This profile was last updated in 2013
Following requests from practitioners, Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche of the Tibetan Drikung Kagyu lineage came to the United States in 1982. In 1985, he helped to found Drikung Meditation Center (DMC) in Boston. In addition to the Boston center, Khenchen Rinpoche has also worked to found a number of centers throughout the United States. He now spends much of his time traveling to teach and give retreats throughout North America and Europe. Lama Konchok Sonam, who previously served as disciplinarian for other monks at the Jung Chub Ling monastery in Dehra Dun, India, came to the United States in June 2003. Shortly after his arrival, he became the resident lama of DMC. In March 2007, the Drikung Meditation Center moved from a modest apartment in Somerville, where it was located for many years, to a three-story house in a residential neighborhood in Arlington. The center in Arlington is one of numerous Drikung centers in the United States and around the world. The spiritual head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism is His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang—the 27th successor of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage. In 1985, he founded the Drikung Kagyu Institute in Dehra Dun, India, where he resides today. For more information on the Drikung Kagyu lineage please visit their website
The center is housed in an old house on a quiet street in Arlington. Shaded by trees, the center is a quiet haven for meditation and practice. The three floors of the refurbished building are decorated in a New England country style. With six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and dining room, there is ample space for residents to practice and lamas and teachers to visit. A large room at the front of the house serves as a practice hall and space for worship. The shrine room is accessible through French doors opening from the hall. The shrine room contains a seat for the resident lama or visiting teacher and an impressive, decorative Tibetan shrine with offerings, Buddha and Bodhisattva figures and photos of Drikung Kagyu teachers.
Lama Konchok Sonam has acted as the resident teacher and spiritual director of the center since shortly after his arrival to the United States in June 2003. There is also a board of directors, which is comprised of nine lay members.
Activities and Schedule
The Center holds regular practice sessions twice a week that include meditation, deity yoga practice and prostrations. The main practices follow in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhist Drikung Kagyu. In addition to the regular weekly practices, there are also special monthly practices that are performed in accordance with the Tibetan lunar calendar. Some of the monthly practices include: Guru Rinpoche Practice, the Great Drikung Phowa, Guru Yoga Offering and Dharma Protector Practice. The Center also hosts prominent lamas and rinpoches of the Drikung Kagyu lineage to teach throughout the year. Members are able to become long-term residents of the Drikung Meditation Center. Residents must follow the house rules and have a genuine interest in learning and practicing Buddhism.
The Center’s location on Bartlett Avenue in Arlington is temporary. The Drikung Boston members and Lama Sonam commissioned the construction of a five-foot tall gilded Buddha figure in Nepal with a projected date of completion in December 2007. The Center’s current fundraising efforts support Lama Sonam’s aspirations to buy property in order to accommodate the figure and the growing needs of the center. Following the completion of the figure, it will be blessed and consecrated before being sent to Boston. With the sacred gilded Buddha figure in Massachusetts, Lama Sonam envisions the creation of a Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage site in the United States.
There are approximately thirty regular members. Hundreds attend larger annual services and events such as Losar (Tibetan New Year). While the regular members are largely Euro-American, many Tibetan immigrants attend annual events and meet privately with Lama Sonam.