Special Visiting Teachers
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche – Spiritual Director of Root Institute for Wisdom Culture
Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Thami, in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, not far from Lawudo cave where his predecessor had meditated for the last 20 years of his life.
The Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 forced him to forsake Tibet for the safety of Bhutan. Rinpoche then went to the Tibetan refugee camp in West Bengal, India, where he met Lama Yeshe, who became his closest teacher. The Lamas went to Nepal in 1967, and over the next few years built Kopan and Lawudo Monasteries, the very beginnings of what would become a worldwide organisation, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).
In 1971, Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the first of his famous annual lam-rim retreat courses, which continue at Kopan to this day. When Lama Yeshe passed away in 1984, Lama Zopa Rinpoche became the spiritual head of the FPMT, which has continued to flourish under his peerless leadership.
We highly recommend the vast collection of Rinpoche's teachings, including audio and video, available on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website.
Today Lama Zopa Rinpoche spends his life travelling the world to give teachings, and to spread the Dharma of wisdom, love, compassion and universal responsibility.
Rinpoche has on many occasions blessed us with his presence during our spiritual programme and guided us in practices, especially at the Mahabodhi Stupa for the Festival of Lights & Merit during the very auspicious 15 Days of Miracles starting with Losar, Tibetan New Year. We pray the good fortune of Rinpoche's visits may continue, however we will only know closer to the time.
His Holiness 17th Gyalwang Karmapa – Head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage
Karmapa means "the one who carries out buddha-activity" or "the embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas".
Prior to the birth of the first Karmapa, the arrival of a Buddhist master, who would be known as the Karmapa, had been prophesied by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni and the great tantric master of India, Guru Padmasambhava. Throughout the centuries, Karmapas have been the central figure in the continuation of the vajrayana lineage in general and the Kagyu lineage in particular.
As a scholar and meditation master, as well as painter, poet, songwriter and playwright, the Gyalwang Karmapa embodies a wide range of the activities that Karmapas have engaged in over the centuries. As an environmental activist, computer enthusiast and world spiritual leader whose teachings are often webcast live, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has brought the Karmapa lineage's activities fully into the twenty-first century.
For the past few years, though sadly not in 2017, His Holiness has graciously blessed Root Institute with his presence, usually visiting after the Kagyu Monlam, to meet our students, staff and children, and to teach the holy Dharma. We pray this good fortune may continue, however the date of His Holiness' visit is usually announced quite close to the time.
Teachers this season
Our resident geshe – Geshe Ngawang Rabga
Please refer to our page devoted to Root Institute's new, and very first, resident geshe, Ngawang Rabga.
Geshe-la launched the FPMT Basic Programme at Root Institute in September, 2016; also Essence of Buddhism introductory courses – September 20–22, 2106 and March 21 – 23, 2017, and more!
Geshe Dorji Damdul
Geshe Dorji Damdul did his schooling in TCV School, Dharamsala with a main interest in Physics and Mathematics. In 1988 he joined the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala for formal studies in Buddhist logic, philosophy and epistemology. He finished his Geshe Lharampa Degree (equivalent to PhD) in 2002 from Drepung Loseling Monastery after 15 years of study in Buddhist philosophy.
While assigned with the task of translating for H.H. the Dalai Lama in India and abroad, Geshe-la was appointed by the Office of H.H. the Dalai lama as the Deputy Director of Tibet House, Cultural Centre of H.H. the Dalai Lama, New Delhi to take on the responsibility to teach the many young people who are interested in philosophy, human values and psychology.
Geshe Dorji Damdul: Bodhicitta Retreat, November 15–24, 2016.
Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim
Geshe Phunstok Tsultrim is the resident geshe at Chenrezig Institute in Queensland, Australia.
He was born in Tibet in 1969. At the age of 14 he became a monk and was admitted to Sera Je monastery, where he was awarded his Geshe degree (the equivalent of a doctorate in Buddhist studies) in 2005. Geshe Tsultrim spent a further two years studying tantra at Gyume Tantric Monastery. Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim was appointed to the position of teacher of Buddhist philosophy at TCV School, Bylakuppee in 2006, where he spent two years teaching. Before going to Chenrezig Institute, Geshe-la also spent some time teaching at Root Institute, where he was immensely popular for the warm and approachable way in which he presented the Dharma.
It will be great to have him back!
Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim: Three Principle Aspects of the Path, 1–3 December, 2016.
Geshe Tenzin Zopa
Geshe Tenzin Zopa holds the honoured Geshe (doctorate) degree from Sera Je Monastic University, South India having completed the 20-year monastic curriculum in just 17 years. He was ordained at the age of 9 by the late great mahasiddha, Geshe Lama Konchog, received novice ordination from Geshe Lundrup Sopa Rinpoche, and full ordination from HH the 14th Dalai Lama.
Projects undertaken by Geshe-la included taking responsibility for the temporal and spiritual development of Rachen Nunnery and Mu Monastery, Tsum, Nepal and supervising the completion of the 1,000 Buddha Relics Memorial Stupa at Kopan Monastery, Nepal.
