The Foundation takes its name from Tsadra Rinchen Drak, Jamgön Kongtrul’s hermitage and principal seat in Eastern Tibet. Perched on a cliff face high above Palpung Monastery in the Dergé region of Kham, Tsadra is considered to be equivalent to Tsari, one of the twenty-four sacred places in India.
It was there that Kongtrul established a traditional three-year retreat center that would be the seat of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition. It was there also that he transmitted the practice traditions of Shangpa, Kalachakra, and Dzogchen and composed many volumes of his Five Treasuries, which comprise the theory and practice of all the main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
Jamgön Kongtrul was a remarkable figure in nineteenth-century Tibet. Widely respected for his accomplishments in contemplation and scholarship, he spent much of his life in retreat while writing authoritative treatises. His life and activity embody perfectly the values of Tsadra Foundation, and as such are our primary source of inspiration.
Fully integrating the two facets of Buddhist teachings, Kongtrul worked continuously for the benefit of others through religious, social, and diplomatic efforts. A tireless advocate of the non-sectarian movement, he counteracted the religious fragmentation of his time by espousing respect for all authentic traditions. With this same belief at its core, Tsadra Foundation as an institution is not attached to a single tradition, nor does it adhere to or represent any single teacher’s activity.
The directors of Tsadra Foundation acknowledge an infinite debt of gratitude to another great Tibetan master considered to be Kongtrul’s activity incarnation, Khyabje Kalu Rinpoche. With his profound wisdom, endless patience, and irrepressible humor, Kalu Rinpoche opened our hearts and minds. Most significantly, he founded the first three-year retreat center in the West, trusting students with the full and uncompromised transmission of the Buddhist teachings.