Founder & Lineage Holder

Bodhi Path Buddhist Centers were founded by the 14th Shamarpa (Shamar Rinpoche), chief disciple of the 16th Karmapa and primary regent of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Shamar Rinpoche in turn recognized the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje, who is the current lineage holder.

Shamar Rinpoche Portrait 2004
Photo by Thule G. Jug

14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro (1952-2014)

Shamar Rinpoche founded the Bodhi Path Buddhist Centers in 1996, emphasizing a non-sectarian approach to Buddhism. Bodhi Path has grown into a vast network of vital centers worldwide, grounded in a curriculum based on the the Seven Points of Mind Training, in the tradition of the Tibetan master Gampopa (1079-1153), who joined the Kadampa instructions of Atisha with Mahamudra teachings from the tradition of the great Indian Mahasiddha Saraha. According to Shamar Rinpoche, Atisha’s methods are the most effective for taming the mind and deepening wisdom, and in addition can be taught and employed in a secular way.

Rinpoche authored three books to support his dharma activity and the meditation practice of his students, carefully composing comprehensive instructions for traveling the path to enlightenment. Boundless Awakening, The Path to Awakening, and Boundless Wisdom together provide the complete path, and are at the heart of the Bodhi Path curriculum.

About Shamar Rinpoche

Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chökyi Lodrö, was the 14th Shamarpa. The Shamarpa or “Red Hat Lama of Tibet” is Tibetan Buddhism’s second oldest reincarnate lineage after the Karmapa’s lineage. Born in Derge, Tibet, Shamar Rinpoche was recognized by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in 1957 and was enthroned as the 14th Shamarpa in 1963. He was also recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama. Following many years of study with Buddhist scholars, he began in 1980 to spread the Buddha Dharma, teaching at Karma Kagyu centers throughout the world. Shamar Rinpoche was an accomplished Buddhist master and teacher, respected and cherished by many the world over.

In addition to the Bodhi Path Buddhist Centers, over the years, he founded several non-profit organizations worldwide engaged in charitable activities, including projects to provide schooling for children born into poverty, and an organization committed to promoting animal rights.

Shamar Rinpoche is also the author of A Golden Swan in Turbulent Waters (2012), a detailed biographical compilation on the 10th Karmapa and Creating a Transparent Democracy (2015), through which he wished to inspire volunteers to dedicate themselves to improving the lives of their fellow citizens, through sincere engagement with the structures of their governments.

Rinpoche at Buddha Pavilion
Photo Courtesy of Bodhi Path Natural Bridge Retreat Center

Lineage Holder
Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

Through his activity as the senior lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Karmapa has the spiritual responsibility for over 900 meditation centers and monasteries throughout the world. Traveling and teaching extensively, Karmapa is a leading light in the fields of spirituality, peace, conflict resolution, and education for a vast array of students globally.

Karmapa is the present head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, which embodies the transmission of oral teachings that dates back 900 years. Karmapa currently holds the responsibility of carrying on this lineage transmission, which, following tradition, was bestowed upon him by Shamar Rinpoche. The Karmapas and Shamarpas have historically been close, and are considered to be spiritually inseparable.

To learn more about Karmapa’s present activities, biography, and history, visit

Gyalwa Karmapa at DKL
Photo by Thule G. Jug