Lama Karma Rinchen was born in Eastern Tibet in 1931. At age seven he ran away to a monastery because he wanted to be a Buddhist monk, but was sent home. At age 11, he began formal instruction in Tibetan Buddhism at the Palpung Monastery, and took full ordination vows in 1955.
When Lama Rinchen was 27, he escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet, traveling mostly alone and at night through the Himalayas in the winter. He made his way to safety in Sikkim, India in 1959. From there he moved to the Darjeeling district, where he lived for most of the next 17 years.
In 1976 Lama Rinchen was assigned by his root guru Kalu Rinpoche, to Honolulu, Hawaii. There he established the dharma center, Kagyu Thegchen Ling, which still thrives today. Lama Rinchen was the principal resident lama with Hawaii as his main residence until his death on January 18, 2022. He traveled frequently and had students all over the world.
Lama began visiting students in Truth or Consequences, NM, in 2004, and by 2006 had attracted a group of followers who formed a non-profit. The Truth or Consequences group founded the Karma Gyurmed Ling Dharma Center. While there, Lama initiated the construction of a stupa, which was consecrated in 2011. He also had many students in the Questa area and visited frequently to give teachings.
Lama Karma Rinchen is the author of The Story of All of Us: Simply Said and I Can See the Flea on Your Nose, but Not the Yak on My Own. Prayers and pujas are being conducted worldwide for Lama Rinchen during the traditional time period of 49 days after his passing.