Tulku of Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages; Spiritual Director of Samye Ling Tibetan Centre. Former Abbot of Drolma Lhakhang monastery and retreat complex, Tsawa Gang, East Tibet. Received teachings from Jamgon Kongtrul of Shechen and other great teachers. Game to Britain in 1960s. 1967: with Trungpa Rinpoche established Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Johnstone House, Langholm, Dumfries-shire, Scotland. After departure of Trungpa Rinpoche for USA (c.1970), took charge of the centre; has since founded centres in other parts of the world (Spain, South Africa, etc).
Famous Indian scholar of profound learning. Arrived in Tibet in 1038 and stayed until his death. Entirely reformed the prevailing Buddhism, enforcing celibacy in the existing Order and raised the level of morality. Founded the Kadampa school (‘those bound by ordinance’). In the fifteenth century Tsong-khapa again reformed this School renaming it Gelugpa.
Tibetan Buddhist, member of the school of the 11th-century reformer Atisha. He translated much of the Buddhist sacred literature, including Tantra texts, into classic Tibetan and possibly (c.1060) made the definitive arrangement of the Kanjur and Tanjur, the two basic Tibetan collections of Buddhist principles.
Hungarian pioneer of Tibetan studies. Born Transylvania; son of Calvinist border guard. Inspired to look for ‘racial homeland’ of Magyars. 1816-18: studied Arabic, Turkish, English and Ethnology at Gottingen. 1819: set out for East on foot; never reached Tibet but travelled and researched in frontier regions (e.g. Ladakh). Obtained modest British Government sponsorship; compiled the first Tibetan-English dictionary and a Tibetan Grammar (both published 1834). 1837-42: Librarian of Asiatic Society, Calcutta. 1842: set out again on quest for Magyar racial home; died Darjeeling of malaria. His analysis of the Kanjur and Tanjur was included in Waddell, L.A., The Buddhism of Tibet or Lamaism (1894). Various contributions to Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Dictionary, Grammar and Coll Writings representing Budapest 1984. 1920: Korosi Csoma Tarasag (Society) founded, Budapest.
Exiled spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. Born 1935, Taktser, Amdo, East Tibet of humble origins. Located and recognized as Dalai Lama incarnation 2 years later via portents discerned at the oracle lake (Lhama Lhatso). 1939: bought to Lhasa. 1940: formally enthroned. Began education at 6 years; at 24 years took preliminary exams at Sera, Drepung and Ganden monastic university’s; final exams held at Jokhang (‘Cathedral’ of Lhasa) during Monlam Festival; awarded Geshe Lharampa degree with honours at age 25. At age 16 assumed full temporal powers early because of Chinese Communist threat. 1954: went to Peking to hold discussions with Chinese Communist leaders. 1956: visited India for 2500 Buddha Jayanti celebrations; held political discussions with Pandit Nehru and Chou En-lai. 1959: left Tibet following the Lhasa Uprising. Made unsuccessful appeals to United Nations on behalf of Tibetan people. 1963: promulgated draft democratic constitution for Tibet; since then has conducted government-in-exile at Dharamasala, North India, in accordance with this. Has also very successfully worked to resettle 100,000 Tibetan refugees and to preserve Tibetan religion, culture, etc. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Widely travelled in both East and West (though has never returned to his native Tibet), has met political and spiritual leaders (including two Popes, an Archbishop of Canterbury, etc.), scientists, doctors, writers, philosophers – and ordinary people. Has impressed people everywhere with his (very Buddhist) message of peace and kindness:’ My religion is very simple – my religion is kindness.’ A spiritual leader of world rank. Books including Opening the Eye of New Awareness; Kindness, Clarity & Insight; My Land and My People (autobiographical) and Freedom in Exile. Biographies: Great Ocean by Roger Hicks and Ngakpa Chogyam and The Last Dalai Lama, by Michael Harries Goodman.
