His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. The spiritual leader of Tibet, he was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two, the child then named Lhamo Dhondup was recognized as the reincarnation of the previous 13th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are realized beings inspired by a wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, who have vowed to be reborn in the world to help humanity.

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Lama Thubten Yeshe

Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered Sera Monastic University in Tibet. He studied there until 1959, when as Lama Yeshe himself has said, “… 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 eventually resulted in the establishment of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Lama Yeshe died in 1984.

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Lama Thubten Yeshe (left) and Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditator. For the last 30 years he has overseen the spiritual activities of the worldwide network of centers, projects, and services that form the FPMT.

Born in the Mount Everest region of Thami in 1946, Rinpoche was recognized soon afterward by His Holiness Tulshig Rinpoche and five other lamas as the reincarnation of the great yogi Kunsang Yeshe.

Rinpoche was taken under the care of FPMT’s founder Lama Thubten Yeshe soon after leaving Tibet. Rinpoche took over as spiritual director of the FPMT following Lama Yeshe’s death in 1984.

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