Your Tibetan Instructor & Guide

David Curtis founded the Tibetan Language Institute in 1996. Since then he has taught Tibetan language and Buddhism courses full-time, specializing in the development of dharma-centered learning materials and instruction for Western students.

He is motivated by a desire to help others participate in the dharma in more meaningful ways; in puja, in private meditation practice, in meditational retreats, as Tibetan interpreters.

As president and executive director of TLI and Big Sky Mind, David strives to fulfill the TLI mission of helping to preserve the Tibetan language and culture through the teaching of the Tibetan language and instruction in meditation.

A Brief Look at the TLI Timeline

In 1972 David becomes deeply interested in Buddhism, philosophy and languages, and in 1980 he starts studying the Dharma and meditating. He studies Classical languages and philosophy in college while privately perusing his interest in Asian philosophy.

From 1984-present, he attends numerous teachings lead by the Dalai Lama.

From 1986 through 1988 he lives at Dakshang Kagyu Ling in France (a Dharma center founded by the late Kalu Rinpoche). There he studies and helps with the construction of the Temple of 1000 Buddhas.

From 1988 through 1992, David undertakes a Traditional Tibetan 3-Year Retreat under Kalu Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche at Naro Ling (Dakshang Kagyu Ling) in France.

In 1992 he completes the traditional three-year retreat at Kagyu Ling in France and is named a Lama.

In 1993-2015 David begins teaching Tibetan in the Los Angeles area. He travels extensively in the U.S. teaching Tibetan language seminars to many hundreds of people.

From 1996, onward he founds the Tibetan Language Institute in Los Angeles, CA and begins to author over 14 manuals for learning Tibetan.

In 2002, TLI, David and family move back to his home state of Montana.

In 2006 he begins teaching meditation classes and Buddhist study groups in Montana.

In 2007, Gochen Tulku Rinpoche of Ewam Montana and Namchak Khenpo Ngawang Gelek appoint David an Acharya (Sanskrit for the Tibetan word Lopön, or master teacher).

In 2007-2020 he begins to teach Tibetan to students from all over the world using distance learning technologies. In this period, TLI has hosts 98 classes and 38 Free “Introduction to Tibetan” lectures via distance learning.

In 2011, David founds Big Sky Mind, the branch of TLI which focuses on Buddhist study and meditation.

In 2021, David and the TLI team shift to online teaching and begin hosting virtual retreats, meditations, and webinars.

David and Deanna, his wife, have two sons, Henry and George. They all love living in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana, and especially enjoy hiking and camping in the Glacier National Park.

“My own experience in retreat showed me the beauty and profundity of the Tibetan language. I saw how knowledge of Tibetan powerfully enhances study and practice of the Dharma.”

David Curtis, President of TLI and Big Sky Mind