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About Us

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Our Purpose


“Awam” refers to the union of the male and female principles of compassion and wisdom, leading to "awakening". We are a Vajrayana Buddhist organization striving to help lay practitioners attain awakening in this lifetime. We focus on the Nyingma Dzogchen practice lineage, using the best texts and teachings of the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Gelug, Jonang and Rimé traditions, as well as scholarly and scientific sources.

We are committed to the householder yogi tradition that goes back to Shakyamuni Buddha in India and Padmasambhava in Tibet. Many of the great Mahasiddhas of India and Tibet practiced as householder yogis. This is particularly appropriate today in the West, where most of us work for a living and may have families and other life commitments.


Our Spiritual Director is His Holiness Khenchen Lama Rinpoche, who is the current head of the Padling Tersar lineage (see "Our Lineage" below). He is currently residing in York, England, and teaches at other locations across the globe.

See "Classes & Videos" for detailed descriptions of our curricula and classes, as well as free videos. Classes are available in Tucson, Arizona, as well as online.


In addition, we bring master teachers to Tucson to share the dharma and facilitate our study and practice. We provide special events on festival days in the Tibetan Calendar, special workshops to facilitate your practice, and weekly meditations (see our "Meditation & Events" page). Yogi Khenpo Drimed Dawa (aka Khenpo Dean), our resident teacher, is also available for one-on-one consultations and support. You may keep connected and stay informed by signing up for our monthly newsletter via email and by liking our Facebook page. (See our "Contact Us" page"). 


All of us who work diligently to bring this exciting program to you are strictly volunteers to keep our costs and your fees as low as possible. Most activities are FREE. Your support through regular donations or contributions made specifically for special programs or teachings are deeply appreciated.


Please take the time to look over our website  and what we have to offer, locally and on the web. We hope you will find this opportunity as exciting as we do and look forward to your participation and/or support!

Our Sangha


Sangha is a group of people who support each other on the path to awakening. It is a community. We listen, offer suggestions, ask questions, and give whatever support we can to help others. Our sangha includes all those who choose to participate in our classes, group activities, or support us in other ways.

Sign up for our Newsletter to receive email notices or like us on Facebook.


If there is anything that you would like to suggest that might help yourself or others, we welcome your suggestions. Email us at!

Our Spiritual Director


His Holiness Khenchen Lama Rinpoche – Since very early childhood he exhibited unusual compassion and fondness towards meditation. At the age of three, the head of Nyingma lineage His Holiness Sera Yangtul Rinpoche recognized Khenchen Rinpoche as a true reincarnation of Padma Dagnag Lingpa. Padma Dagnag Lingpa was a reincarnation of Nupchen Sangye Yeshe, one of the five closest disciples of Guru Padmasambhava and the founder of the Yogi lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. H.H. Sera Yangtul Rinpoche also prophesized, that Khenchen Lama Rinpoche would particularly benefit students in Europe and the USA in this lifetime.

Despite the pressures to take over the abbot charges of four monasteries at an early age, Khenchen Lama Rinpoche was encouraged by his mother to undertake rigorous study and practices. Rinpoche received the following Buddhist teachings:

  • Study of the Text in 30 verses by Sambhotra with Khenchen Jigme Namgayal

  • Study of preliminary practices by Patrul Rinpoche and study of nine successive vehicles to enlightenment with Khenchen Padma Tsewang Rinpoche.

  • Sutra and Tantra study at Ahrik University and Larung University in Tibet under the guidance of his root teacher H.H. Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche (the study include Buddhist philosophy, meditation, logic, medicine, astrology, languages, grammar, lexicography, dance and drama).

  • Two years sanskrit study with Khenchen Pema Tsewang.

  • Numerous teachings, transmissions and empowerments from leading masters and teachers in all main lineages of Tibetan Buddhism including Nyingma, Sankya, Kagyu, Gelug, Jonang and Bonpo.

  • Lineage holder and Tulku in the lineage of Padma Dragnag Lingpa including Dzogchen Kalachakra terma.

  • Key transmissions, empowerments and teachings received – Kama and Terma (e.g., Dudjom tersar, Nyingtik Yazhi (Khandro Nyingtik, Longchen Nyingtik, Vima Nyingtik, Dzamo Nyingtik, Rinchen Terzod etc); Six Yogas of Naropa; Mahamudra)


At the age of 17 Rinpoche received Khenpo title from Ahrig University, The Great Buddhist Institute for Higher Learning, Kham, Tibet and in 1999 at 21 Khenchen title from the same University. Further in the year 2001 H.H. Drigung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Phagdru Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal also conferred Khenchen title to Rinpoche.


Rinpoche has also undergone English language study at Coleg Menai, Bangor, Gwynedd and completed Cambridge English Entry Level award in ESOL Skills for life; E2 Speaking and listening; E2 reading and ESOL for Information Technology. Rinpoche passed Grade 5 examination in English for life in the United Kingdom (British naturalization exam) - Trinity College London, Trinity Brimingham SELT Centre 1.


Rinpoche is specialized in the teaching of:

  • Preliminary practices (Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche)

  • Padmasambhava’s Natural Liberation (Six Bardos) cycle of teachings and Jigme Lingpa’s Yeshe Lama.

