Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on August 20, 2013

Here is a link to a short video I have made on Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, my dharma teacher for the last thirty years. It is for his 90th birthday celebration.


Margaret and I am getting ready for our annual 800-mile trek (one way) to KTD (Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery), the Tibetan Buddhist monastery we belong to in the mountains above Woodstock, New York, a specific meditation technique we have been practicing now since 1989. This will be our 25th year attending Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's 10-day Mahamudra meditation intensive, and for me always an eye-opener.

Part of the natural beauty of such a retreat are the vigorous ups and downs I experience, including the annual deconstruction of my ego. There is almost always at least one day I wish I were just back home, and the rest of the time I wish I could stay there close to Rinpoche forever. There is no way to prepare for it. We just go.

And it is a long one-day drive, from dawn to dusk. Margaret and I each pack sandwiches, as the food on turnpikes and such places is challenging to life. And we drive and we drive, usually one of us behind the wheel while the other tries to sleep in the cramped bump-along back seat. Even then it is tough after a dozen hours or so.

It is always amazing to me that we can get from our home here in Michigan to KTD (and back) at all. It defies credulity, but we do get there, at least we have so far. And if I calculate all the miles we have travelled, we have driven more than one-and-one-half times around the circumference of the Earth to be at these 10-day events and spent some ten months of our life at these teachings. It is our annual pilgrimage.

This year I was asked by KTD to create a short video on Khenpo Rinpoche for his 90th birthday celebration. I considered what I could possibly add to what everyone who has met Rinpoche already knows.

At best, I can perhaps share some images that give the flavor as to what it has been like for those of us who have been fortunate enough in this life to meet Rinpoche and hear his teachings.

On the one hand I might save the video for the birthday celebration, but it is not a surprise party. On the other hand, sharing it now with my Facebook friends might inspire even one of you to actually come to the 10-day teaching with Khenpo Rinpoche while he is still offering it. If you can't come to the teaching, then come to the birthday celebration for Rinpoche on Sunday September 1st after lunch (around 12:30 PM). It is free and open to the public. You can find details on how to get to the monastery on Kagyu.org.

Not everyone will have the karma to actually meet someone like Khenpo Rinpoche in person. He might live just around the corner from you, but getting around that corner may take lifetimes. Reading books or watching Rinpoche on DVD is one thing, but meeting someone like Rinpoche face-to-face in this life makes a connection that imprints the mindstream. It is hard to break a dharma link (once made) because it extends inward to the future.

If I could start my spiritual learning-curve over in this life, I would first go and meet Khenpo Rinpoche, and only after that attempt to navigate my life. With a being like Khenpo Rinpoche, it is not only his looks, demeanor, attitude, or whatever that is precious, although they are. It has been his ability to successfully point out to me the true nature of my own mind so that I can see clearly enough to begin to make use of it. For that I cannot thank Rinpoche enough! No one else was able to do that, let alone me.

[Photo of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. I don't know who the photographer was.]