Many teachers, both male and female, of the Karma Kagyu lineage come to Kamalashila Institute to give teachings or to practise rituals. Teachers from other Tibetan traditions or teachers from the West also come to us to guide retreats and give seminars. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu lineage is H.H. the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

Here you will find the biographies only of those teachers who offer their courses in English as well. A list of all of our teachers is available on our German Website.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has been the Spiritual Director of Kamalashila Institute since 1998. He is one of the outstanding scholars of his generation in the Kagyu and Nyingma schools and is the founder and Director of Nalandabodhi, a network of meditation centres. Rinpoche has developed the Nitartha Curriculum, the aim of which is to modernize the classic form of Buddhist studies. After graduating from the Karma Shri Nalanda university at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, he studied English literature and comparative religion at Columbia University in New York. He lives in Seattle and teaches in Canada, the USA, Asia, and Europe. Ponlop Rinpoche is renowned for his clear teaching style and his profound knowledge. He holds the transmission of both the mahamudra teachings and the dzogchen tradition. He is also an author, a poet, and a calligrapher. Rinpoche’s more recent publications include “Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom” (Shambhala) and “Emotional Rescue” (TarcherPerigee), the latter being his latest book on how to work with and transform emotions.

Acharya Lama Kelzang Wangdi

Acharya Lama Kelzang Wangdi was born in Bhutan in 1970. He studied at the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim from 1989 to 2001, where he obtained a master’s degree in Buddhist philosophy and the academic title of an acharya. He began teaching junior students at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute already in 1995 and continued teaching there after graduation until 2003. He received many teachings from H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, and Dzogchen Pönlop Rinpoche on the doctrine and the practice of the buddhadharma. In the early part of 2004 Lama Kelzang Wangdi went to the USA to teach at Nitartha Institute in Seattle, where he continues to teach once a year. Lama Kelzang came to Germany later in 2004 and has been one of the resident lamas at Kamalashila Institute since then. His main duties are teaching meditation courses and guiding retreats. Lama Kelzang also teaches at various other Buddhist centres throughout Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland. He too is very happy to meet with people personally to discuss their meditation practices or other spiritual matters.

Acharya Lama Sonam Rabgye

Acharya Lama Sönam Rabgye has been a resident lama in Kamalashila Institute since 1999. He grew up in Manang, a Nepalese province bordering on Tibet with a Tibetan population. He spent is childhood with his family and helped support them until he was 21 years old. He then left to study at the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, where he obtained a master’s degree in Buddhist philosophy and the academic title of an acharya. After graduating, he taught for three years at the Karma Lekshey Ling Institute in Kathmandu. He completed the traditional three-year retreat in Pullahari, the monastery of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche in Kathmandu. The 3rd Jamgön Kongtrul, Karma Chökyi Lodrö Senge, was his most important teacher. Lama Sönam obtained refuge from him and was ordained by him. In addition to teaching courses, guiding retreats, and presiding over daily meditation sessions in Kamalashila Institute, Lama Sönam also teaches in other Kagyu centres throughout Germany and Europe. He is also very happy to meet with people personally to discuss their meditation practices. In order to better help the people in his home region, Lama Sönam founded the organization “Himalaya Karuna”. The organization provides support in the Manang region to old people and to people who are on their own. It also assists in the funding of the education of young monks and nuns and the building of new Buddhist temples.

H.E. Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche

H.E. Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche is one of the few female Rinpoches of our time. She is the oldest daughter of the head of the Nyingma tradition, H.H. Mindrolling Trinchen. She was later recognized by H.H. the 16th Karmapa as the incarnation of the “Great Dakini of Tsurphu”, Khandro Orgyen Tsomo. Rinpoche is the founder and Spiritual Director of the retreat centre Samten Tse in Mussoori, India. She also manages her father’s monastery, the main seat of the Mindrolling tradition in Dehra Dun in India. She teaches in English and is well-known for her exceptionally clear, direct, and profound teachings.

H.E. Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche

H.E. Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche was born in Paro in Bhutan in 1964 and was recognized by H.H. the 16th Karmapa as the 10th reincarnation of his predecessors. Along with many other great masters, Rinpoche was raised and taught by the 16th Karmapa in Rumtek Monastery. He had an especially deep connection to H.H. Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche. In his young years already, he studied the Buddhist philosophies of both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. He was educated for a total of 18 years at Nalanda Institute in Sikkim in such disciplines as Sutrayana and Tantrayana, philosophy, liturgy, and various forms of meditation. He holds the academic title of an acharya.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a meditation master and scholar of the Karma Kagyu school. He was educated by masters from all Tibetan Buddhist traditions and has studied at both the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology in Gangtok, Sikkim and the Sampurnananda Sanskrit University in Varanasi in India. For his profound academic works, he was awarded the title of Lopon Chenpo, the equivalent of a PhD, by the International Nyingma Society. Rinpoche has been teaching around the world since 1990, and at the request of the Karmapa is the Spiritual Director of the city centres of the Karma Kagyü Gemeinschaft Deutschland e.V. Rinpoche is the founder of the large city centre Boddhicharya in Berlin and is the author of numerous books.

H.E. Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche

H.E. Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche teaches Tibetan Buddhist meditation and philosophy worldwide. He was born as prince of the Sikkimese Royal Court and was recognized by H.H. 16th Gyalwa Karmapa as the 12th incarnation of the Gharwang Tulkus. H.E. Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche is the supreme lineage holder of the Whispered Lineage of the Zurmang Kagyu tradition. He continues the activity of the unbroken line of the Gharwang Tulkus tracing back to the 14th century. Rinpoche received many empowerments and transmissions from the 16th Karmapa. He also received teachings from the late Kalu Rinpoche, late Tulku Urgen Rinpoche, late Khenpo Pema Pedtse, late Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche, ShaMarpa, Tai Situpa, Gyaltsapa, and H.H. Sakya Trizin. Rinpoche studied under the guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso, and Khenchen Chodak Tenphel. He was a top scholar at the Nalanda Buddhist Institute between 1982 and 1991.

