GOING WEST… Rinpoche first traveled to Europe, the United States, and Canada in 1980, at the age of fourteen, accompanying the 16th Karmapa on one of the Karmapa’s several tours of the West. This was a key moment of early exposure for Rinpoche to the fledgling forms of Buddhism that had only recently begun to take root in the West. Upon his return to Rumtek, Rinpoche continued to make the acquaintance of itinerant American and European spiritual seekers that had been visiting Rumtek since the 70’s, some of whom became enduring friends, others Rinpoche’s personal students.
Rinpoche began his own touring activity in the West in 1985, teaching at Buddhist centers in many European countries during the annual winter vacations of Karma Shri Nalanda Institute. Toward the completion of his shedra studies, at the dawn of the nineties, Rinpoche began teaching in Southeast Asian countries, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
After graduating from the shedra in 1991, Rinpoche lived for a time in New York City, attending the American Language Program and religious studies classes at Columbia University. There he came to appreciate the skillfulness of certain Western pedagogical methods. At the same time, greater access to computers and the internet gave Rinpoche the vision to use this technology to preserve ancient Tibetan literature and art.