Larry Mermelstein began his study of Buddhism while completing a B.A. in religion at the University of Michigan, where he concentrated on Sanskrit and Buddhist studies, along with ethnomusicology. He spent a month in the summer of 1971 at Samye Ling in Scotland, his first encounter with Buddhist practice, which led him to seek out Trungpa Rinpoche in person at Tail of the Tiger in Vermont.
Upon finishing college, Larry moved to Boulder in 1973, worked at an offset printer in Denver, and assisted Jonathan Eric, acting director of Karma Dzong. That fall, Larry was among the first paid staff ($72/week) at the emerging Naropa Institute, serving as faculty administrator, director of the library and bookstore, and assistant to the director for the first two years. Tibetan-language studies began in earnest during Naropa's first summer. Rinpoche asked Larry to begin teaching dharma courses there in early 1975.
Larry taught at the 1975 Seminary and then in residence at Karme Choling. A year later, he was appointed co-director of RMDC. A translation center was envisioned there, with Lama Ugyen Shenpen, Dana Dudley, Robin Kornman, and Larry, but the program demands overshadowed such scholarly pursuits, so Rinpoche moved the translation focus to Boulder in 1978.
Larry became an editor at Shambhala Publications upon returning to Boulder, eventually becoming the managing editor, and he has continued to serve as a consulting editor ever since. He also became executive director of the Nalanda Translation Committee in 1978.
Full-time work with the Nalanda Translation Committee began just before moving to Halifax in 1986 where he currently resides with his wife, Gina, and daughter, Julia, now in college. Since the early 1980s, Larry participated in meetings of the Vajradhatu/Nalanda board of directors, and in 1990 he was appointed as a member of the newly formed Shambhala International board, serving until 2005. Larry was appointed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche as an acharya in 1996.