As a young boy in East Tibet, Lama Katen was given the auspicious name of Tsultrim Palbar by his maternal uncle, Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche. He learned to read and write Tibetan in his local village, but as there was no Monastery nearby he was unable to follow his natural inclination to become a monk.
However, Akong Rinpoche saw his potential and, during a group visit to Tibet in 1996, he and Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot of Samye Ling, made it possible for him to travel over the Himalayas to Nepal. There he immediately entered Thrangu Monastery in Boudha and embarked on the traditional training of a monk, learning ritual, chanting and all the duties of monastic life.
Later he spent five years studying in Thrangu Monastic College as well as engaging in a six month period of intensive practice of the Mahamudra Preliminaries. During this time he was also fortunate enough to take teachings from H H the 17th Karmapa, Chamgon Tai Situpa and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.Â He received both novice and full Bikkhu ordination from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Recognising the preciousness of the name he had received from his uncle, Thrangu Rinpoche advised keeping the name of Tsultrim Palbar as his ordination name.
Early in 2004, Tsultrim Palbar entered Thrangu Rinpoche's long-term retreat where he spent a total of four years. He completed the traditional three year, three month retreat followed by a six-month Kalachakra dark retreat. During the retreat he was able to receive many profound instructions from his root teacher, Drupon Khen Rinpoche, including the Torch of Definitive Meaning and the Profound Inner Meaning.
Forseeing his ability to benefit Samye Ling in future, Akong Rinpoche suggested that he return to retreat to further consolidate his practice. However, Thrangu Rinpoche pronounced him fully ready and capable of taking on the responsibilities of a Lama and recommended that he come to Samye Ling to begin learning Western ways.
Tsultrim Palbar's family is directly descended from the 8th Gyalwang Karmapa, Mikyo
Dorje, and the family's dwelling house in Kham in Eastern Tibet is named 'Kating' in honour of this connection. Therefore, when he came to Samye Ling in 2008, Akong Rinpoche advised that he be called 'Kating Lama', the Lama of the Kating family.
Once established in the UK, H H Karmapa officially authorised Kating Lama as a Trustee of Rokpa Trust, the umbrella organisation of which Samye Ling and all the UK Samye Dzongs are a part.Â In 2017 appreciating his qualities and strength, his uncle, the current Abbot Choje Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and the Trustees of Rokpa Trust, appointed him Deputy Abbot of Samye Ling and all associated Samye Dzongs.Â The Trustees also empowered him to teach, to take full responsibility for Samye Lingâ€™s ordained Sangha and to establish a proper Monastery.
Also in 2017, during his inaugural visit to the U.K., H H Gyalwang Karmapa renamed him as Lama Katen, 'Upholder of the Kagyu Doctrine' and so from that time he has been known as Lama Katen.