Karma Triyana Dharmachakra


KTD was established through the blessings and inspiration of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, the Head of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness’ vision came in response to the sincere supplication of students in the West who yearned for an authentic Tibetan Buddhist monastery for the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings.

Historical Inspiration & Importance of the Monastery: In the Words of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa

Excerpts by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa taken from the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, July 28, 1980The first Karma Kagyu monastery to be established in the United States of America is going to be here in Woodstock. In doing divinations and making supplications to the Three Jewels, all indications seemed to be that this must be the place, the most auspicious and appropriate place for the construction of the monastery.

Actually, the concern of the divination, and my concern, is not just having a building erected, but whether this would contribute to the peace and harmony of the people of this country. And it seems to look very positive.

If, through the establishment of this monastery, the preservation and the flourishing the wisdom of this ageless tradition could be accomplished, it would be very good. I feel that is workable, and this gives the inspiration the courage that this must be done, and done as soon as possible. I wish to request your sincere and wholehearted effort, working together, in plans and projects, to bring this about.The purpose of this project, and the vision behind this project is not for the sake of any fame or popularity or personal reputation.

The people of this country definitely need Mahayana teachings to be available to them. When it flourishes, it will bring peace to the country, and ultimately, enlightenment to its people. That is the path. There is no other. In order to establish this firmly as a reality, there is need of a base. The base, the essential source for the continuous study of the Mahayana teachings is this project.

Peace and harmony are absolutely necessary for the people of this country and for people everywhere. Before people are able to take responsibility and realize the importance of such, we as pioneers must establish the base, so that no matter how long it takes for people to connect themselves and realize the importance of the application of the Dharma in their lives, it will be maintained and preserved.We must all have the same aspirations and the same attitude that our work is done in order to help and benefit all beings, and that our concern is for the betterment of humanity everywhere. Our goal is to bring peace, harmony and upliftment, and the experience of the enlightened mind to the people of this country in particular.

This is our vision and this is our project. The hope is that we will succeed in this project. That we will all be able to contribute so successfully that even if we are gone, that still for hundreds of years what we have put together will continue to live and manifest for the benefit of all.Another important point is that we are not going to play politics in the name of the Dharma. That is a disgrace to the Dharma in terms of its dignity and in terms of the purity of the Dharma.

My only concern is to benefit beings through the purity of the Dharma. Anyone who is of this mind, I will commit myself fully to them. But if all kinds of politics are involved there are other places where I need to be.In Tibetan Buddhism there are four major schools: the Gelug, Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya. The teachings being those of the Buddha, these schools are exactly the same, though practiced in different styles out of convenience and because of a particular approach.

It is important to remember that whatever school or line of practice with which one is involved, one works toward the flourishing of that practice, for upliftment through that practice, and for the maintenance of teachings in a correct way both internally and externally.

At the same time it is important to extend our openness, respect and our friendship among all schools. In the Kagyu school itself, right now, there are three major centers under the direction of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Trungpa Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche, which are under the overall direction of the Karmapa, being part of the Kagyu lineage. In these cases, there is no difference. There may be teachings manifested in different ways, but actually the teachings manifested are the same. Everyone needs to have this understanding, that there is really no difference whatsoever. It is exactly the same, and this is not being said just in order to have a better relationship, but because this is the true situation. Holding one attitude inside and having some different attitude outside is not the way of the Dharma.

This is wearing the mask of the Dharma. And so, wholeheartedly and purely we will work together, for our concern is benefiting beings. Be it your money, be it your effort, whatever is offered, if it is offered sincerely and wholeheartedly for the Dharma it is never a waste.


Inspiration for the Monastery

An address to the community by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa

HIS HOLINESS FIRST OF ALL, would like to wish everybody tashi delek, which means goodness and happiness, and he would also like to mention that here in the great land of America, there is definitely a great revival of interest in the teachings of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha and also in the practice of the teachings.

His Holiness believes that there are three main points as to why this interest has come about and why the Dharma, or the teachings of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, is becoming relevant in the Western mind. The first point is that, as he remembers, there have been specific prophesies made in the context of the flourishing of the Dharma and its spread from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere. His Holiness feels that eventually, through the power and blessings of the Three Jewels, the Dharma will spread to the Southern hemisphere, which he feels is the Western hemisphere today.Another point which has played a role in making the Dharma relevant here in the Western hemisphere is related to the changes that took place in the Land of Snow, in Tibet, where the Dharma was not only preserved, but studied, understood and realized.

Due to these changes, the heads of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism eventually came out of Tibet to settle in India and the Himalayan region. This, coupled with the interest and the seeking of Westerners who came to their feet, is another reason that the teachings have now come to the Western hemisphere.

His Holiness believes, as he mentioned in the two points earlier, that it is through the blessings of the Three Jewels and through the power of the great bodhisattvas that today, the teachings of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha are spreading in the Western hemisphere as the rays of the sun would direct its sunshine across [all of the world].His Holiness mentioned that he remembers very distinctly his first visit to North America in 1974, and the interest in the teachings was as enthusiastic and as fruitful then as it is now. It is because of this spontaneous and great interest on the part of many people here in North America, as well as in the Philippines and Malaysia, that His Holiness has been both inspired and encouraged to make this second visit to the various Buddhist churches as well as to other groups of people who wish to receive the teachings. His Holiness has been visiting the various Dharma centers here in North America for almost seven months now, and during this visit he has been very much encouraged by the efforts made on the part of the people here to understand and practice the teachings. And His Holiness remembers that in 1974, a great Dharma benefactor, a Mr. C.T. Chen, had mentioned to him often that he wished to make [his financial support available] to His Holiness so that there may be the opportunity for the essence of the Dharma to be implanted here in America.In view of the fact that there is this great and spontaneous interest in the teachings of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, particularly as it was practiced in Tibet, His Holiness has decided to make his humble effort to build a monastery in which there will be a place for the immaculate Sangha members, that is the lamas and the monks, to perform the rites and ceremonies and the various Buddhist prayers; the monastery will also become a center where anyone who is interested can relate to and study the Dharma.

