Khandro Kunzang has been a devoted student and follower of the Dharma for most of her life. In the early 1990’s, she left behind a promising career, family, home and friends, to pursue her practice of the Dharma and became a novice nun in the Drikung Kagyu lineage, studying under Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen and H.E. Garchen Rinpoche.
In 1998 she met Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche while attending a Dharma healing seminar. Impressed with his teachings, knowledge and great generosity, she invited him to come to teach at the Towson Dharma Center in Maryland and received many teachings and empowerments from him. In 1999 she accompanied Lama Dawa Rinpoche on his U.S. teaching tour as his attendant, continued to received teachings from him, and also completed the short Dudjom Ngondro.
Following the advice of Garchen Rinpoche and Lama Dawa Rinpoche, she left the U.S. and traveled to Nepal in the fall of 1999 in order to meet the great Nyingmapa Tsa-Lung and Dzogchen master, Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche. Perceiving him to be the embodiment of Guru Rinpoche, without hesitation she offered her body, speech and mind to him and became his disciple. He conferred upon her the tantric precepts and gave her the name Kunzang Dechen Chodron. Following her Guru’s instruction, she became the consort and companion to Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche, becoming his main support for his teachings and activities in North America.
Between 1999 and 2009, Khandro Kunzang received the entire cycle of teachings and empowerments of the Rigdzin Sogdrub lineage from Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche, and completed many retreats under his direct supervision. In 2007 he bestowed on her the sacred Tummo’s Mewang (fire empowerment) after completing the Tsa-Lung and Tummo’s Rekyang course, where he gave her full authority to hold the Rigdzin Sogdrub lineage and teach it to others. The following year, Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche conducted a private enthronement ceremony, recognizing her as the emanation of the dakini, Mingyur Paldron.
In addition, Khandro Kunzang completed the generation and completion stage practice retreats of the Three Roots of the Dudjom Tersar (Yeshe Tsogyal, Guru Tsokye Dorje and Vajrakilaya) under the supervision of Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche and Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche. She also completed the outer, inner, and sacred levels of the Khandro T’hug-t’hig Tsa Lung under the instruction of Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche, and the tsa-lung of Vajrakilaya from Lopon Namgyal Rinpoche. Between 2011 and 2017, she studied and received many teachings and practices under His Holiness, Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche, and attended his summer retreats in New York.
In 2011, Acharya Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche bestowed the Tri-Don – enthronement ceremony – conferring authority to guide and teach others, and giving her the title of Khandro. A transcript of his talk during this ceremony is available here.
Since the passing of Lama Dawa Rinpoche in 2017, Khandro Kunzang divides her time between teaching and traveling tours throughout Europe and Mexico in the winter months; serves as the Executive Director for Saraswati Bhawan, leading retreats and teachings at Phurba Thinley Ling in Lansing, Iowa; oversees the translations and publications of practice texts available on Saraswati Publications; heads the P’hurba Peace Mandala Project International; and offers teachings, guidance and support to students world-wide.