Biography of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Thubten Yeshe
[Photo by Carol Royce-Wilder]
Founder of the FPMT & Root Institute for Wisdom Culture
Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered Sera Monastic University in Tibet where he studied until 1959, when as Lama Yeshe himself has said, 'In that year the Chinese kindly told us that it was time to leave Tibet and meet the outside world.'
Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, together as teacher and disciple since their exile in India, met their first Western students in 1965. By 1971 they settled at Kopan, a small hamlet near Kathmandu in Nepal.
In 1974, the Lamas began touring and teaching in the West, which would eventually result in The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).
In September 1978 Lama Yeshe, at the request of some of his students in the UK founded our Centre
Lama Yeshe died in 1984, his reincarnation Tenzin Osel Rinpoche was born to Spanish parents in 1985. Over the years Osel has visited the Centre on a number of occasions, the most recent was early in 2017 when he gave two talks in our main temple.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
[Photo by Lobsang Sherab]
Spiritual Director of the FPMT & Root Institute for Wisdom Culture
Kyabje 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.
As a teenager he studied at a monastery in Southern Tibet until 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 at Buxa 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.
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 caring leadership.
Rinpoche's published teachings include Wisdom Energy (with Lama Yeshe), Transforming Problems, and a number of transcripts and practice booklets.
A number of their Western disciples invited the Lamas to give teachings in their own countries, where contact was made with many more people and from there, the centres of the "Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition" (FPMT) began to grow. There are now over 170 centres and groups worldwide.
Today, Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the Spiritual Director of these centres and spends his life travelling the world to give teachings, and to spread the Dharma of wisdom, love, compassion and universal responsibility.