Learn about the community at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center in Vermont.

Who We Are

Karmê Chöling is a residential meditation retreat center situated on 750 acres of beautiful countryside in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. With the Green Mountains as the backdrop, the land is enriched by rolling meadows, woodland walking trails, and a one-acre organic garden.

Originally home to the Abenaki people, the land was turned into a dairy farm before it became our retreat center. We have six meditation halls, bright and open common spaces, a range of living quarters for full-time residential staff and program participants, along with seven rustic cabins in the woods for solitary retreats.

The first land center established by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Karmê Chöling has served the international Shambhala community for 50 years. Upon his passing, leadership passed to his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and recently to the Shambhala Board. The center continues to offer programs for both new and experienced practitioners, with a community life rooted in meditation practice as a foundation for fostering enlightened society.

Living at Karmê Chöling

Explore Karmê Chöling

Inclusivity at KCL

Leadership & Teachers

Financial Overview

Contact Us

Living at Karmê Chöling


Meditation retreats at Karmê Chöling focus on mindfulness-awareness practices. Through them we connect our innate goodness and natural intelligence to our engagement in the world. We offer leadership retreats, programs for families and teens, contemplative studies and disciplines, mind-body wellness training, in-depth Buddhist programs, and organic garden apprenticeships.

Meditation at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont


Our culture has emerged from over 45 years of contemplative practice on this exceptional land, blessed by many great teachers of the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Zen Buddhist traditions. Our traditions are rooted in the principle that every human being has fundamental goodness, warmth, and wakefulness. Joining the practicalities of daily life with the heart of meditation, immersed in the natural elements—sky, wind, water, earth—we are continually enriched by the world around us.

Meditation at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont


Our community—visitors, staff, volunteers and members—is united by a shared commitment to creating a compassionate, sustainable, and just human society. Join us for a retreat. Drop by for a day visit. Connect with a community dedicated to creating enlightened society—one breath at a time.

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Main House at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont

Inclusivity at Karmê Chöling

Karmê Chöling is committed to providing an environment that is welcoming, safe, and caring for all. We recognize that we all come with a variety of backgrounds and identities that impact our experience of being in community and guide how we interact with the world.

Dharma communities are not immune from individual and organizational habits and practices that contribute to marginalization. By engaging the community through dialogue, education, policy, and other efforts, our intention is to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding diversity and inclusion in our community, please email our Rusung.

Leadership & Teachers

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, our founder, was a pioneer in bringing Buddhism to the West. Having fled Tibet in 1958, he settled in North America and became well-known for presenting the essence of the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages in secular terms. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche had the profound conviction that the teachings he held could be transmitted to students in other cultures and that they, in turn, could be empowered to teach and lead others.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s oldest son and spiritual heir. He is unique in that he bridges two worlds—Asian and Western—having been brought up in both cultures. The Sakyong resides with his family in Nepal.

All our programs are led by teachers that have practiced and studied meditation and other contemplative disciplines for many years and have gone through a thorough curriculum of teacher training and practice. We also host teachers from other respected traditions such as Qigong, Kyudo, Ikebana, etc.

Vegan Aharonian is Executive Co-Director at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont

Vegan Aharonian

Executive Co-Director

Vegan Aharonian began studying Shambhala Buddhism in 1996. Originally from Armenia (the former Soviet Union), he came to the United States as a graduate student at Columbia University in 1991. Since 2008 he has been involved in the office of Practice and Education at the New York City Shambhala Center and is currently a member of its Governing Council as the head of P&E. In addition to teaching regularly in New York, he has also taught international Shambhala programs in Russia and Ukraine. Vegan holds a PhD in geophysics and has worked as a software engineer for most of his career. His last engagement was at the United Nations. 

JT Buck is Executive Co-Director at Karme Choling Meditation Retreat Center, Vermont

JT Buck

Executive Co-Director

JT Buck came to the Buddhist path in 2009. He has served KCL as Director of Programs, Residency Coordinator and Program Coordinator. He originally hails from Ohio, where he maintained an active and varied career in the performing arts and non profit sectors for nearly 20 years. He recently completed pilgrimages to Nepal and to ancient family sites in the UK and Europe and is a first-year interfaith seminarian with One Spirit Learning Alliance.

Suzann Duquette

Senior Teacher

Suzann Duquette has been a student, leader, and teacher in the Shambhala lineage since 1974. Formerly a co-director of Karmê Chöling, Suzann is currently one of our senior teachers at the center. She was responsible for maintaining and fostering the sacred ceremonial and liturgical forms of Shambhala, including those taught at the Shambhala Ritual Academy.

Currently, Suzann leads programs and retreats at Karmê Chöling. She is a Mudra Space Awareness teacher in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a Qigong instructor in the lineage of Dr. Eva Wong. She has great respect for the ability of embodiment to be able to manifest conceptual learning. Her emphasis on body awareness and embodiment in all her teaching reflects this understanding. She lives with her husband, Jan, in Barnet, where they own a bed and breakfast, Blue Skies Guesthouse.

Chaplain Alley Smith

Chaplain Alley Smith has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism and Zen since 1999. She is a board certified/endorsed Buddhist Minister of Religion (Upadhyaya) in the Shambhala Lineage and holds 10 precepts in Zen Buddhism. She teaches extensively in the Shambhala tradition (see her teacher biography) and is deeply influenced by Pure Land Buddhism and Vajrayana.

As a chaplain, Alley works in college/university, hospice and end-of-life care. A US military war veteran, she served with Military Funeral Honors teams in the Marine Corps and Navy Reserve. Her specialties are spiritual care, mortuary affairs and serving as funeral clergy.

At Karme Choling she provides emotional support for staff, residents, retreatants, guests, and others as-needed and on-call. She helps individuals, groups, and families deal with issues of crisis, grief, death, bereavement, conflict, emotional crisis, healthcare, and other spiritual issues. As a chaplain she can provide resources, meditation instruction, referrals and more.

Alley is currently a member of Karme Choling's College and University Outreach Committee, Diversity Task Force, and other committees. She can be reached at:

Financial Overview

For 2022

2022 was a challenging year for KCL. While we are blessed with a magnificent facility, we are also burdened by an aging infrastructure. There is endless work to do just to maintain our beautiful center. In addition, KCL was still seeing the negative impact on revenue from the pandemic and the internal Shambhala changes.

The combination of all this resulted in lower revenue and slightly higher expenses.

Our 2022 loss was ($232,326.05) and as a result, we had to continue to utilize our reserves in order to maintain operations. However, when we remove the interest, taxes, and depreciation (ITD) from the equation, our loss is only ($20,243.49). This is significant because ITD are “outside” of operations and removing them from the equation indicates the efficiency with which our center is run.

With a return to “normal” program revenues and continued internal efficiencies, KCL should see an excess on our 2023 bottom line and the start of a sustained recovery.

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