At Nitartha Institute, Western faculty, translators, and students from around the world closely study core texts and commentaries with Tibetan masters. Joining the wisdom and scholarship of the East with Western scholarship and ways of inquiry, the quality of awakening intelligence is advanced.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche founded Nitartha Institute under the guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, two of the leading contemporary teachers of the Karma Kagyü and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen share the primary leadership and teaching responsibilities at Nitartha by designing the curriculum and by teaching the principal courses at the Summer Institute. Rinpoche and Acharya graduated with high honors from the nine-year training program at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek, Sikkim, India (an affiliate of the Sanskrit University of Varanassi).
Visiting Acharyas, also graduates of Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, often teach in the foundation, intermediate, and advanced programs at the Summer Institute. Visiting Acharayas have included Acharya Kelsang Wangdi, Acharya Sherab Gyaltsen Negi, and Acharya Tashi Wangchuk. The principal faculty are assisted by Western faculty, senior students, and translators. The faculty vary at any particular session of Nitartha Institute (summer or regional).
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Nitartha’s President and spiritual director, is acknowledged to be one of the foremost scholars of his generation in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder of Nitartha International, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to preserving the literary and artistic heritage of the dharma in the East, particularly that of Tibet, and bringing it to the world community. He is a graduate of the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek and has completed courses of study in English and comparative religions at Columbia University. Rinpoche is an accomplished meditation master, calligrapher, visual artist, and poet. He travels and teaches widely and is well-versed in Western culture and technology. He is known for his warmth, humor, and lucid presentation of Buddhist teachings in a manner relevant to contemporary life.
Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen excelled in his studies at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute under some of the greatest living masters in the Kagyü lineage. Acharya lives in Boulder, Colorado and serves as a faculty member of the Religious Studies Department of Naropa University, especially teaching Tibetan tradition Nitartha Institute-based graduate courses. Acharya works closely with Ponlop Rinpoche in all aspects of leadership for the Institute, particularly in the design of our curriculum, and, after Ponlop Rinpoche, is the Institute’s most revered teacher. Acharya is currently teaching Advanced courses in the Nitartha curriculum that are based in Boulder, Colorado and are broadcast to students around the world through online streaming video.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is committed to training Western teachers as an essential key to establish the living Buddhadharma in the West. He has authorized several senior western translators and students to teach the foundation, intermediate, and advanced Nitartha curricula. Committed to training Western teachers, Nitartha Institute has a teachers-in-training path of study and practice.
Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl has been a translator, oral interpreter, and teacher at Nitartha Institute since 1999. He is a principal resource for the contents in the entire Nitartha Curriculum. In his daily life, Karl works as a full-time Tibetan to English translator. He is the author of a number of books published by Snow Lion Publications and Shambhala Publications on Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, Yogacara, and buddha nature, including commentaries by several of the Karmapas and other major Kagyu lineage figures.
Mitra Tyler Dewar has been attending Nitartha Institute since 1999, has served as an oral interpreter at the Institute since 2000, and joined the Institute’s faculty in 2003. He has contributed written translations that have functioned as source material for Nitartha Institute classes on the topics of Madhyamaka, Mind-Only, and Valid Cognition, and served as oral interpreter for various classes by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen, Acharya Tashi Wangchuk, and Acharya Kelzang Wangdi. Tyler serves as a Mitra (appointed senior teacher) in the Nalandabodhi Buddhist community, has written for Buddhadharma, Bodhi, and Shambhala SunSpace, and published two volumes of translation, Trainings in Compassion (2004) and The Karmapa’s Middle Way (2008), with Snow Lion (now a division of Shambhala Publications). He is currently working on several translation projects and teaches, mostly under the auspices of Nalandabodhi, regularly throughout North America and the world.
Jirka Hladiš has studied under the guidance of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche since 1997. He joined Nitartha Institute in 2002, and was authorized as a faculty member in 2007. Jirka’s interest is in approaching study, analytical meditation and debate as a unified tool for spiritual transformation. Jirka holds graduate degrees both in engineering from Prague Technical University and in Buddhist studies from Naropa University.
Dr. Stuart Horn has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1996 and in 2002 entered studies at Nitartha Institute. He holds a PhD in History with a focus on the History of Ideas. He is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at NSU in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he teaches courses on Asian Philosophy and Death and Dying. He served as the Chair of the Board of Nitartha Institute, has been teaching at Nitartha Institute since 2008, and was authorized as a full faculty member in 2010. His passion is the study and teaching of Buddhist philosophical systems and practice.
Stephanie Johnston has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner since 1985 and a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s since 1996—the first year of Nitartha Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies. Since then she has been active with the Institute as a faculty member and student, and also with their publications. As a graphic designer and avid practitioner, she trains and supports practice instructors for Nalandabodhi under the guidance of Ponlop Rinpoche, manages its study and practice publications, and works with Nitartha International’s art collection.
Israel Lifshitz holds degrees in Physics and Mathematics from the National University of Mexico. He is involved with Tibetan Buddhism since 1992 and has studied under Kagyu, Gelug and Nyingma teachers. His teaching activities include courses and retreats in more than 35 cities throughout North, Central and South America and has served as translator into Spanish to more than 25 Tibetan and Western teachers. After meeting DPR, he joined Nitartha Institute in 2005, started teaching there in 2008, and was authorized as a full faculty member in 2010. He is currently Director of the non-sectarian Tibetan Buddhist Center in Morelia, Mexico.
Dr. Linda E. Patrik began shedra studies at Nitartha Institute in 1998, while she was a philosophy professor at a liberal arts college. She teaches Foundation courses at Nitartha Institute. In recent years she served as the Operations Director at HH 17th Karmapa’s KTD monastery in Woodstock, NY.
Dr. Sandra Roscoe has been a long time practitioner of Buddhism and a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1996. She began her studies at Nitartha Institute in 2002. She holds a PhD in psychology with a focus on family systems, and was a graduate and undergraduate professor at NSU. Sandra was director of Nitartha Institute for 3½ years. She has been teaching at Nitartha Institute since 2013, and in 2016 was made a fully authorized faculty member for the Shedra program.
Dr. Phil Stanley has been involved in Nitartha Institute since its founding in 1996 and serves as its Dean of Academic Affairs. He is an Professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Buddhism and Tibetan language. He is Co-Director of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon Catalog of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library at the University of Virginia, Co-Convener of the Union Catalog of Buddhist Texts, and Vice-Chair of the International Association of Buddhist Universities.
Dr. Phil Weber has taught on the Buddhist approach to healing at Naropa University for 15 years. He has been a practitioner of Buddhism and medicine for 30 years. Currently, he is a family physician in private practice in Boulder with a particular interest in the integration of Western and Buddhist healing methods.
Scott Wellenbach has been part of the leadership of Nitartha Institute since its founding in 1996. In 1998, he was appointed Co-Director and serves as head of the Translation and Publication Department. A translator of the buddha-dharma from Sanskrit and Tibetan for more than twenty years, and a long-time member of the Nalanda Translation Committee, he served as co-translator and co-editor of the Rain of Wisdom.