Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Words from Our Founder

On a long road, a mile-marking sign can be a welcome friend. It reminds us that our destination is indeed ahead – and assures us that we eventually will arrive there.

So it was this past month, when our Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling Founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, found himself receiving a blessed sign from none other than His Holiness Karmapa himself. 

Although the occasion was a birthday observance for His Holiness Karmapa, the head of our Buddhist tradition chose instead to honor the 95-year-old Columbus KTC founder and abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery.

This remarkable event occurred in the ornate and beautiful shrine room of KTD Monastery in Woodstock, NY, on the final day of a Longevity chant retreat conducted by His Holiness, Khenpo Rinpoche and a host of others. 

On that final morning of the Longevity retreat, His Holiness entered the shrine room to the sound of majestic gyaling horns, which traditionally are played to signal the comings and goings of great masters.

Then, after ascending his throne, and after spending a short time there, His Holiness stood up and the Tibetan horns sounded again.

Into the shrine room came Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, in full monastic dress, in the company of his nephew and attendant, Lama Karma Drodhul. As His Holiness and the rest of the assembled monks and laypeople stood in honor, Rinpoche was seated in front of His Holiness, who then descended his throne to offer a long-life blessing to Rinpoche.

In the audience for this sacred event were Lama Tom Broadwater, Cathy Lhamo Jackson and Sue Ellen Steinmetz of Columbus KTC. They had taken time out of their daily lives to go and honor His Holiness Karmapa and Khenpo Rinpoche and attend the special pujas.

After descending from his throne, the Karmapa offered blessings to Rinpoche with sacred substances related to the life of the Buddha, praying that the blessings would give him a long and healthy life. Those in attendance say Khenpo Rinpoche was visibly moved by the generosity of His Holiness in bestowing the longevity blessing.

As the morning session ended, Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen were getting ready to leave for Ohio when Lama Karma Drodhul came running to collect them.

Khenpo Rinpoche wanted to see them, Lama Karma said. There was only a 30-minute break for lunch and then the afternoon pujas were going to start, so everyone had to hurry.

Up in Khenpo Rinpoche’s private room in the monastery, Rinpoche’s other attendant, Lama Karuna Tara, was preparing a quick lunch. While stir-fry sizzled in the pan, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche asked Cathy to get out her cellphone and record a short talk for the Columbus KTC.

Rinpoche had heard that the center had experienced a setback in its quest for a new home, and that the projected construction budget for the new building was more expensive than the money the center had on hand – a lot more expensive. He knew everyone was working hard to find cost savings for the project, and that some folks were feeling discouraged. 

Having heard this, Khenpo Rinpoche had offered for sale that week – with the help of San Francisco Dharma Friend Amy Wu his personal practice items, such as hand drums (damarus) along with his bells and other ritual implements. These were the last of the personal possessions he had to give, and he gave them to benefit the Columbus KTC. 

He also handed Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen a packet containing an offering that had just been given to him by His Holiness Karmapa. 

After recording his remarks – punctuated by him folding his hands in supplication to all KTC friends to help him in his quest – Rinpoche asked that his recording be played for “everyone in the Ohio Center,” which is what calls his beloved Columbus KTC. 

So Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen returned to Columbus with the precious recording from Khenpo Rinpoche, which was presented – skillet noise and all -for the KTC Board and Sangha this past Sunday (July 15) at Columbus KTC.

To help carry out Khenpo Rinpoche’s wish that “everyone in the Ohio center” hear his message, I’m devoting my blog this week to presenting his remarks here, through audio (see the link below) and a transcript prepared by Cathy Jackson. 

If you have 15 minutes to spare, the audio is endearing – you can hear the emotion in Khenpo Rinpoche’s voice, and his tenderness for the KTC, as well as his bodhisattva commitment, is evident in what he says and does.

But even if you aren’t in a position to listen to the recording, please read the transcript, which is also presented here.

May Rinpoche’s words bring all of us joy and comfort, and be a mile-marking sign to us that our destination is indeed ahead, and will eventually, with the help of every single one of us, be reached.

May all beings benefit from the light that is our great masters, and the dharma homes they help us create for the benefit of generations yet to come!

Post-script: The “Khenpo Rinpoche’s Treasures” fundraiser by Amy Wu brought in $53,000 for the KTC; the packet from His Holiness was another $10,000 for KTC. Added to the $25,000 donated during the Riverside Church event in New York City and $15,000 in surprise local donations, KTC received $103,000 in the last six weeks!