Geshe-la has been the longest serving Resident Geshe at the oldest Malaysian FPMT Centre, Losang Dragpa Centre, and was instrumental in establishing FPMT’s Basic Programme as the core study regime there, training members to lead classes, rituals, meditation, dakini dance for long life pujas, and was an integral part of the centre’s children and youth programmes based on Essential Education’s "16 Guidelines".
In an effort to introduce Buddhist values and teachings on life, death and reincarnation, Geshe-la played a pivotal role in the documentary "Unmistaken Child" and participated in "Forbidden Journey to Tibet".
Geshe Tenzin Zopa is undertaking the important responsibility of overseeing the physical, mental and spiritual development of Tulku Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche, the unmistaken reincarnation of the late great mahasiddha, Geshe Lama Konchog.
Geshe Tenzin Zopa: Bodhicitta & Emptiness, October 12–15, 2016.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London and whilst in her teens she became a Buddhist. In 1964, at the age of twenty, she decided to go to India to pursue her spiritual path. There she met her Guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, a great Drukpa Kagyu lama, and became one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun.
Tenzin Palmo stayed in a small monastery there for several years, remaining in retreat during the long winter months. Then, seeking more seclusion and better conditions tfor practice, she found a nearby cave where she remained for another 12 years, the last 3 years in strict retreat.
Before H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980, he had on several occasions requested Tenzin Palmo to start a nunnery. In January 2000 the first nuns arrived and in 2001 the construction of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery began and is now, with the ongoing construction of the traditional Temple, nearing completion.
In February 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.
Jetsunma Palmo: Lama Atisha’s Pith Instruction, October 6 & 7, 2016.
Venerable Lobsang Namgyel
Venerable Lobsang Namgyel, an Australian Tibetan Buddhist monk, has been living in India and Nepal and studying and teaching Buddhism for over 28 years.
His teachers include such great masters as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Denma Locho Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Gen Lamrimpa and Geshe Sonam Rinchen, Venerable has also completed four years of Lam Rim retreats, and many tantric retreats.
During his years in Buddhism, Venerable has taught in many countries, including India, Nepal, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, France, the UK, Bangladesh and the USA.
Venerable Namgyel had the honour of being a tutor of Osel Rinpoche, and says:
My inspiration for practising the Dharma primarily came from meeting Lama Zopa Rinpoche and seeing how tirelessly he teaches, gives advice, and generally works in every way possible to benefit sentient beings. If you get a chance to experience one of Rinpoche’s teachings, do not hesitate, they are totally amazing and you will never be the same again.
Ven. Namgyel: introductory courses, Experience Buddhism at the Root, October 14–23 and November 1–10; intermediate course, Medicine Buddha – Lam Rim Retreat, 4–13 February, 2017.
Venerable Robina Courtin
Ven Robina is the founder of the Liberation Prison Project, which brings free Dharma into prisons all around the world: liberationprisonproject.org.
Ven Robina is a dynamic teacher with great skill in articulating the Dharma for Western audiences, in a style that combines wit, sharp insight, and deep compassion.
To know more about Ven. Robina please visit her website: robinacourtin.com
Venerable Robina: introductory course, Working with Strong Emotions & Pilgrimage, 12–14 Nov 2016.
Venerable Carla Pearse (Lozang Tsultrim)
Ven. Carla Pearse is a counsellor with a Master of International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution. She has been a practising therapist for over two decades, working with people at risk of suicide, their families and friends. She has been working within a mindfulness-based framework for over 15 years.
She is also a Secular Mindfulness Trainer and a leader in 16 Guidelines workshops. Ven. Carla has spent the past three years between personal retreat in Nepal and leading mindfulness retreats in Nepal, India, Australia and Greece.
Ven. Carla believes that mindfulness can change the world.
Venerable Carla: Living in the Moment: A Mindfulness Retreat, December 17–26, 2016.
Jimi (Jigme) Neal was born in Trieste, Italy in 1948, and grew up near Seattle, USA. He studied acting, music and revolution at university until 1971, when he departed to India overland via Europe. In 1974, he met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the seventh Kopan meditation course in Nepal and has been studying, practising and teaching Buddhism from this time.
He has had the good fortune to have taken extensive teachings, initiations and commentaries in Sutra and Tantra from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Song Rinpoche, Ling and Serkong Rinpoche, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche, as well as his own root Lamas: Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He has completed retreats on the preliminary practices, Heruka, Vajrayogini, Yamantaka and others over the last 30 years.
He has led retreats and taught the Dharma at FPMT Centres in India, Nepal, America, France and Spain as well as teaching throughout Israel.
Jimi Neal: February 2017 Annual Green Tara Retreat from 17–26, as well as introductory course, Experience Buddhism at the Root from 4–13.
Having been fortunate to have incredible parents and teachers, Rachel received a BA in Religious Studies and Anthropology at Amherst College, USA in 1988 and spent many years first studying Universal Education (within FPMT) and then as a Middle and High School teacher.
