History of Dhagpo Kundreul Ling

The origins of the community lie in the donation of a large property in the Dordogne region of France to the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa (1924-1981), the previous head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It was there that he established his European seat: Dhagpo Kagyu Ling. On founding this centre His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa defined five wishes for the transmission of authentic Dharma in Europe:


  • To establish a major public Dharma centre so that the Buddha's teachings are accessible to everyone interested.
  • To create retreat centres to preserve and transmit the profound teachings of the Karma Kagyu lineage and to train lamas capable of transmitting these teachings correctly.
  • To create a monastic community (sangha) to protect the authenticity of the teachings and to ensure their availablility.
  • To construct a large temple representing the presence of the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and sangha) in this world and to offer a place of inspiration, devotion and collective practice for all.
  • To found an Institute (a college and library) for the conservation, study and translation of Dharma texts.


In order to carry out these five wishes, the Karmapa appointed Lama Gendun Rinpoche and Lama Jigme Rinpoche, to whom the centre's spiritual direction was entrusted. Karmapa's first and fifth wishes, the Dharma Centre and the Institute, have been realised at Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in the Dordogne.



The search for a favourable place for the practice of intensive meditation began in 1980, when a group of disciples following Gendun Rinpoche expressed the wish to carry out a traditional three-year retreat under his authority and guidance. The seeds had already been sown for finding such a place in 1977, when Karmapa visited the home of Arnaud Desjardins (a well known French writer on eastern religions) at 'Le Bost' in the Auvergne. During his stay, Karmapa performed two 'Black Hat' ceremonies, establishing a spiritual connection which was to result in the acquisition in 1983 of this property which then became Dhagpo Kundreul Ling.


In early 1984 the first group of retreatants, thirteen men and five women, went into retreat in the old manor house. It was during this first period of retreat that Le Bost's stupa, a support for devotion and practice which symbolises the enlightened mind, was built. From then on many other men and women practitioners wishing to do retreats started to arrive, making it necessary to construct new buildings.