Pioneering French mystic, traveller and author. Born Saint-Mande (East Suburb of Paris). Discovered East religion and philosophy at Musee Guimet (Paris) at age 23: ‘My vocation was born there and then’. Became singer with Opera Comique; later turned to journalism. 1894: married Philippe Neel (pronounce Nale) in Tunis; soon separated. In East for next 20 years. Met exiled XIIIth Dalai Lama in Darjeeling. In Sikkim met Lama Yongden, her future travelling companion and adopted son. Went into retreat in Himalayan cave-hermitage; met Tibetan teachers who taught her Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy. Ventured 3 times into Tibet, once reaching Shigatse before being turned back. Subsequently left for Burma, Sri Lanka and Japan, accompanied by Yongden; then to Korea, China and Mongolia. Studied at Kumbum monastery (East Tibet). 1924: became the first European woman to enter Lhasa (in disguise). 1925:returned to Europe, bought house in Digne (Haute Provence). 1937: returned to Asia, travelling via Transiberian Railway to China. Japanese invasion of Manchuria forced her westwards to Tatsienlu; spent most of World War II there. Later returned to France via India; subsequently engaged in study and writing at Digne until died at age 100. 1964: Made Commander de la Legion d’Honneur. Books in English including With Mystics & Magicians, My Journey to Lhasa, Tibetan Journey, A Tibetan Tale & Magic Secret Oral Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and Initiations and Initiates in Tibet.
Important Nyingma Master and exponent of Dzogchen Meditation. (1910-91), from Kham, East Tibet. Recognized as mind incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-92). Studied under many distinguished lamas for all four schools, notably Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, and spent 20 years in retreat. A Terton, has also written many meditation texts and commentaries notable for their poetic beauty. Travels extensively giving teachings in Bhutan, Nepal, India and the West. 1976: to USA on invitation of Trungpa Rinpoche, his pupil. 1983: to London at invitation of Sogyal Rinpoche. Has also visited France, where he supervises students undergoing long retreat. Has transmitted teachings to Dalai Lama. Is rebuilding Shechen Monastic University (formerly one of the great Nyingma centres in Tibet) at Bodh Nath, Nepal.
Nyingma tulku: incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro: Born 1960; recognized by Dalai Lama. Received training in all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism under over 12 great masters, including Dalai Lama, Karmapa, Sakya Trizin, Dudjom Rinpoche and Dingo Khyentse Rinpoche. 1986: 1st visit to Europe and USA. Has thriving centre in Australia.
Pioneer translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts. Born USA, educated University of Stanford, Oxford and Rennes, specializing in folk-lore; met W.B. Yeats. 1911: 1st book: Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. An interest in the rebirth doctrine took him to East. 1919: met Kazi Dawa-Samdup in Sikkim; collaborated on translations of several texts, including The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines and Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa. Died near Encinitas, California at age 88 years. Biography: Pilgrim of the Clear Light, by Ken Winkler.
Pioneer Western exponent and expositor of Tibetan Buddhism. Born Waldheim (old kingdom of Saxony) of German father and Bolivian mother (family had mining interests in Bolivia). Invalided out of World War I. Studied Philosophy and Architecture at University of Freiburg, later Archaeology; research in Mediterranean area and North Africa. 1928: to Sri Lanka. 1929: Anagarika ordination in Burma. 1929-31: studied Pali. 1931: decisive turning point – encountered Tibetan Buddhism in Darjeeling and met main guru, Tomo Geshe Rinpoche. When Tomo Geshe Rinpoche died, founded Arya Maitreya Mandala in his memory. 1930s: pursued Buddhist Studies in Sikkim, Ladakah and Tibet; also taught, lectured and practised art (was gifted artist). During World War II: interned. 1947: married British-educated Parsi photographer Li Gotami; took Indian nationality. 1947-9: travelled to Central Provinces and West Tibet; visited Mount Kailas and Gu-ge, as described in his Way of the White Clouds. Subsequently devoted himself to magnum opus: The Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism. As his reputation grew, travelled and lectured in USA, Japan and Europe. Latterly based at Kasar Devi Ashram, near Almora (North India). 1980-1: went to USA for medical treatment; lived until death in Mill Valley. Other books including The Psychological Attitude of Early Buddhist Philosophy, Creative Meditation and Multidimensional Consciousness, the Psycho-Cosmic Symbolism of the Buddhist Stupa and The Inner Structure of the I-Ching.
