Tarthang Tulku, referred to by his students as Rinpoche, a traditional title of respect, was born in eastern Tibet in 1935. His first teachers were his parents and private tutors. At the age of 9, he went to live at Tarthang Monastery, where he received instruction in Mahayana view, meditation, and conduct. At fifteen, he left Tarthang monastery to study with many of the greatest masters of the 20th century: Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, Zhechen Kongtrul, Adzom Gyelsrey, Bodpa Tulku, and others: thirty-one teachers in all. Until the age of 24, Rinpoche received intensive training in the three Inner Yogas of the Nyingma tradition.
In 1958, Rinpoche followed his root teacher, Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro to India. Thereafter he was unable to return to Tibet due to the political turmoil there. The next several years were devoted to pilgrimage and retreat at holy places in India. In 1962, he was appointed to represent the Nyingma tradition at Sanskrit University in Varanasi. That same year, he set up one of the first Tibetan printing presses in exile and began his life’s work of preserving sacred texts and art. In 1968, he determined to pursue his vision in the West and left for America.
Rinpoche chose California as his headquarters, and established the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center in early 1969. One of the first learned Tibetan lamas to take up residence in the West, he quickly developed a vision of wisdom in action that would eventually lead to the founding of over twenty different organizations and make a significant impact on the transmission of Dharma to the West and the restoration of Dharma in Asia. After his first decade in America, he withdrew from public teaching to devote himself to this vision.
Today he lives in retreat at Odiyan Country Center. He continues to guide the work of creating sacred texts and give spiritual direction to the Nyingma community.