buddha activity of the lineage to this day.


Our Stupa

This monument/shrine located at the west side of the building is in the style of Auspicious Doors of Enlightenment. The purpose of the Stupa is to promote peace, harmony and compassion in the world. It is a proclamation to human kindness.

Enjoy walking in clockwise direction from whatever way you enter the circle. Before starting, generate a strong motivation of remembering the suffering of all sentient beings. Circumambulating is a powerful practice and the very root of the practice is to circumambulate with strong devotion and with an undistracted mind. Circumambulation is the supreme method to purify obscurations of our own body, speech and mind, our own negativity is purified.

The Buddha statue placed in the upper part of the Stupa is Medicine Buddha, exemplifying healing for all beings.