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 or 2018, 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.
His Eminence the 7th Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche
His Eminence the 7th Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche was born in India in 1985 and recognised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of his Senior Tutor.
When ten years of age, he began his studies at Drepung Monastic University in South India, received his Geshe degree in 2016, and enrolled at Gyuto Tantric College in Dharamsala, India in 2017 for a year of tantric studies that traditionally follows.
Since 1991 Ling Rinpoche has given teachings and tantric initiations in several countries in Asia and Europe, Canada, the United States, Israel, as well as Tibetan settlements throughout India and Nepal.
Rinpoche has also organized many important Buddhist events, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama's historic series of Jangchup Lamrim teachings on the 18 classic Stages of the Path to Enlightenment treatises, between 2012 and 2015, attended by tens of thousands from all over the world. Rinpoche attends events dedicated to preserving Buddhist traditions and, starting in 2004, he has participated in the Mind and Life Institute dialogues held in India between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and scientists on a variety of topics, such physics, neuroplasticity and destructive emotions.
His Eminence the 7th Kyabje Yondzin Ling Rinpoche: events for 2018–19 season yet to be announced.
Dagri Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Pari (Dagri) Dorje Chang, one of the very great geshes of Lhasa who was the teacher of many lamas, including Lama Thubten Yeshe. Dagri Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1958. He grew up during the Cultural Revolution of 1966 – 1976. After his escape from Tibet in 1982 he completed his 17 years of study of Buddhist philosophy and received the Geshe Lharampa degree.
After Dagri Rinpoche's escape form Tibet, Lama Yeshe committed to support the incarnation through Sera Je, and then when Lama Yeshe passed away, Lama Zopa Rinpoche took on the responsibility.
Dagri Rinpoche is supporting Lama Zopa Rinpoche very much and can teach lam-rim, lojong and philosophy as well as give initiations, conduct fire pujas, and teach tantric commentaries.
Dagri Rinpoche: events for 2018–19 season yet to be announced.
Other teachers this season
Our resident geshe – Geshe Ngawang Rabga
Please refer to our page devoted to our first resident geshe, Ngawang Rabga.
Geshe-la is teaching the FPMT Basic Programme (BP) with the support and assistance of our translator and our Basic Programme teaching assistant. In the 2018–19 season, from mid-September to mid-April, all BP modules will encompass:
- Shantideva's Mahayana classic text – Bodhicaryavatara, Engaging in the Bodhisattva Way of Life.
Other aspects of Geshe Ngawang Rabga's teaching programme:
- Introductory: General Introduction to Buddhism – 08–11 Oct 2018; Mind Training – 19–22 Jan 2019;
- Intermediate: Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth – 25–28 Mar 2019;
- Pilgrimage: Magnificent Ajanta & Ellora Caves – SPECIAL MEDITATIVE PILGRIMAGE – With Annie McGhee – 13–19 Dec 2018.
You can peruse all these opportunities on our homepage.
Geshe Dorji Damdul
Geshe Dorji Damdul did his schooling in Tibetan Children's Village 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: Intermediate: Bodhicitta Retreat – 22–31 Dec 2018.
Venerable Kabir Saxena
Venerable Kabir was born in Delhi in 1956 to an Indian father and English mother, educated in London and Oxford University, and received a BA Hons Degree in Modern History in 1978. While at university he met Buddhism, took refuge and became Buddhist. By 1979 he had become a student of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche and in 1981–83 studied Buddhist philosophy and Lam Rim at Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, UK.
By following Lama Yeshe's advice in 1983, Ven. Kabir's long search led in 1987 to the purchase of land in Bodhgaya and his role as founding director of Root Institute. In 2002, he became ordained as a Buddhist monk.
Since the early 1980s, Ven. Kabir has served in a variety of roles in Indian centres associated with the FPMT: as a Dharma teacher in Tushita Centre Delhi and Tushita Dharamsala (including a stint as Spiritual Programme Coordinator in Delhi), as a teacher-trainer in Maitreya Project Universal Education School, and in 2016 he was appointed director of the Maitreya Buddha Project Kushinagar. He serves on the board of several Indian centres associated with the FPMT.
Ven. Kabir Saxena: Introductory: How to Survive and Flourish in the 21st Century – 25–30 Sep 2018.
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. Lobsang Namgyel: Introductory: Green Tara & Lam Rim Retreat – 03–09 Nov 2018; Buddhism & Yoga – Level 1 – With Annie McGhee – 12–16 Nov 2018; Medicine Buddha & Lam Rim Retreat – 02–11 Dec 2018; Intermediate: Buddhism & Yoga – Advanced Level 2 – With Annie McGhee – 19–23 Nov 2018.
