Our Teachers

In order to progress on the Buddhist path, one needs the support of teachers who repeatedly hold a mirror in front of us. The most important Lamas of our lineage regularly travel to the Diamond Way centers around the world to give their students teachings and traditional Buddhist transmissions.

H.H.17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje

H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje was born in Tibet on May 6th 1983. He was the first son of the 3rd Mipam Rinpoche, a great Nyingma Lama, and Dechen Wangmo, the daughter of a noble family descending from King Gesar of Ling. At the age of one and a half the boy started telling people that he was the Karmapa. In 1994, he and his family managed to escape from Tibet to Nepal and then to India. The young Karmapa arrived in New Delhi in March of the same year, where during a welcoming ceremony H.H. Shamar Rinpoche formally recognized him as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. The 17th Karmapa was given the name of Trinlay (meaning Buddha activity) Thaye (limitless) Dorje (unchanging).

In 1997, H.H. the 17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje was officially invited to Bhutan for the cremation ceremony of Topga Rinpoche where he was received with full honors. A three-hour drive from the Bhutanese border to the capital Thimpu took seven hours as thousands of well-wishers greeted him along the road. On October 17th 1997, three thousand people came for his blessing and the whole royal family including the king and four queens received him as the 17th Karmapa.

In October 1999, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa embarked on his first international teaching tour and gave initiations to several thousand people in Singapore and Taiwan. The beginning of the new millennium was marked by his first historic visit to the West. In Dusseldorf, Germany, Karmapa was enthusiastically received by 6,000 students from several hundred Diamond Way Buddhist centers from over 30 countries.

In the summer of 2003, H.H. the 17th Karmapa conducted his first official program in the United States, giving a series of empowerments and teachings. On July 19th and 20th 2003, he gave the Karma Pakshi and Medicine Buddha empowerments in San Francisco, California. The event was hosted by the Diamond Way Buddhist Centers, USA.

In December 2003, after completing his formal education, the 17th Karmapa was declared “Great Tantric Master” (skt. Vajracharya). The 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje currently resides in Kalimpong, India, where he continues his spiritual training and Western education

H.H. Shamar Rinpoche

SharmapaAn emanation of Buddha Amithaba, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche is second to Gyalwa Karmapa in the spiritual hierarchy of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. The first Shamar Rinpoche, Khedrup Trakpe Senge (1283-1349), was the principal disciple of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. His second incarnation, Kacho Wangpo, received the Red Crown from the 4th Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje, an exact replica of Karmapa’s Black Crown. With the Red Crown, the Karmapa bestowed on him the name of “Shamarpa – The One with the Red Crown.” Since then, Karma Kagyu texts speak of two Karmapas, the Black Hat and Red Hat Karmapas, always alternating as teacher and student throughout centuries and their minds are considered inseparable.

H.H. the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche Mipam Chokyi Lodro was born in 1952 in Derge, Tibet as the nephew of H.H. the 16th Karmapa. He was recognized as the Shamarpa incarnation at the age of 6, and was taken to Yang Chen Monastery, the main seat of the Shamarpas in Tibet. He left Tibet at the age of 9 together with the 16th Karmapa for Sikkim, India where he lived and studied under Karmapa’s guidance.

Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche received the entire teachings and transmissions of the Karma Kagyu School from the 16th Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. After Karmapa’s death, Shamar Rinpoche undertook the project of completing the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI) in New Delhi, India. In March 1994, he officially recognized Trinlay Thaye Dorje as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa.  Shamar Rinpoche spends most of his time giving Dharma teachings around the world.

Lama Ole Nydahl

Lama OleLama Ole Nydahl is one of the few Westerners fully qualified as a lama and meditation teacher in the Karma Kagyu Buddhist tradition. In 1969, Ole Nydahl and his wife Hannah became the first Western students of H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. After completing three years of Buddhist philosophy studies and intensive meditation training – including the transmission for a unique Diamond Way Buddhist practice called Conscious Dying (tib. Phowa) – Ole Nydahl began teaching Buddhism in Europe at the request of the 16th Karmapa. Lama Ole has since transmitted the blessing of the lineage in a different city nearly every day, traveling and teaching worldwide. His depth of knowledge and dynamic teachings inspire thousands of people at his lectures and meditation retreats.

Challenging people’s concepts of life and Buddhism in an unorthodox manner, Lama Ole has been a major driving force in bringing Buddhism to the West, and to date has established more than 591 Diamond Way Buddhist centers in 44 countries around the world. His unique synthesis of modern style and ancient wisdom helped create the largest body of students practicing Diamond Way Buddhist methods in the West.

Shamar Rinpoche has said “In 1973 the 16th Karmapa ordered Ole and Hannah to teach and predicted that they would be very successful in spreading the Buddha’s teachings in the West. The 16th Karmapa taught them their main practices, the Guru Yogas on the 8th and 16th Karmapas. They kept their samaya without any doubt, following and fulfilling Karmapa’s wish. Ole is carrying out the activity of the 16th Karmapa.”