There will also be a center for translation, and His Holiness mentioned that he believes that this particular project is extremely important as the teachings of Buddha are preserved only in Tibetan and in Sanskrit. He feels that it is very important that in the future, the teachings must be translated into the English language so that it will be accessible to the English-speaking world. Also, His Holiness wishes to establish a unique library where all the manuscripts and teachings will be preserved and made available to anyone who is interested. Finally, there will be an opportunity for people to receive teachings from the lamas and also to enter the retreat sector of the monastery, where they can practice what has been taught to them.His Holiness mentioned that throughout his visits to the Western countries and North America, he has been very encouraged by the various spiritual leaders from the Christian, Judaic and other religious traditions.

These leaders have met with His Holiness to express their mutual understanding and also to exchange ideas with the intent of making the teachings relevant to bring both inner and the outer peace. During his travels here in North America, His Holiness had the privilege of visiting different churches and Catholic monasteries where he observed that there was definitely a sense of coexistence, that there was a very good understanding among all people who live here in North America and practice their respective faiths.His Holiness has noticed here in North America where there is this sense of many–where there are Christians and Jews, and many other practices besides Buddhism–that in spite of nominal terms such as Buddhism and Christianity, the basic aim of each tradition is to benefit others as much as possible and to make an effort to be separated from sorrow and the causes of sorrow. His Holiness says that in his experience, within the basic teachings of these various traditions there is definitely a link or common understanding between Buddhists and practitioners of other faiths.It has always been His Holiness’s aim to make the common goals shared by different faiths clearer so that there would be more understanding among the different traditions and among the people who practice their respective faiths.

In no way has His Holiness ever felt that one particular practice was superior or that one tradition was not as good as another. He feels that it is important to have clarity in one’s own practice, and follow this practice through to the end.But at the same time, because of the great need here in North America, particularly in the United States, and at the request of many of the Buddhists here, His Holiness is making this effort to create a unique monastery.

Its architecture will be Tibetan, and not only that, it will be a place where the immaculate Sangha, the Buddhist priests, can study, practice and present the teachings in all its stages, in all of the three yanas. His Holiness envisions that this monastery will become a heart center of the teachings, particularly those of the oral tradition, or the practice lineage, the Kagyupas.

It is His Holiness’s hope that this monastery will become an asset here in America, and that the teachings will become a way of life for future generations.His Holiness mentioned the greatest of the bodhisattvas–Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion–whose compassion is directed towards all beings who are lost in cyclic existence; these beings are part and parcel of the suffering of samsara, and this suffering has come about due to the fact that sentient beings are blinded by the veil of ignorance. It is with this in mind that the effort is made to cut through and tear apart the veil of ignorance so that one may experience enlightenment.

The immaculate teachings of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha in the form of the three great vehicles, the three yanas–from the Hinayana approach, from the Mahayana approach, and from the Vajrayana approach–lead towards a single goal.

That is, one makes an effort on these paths to ultimately acquire the absolute realization of one’s original nature and to be completely liberated from suffering. It is with this in mind that His Holiness hopes that this place where the monastery is going to be built will become a great center where there will be an opportunity for all peoples to make such an effort and ultimately obtain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.His Holiness says that in closing, he would like to remind us that the teachings have been imparted first from the celestial aspect of the Buddha–from Vajradhara–right down through the golden chain of the Kagyupa lineage of teachers: from Vajradhara, to Tilopa, to Naropa, to Marpa, to Jetsun Milarepa, to Gampopa, and through the line of Karmapas, from the first up to now.

His Holiness says that it is very fortunate that the practice lineage has been able to preserve the immaculate teachings, and it is still accessible–the experience of enlightenment is still accessible to all peoples. And His Holiness says that he can guarantee, with full confidence, that if one truly makes an effort in the path as the great yogis and the great teachers did in the past, he or she too will acquire the same realization experienced by these great practitioners.

This His Holiness says he can guarantee.

His Holiness says that his prayers and benediction will be with you always.

The first Karma Kagyu monastery to be built in the United States of America will be here in Woodstock,” the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa told the board of directors of KTD in 1980, on the same day he consecrated the upstate New York land (see full text on the left). “In doing divinations and making supplications to the Three Jewels, all indications seemed to be that this must be the place, the most auspicious and appropriate place for the construction of the monastery.”The 16th Karmapa’s wish to establish a monastic seat was met with enthusiasm by Dr. Shen, a New York-based shipping magnate who donated land in Putnam County, New York, and later helped arrange the purchase of property in nearby Woodstock. To build his base in New York, the Gyalwang Karmapa deputed Tenzin Chonyi and later Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche – who has served for decades as abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) – and the two were soon joined by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. By his last tour of the U.S. in 1980, a large number of the centers the Gyalwang Karmapa visited were centers affiliated to KTD, known as KTCs for Karma Thegsum Choling, the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit name Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD)