Visit of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche 

KyabjeKaluR RS Cropped KTC 2018


KTC was honored to welcome the second Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, spiritual head of the Shangpa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, for a weekend of teachings and empowerment October 20-22. His predecessor, Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche, was a root guru of KTC’s founder, Lama Norlha Rinpoche, and he provided much guidance to KTC and its three-year retreat program in the 1970s and 1980s. The second Kalu Rinpoche is now 28 years old, and this was his second visit to KTC.

Kalu Rinpoche was extremely generous with his time and engaged in much dharma activity while he was here. In addition to two teachings on Saturday, plus the empowerment of the Four Deities and more teaching on Sunday, he also consecrated KTC’s new White Tara statue, which is next to the Maitreya Buddha statue on the opposite side from the Guru Rinpoche statue. On Monday evening he gave a public talk on “Finding Balance in a Chaotic World.” Much of his teaching time was spent inviting and answering questions from the audience. It was clear that he was listening deeply and responding each time from his heart, often with stories from his own personal experience.

We are very grateful to Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche for spending this time with us, and we hope circumstances will allow him to visit us again soon. 

Summary of teachings by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche

While he was at KTC, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche gave several teachings in fluent English and answered many questions. His teachings were laced with humor, sometimes at his own expense, and he shared many personal stories and connected with the audience in a frank, open, heartfelt way that was clearly felt.

Click here to access videos of his teachings, including one that is free of charge.

Among the points Kalu Rinpoche emphasized:

The purpose of all the Buddha’s teachings and all the practices is to be content. It is important to start with shamatha (calm abiding) meditation in order to build a strong foundation for our practice, and to continue shamatha as much as we can, even as advanced practitioners. We need a teacher or instructor to guide us along the path, and in order to fully realize the path, we need devotion. He repeatedly defined devotion as not blind worship, which he discouraged, or even as specific prayers, but as a constant sense of inspiration, motivation, connection, presence, and mental clarity based on our relationship with our teacher.

In order to develop renunciation, the basis of the path, we need to begin by dissolving pride, which leads to dissolving our illusions, which leads to dissolving self-clinging, up to the very sensation of “I”— which in turn brings clarity, joy, and stability to our practice and leads to realization of the nature of mind. We also need to understand the reality of suffering and of impermanence through contemplating the four thoughts and analyzing our own experience.

Asked how to cut through anger on the spot, he confessed he doesn’t have a specific miraculous method to offer us, but what helps him when he feels himself getting upset (“sorry, this is not good for my image!”) is to think of impermanence. “And on the side, you have to do practice. That is the reality, and you have to keep going, and that is that.”

He stressed several times that dharma practice is an inner path. “There is no graduation in Buddhism. There is no box. Every individual has their own journey.” With regard to practice, he advised that we keep our practice simple and, “like it or not, you need to do retreat, at least 1 or 2 days at a time, and keep that routine as part of your life. There is no shortcut. If there were, I would have taken it.”

He also advised us, “Be impatient with samsara, and be patient when practicing the dharma.”

At the end, Kalu Rinpoche promised he would not forget us, and we look forward to his next visit.