Cortland began meditating in 1993 while a student at the University of Minnesota. In the years that followed, he practiced and studied a number of Buddhist traditions and traveled extensively throughout Asia, where he spent time on retreat in Japan, Burma, India, and Nepal. Following this period of travel, Cortland returned to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in Buddhist Studies at Naropa University. He then lived in India and Nepal for seven years, which gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in the Tibetan language and spend more time in retreat.
Since 2003, Cortland has interpreted for various Tibetan lamas and taught courses on Buddhism and Tibetan language throughout the world. He founded the Rime Foundation in 2004 and, under the direction of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, started the Tergar institute in 2006. As an author and translator, Cortland has published numerous works, including Entrance to the Great Perfection: A Guide to the Dzogchen Preliminaries; Great Perfection, Volumes I & II; and Deity, Mantra and Wisdom: Development Stage Meditation in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra.
Cortland currently is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tergar International and lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is pursuing a PhD under the guidance of Dr. Richard Davidson.