‘A modern Milaerpa’, Hor region of Kham, East Tibet. Both parents students of Jangon Kongtruil Lodro Thaye, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Mipham Rinpoche (all prominent in Ri-me movement). Recognized as tulku but not ordained, instead wandered freely; education supervised by father. At 13 years began formal studies at Palpung monastery. Received getsul ordination from 11th Tai Situpa (Karma Rangjung Kunchap). At Palpung and elsewhere studied sutra and tantra teachings; received instruction and empowerments from many great lamas. At age 16 undertook 3 years retreat at Kunzang Dechen osel Ling under the direction of root lama, Norbu Tondrup, from whom he received complete transmission of teachings of Karma Kagyu and Shangba Kagyu traditions. At age 25 embarked on 12 years solitary retreat in mountains of Kham. At request of Tai Situpa, returned to Palpung to become Director of 3 years retreats. Recognized by 16th Gyalwa Karmapa as incarnation of Jamgon Kontrul Lodro Thaye. 1940s: toured Tibet; in Lhasa, gave teachings to Regent (Reting Rinpoche). 1955: asked to leave Tibet by Karmapa; established 2 centres in Bhutan and ordained 300 monks. Made pilgrimage to Buddhist holy places in India. 1965: established Samdrup Tarjay Ling at Sonada near Darjeeling (now his Headquarter); at once embarked on another 3 years retreat. 1971: visited France and North America; founded several centres for practice of Chenrezi Sadhana. 1974, 77/8: 2nd and 3rd US visits. Gave Kalachakra Empowerments in New York City, San Francisco and Boulder. 1976: began 3-years retreats for Westerners in France, where he had established 2 centres. 1983: gave Rinchen Ter Dzo empowerments at Sonada to the ‘Four Great Heart-sons’ of late Gyalwa Karmapa and others. Publications including The Writings of Kalu Rinpoche (with Kenneth McLeod), The Chariot for Travelling the Path to Freedom and The Dharma that Illuminates all Beings like the Light of the Sun and Moon.
Sakyapa lama active in the West. Born 1931, Nangchen, Kham, East Tibet. Recognized as incarnation of Beru Kunrik at age 2 ½ years. Teachers: Khen Rinpoche, Tashi Chopel, Tenpai Nyingpo and Chogay Trichen Rinpoche. Special initiations: Hevarjra, Vajarayogini Vajapani and Chakrasamvara. Has made a special study of basic Sakya text known as lam-dre (‘The Path and its Fruit’). Specialization: tshogs-shay transmission of Sakya Lam-dre teachings and Kagyu Mahamudra teachings. Hold Khenpo degree. 1959: left Tibet. 1973: founded Kampo Gangra Drubgyud Ling in Toronto, Canada. 1977: inspired establishment of Sakya Rinchen Ling in Bristrol (UK). Books including A History of the Sixteen Karmapas of Tibet.
This Tibetan layman is thought to have imported songs and text from Bengal to Tibet, particularly those belonging to the Mahamudra doctrine. He is mainly venerated for having translated many Indian text into Tibetan and as the master (guru) of Milarepa. He was himself a disciple of Naropa and Maitripa, and is considered to be the founder of the Bka-rgyud-pa sect.
