Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – May 10, 1989) was a Buddhist meditation master, scholar and teacher. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West.
Kalu Rinpoche was born in 1905 during the Female Wood Snake year of the Tibetan lunar calendar in the district of Tresh Gang chi Rawa in the Hor region of Kham, Eastern Tibet.
When Kalu Rinpoche was fifteen years old, he was sent to begin his higher studies at the monastery of Palpung, the foremost center of the Karma Kagyu school. He remained there for more than a decade, during which time he mastered the vast body of teaching that forms the philosophical basis of Buddhist practice, and completed two three-year retreats.
At about the age of twenty-five, Rinpoche left Palpung to pursue the life of a solitary yogi in the woods of the Khampa countryside. For nearly fifteen years, he strove to perfect his realization of all aspects of the teachings and he became renowned in the villages and among the nomads as a representative of the Bodhisattva path.
During the 1940s, Kalu Rinpoche visited central Tibet with the party of Situ Rinpoche, and there he taught extensively. His disciples included the Reting Rinpoche, regent of Tibet during the infancy of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Returning to Kham, Kalu Rinpoche became the abbot of the meditation center associated with Palpung and the meditation teacher of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. He remained in that position until the situation in Tibet forced him into exile in India.
In the late 1960s Kalu Rinpoche began to attract Western disciples in India. By the 1970s, he was teaching extensively in the Americas and Europe, and during his three visits to the West he founded teaching centers in over a dozen countries. In France, he established the first retreat center to teach the traditional three-year retreats of the Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages to Western students.