Po Tulku Rinpoche

Pö Tulku Rinpoche is – especially in Sikkim – a famous and highly acclaimed teacher and doctor of the Karma Kagyu tradition. Rinpoche obtained his highest education in Buddhist philosophy at the monastic university Karma Sri Nalanda in Rumtek in Sikkim. He was a contemporary there of Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. His special aptitude in the areas of Tibetan and Chinese medicine and acupuncture has brought him into contact with many people. He plays a very important role in the social welfare systems of Rumtek Monastery, the main seat of H.H. the 16th Karmapa, and in other Kagyu monasteries in Sikkim. His dharma activities in Sikkim include the founding of a home for seniors, a centre for Tibetan medicine, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre, and the building of so far five Buddhist lay community prayer temples (Nyuney Lhakang). He also founded a dharma centre in Sydney, Australia.

Tulku Damcho Rinpoche

Tulku Damcho Rinpoche was born in Nupri in the northern part of Nepal. At the time when Thrangu Tashi Chöling was being built in Kathmandu, he decided to become a monk at the Kagyu monastery. While travelling through Nepal, His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche recognized him as the reincarnation of Lama Tsoknyis, a distinguished master of the Tibetan Thrangu Tashi Chöling Monastery prior to the Chinese invasion. Shortly thereafter he was enthroned as a tulku. He graduated with honours from the shedra, the monastic university. In 2007 he completed the traditional three-year retreat and a one-year Kalachakra retreat. Since then, Rinpoche regularly travels to the West to give teachings.

Khenpo Karma Namgyal

Khenpo Karma Namgyal became a monk at the age of twelve and received full ordination at the age of twenty. He has been teaching as a khenpo since 2001 at the shedra (monastic university) of the Karma Kagyu monastery Karma Leksche Ling in Kathmandu.

Lama Tsultrim Allione

Lama Tsültrim Allione is an author and teacher. She founded the Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre Tara Mandala in the USA in 1994, of which she is the Spiritual Director and resident lama. She encountered Buddhism as a child already through her grandmother. In 1967 she travelled through India and Nepal and was one of the first women from the West to be ordained by H.H. the 16th Karmapa. She lived a secluded life as a nun for many years, learned Tibetan, and studied and practised Tibetan Buddhism. At the age of 26 she gave back her vows, got married, and had four children. With her groundbreaking book, “Women of Wisdom”, she obtained great popularity as an author. In her latest book, “Feeding Your Demons”, Lama Tsültrim Allione combines the knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism with modern psychology in order to illuminate some of our main cultural problems and the roots of our suffering.

Traleg Khandro

Traleg Khandro, the wife of the late 9th Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, is the Director of the E-Vam Institute New York and the Nyima Centre in Sydney, Australia. She studied Tibetan Buddhism for 30 years under the guidance of Traleg Rinpoche. She teaches Buddhism and traditional Lu Jong (Tibetan healing yoga) and is also a trained hatha yoga teacher. Before turning to Tibetan Buddhism, Traleg Khandro obtained a degree in psychology and worked as a business consultant.

Lama Rinchen

Lama Rinchen (Waldemar Zych) was born in Poland and has been practising the dharma since 1977. He is a student of the Honourable Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche and His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, the Spiritual Director of Benchen Monastery. Lama Rinchen was a monk for ten years, four and a half of which were spent in meditation retreats. He was appointed by both Rinpoches as the resident lama of Benchen Karma Kamtsang Centre in Poland, a branch of Benchen Monastery. Lama Rinchen regularly gives meditation courses and study seminars on classic Buddhist texts at Benchen Monastery. He was also instructed by his two teachers to lead the traditional three-year retreat there as the main teacher. He also gives personal instructions to many meditation students who are there in individual retreats. Lama Rinchen teaches regularly in various Kagyu centres in Poland and other countries.

James Low

James Low spent many years in India studying the language, literature, and history of Tibet. He received teachings from many high-ranking teachers, including Dudjom Rinpoche. He is a long-standing student of Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche with whom he has translated many important Tibetan texts. On his teacher’s instruction, he began teaching the dharma in Europe in 1980. James Low now lives in London, where he works as a psychotherapist, teacher, and supervisor. His deep insight into the dzogchen teachings, his winning presence, and his sound understanding of human psychology – seasoned with a strong sense of humor – make him an exceptional teacher.

Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl

Dr. med. Karl Brunnhoelzl, practicing buddhist since 1983, worked as a physician for 20 years.

He completed training in Buddhist Philosophy, Mediation and Tibetan language at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu, Nepal, under the guidance of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

Obtained a degree in Tibetology and Sanskrit from the University of Hamburg, Germany.

Appointed as teacher of the Nalanda Bodhi sangha in 2005 by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and bestowed the title “mitra” (spiritual friend).

Multiple book publications, both in English and German, e.g. “Heartattack Sutra”.

Karl’s main focus is on Yogacara, the Mahasiddha tradition with its songs of realization (“dohas”) and Mahamudra.

Kristina Bischoff

Kristina Bischoff is a music journalist and singer. She first came into contact with the tradition of singing dohas through her teachers Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Khenpo Rinpoche in the 1990s. Since then she has released dharma songs (“On A Bloomin’ Lotus Flower”) and founded a choir called the “Siddha Singers” in Hamburg in 2005. Her workshops bearing the same name have found their way from Europe to the far corners of the USA! Kristina Bischoff lives and works in Hamburg.

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