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For more than 50 years a spiritual community studied and practiced together in Arizona under the guidance of a beloved teacher and friend, Erma Pounds, until her passing in 2011. His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and his entourage, including Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, visited Erma and her students in Arizona in 1974. A positive connection was formed that has continued without interruption.  

Under Erma’s guidance, the community studied and practiced ecumenically, incorporating teachings of Buddhadharma, Dzogchen, Theosophy, American Indian traditions, and other esoteric philosophies. For many years, the community operated as a center in the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism with the blessings of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Without bias, the community routinely welcomed teachers and students from a variety of traditions with a shared spirit of altruism. Visiting teachers from the Kagyu tradition included His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.

circleErma with friends and students at a gathering on Arizona's Mogollon Rim in June 2010

With the support of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, members of this long-standing community reorganized in 2012 as Kunzang Choling of Phoenix (KCP), becoming the first affiliate center of Kunzang Palchen Ling. Today’s KCP community continues to embrace its history of openness and inclusivity while sharing Tibetan Buddhist teachings and practices from the authentic lineages held by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, including those of the Karma Kagyu and the treasure lineage of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche's predecessor, the 19th-century Tibetan master Terchen Barway Dorje.

“Terchen Barway Dorje cared deeply for educating lay people and for bringing the most powerful teachings to men and women living as ordinary people. In this he was something of an outsider. He could have lived as a monk, reserving the highest Dharma for monks, but he chose not to," Bardor Tulku Rinpoche explains. "His students are the beneficiaries of a tradition that insists on bringing dharma to life through living it.”

phoenix 2012

Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, his wife Sonam, Lama Tashi Topgyal and Lama Yeshe Gyamtso
with friends and students in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2012


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