Karmapa in the USA
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David McCarthy
David McCarthy with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
David McCarthy (right) receiving appreciation plaque from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa (left). Photo by Robert Hansen-Sturm.
David Nelson McCarthy is currently the director of Karma Rinchen Tongdrol, the video production division of Karma Kagyu Institute. He has been a personal student of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, the abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), since 1978. He received a B.A. in music from University of Michigan and studied for an additional two years at the Naropa Institute in Boulder Colorado. During those years (1980-81) he studied music with jazz greats such as Ralph Towner, Charlie Hayden, and John Ambercrombie, and in 1981 served as the teaching assistant to Music Department head Bill Douglas. During that time he also received many Dharma teachings from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his students and encountered some of the great Buddhist masters of our time such as His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Thrangu Rinpoche, Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche, and many others.
Returning to the East Coast in 1982 to continue studies with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, he helped develop the Karma Thegsum Choling (KTC) Ann Arbor (MI), which in 1985 became the first KTC to own its own building. During that time he also took part in the initial work to develop class curricula for use in Dharma study at the KTCs nationwide. During the decade of the 1980s he worked as a guitar teacher and performing musician on jazz and classical guitar.
In 1989 he was offered a full-time position at then KTC Heart Center under the sponsorship of Michael and Margaret Erlewine, editing texts by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and managing KTD Dharma Goods. In the five years he served in Big Rapids, he edited the first five editions of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's Ten-Day Teachings and many shorter transcripts. He also served as co-editor (with Laura Roth) of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's book The Instructions of Gampopa, (Snow Lion). During these years he also made serious initial efforts to learn the Tibetan language.
In the spring of 1995, again under the sponsorship of Michael and Margaret Erlewine, he worked for about a month as an assistant to Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche who directed the creation the KTD Curriculum, which is in use to this day.
David McCarthy with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
David McCarthy (left) with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche (right) . Photo by Stephanie Colvey taken during a birthday celebration for Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.
After moving to the Woodstock New York area to be near Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche in the summer of 1995, he founded the Karma Kagyu Institute's Tibetan Language Program. From 1995-2000 this program presented regular Tibetan language study weekends at KTD with such teachers as Tenzin Chonyi, the late Chojor Radha, Jeanne Matthewson, and others.
In the late 1990s he was asked to lead study groups on the Curriculum at KTD for the education of the staff. This group met weekly for about 2 years, and went through the complete curriculum. More recently he again led the KTD Local Sangha study group through the KTD Curriculum for about 3 years at a private residence.
In 1998 he founded Rinchen Publications to continue publication work independently, and soon after accepted stewardship of most of the transcripts from the KTD Dharma Goods project in Big Rapids. Rinchen continues to keep these essential texts in print for the community, and has also put out a series of Dharma books by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, and others.
From 2000-2001 he served as Chairman of a local environmental group called Hudson Valley Sustainable Communities Network (now Sustainable Hudson Valley), a group which seeks to provide leadership on the great environmental and economic challenges of our times. From the mid-1990s to the present he has conducted intensive personal studies on economic issues in particular, and has developed a considerable body of original thought on the subject. His writings on economics can be found at the blog Trickle-In Economics.
In 2002 he started serious organizational work on a longstanding personal aspiration: the creation of Buddhist television. Bardor Tulku Rinpoche encouraged the establishment of such a service and remains the principal spiritual advisor for the project. In 2003, Buddhist Television International was incorporated as a non-profit organization in New York State, and in 2004 it received Federal 501-c3 tax exempt status. David McCarthy is currently the Executive Director of Buddhist Television International, which provides Buddhist programming on the web under the name of Dharma TV.
David McCarthy and the video crew for His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's first visit to the US
David McCarthy (top left) and the video crew during His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's first visit to the U.S. in May 2008 . Photo by Margaret Erlewine.
Since 1999, when he he began an association with the video production work at KTD, he has filmed approximately 200 teachings and events at KTD in his role as staff videographer, and overseen efforts to make many of those teachings available on VHS and more recently DVD. Highlights of recent years include filming His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2006 during His Holiness' visit to Woodstock and KTD, and producing the DVD of the event. In 2008 he had the honor of serving as video crew leader for the historic first visit of His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, to KTD. Spring of 2009 saw the release of the first of three planned DVDs on that visit, The Seven-Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche.

David McCarthy at Kunzang Palchen Ling
David McCarthy filming at Kunzang Palchen Ling . Photo by George Karpel .
He has also supported the Dharma activity of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche with the 2009 release of two fundraising films, Treasure of Wisdom, in support of the new building for Kunzang Palchen Ling in Redhook NY, and Night into Day, in support of a solar-powered medical clinic project in the Raktrul region of Eastern Tibet.