Saint and poet of Tibetan Buddhism. He was the second patriarch of the Kargyupa sect, the first being Milarepa’s guru Marpa (1012–97), who studied under Naropa, the Bengali master of Tantra, at Nalanda. Milarepa’s autobiography recounts how in his youth he practiced black magic in order to take revenge on relatives who deprived his mother of the family inheritance. He later repented and sought Buddhist teaching. After undergoing many tests and ordeals under Marpa, he received initiation from him. He spent the rest of his life meditating in mountain caves and teaching his disciples.
Dzogchen master and scholar. Born 1938, Derge dist, East Tibet. At 2 years, recognized as reincarnation of Adjom Drukpa, a great Dzogchen master of early 20th Century. Later also recognized by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa and Situ Rinpoche as mind reincarnation of Shabdung Ngawang Namgyal, founder of line of Dharma Rajas (monk-kings) of Bhutan. Received initiations from two uncles, both Dzogchen masters, and from others. Age 5 -9, educated at Dereg Gonchen monastery, and later went on to Dzongsar monastic college for c 6 years. At 14 received Vajrayogini initiations according to the Sakya school and later received transmissions from 113 years old woman teacher. At 16 went to China as representative of Tibetan youth; became instructor at SW U of Minor Nationalities, Chengdu (Szechuan, China). Back in Tibet, at 17 met Root Master, Chanchub Dorje (1826 -1978). Afterwards went on long pilgrimage to Central Tibet, Nepal, India and Bhutan. Returning to Tibet, forced to flee the country due to violent political upheavals. 1958-60 lived in Gangtok, Sikkim; employed as author and editor of Tibetan text books by government. 1960: invited to Italy by G. Tucci. 1960-64: research associate at IsMEO, Rome. 1965: Professor in Oriental Institute of University of Naples. 1983: hosted 1st International Convention on Tibetan Medicine in Venice. For past 10 years has been active informally teaching in various countries, including Italy, France, UK, Austria, Denmark, Norway and, since 1979, USA. The Dzogchen Community, an informal association of students practising under his guidance, has arisen. Speaks English though prefers Italian. Married with two children. Books including: The Crystal & The Way of Light, The Necklace of Gzi (A Cultural History of Tibet), Dzog.chen and Zen, The Cycle of Day and Night, The Mirror (Advice on Presence and Awareness), On Birth and Life (A Treatise on Tibetan Medicine), Primordial Experience (Manjushrimitra’s Treatise on the Meaning of Bodhicitta in Dozgchen) and Zer-Nga: The Five Principal Points (A Dzogchen Upadesha Practice).
Tantric Saint, instrumental in introducing Buddhism to Tibet. He is regarded by the Nyingma-pa Order as their founder. The Tibetan King Trisong Detsen (740-98) had invited the scholar Shantarakshita to Tibet, where he disseminated Buddhism and inspired the founding of the first Buddhist monastery at Samye. The king then invited Padmasambhava to exorcise the local demons and gods who resisted the teachings (Dharma). He did so, making them protectors of the Dharma, a story which illustrates how Buddhism incorporated local Tibetan traditions.
The Panchen Lama ranks second only to the Dalai Lama among the Grand Lamas of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. His seat is in the Tashilhumpo monastery at Shigatse. In 1640 the 5th Dalai Lama, having with the aid of the Mongols acquired temporal as well as spiritual control of the whole country, honored his own tutor with the title of Panchen (from Pandita, learned) Lama, and built the Tashilhumpo monastery for him. On the death of the title holder, the new Lama is found in the body of a small child, as in the case of the Dalai Lama, and no new Lama is recognized as such by the people until approved by a Tibetan commission appointed for this purpose.