She completed the MA in Buddhist Studies at Maitripa College, Oregon USA in 2009 and continued as an active student and volunteer. During the past recent years Rachel has led the Discovering Buddhism modules as well as several Introduction to Buddhism Courses at Tushita.
Currently she is attending the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program, hopes to contribute to developing what His Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to as secular ethics, and studies the Dharma.
Rachel Wryer: Kalachakra Approximation Retreat with Fire Puja, January 17–February 2, 2017.
Carmela has been practising yoga and meditation since 2008. She began teaching at Land of Yoga, Melbourne, Australia in 2010 while still working as a lawyer. In 2013, she left the law to focus on yoga and meditation. As well as classes at Land of Yoga, Carmela leads yoga classes at a community centre and at an organisation for adults with intellectual disabilities.
She is currently studying a Masters in Social Work, with an intention to integrate the wisdoms of yoga and meditation with social work skills.
Carmela is a committed and dedicated yoga and Buddhist student. Her yoga style is influenced by Tibetan Buddhist teachings, with a focus on developing direct awareness of experience and relaxing the body and mind for the purpose of benefiting ourselves and others.
Carmela: Path to Peace and Harmony Retreat: A Yoga and Meditation Retreat, December 4–13, 2016.
Teachers who regularly visit us
Gen Gyatso joined the first class at the Buddhist Dialectic School in Dharamsala in 1973, where he studied Buddhist Philosophy for over ten years. Gen-la has completed studies in the main five subjects – Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom); Madhyamika (Middle Way); Pramanavatika of Dignaga; Dharmakirti’s commentary on the Abhidharmakosha; and Vinaya (Discipline). Gen-la received the Geshe degree in Drebung Loseling Monastery in South India in 1995 and was asked by his teacher, Gen Lobsang Gyatso, founder of the Buddhist Dialectic School, to stay and teach there, which he has done since.
Gen-la's humility, vast knowledge and ability to teach the most difficult subjects of Buddhist Philosophy in simple and understandable ways, make him an extraordinary and loved teacher by his students, both Tibetan and westerners.
Venerable Legtsok was born in the USA and named Brian, in 1973. After being inspired by explanations of the Lam-Rim and the amazing attitude of Bodhicitta, he became a monk in 2001 and has since taken the full-ordination vows. In 2004, he entered the Geshe studies program at Sera Je Monastery in South India. He is an FPMT accredited teacher.
Since 2007, Ven. Legtsok has given monthly talks about the Buddhist path at Choe Khor Sum Ling study group in Bangalore. While he warns students that "he has no positive qualities whatsoever but you might have a good laugh watching him bumble along", he enjoys celebrating the good fortune to have met the Buddha Dharma in this life, by sharing his knowledge of Buddhist thought and practice with others.
Venerable Amy Miller
Ven. Amy J. Miller (Lobsang Chodren) first encountered Tibetan Buddhism in the spring of 1987 during a course at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. Since then, she has spent a great deal of time engaged in meditation retreats, study, teaching, and Buddhist centre management throughout the world. Prior to meeting the Dharma, Amy was a political fundraiser in Washington, DC and also worked for Mother Jones Magazine in San Francisco, California.
Amy was ordained as a Buddhist nun in June 2000 by the great Tibetan master, Ven. Choden Rinpoche, and has been teaching extensively since 1992. Her teaching style emphasizes a practical approach to integrating Buddhist philosophy into everyday life. She is happy to help people connect with meditation and mindfulness in an effort to gain a refreshing perspective on normally stressful living. She has an emphasis on courses focused on death and dying, overcoming anxiety and depression, battling addiction, and dealing with self-esteem issues.
Amy is the co-author of Buddhism in a Nutshell, and a contributor to Living in the Path, a series of online courses produced by FPMT. She is an FPMT accredited teacher. Based in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Amy teaches and leads retreats and pilgrimages around the world.
Venerable Lozang Drolma
Originally from England, Ven. Lozang Drolma met the Dharma when volunteering at the FPMT Centre, Chenrezig Institute in Australia. Venerable Drolma ordained with Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Tashi Tsering, who was then resident Geshe for Chenrezig Institute and is now former Abbot of Gyume Tantric Monastery in India. Venerable Drolma began her formal studies with the Buddhist Studies Program and, further on, the two year Masters program at Chenrezig Institute.
Throughout most of this time she assisted the resident Tibetan lama, Geshe Lobsang Jamyang and lead workshops and meditations for the many students who came through Chenrezig Institute. In 2013 she assisted as meditation leader on the annual Kopan Lam Rim retreat and began to teach at Chenrezig Institute, becoming well known for her natural warmth, kindness and wisdom.
Ven. Drolma has also been teaching foundational Buddhist philosophy at Root Institute, Tushita Dharamsala and Chenrezig Institute. Currently she is studying at Sarah College near Dharamsala, learning traditional Tibetan debating among other Buddhist philosophy subjects.