  • Teachings of the Padma Dragnag Lingpa Dzogchen cycle (Padling Tersar - see Our Lineage below)


While studying, Rinpoche also spent two to three months each year in silent solitary retreat summing up to about four years of retreat in total.


After receiving his Khenpo and Khenchen titles, Khenchen Lama taught debate, astrology, sutra and tantra at many different monasteries and centres in Tibet, Nepal, India, Malaysia, Singapore, China and the United States, including:

  • Regular annual teaching at Jewo monastery in Kham Tibet and Ahnye Monastery in Kham, Tibet

  • Head Lecturer, Palden Phagdru Institute Trust, Kathmandu (one time supervised completion studies of 16 Khenpos)

  • Spiritual Director of the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute in Tucson, Arizona, USA; Awam Tibetan Heart Center, USA, and Awam King Gesar Monastery, Slovenia

  • Teaching at Buddhist centres in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK


Rinpoche holds United Kingdom citizenship.


The following are Rinpoche’s scholarly publications:

  • Khenchen Lama, P.D. (2008 – present). Numerous poems and commentaries on a Dharma blog. (in Tibetan).

  • Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2009). Commentary on 21 Taras. (In Tibetan). Gansumz Publications. Ladu, Tibet.…

  • Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2009). Heart of Yoga Meditation. (in Tibetan)

  • Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2010). Songs of Meditation – three volumes - Dhalu Pedma Gesar (vol.1), Dhonlu Yidzhin Norbu (vol. 2), Taklu

  • (vol. 3). (in Tibetan)

  • Khenchen Lama, P. D. (2015). Nature of Phenomena Dharma Songs. (in Tibetan)…

  • Khenchen Lama Rinpoche (2016). Tibetan Meditation Yoga: Ancient Teachings Living Today. (Self-published book).


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and H.E Chodpa Lama Tashi Dorjee wrote Rinpoche’s long life prayer.


Complete Lineage of HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche

Other Teachers

Yogi Khenpo Drimed Dawa (Khenpo Dean or Dr. Pielstick) is an ordained lay practitioner and was named President of the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute (then Dharmakirti College) on Losar, 2007 and conferred the title of “Khenpo”* by HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche on Losar, 2009. He has also studied with HE Jigme Lodro Rinpoche, HE Garchen Rinpoche, Ven. Sang-Ngak Rinpoche, Ven. Traga Rinpoche, Ven. Gyalpo Rinpoche, Ven. Ontul Rinpoche, Yogi Lama Gursam and numerous others. He has received empowerments and teachings from HH the Dalai Lama, HH Chetsang Rinpoche, HH Sakya Trizin, along with many other contemporary and historical figures. His primary practice is Dzogchen and he has a particular affinity for the Dzogchen teachings of Longchen Rabjam, Jigme Lingpa and Mipham Rinpoche, as well as the core foundations in "Pre-sectarian Buddhism".

Although he makes no claims to having great insights or accomplishments, he has agreed to teach at the request of HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche nevertheless. It is in this spirit that he has agreed to share whatever he knows for the benefit of others. Khenpo is the author of three editions of Innate Happiness: A Buddhist Guidance Manual for Householder Yogis and Yoginis, A Yogi's Book of Notes - Thoughts about Buddhism and It's Practices, Profound Peace, the editor of two other books, and is the designer of our curriculum and online classes. He serves an officer on the Board and committees of the Arizona Friends of Tibet.

Dr. Pielstick is also a Professor Emeritus of management and leadership from Northern Arizona University in Tucson. He was the author of three editions of Authentic Leading: Where the Blue Sky Hits the Road and  professional journals. He also has extensive professional and college administrative experience in addition to classroom instruction. His publications on leadership are frequently cited by other scholars and students.


* The title of "Khenpo" is normally given upon completion of a monastic college program of study or an assignment as head of a monastery or part of a very large monastery. Drimed Dawa was given the title in 2009 by his Root Lama HH Khenchen Lama Rinpoche (head of the Padling Tersar lineage of the Nyingma tradition). That was after about 5 years as a teacher and 2 years as President of the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute. "Since my study and practice was not done in a monastic college, I have always been a 'yogi' practitioner. When Rinpoche-la wrote my long life prayer, he referred to me in it as "Yogi Khenpo", so I have started using that more recently so as not to infer that I have the traditional monastic training. I make no claims beyond that." - Yogi Khenpo Drimed Dawa

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Yogi Lama Gursam went to monastery at a very young age, received teachings as a monastic, and studied and practiced as a monastic. Then Lama Gursam went to study in Tibetan University Sarnath, Varanasi, India to get both bachelors and masters degrees in Buddhist Philosophy, History, and languages. Upon graduation he received a special award for scholastic achievement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

After university Lama Gursam was requested to assist His Holiness the Chetsang Rinpoche. Lama volunteered for five years as an assistant, as a teacher, and helped

with many other duties. Lama Gursam then completed the traditional three year retreat. Since then every year Lama has gone on retreat in various mountains, including some of Milarepa's caves. He then returns for six months each year to provide teachings in the West. He also leads pilgrimages to holy places in India, and Nepal. Lama teaches in English, and always tries to focus on the practical application of the Dharma in everyday life. He has been teaching regularly at the Awam Tibetan Buddhist Institute (previously Dharmakirti College and Dharmakirti International) for many years.

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