Shamar Rinpoche, the 14th Shamarpa, author

Shamar Rinpoche


“All in all, it is important that, based on kindness and compassion, we lead a life with an ethical framework that is conducive for meditation practice.” —Boundless Awakening: The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, 2013

Shamar Rinpoche was the 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodrö. The Shamarpa, or “Red Hat Lama of Tibet,” is Tibetan Buddhism’s second oldest reincarnate lineage after the Karmapa’s lineage. Shamar Rinpoche was a teacher, author, and activist, who encouraged a non-sectarian approach to meditation. Born in 1952 in Tibet, Shamar Rinpoche was recognized by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa in 1957, and by the 14th Dalai Lama. In 1996, he started to organize Bodhi Path Buddhist Centers, a network of centers covering many continents, which practice a non-sectarian approach to meditation. In addition, over the years, Shamar Rinpoche founded several non-profit organizations worldwide engaged in charitable activities such as education and animal rights. Shamar Rinpoche published several books during his lifetime. Creating a Transparent Democracy: A New Model (2006) is the first book written about democracy by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. It lays out a framework for establishing a genuine democratic system of governance that promotes the welfare and prosperity of a country’s citizens. In The Path to Awakening (2009, re-released through Delphinium Books, 2014), Shamar Rinpoche elucidates Chekawa Yeshe Dorje’s Seven Points of Mind Training, crafting both a guide to living a fulfilling life and a manual of meditation techniques. In 2012, Shamar Rinpoche wrote a biographical work called A Golden Swan in Turbulent Waters: The Life and Times of the Tenth Karmapa Chöying Dorje, and in 2013 his meditation text Boundless Awakening: The Heart of Buddhist Meditation laid the basis for understanding calm abiding and insight meditation in direct, concise language. Several of Rinpoche’s most recent books are available through Bird of Paradise Press.

Konchok Yenlak, the 5th Shamarpa

Könchok Yenlak, the 5th Shamarpa

According to his biographers, the 5th Shamarpa, Könchok Yenlak, was born in a remote area of Tibet called Kyen Zhölmo Ché. Shamar Könchok Yenlak is remembered for his tireless bodhisattva activity. He built a number of monasteries and ordained his disciples with great enthusiasm. He composed many memorable treatises, notably on madhyamika, abhidharma, tantric practice, the six yogas of Naropa, mahamudra meditation, and Tibetan language. His collected works are generally presented in eight substantial volumes.

Image: 18th century, Courtesy of the Himalayan Art Resource (item no. 3314391), Collection of Museum der Kulturen, Basel, detail. Biography courtesy of Pamela Gayle White.

Harrison J. Pemberton, author of the Buddha Meets Socrates

Harrison J. Pemberton


“In frustration it is easy to see that underlying the distress are the will and desire. It is because we desire or will to have something unattainable or to maintain something passing that we are frustrated. Desire and will are thwarted as opportunities fade, hopes are rendered vain, achievements are nullified, and possessions are lost. All such attempts to cling to what is impermanent frustrate will and desire and create in us a desperate ill will against time and circumstance. The Buddha’s way out of samsara makes more sense, I would say, to see it as a way out of frustration, for he has us focus on the will and desire as the root of our distress.” — The Buddha Meets Socrates: A Philosopher’s Journal, 2013

Harrison J. Pemberton taught philosophy for over fifty years. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University, and since then his main focus was Western thought, especially Plato. Ever since he served in the U.S. military in Japan after World War II, he kept alive an interest in Eastern thought as well. He taught at Yale, the University of Virginia, the Virginia Military Institute, and at Washington & Lee University, where he was Professor Emeritus of Philosophy. He was a visiting professor at the University of Texas, California State University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and at the Karma Shri Diwakar Institute of Buddhist Studies in Kalimpong, India. He was a long-time resident of Lexington, Virginia, where he passed away at the age of 92 on November 16, 2017.

Photograph of the author by Pat Hinely.