Kagyu Changchub Chuling was founded in Portland in 1976 by the Very Venerable Kalu Rinpoche. Born in Eastern Tibet in 1905, Kalu Rinpoche was one of the great meditation masters of the 20th century. As an adolescent, he was sent to Palpung, one of the most important centers of learning in the Karma Kagyu school. There he studied with a group of teachers that included the most accomplished masters of the lineage and completed two three-year retreats. He became a solitary yogi after leaving Palpung, and by the time he was forty, he had spent half his life in solitary retreat. Much later in life, Rinpoche began traveling throughout the West, where he founded a number of centers for Western students, including KCC in 1976.
Kagyu Changchub Chuling
KCC's first resident teacher was Lama Thinley Drupa, asked personally by Kalu Rinpoche to leave his monastery in Sonada, India, to help establish the center. Lama Thinley served from 1980 until 1991. During his tenure, in 1981 KCC found a long-standing home at 73 NE Monroe. The center remained there until 2017.
In 1993 Lama Michael Conklin arrived from California to serve as KCC's resident teacher. Lama Michael was one of Kalu Rinpoche's first students in the U.S. and was instrumental in founding Rinpcohe's first Dharma Center in the States, Kagyu Droden Kunchab in San Francisco. He completed the traditional three-year retreat under the guidance of Lama Tsang Tsing in 1989 and was among the first American-trained teachers authorized to lead a center. Under Lama Michael's guidance, KCC acquired and develped retreat land; conducted its first one-year and three-year retreats; and found and renovated the new city center on NE Skidmore St. He served as KCC's resident lama through December 31, 2019 and is currently lama-emeritus of the center.
On January 1, 2020 Lama Eric Triebelhorn was installed as KCC's most recent resident lama and is currently serving in a probationary capacity for one year. He studied under Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche from 1996 until Rinpoche's passing in 2004. From 2002 through 2019, Lama Eric principally lived in India, studying the Dharma and Tibetan language. He completed the traditional Shangpa Kagyu three-year retreat at Bokar Monastery under the guidance of Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche from 2005 to 2008. After the retreat, Lama Eric mostly remained in India continuing to study, practice, and translate spoken and written Tibetan. Once the reincarnation of Bokar Rinpoche returned to the monastery in 2005, he served as the young tulku's English teacher.
KCC has enjoyed the support of some of Tibet's eminent spiritual masters during its 30-year history. In addition to Kalu Rinpoche, a number of teachers visited KCC, including His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Jamgong Kongtrul, Dezhung Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and Thrangu Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, among others. Following Kalu Rinpoche's death in 1989, KCC was fortunate to develop an active relationship with his spiritual heir, the Venerable Bokar Rinpoche, who visited KCC most recently in 1996. Since Bokar Rinpoche's passing, Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche has served as a key spiritual advisor for the center.