My wife and I have both been students of Buddhism since the late 1960's. Our root teacher is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. As Education and Practice Coordinators for Chicago Dharmadhatu in the late 1970's we received teachings and empowerments from many Kagyu Lineage teachers. Since moving to Kansas in 1990 we have hosted many groups of Gelukpa teachers and monks and began studying with Nyingma Teachers, notably Orgyen Kusem Lingpa who visited Kansas City from 1997 to 2004.
We first met His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa, head of the Kagyu Lineage, in Ann Arbor in 1974 just after we started the first Tibetan Buddhist group there. We helped host three visits of the Karmapa to Chicago where on two occasions he performed the Black Hat Ceremony, the first in 1977 to an audience of over 1,000 people. We met the His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his first U.S. tour in 1977 and again in 1989 when he gave Chenrezig empowerment and teachings in Madison.
We met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974 and saw him many times after that until his death in 1987 attending many retreats including his one month Dathun and three month Seminary programs. Trungpa Rinpoche was the most prominent Tibetan Buddhist teacher in the United States during his lifetime. His unique ability to engage Western students had a profound influence on the development of Buddhism in America.
As part of the Chicago Dharmadhatu we hosted a visit by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche to Chicago in 1981. One of the great young Kagyu teachers, he tragically died a few years later in an automobile accident.
We helped host the visit of Tai Situ Rinpoche to Chicago in 1982. One of the leaders of the Kagyu lineage, Tai Situ Rinpoche has gone on to establish many dharma centers throughout the world.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, the abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, visited Chicago many times to give teachings during the time we lived there in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Another great Kagyu teacher we met in Chicago was Thrangu Rinpoche who has written many excellent books on the Mahayana and Mahamudra traditions.
A photograph I took of the great Nyingma Teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche when he visited Chicago. I was able to see him again at the cremation ceremony for Trungpa Rinpoche in Vermont in 1987.
I first met the Dzogchen teacher Namkyai Norbu Rinpoche in 1984 during a weekend program in Evanston, and then received Dzogchen transmission from him in 1989 during a weekend program in Milwaukee. He was the first Tibetan teacher to present Dzogchen teachings in the United States and has written many excellent books on Dzogchen.
In 1996 we hosted a week long visit in Kansas City by Rabjam Rinpoche, the nephew and dharma heir of Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche. Rabjam Rinpoche gave the first Guru Rinpoche empowerments and teachings here.
Dzogchen Master Orgyen Kusum Lingpa during one of his many visits to Kansas City to give empowerments and teachings. In 2002 he designated our retreat center as his center for Vajrakilaya practice in Kansas City. Kusum Lingpa died in January, 2009 at the age of 76 at his monastery in Golok.