Tribute to Karl Usow

Karl Usow to Rinpoche's right

Sukhavati for Karl

A Sukhavati Ceremony is scheduled online for Karl, for Wednesday, July 8 at 6:00 pm EDT.  We will recite the Narak Kongshak, a traditional practice for clearing obstacles, followed by the Sukhavati practice written by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Please join us in saying farewell to Karl with all our appreciation for his extraordinary life, his life-long dedication, and his warm and enduring friendship with so many of us.

Goodbye to Karl Usow

On one evening in the autumn of 1970, a somewhat shy, bespectacled, and soft-spoken man, a math professor, stepped out onto the center of a large empty stage at Macky Auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, and addressed the sparse but ample audience of curious attendees. He gave an introduction to the man about to come out and occupy the single chair in the middle of the stage. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche then came out, took his seat, and delivered the first public talk he ever gave in Boulder Colorado.

The man who introduced Trungpa Rinpoche was Karl Usow.  He died today.

Karl was one of the small group of people who invited Trungpa Rinpoche to Colorado. He and John Visvader, a marvelous philosophy professor at the university in Boulder, were the prime movers in forming the small group of college students, zen practitioners, hippies and university faculty that initiated the invitation. After John Visvader sent the invitation off with a postcard of the Rocky Mountains to Rinpoche, who was still in Scotland at Samye Ling, the group waited for a couple of months. With no reply, there was an assumption that Rinpoche was not interested. Then, finally, a letter arrived from Rinpoche, accepting the invitation, but saying instead of coming for two weeks, as the invitation stipulated, he would be coming for at least two years.  And he did come, and for many more than two years.

Karl and Marcia Usow were among Trungpa Rinpoche’s first sponsors, hosts, students and friends in Colorado.  Karl became a close student of Trungpa Rinpoche, through many twists and turns in his life. His final years were spent with his second wife Pat Usow in British Columbia, Canada.

Hopefully, there will be more forthcoming about Karl’s life. But for now, anyone who appreciates the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche should extend a parting thank you to Karl for being among those instrumental in bringing Trungpa Rinpoche to North America. Unless invited to, the Buddha would not have taught!

-Clarke Warren

Please follow this link to post tributes to Karl. They will appear below within the next 24 hours.
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Maggie Westhaver
3 years ago

No one could cheer me up or make me giggle like Karl could. Love you dearly. May your journey bring you to the ultimate destination.

Maggie Westhaver
4 years ago

No one could cheer me up or make me giggle like Karl could. Love you dearly. May your journey bring you to the ultimate destination.

Brian Pollard
4 years ago

I didn’t know Karl well, but we met at a number of feast practices at the Vancouver Dharmadhatu. As mentioned in his tribute, he was shy and soft-spoken, but we shared a similar sense of humour. I was thinking today about how much I owe to that small group of people who invited Trungpa to North America. Such a massive change to my life! Thank you Karl. And I hope you bring many benefits to the world in the future😊🙏🙏🙏

John Leon
4 years ago

Karl and I worked together as teachers in Ngedon School in Halifax for about six years. He had a curiosity and interest in pursuing dharmic topics that was unexcelled and that he shared generously with other students. He was a masterful public speaker with great poise and humour and he always looked to release the spark of life that could be provoked in any encounter by a mot juste. So he was a delight to be around. I enjoyed many wonderful meals with him and his wife Pat and was always heartened by his delightful son Alex. I have missed him since his move to the west coast and one of my unfulfilled wishes was to visit him there one last time. My best to Pat, Alex, and Ivan.

Simone LaVoie: Jigme Lhatso
4 years ago

Sending heartfelt wishes to Karl, for a positive and good Bardo transition. An old dharma brother of 45 years. I met karl in 1975 in Boulder, Colorado, US, and then onto Halifax. NS, Vancouver Island, and Gibsons , Bc.Ca. We shared many exceptional Buddhist Teachings and practice situations for many years. Karl's intelligence and kindness always shone out, as he traversed his dharma path, and in particular his stellar devotion to his root guru, The Vidyadhara , Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I am sure Karl is resting his mind with his guru's state of mind as we speak. Much Love, to Karl and his family. Simone LaVoie: jigme lhatso: Vancouver Island, Bc Ca

Martin Evans
4 years ago

I re-met Karl when he and Pat moved to Gibson's in BC. His warmth, wit and curiosity always caused me to laugh and left me with a feeling that I was fortunate to know him. May he continue to benefit others.

Namgay Dorji
4 years ago

I would like to thank you with all my heart. What you did was most compassionate and courageous. I pray for your swift rebirth and may you continue your endeavor for the ultimate liberation of every sentient being.