Born in Lhasa, Tibet, Lama Sonam began his Buddhist training when young within the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. At the age of 18, Lama Sonam took full ordination and became a monk (Gelong). Lama Sonam then went on to complete a retreat on Ngondro (Common and Extraordinary Preliminaries) and the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra under H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and Gelong Yeshe. Lama Sonam received teachings and blessings from more than twenty-five great masters, including Nyedak Rinpoche, his beloved main teacher, and the Most Venerable Pachung Rinpoche, the renown scholar and retreat master at Drikung Thil monastery. Lama Sonam served as disciplinarian at Jang Chub Ling monastery, in Dehra Dun, India. This difficult position required an extremely vast knowledge of the Dharma, and inspirational deep inner qualities. Lama Sonam has also served as the personal attendant to H.H. Chungtsang Rinpoche, H.E. Drubwang Rinpoche, Tongkar Tulku, and H.E. Thritsab Rinpoche, and tutored American tulku Thadag Rinpoche (Jack Churchward).
On June 9, 2003, Lama Sonam arrived in Boston to be the Resident Lama at the Drikung Meditation Center. Lama Sonam has shown himself to be expert in both the theoretical and practical aspects of training the mind through meditation and Vajrayana methods for awakening our Buddha Nature. In the fall of 2005, Lama Sonam started the Jowo Rinpoche Statue Project to benefit the Boston area, the United States, and the world. Lama Sonam began to realize his vision of bringing the blessings of Buddhism, from Buddha Shakyamuni and countless other enlightened masters from the East- India, Nepal, and Tibet, to the United States by creating a pilgrimage site. Arriving in May of 2008, the centerpiece of the pilgrimage site is an eight foot tall gilded, jewel-encrusted bronze, the U.S. Jowo Rinpoche Statue. The magnificent U.S. Jowo Rinpoche statue is a replica and spiritual emanation of the most revered Jowo Rinpoche statue that was made at the time of the historical Buddha and brought to Lhasa, Tibet in 641 AD.
Currently, Lama Sonam is the Spiritual Director of the Drikung Mediation Center in Arlington, MA, Katsel Dharma Center in Tampa, FL and Drikung Katsel Las Vegas Dharma Tara Meditation Center, Henderson, NV. Lama Sonam continues tirelessly to bring the blessings of Buddhism to the West.
KhenpoTsultrim Tenzin took his monk's vows at the age of 14 and a few years later was selected from his home monastery to began his study Buddhist philosophy at Samyé Monastery, the first monastery ever built in Tibet. He studied the Thirteen Major Texts with Khenchen Nawang Gyalpo Rinpoché and other Khenpos. The strong Sakya and Nyingma influence at Samyé allowed him the opportunity to receive the entire Lamdré-cycle of empowerments of the Ngor-Sakya lineage from Khensur Khenchen Rinpoché and from Amdo Lama Togden Rinpoché and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoché. He received many Nyingma empowerments and teachings.
In 1987, Khenpo Rinpoché arrived at Drikung Kagyu Institute at Jangchub Ling in Dehra Dun and there met His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché. The spontaneous devotion he felt for His Holiness resulted in his request to His Holiness to join the monastery to continue his education. With four years of his studies at Samyé Monastery, Khenpo Rinpoché quickly completed his education at Jangchub Ling. He then taught lower classes for three years in the Monastic College. Khenpo Rinpoché also completed the Ngondro, Cakrasamvara and other practices while in retreat. Enthroned by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoché as a "Khenpo" in 1998 he then spent three years teaching Buddhist philosophy at the Institute.
In April 2001, Khenpo Rinpoché arrived at the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, Maryland to assist Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche. He worked to improve his mastery of the English language to be of more benefit in the spread of Dharma. He began teaching at TMC in August of that year and was subsequently appointed as co-spiritual director of TMC by Khenchen Rinpoché.
Lama Gursam went to monastery at a very young age, received teachings as a monastic, and studied and practiced as a monastic. Then Lama Gursam went to study in Tibetan University Sarnath, Varanasi, India to get both bachelors and masters degrees in Buddhist Philosophy, History, and languages. Upon graduation he received a special award for scholastic achievement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
After university Lama Gursam was requested to assist His Holiness the Chetsang Rinpoche. Lama volunteered for five years as an assistant, as a teacher, and helped with many other duties. Lama Gursam then completed the traditional three year retreat. Since then every year Lama has gone on retreat in various mountains, including some of Milarepa's caves. He then returns for six months each year to provide teachings in the West. He also leads pilgrimages to holy places in India, and Nepal.
Lama teaches in English, and always tries to focus on the practical application of the Dharma in everyday life.
Katsel Tsi Chen Cho Kyi Ling "Center of Great Compassion"