His Eminence khyab je kalu Rinpoche

The Founder

“You live in illusion and in the appearance of things. There is a reality. You are the reality. If you wake up to that reality, you will know that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything.”

Kagyu Thegchen Ling was established in December, 1974 under the guidance of His Eminence Khyab Je Kalu Rinpoche, who had been senior meditation master of the Kagyupa and Shangpa lineages of Tibetan Buddhism before his death in 1989. Born in Eastern Tibet in 1905, by age 25 Rinpoche had completed two three-year retreats of advanced Vajrayana Buddhism. He then left the monastery to lead the life of a solitary mountain yogi for the next fifteen years. As wisdom and compassion became perfected in him, he returned to the world with the sole purpose of helping to liberate his fellow beings from the miseries of conditioned existence.

Lama Karma Rinchen

Resident Lamas

Lama Rinchen was born in Eastern Tibet in 1931. He began instruction in the basic tenets of Tibetan Buddhism at age seven. At age eleven, in the dead of winter, he left for Palpung Monastery, walking for two months with a small group of Lamas and heavily armed laymen. Climbing and descending high snow mountain after high snow mountain, witnessing many spectacular avalanches and surviving an encounter with armed bandits, the small group finally reached the remote Palpung Monastery. At Palpung Monastery he spent two years as a tea server for the group sessions of monks at the monastery, at the same time studying and memorizing the same texts that the monks of the monastery were studying and memorizing. At age fourteen he took novice monk vows from the 11th Tai Situ Rinpoche. At age twenty he entered the traditional Karma Kagyu three-year, three-month retreat, where he met Kalu Rinpoche, his Root Guru. At age twenty-three Lama Rinchen completed the retreat. He took full ordination vows on the Tibetan Lunar New Year’s day of 1955.

Before assuming his assigned duties at Chubum Monastery, the monastery on the mountainside above his home village, Lama Rinchen went on pilgrimage to Lhasa, making the eight-hundred mile journey on foot. He then circumambulated the holy Tsari Mountain in Southern Tibet, crossing steep river gorges on single slippery logs felled by the local tribes, and swung across steep cliff faces on ropes of woven vines. By then, the ravages of the Cultural Revolution were sweeping across Eastern Tibet. Deciding to delay his return to Eastern Tibet, he went down into India to take part in the 2,500 year celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha’s Parinirvana. He then returned to Tibet, hoping to take up his duties at Chubum Monastery. There was still fierce fighting and killing in Eastern Tibet, so he stayed at a monastery in Lhasa for the next year, studying logic.

When the fighting and killing reached the outskirts of Lhasa, Lama Rinchen decided it was time to make an attempt to leave Tibet, and late one night climbed over the Monastery wall. For the next few weeks, mostly traveling alone and always on foot, he moved only at night, stopping at the first light of dawn. He spent the daytime hours hiding alongside the roadways and trails leading to Tibet’s western border. He finally reached the Tibetan border and made his way to safety in Sikkhim in late January of 1959.

Lama Rinchen then lived mostly in the Darjeeling district of India for the next seventeen years, having many adventures as a refugee, including running through the streets of Silighri, India in his monk’s robes as a rickshaw operator. In 1976 Lama Rinchen was one of twelve Lamas sent from India to Europe and America by Kalu Rinpoche to become resident Lamas at Dharma Centers established by Kalu Rinpoche. Lama Rinchen arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 1st, 1976, and has been the principal resident Lama in Honolulu since that time, traveling to many parts of the world to give teachings.

Lama Tempa Gyeltshen

Resident Lamas

Lama Tempa Gyeltshen was born on October 7, 1966, in a small village in Serthi, Bhutan. Orphaned at the age of three, he went to live with his uncle, the yogi Tobje, and received instruction at home from Lama Gelong Dondrub. He entered the local monastery, Tokari Gompa, at age nine and moved to Yodra Gompa at age sixteen, studying under Yodra Tulku Rinpoche.

It was in Bhutan that he gained experience in the construction and decoration of temples.

Inspired by stories of Kalu Rinpoche, Lama Tempa went to India in 1986 and became his student at Sonada Monastery. In 1987, Lama Tempa was sent to Siliguri to study alongside monks assigned to the construction of the great 100-foot stupa at Salagura and to assist with its ornamentation.

Lama Tempa began a three-year retreat in 1991 under Retreat Masters Bokar Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodrö Donyöd at Sonada and entered a second three-year retreat in 1995. When asked what he felt was the most important lesson to be learned from retreat, Lama Tempa responded, “After retreat, one sincerely wishes to help all sentient beings.”

In September of 1999, Lama Tempa arrived in Honolulu to assist Lama Rinchen in all aspects of dharma activity.