Venerable Olivier Rossi
Born in France in 1969, Olivier Rossi joined the Masters Program at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Italy from 1998 to 2005 under the guidance of Venerable Geshe Jampa Gyatso of Sera Jay Jhadrel Khamtsen, and took ordination in June 1998.
On the advice of his teacher he remained in Italy and took the position of teacher assistant for the residential Basic Program at ILTK from 2005 to 2007, for the Masters Program 2008 to 2013, and again for the Master Program in 2015 until mid-2016.
Over his 19 years of ordination, Olivier has also led numerous retreats and weekend courses in FPMT centers in France and Italy. He is currently studying Tibetan language in South India.
Venerable Olivier Rossi: Mahabodhi Mani Retreat – 13–28 Oct 2018.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Venerable Tenzin Namjong studied and trained in Zen and Theravada traditions before embracing the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, due mainly to the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Princeton University and has been part of the 19-year Geshe (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) study program at Sera Je Monastery in Bylakuppe, India since 2007.
Venerable Namjong is a registered teacher of the FPMT and regularly teaches at Choe Khor Sum Ling Centre in Bangalore.
Venerable Namjong: events for 2018–19 season yet to be announced.
Venerable Sangye Khadro
Venerable Sangye Khadro (Kathleen McDonald) was ordained as a nun in 1974 and is one of the foremost Western teachers in the FPMT tradition. Her book How to Meditate is an excellent introduction to Buddhist practice.
Venerable Sangye Khadro served as the resident teacher of the FPMT's Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore, and spent several years at Istituto Lama Tzongkhapa in Italy completing the FPMT Masters Program. She has been resident teacher at the FPMT center in Denmark since 2016.
Venerable Sangye Khadro: Transforming Disturbing Emotions – 23–30 Oct 2018.
Venerable Robina Courtin
Venerable 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 Courtin: Cultivating Emotional Awareness – 26–30 Nov 2018.
Venerable Thupten Dolkar
Venerable Thupten Dolkar was born in the Netherlands in 1951, the oldest of three children whose parents, because of their own difficult histories, were not able to take good care of them. In her teens, involvement with a negative religious group gave her aversion to religion which lasted almost 30 years. After leaving home as soon as she could, she married at 20 but, by the age of 23, got the opportunity to study.
In 1982 she achieved her masters degree as a clinical psychologist, based on research about war survivors of concentration camps in Indonesia traumatised before their 6th year, demonstrating that a positive and healing environment, directly after traumatic events, made a huge difference for later life, giving hope for the treatment of young traumatised children. That was against the general opinion of the time, and she subsequently worked in psychiatry and health education.
In 1984, after the onset of severe health problems, something dormant was awakened by fortuitous connections and she was assisted to fulfil a fervent wish to travel to Nepal, India and Tibet. Once there, especially at sacred sites, she felt as if coming home. From then, her only wish has been to follow the Buddha, remembering and wanting to continue her spiritual path from previous lives. This joy marked the beginning of recovery from 15 years of sickness.
Back in the Netherlands in late 1999 she took refuge with Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen, who has profoundly benefitted her life, and in 2000 attended the Kopan November course and met Lama Lhundrup and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who became her other main gurus. Lama Lhundrup advised her to become a nun.
From 2000 on she has lived part of the year in India and Nepal, attending teachings, practising, helping Geshe-la with travelling in India, and working for the projects of Tara Stichting/Foundation, which she founded in 2001. Lama Lhundrup advised her to find sponsors and funds for Kopan Nunnery. The second project became Sonam Gyaltsen's Gaden Jangtse Monastery. The third project became Root Institute's Clinic (and, in recent years, Tara Children's Project).
In the Netherlands she divides her time between formal Dharma practise and working for the projects of Tara Foundation. Until recently she also led meditations in Maitreya Institute. In recent yeas her teachers have advised her to focus more and more on formal Dharma practise and retreat.
Venerable Thupten Dolkar: Dorje Khadro Retreat – 04–28 Feb 2019.
Teachers who regularly visit us
Geshe Tenzin Namdak
Ven. Tenzin Namdak is a registered FPMT teacher and native of the Netherlands, who this year was officially awarded a geshe degree by Sera Je Monastic University in South India. He is the first Westerner ever to complete the full, formal course of studies at one of the "three seats" – Ganden, Sera, and Drepung monasteries – and sit for the final geshe examination there, too.
When he had expressed doubts early on about the long period of study at Sera, Lama Zopa Rinpoche said, "It will be very beneficial for your lam-rim" and Geshe-la now feels extremely grateful for this encouragement to pursue the opportunity of traditional studies, saying "I have seen many benefits over the years and have been inspired by the teachers who are great products of this profound system".
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 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.