His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Buddha of Compassion in Person
His Holiness the Dalai Lama blessed the TMC on two occasions when he granted Khenchen Rinpoché’s requests to confer teachings at the center back when it was in Washington, DC – once in 1984 and another in 1987.
His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché
Head of Drikung Kagyu Lineage, 37th Throne-holder
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché is a supreme emanation of the Buddha of Compassion and one of two current heads of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Please click here to go to the official website of the Drikung Kagyu lineage to learn more about His Holiness and his vast activities.
Despite His Holiness’ busy schedule, he has graced the center with several visits over the years. His Holiness’s first visit was in 1987 when the center was still located in Washington, DC. Then in 1994, His Holiness returned again and this time to consecrate the new shrineroom at our current location in Gambril State Park in Frederick. In 1999, His Holiness kindly conferred the complete empowerments of the Kagyu Tantric Treasury (Kagyu Ngakzod) at TMC (held at a retreat facility near Charlestown, West Virginia in order to accommodate more participants). His Holiness has returned to the center since then and we look forward to hosting His Holiness for many more times in the near future.
Most Ven. Drubwang Rinpoché, Konchok Norbu
(1921-2007) Drikung Thil Monastery, Central Tibet
Drubwang Rinpoché was born in the Drikung area in Central Tibet and became a monk at a very young age. After completing his formal studies at Nyima Changra Institute (founded by the Kyabgön Shiwé Lodro, the previous Drikung Chetsang), Rinpoché became the disciple of Vajradhara Pachung Rinpoché (1901-1988), the great retreat-master of Drikung Thil at that time and received many teachings from him. Under the guidance of this amazing lama, Drubwang Rinpoché went into many different solitary-retreats – the longest lasted for a whole ten years. It is reported that during one of these extended retreats, Rinpoché completely lost the power of sight but was told by his lama to not break his retreat but simply to continue. Pachung Rinpoché assured him that “he will not die.” With complete devotion to his lama, Rinpoché remained in retreat and subsequently regained his eyesight. During the difficult times of the political turbulence involving the Chinese communist government, Rinpoché was able to secretly maintain his practice even while appearing to carry on ordinary everyday life. After the so-called Cultural Revolution, Rinpoché once again re-entered formal retreat.
In the early 1990s and after the passing of Pachung Rinpoché, Drubwang Rinpoché left Drikung Thil and arrived at Jangchub Ling, Dehra Dun to be with His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché. When not at Jangchub Ling, Rinpoché would be traveling in the remote areas of northern India teaching the locals (who are mostly of Tibetan descent or have assimilated Tibetan Buddhism) the virtues of seemingly simple but ultimately profound Dharma practices such as careful attention to the law of cause and effect, sincere taking of refuge in the Three Jewels, cultivation of compassion – especially by giving up the consumption of meat – and complete reliance on the Six-syllable (Mani) Mantra. In the late 1990s Drubwang Rinpoché started to travel beyond India and Nepal to Southeast Asia, Taiwan and the West to inspire and teach and in 2000, Rinpoché visited TMC during its annual Spring Retreat. It was during this visit that Khenchen Rinpoché announced his dedication of TMC to Drikung Thil Monastery by formally offering the center to Drubwang Rinpoché (as Rinpoché was a senior lama from Drikung Thil).
On December 25th of 2007, Rinpoché dissolved his body-mandala into the great expanse of the dharmadhatu soon after arriving in Singapore to lead the annual Mani Great Accomplishment (drupchen) retreat there.
His Eminence Garchen Triptul Rinpoché
Gar Gön Monastery, Eastern Tibet
Garchen Rinpoché’s first visit to TMC was during his very first visit to the West that coincided to our annual Spring Retreat. At that memorable visit, Rinpoché spent over two weeks at the center and was tireless in teaching and transmitting the Dharma to all. On the first day of Rinpoché’s program, Rinpoché announced that on top of the already very packed schedule, he will be adding more than ten authorizing-empowerments (jenang) from the collection of Authorizing-empowerments of Fifty Deities to be conferred in the evenings. That frequently meant that Rinpoché was in the shrineroom from morning till evening, even eating his meals there. Participants of the retreat were all very moved by Rinpoché’s kindness and presence. Since that visit, Rinpoché has returned many times to TMC, each time as giving, generous and inspiring as ever.
