Our Teachers and Founders

Our inspiration and spiritual guide

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion. More information can be found by visiting the Dalai Lama website which includes schedule information, and live and recorded webcasts of some of His Holiness’ Teachings.

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FPMT Spiritual Guide, His Holiness Dalai Lama

Our founder

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. Lama Yeshe died in 1984. More information, including links to teachings, can be found on Lama Yeshe’s homepage.

Our founder, Lama Yeshe.
FPMT founder, Venerable Lama Yeshe

Our spiritual director

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditator who for 30 years has overseen the spiritual activities of the  extensive worldwide network of centres, projects and services that form the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) which he founded with Lama Thubten Yeshe. Born in the Mount Everest region of Thami in 1946, Rinpoche was recognised soon afterwards 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, in Buxa Duar, India, in the early 1960’s. Rinpoche was with Lama Yeshe until 1984 when Lama Yeshe passed away and Lama Zopa Rinpoche took over as spiritual director of FPMT. More information about Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on his homepage.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche taching in London 1983
Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Advice regarding practice of Shugden or (Dolgyal)

FPMT worldwide has a policy regarding the practice of Shugden, following advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

Those in service or teaching in FPMT centers, projects and services do not engage in the practice of Shugden.
Students regularly attending FPMT centers should not practice Shugden.
FPMT teachers and key staff should not attend teachings by teachers who are known Shugden practitioners.

The full collection of advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other important lamas can be found here.