Listen to Khenpo Rinpoche’s Message

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Transcript Follows:

KHENPO KARTHAR RINPOCHE – Message for Columbus KTC community

June 24, 2018 * Translator: Lama Karma Drodhul

Audience: Lama Tom Broadwater, Sue Ellen Steinmetz, Cathy Jackson

“So first of all, he {Rinpoche] is happy to see three Ohio students able to come and join puja. And Rinpoche said that the Ohio {KTC] Center for him is extremely important. And he told this many, many times, that he wants to finish the Center before he leaves. Therefore he [is] constantly working for Ohio Center and collecting thangkas and the big drum, brocades and all kinds of shrine implements. And he is working very hard on that.

“And [he is] not only supporting for shrine part but financial {as well].  He asked personally Ani Drolkar to raise money and she raised quite [a lot] of money as well. And also Amy, the one who put the items [on sale at KTD] for Ohio KTC. And also personally he contributed whatever he could get offerings. And he’s not only supporting [the] shrine part, but also financially.

“And our purpose [is] to build the Ohio Center much better than before. It’s not like a temporary camp. It’s not temporary or something. 

“Therefore Rinpoche [is] requesting all the students of Ohio [to] have courage or inspiration to build the center as soon as you could.

“American people they are quite educated and capable of doing so many things. Not only [in regard to] other things, but just generally, [if] people don’t really support each other, even the country of America can go down. Likewise it is related to the Center as well. Everybody has to be supportive.

“In Tibet we all know that everything was destroyed and everything went down. However, you can see the people [came] together and built. And [now] everything is developed and everything is flourishing. It is because of people coming together.

“Therefore this message actually is not just for the three of you [Lama Tom, Cathy, and Sue Ellen] but for the Ohio Center, everybody to listen, especially the Board. So he said, ‘Please everybody be supportive, listen to each other, and think about the Center.’

“[If] you have five fingers, it’s not just the thumb alone can help, but you have to have the rest of [the] four fingers. So [it’s] not only [to] have Board or someone [else] do it, but everyone has to come together. 

“So Rinpoche gave most of his items to Amy and [she is] doing auction, and seems like she is doing quite good and he is quite happy about that. He is not just using his normal items but he is just giving his own damaru, his own bell, his own empowerment implements on behalf of KTC. 

“He doesn’t have much left because he put most of his items in Stupas and other places. 

“One thing is that everyone must keep [in mind], is … what His Holiness did today – giving special Long Life Empowerment to Rinpoche. He said you all as his students [must] have gratitude to His Holiness Karmapa. 

“[His Holiness] is not doing this [empowerment] just for Khenpo Rinpoche, but it is something to benefit students and for everybody.

“[His Holiness] personally gave this money to Khenpo Rinpoche [indicating packet]. It is opened but not counted yet. So three of you together, whoever, you can count [the bundle of money] and give it to the Ohio Center. 

“And if we are able to build the Center, Rinpoche plans to come to the opening ceremony. Not only Rinpoche, but he believes His Holiness will come as well. Rinpoche himself requested His Holiness and [His Holiness] said ‘Yes,’ but there is no place to come now. We have to build Center as soon as possible.

“[Rinpoche] is requesting to please build the center as soon as possible. Everybody [be] supportive. He is requesting with [his] hands joined together. [Rinpoche joined his palms together vigorously, in supplication.]

“The architecture or the drawing that we have [for the new KTC] is something Rinpoche wants to build. [We], have to build something solid and something for long time benefit. Therefore everybody listen and [build it] according to the plan, which is the architecture or drawing that they have.

 “Don’t think about putting something up and it last a few years. It’s not like that.  If you think about what Nagarjuna [did when he] built some temples in India, and [they are] still working. 

“So you have to build something, not only think about your generation, but future generations, centuries, centuries. 

“[Rinpoche] saw that some centers build by Hindu temples wanted to be contemporary. The teacher died and all students [fought] each another, all went away and disappeared. It was a fragile temple. So building [your] building, Rinpoche said, you have to think about the whole country and everybody, not just only temporary, not just a few people. That show[s] you have good motivation.

 “So if people [are] just so fragile [that if they] have to go through some difficulties, like have to think about, have to face the burden, or have to face the financial [burden], [if] you are afraid of that, that truly shows you are not courageous for helping other beings. 

“Rinpoche said maybe you can check him as an example. When he left Tibet he barely had shoes or like a cup to drink but he never lost courage to help other beings. And so he worked hard. So, why are we able to have His Holiness come here? And [have] such [a] beautiful ceremony, and everything? He’s not saying that he built everything himself, but he never lost his courage. He never gave up. That is how it happened.

“So he won’t talk too much. Just remember, most of you are students of Khenpo Rinpoche who are traveling that path, and [who] never give up. Just think about that again and again.  

“So once you are ready to go … Amy is helping; and [Rinpoche] will try his best to help, but just don’t rely only on him, because financially he does not have much; he always just give, give, give. But at the same time, he will be very supportive.”


Transcribed by Cathy Lhamo Jackson; light editing by Cathy Jackson and Lama Kathy Wesley