The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje, was born in the nomad community of Bakor, eastern Tibet, in the year of the Wood Ox (June 26, 1985). In 1992, he was recognized as the 17th Karmapa by H.H. the Dalai Lama and in June of that year took up residence at Tsurphu Monastery, home and original seat of all the Karmpas in Tibet. The Seventeenth Karmapa spent his time in Tsurphu studying and practicing dharma and giving transmisssions. From the age of ten, he spontaneously began to recognize tulkus of the Kaygu lineage, thereby fulfilling one of his historical spiritual roles. In the winter of 2000, he escaped from the Chinese occupied Tibet and has since been living near Dharamsala, where he is receiving further training in Tibetan Buddist studies and practices from masters of the Karma Kaygu and other lineages, as well as being mentored by H.H. the Dalai Lama. H.H. the 17th Karmapa is also a highly accomplished artist and poet.
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H.E. Tai Situ was born in 1954 in Tibet. At the age of eighteen months he was escorted to his monastic seat, Palpung Monastery, on of the most important monasteries in Eastern Tibet and the home of the Rime (non-sectarian) movement. At the age of five he left Tibet for Bhutan. He then went to Sikkim, where he remained under the care of the 16th Karmapa and received his formal religious training under his guidance, as well as receiving training and transmissions from many masters, including Khabje Kalu Rinpoche, who was a disciple of the previous Tai Situpa. In 1992-93, Situ Rinpoche led an international Pilgrimage for Peace that included ceremonies in the SF Bay Area with HH the Dalai Lama and other leaders on Mt Tam in SF and Mt Shasta. Since 1999, Tai Situ Rinpoche has stayed in India imparting the Dharma to the Karmapa, and taking care of his own monastery, Sherab Ling. Mingyur Rinpoche is the lead teacher under Tai Situpa for Sherab Ling's three year retreat centers. Situ Rinpoche is a renowned artist, calligrapher, feng shui master, architect, speaks fluent English, and is the author of several books.
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1933. When he was four, H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa and the 10th Situ Rinpoche recognized him as the incarnation of Thrangu Tulku. At the age of twenty-seven, he arrived in India and under orders from H.H. Karmapa, went to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. Upon his return to Rumtek, he was named Khenpo (abbot) of Rumtek and the Kagyu sect. Since then he has been the personal tutor of the four main great Karma Kagyu tulkus, as well as now one of the primary tutors of the 17th Karmapa.
Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinphoche is a noted scholar, yogi, and meditation master who was born in Eastern Tibet in 1934. By nature and nurture drawn to spiritual practice, Rinpoche left home at an early age to train with a yogi who would become on of his root teachers, Lama Zopa Tarchin. After completing this early training, Tsultrim Gyamtso embraced the life of a yogi-ascetic. However, after he came out of Tibet, he was one of the Tibetan masters (early 1960's) to create training and retreat centers for women. In 1986, he established Marpa Institute for Translators, a school from Westerners to study intensively. Rinpoche has no fixed abode, and few possessions: he has been traveling and teaching around the world since 1977, and has been deeply involved in teaching and traning the new generation of Kagyu masters.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche was born in the new Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim on June 24, 1965. At an early age, Rinpoche received refuge vows and novice monk vows from H.H. the 16th Karmapa. He has received most of his Kagyu and Nyingma teachings and empowerments from H.H. the 16th Karmapa, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other great teachers. Rinpoche is acknowledged as one of the foremost Asian scholars of his generation, and is also familiar with contemporary Western methods of scholarship and education. Fluent in the English language, Rinpoche is also an accomplished calligrapher, visual artist and poet.