His Eminence Gyabra Tritsab Rinpoché
Yangri Gar Monastery, Central Tibet
Gyabra Tritsab Rinpoché is the seventh incarnation of the Gyabra tulkus – the lineage of tulkus that originated in the Second Throne-holder and immediate succesor to the founder of our lineage, Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217), Khenchen Tsultrim Dorje (1154-1221).In 2001 at the Snake Year Teachings, His Holiness Kyabgön Chetsang announced that just as the previous Gyabra Rinpoché served as the regent during the interregnum between the two previous Kyabgöns and the the current Kyabgöns, likewise Tritsab Rinpoché will serve in this capacity in the future.
Rinpoché visited the US for 2 months in the summer of 2005 and while at TMC conferred the major empowerment of the Five-deity Cakrasamvara, the complete oral-transmission of the 2-volume Achi Pebum (collection of ritual-texts for propitiating Achi Chokyi Drolma, the special protectress of Drikung Kagyu) and special teachings on the practice of Achi revealed in a “pure vision” (daknang) by the previous Gyabra Rinpoché.
Drupön Thinley Ningpo
Drupön Thinley Ningpo became a monk at Drong Ngur Monastery, in Nakchu, northern Tibet. At that time, he became a student of the eminent scholar, Lama Kedrub Siddhi Rinpoché. During this period, he also received instructions from Vajradhara Pachung Rinpoché, the great retreat master of Drikung Thil. In 1988, he went on a pilgrimage to the sacred places of Western Tibet and performed prostrations around the entire circumambulation route at Mt. Kailash several times. Later, he arrived at Jangchub Ling in Dehra Dun and requested permission from His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché to stay at the monastery. His request was granted and he continued his training there.
While at Jangchub Ling, he taught some Buddhist philosophy and also served as the monastic disciplinarian for several years. In order to deepen his understanding of the Dharma, Drupön Rinpoché eventually entered and completed the traditional three-year retreat in 1999 at Almora, under the guidance of Gelong Yeshé Rinpoché (a student of Vajradhara Pachung Rinpoché and Vajradhara Gelong Rinpoché of Drikung Thil). In this retreat, he studied and practiced the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa. Subsequently he was enthroned by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché as “Drupön” (“retreat teacher”) based on these accomplishments.
In 2001, Drupön arrived in the USA to be one of the two resident lamas at the TMC center. He continued a schedule of retreats and teachings there and taught at other Drikung centers throughout the country. Subsequently, he was appointed as a co-spiritual director of the center. In 2012, Drupön changed his status to a lay-Drupon and he continues to teach in Dharma Centers. Drupön Rinpoché’s grounding presence and warm demeanor has inspired many to practice the Dharma so that they too can actualize those same qualities.
Khenpo Choephel Rinpoché is originally from Drikung Thil Monastery, the head-monastery of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. He was ordained as a monk by Vajradhara Pachung Rinpoché at a young age. While at Drikung Thil, he received many teachings and instructions first from Pachung Rinpoché and later from Pachung Rinpoché’s successor, Gelong Rinpoché, Vajradhara Tenzin Nyima. Aside from having received extensive teachings in Mahamudra from these two great masters, he is also a master in the ritual-traditions of Drikung Thil Monastery and has also received training in debate and philosophy at Drepung Monastery in Tibet. Before he left Drikung Thil for Nepal, Khenpo Rinpoché served as the chant-master of the monastery. In 2007, he was appointed “Khenpo” by Drikung Thil Monastery. Khenpo served as one of three spiritual directors at Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, Maryland, and in November 2011 relocated to the Three Rivers Dharma Center in Pittsburgh. Khenpo Choephel is giving a series of teachings and leading the retreats on the Fivefold Path of Mahamudra, which he considers as the most important profound practice and essence of all the dharma of Buddhism.
Khenmo Trinlay Chödron
Khenmo Trinlay Chödron is one of Khenchen Rinpoché’s senior students as well as editor of several of Rinpoché’s books. She first met Rinpoché in 1990 and since then has devotedly served Rinpoché and helped build TMC. In 1997 she renounced her lay life and joined the monastic order, finally taking her bhikshuni vows in 2005. In December 2006, she was honored with the title of “Khenmo” in a letter from His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché. Khenmo Trinlay is only the second woman in the lineage honored with this title. She was officially recognized and celebrated at the 25th anniversary of the founding of TMC in 2007.
Aside from TMC, Khenmo Trinlay has also been teaching at affiliated centers in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Sweden.
Some of the other teachers who have taught at TMC
(in general visit order)