Gelugpa lama with many Western students. Born Kham (East Tibet) into farming family. At age 18 entered Sera Monastery (Je College); teacher was Geshe Jhampa Khedup. Became adept at rigorous philosophical debate; also went into frequent meditation retreat. Suffered poverty and undernourishment until appointed tutor to Gonsar Tulku. 1959: fled Tibet, settled first at Buxaduar; instrumental in setting up courses of study. 1963: awarded geshe Lharampa; shortly afterwards moved to Dharamsala to become personal assistant to Dalai Lama; lived in Namgyal Monastery and began to instruct Westerners. C 1970: into retreat near Dharamsala to contemplate meaning of sunyata. 1974: invited to Europe. 1975: returned to Switzerland as Abbot of Tibetan Monastic Institute at Rikon. 1977: founded Tharpa Choeling Centre for Higher Tibetan Studies at Mont Pelerin, near Lausanne; also taught in USA and other European countries; established centres in Germany, Italy, Austria. ‘ He adhered strictly to the Vinaya and placed great emphasis on a systematic and gradual training in the Gelugpa tradition …’ (Stephen Batchelor). Books including The Preliminary Practises, Advice from a Spiritual Friend (with Geshe Dhargyey), The Life & Teaching of Geshe Rabten, Echoes of Voidness and The Essential Nectar.
41st Patriarch of Sakya order. A married lama, considered an incarnation of Manjushri and Padmasambhava. Born 1945, Tsedong, South Tibet. 1953: enthroned. Teachers; Ngawang Lodro Shenpen Nyingpo, Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, Chogay Trichen and Khenpo Appey. Special initiations: Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini and Vajrakilaya. Studies of special texts: Lam-dre (‘The Path and Its Fruit’). Specializations: Tsog-shay and Lobshay
transmissions of the Sakya Lam-dre teachings and the Khon lineage Vajrakilaya meditation and rituals. 1959: escaped to Sikkim. Began to learn English; went to Darjeeling to continue religious studies (Madhyamika, Prajnaparamita and Abhidharma philosophy, logic, etc.). Spent one year in Mussorrie recovering from TB. 1964: founded Sakya centre in Mussoorie. Has also since founded Sakya centres at Rajpur and Puruwala, and is head of all Sakya centres throughout the world. 1967: gave Lam-dre teaching for 1st time to c 400 monks and 100 lay people. Now fluent in English, had taught in Europe, including UK.
Representative of the Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. Shantideva was a king’s son from South India. He flourished in the 7th to 8th centuries and was a monk at the monastic university Nalanda.He was the author of two surviving works, the Collection of Rules and Entering the Path of Enlightenment. The latter is still used in Tibetan Buddhism as a teaching text.
Incarnate lama of Ri-me tradition based in London. Born mid-1940s, Kham, East Tibet; recognized as tulku of famous lama and mystic, Terton Sogyal; also of Do Khyentse, great Dzogchen master. Raised as a son by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro (quod vide (see reference elsewhere)) at Dzongsar Monastic University (East Tibet); received complete training in sutras and tantras with transmissions and empowerments of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism (especially Nyingma) from Khyentse and other great masters. Mid-1950s: with Khyentse on long pilgrimage to Central Tibet; visited inter alia Lhasa, Samye and Sakya. 1958: accompanied Khyentse to Sikkim; later attended school in India; continued to receive spiritual teachings from Dingo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche. Then undertook BA students in Philosophy at St Stephen’s College, Delhi University; from there won scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. 1973: accompanied Dalai Lama on 1st European tour; also accompanied Dudjom Rinpoche on US tour as translator and aide. 1974: began to teach in London. 1975: established Dzogchen Orgyen Choling in London. 1976-7: began to teach in Paris, later in USA. 1981: founded Rigpa Fellowships in London. Currently directs Rigpa centres in London, Paris and Santa Cruz (California, USA). Teaches widely with special emphasis on Dzogchen. Has made death and dying a specialty, working with hospices and near death researchers.
Nyingma Lama active in USA. Born 1935, Golok, East Tibet. Left home at 17 to travel in Kham; studied with many famous teachers of all schools but mainly Nyingma. 1958: left Tibet for Bhutan and India; later to Sikkim to study with root guru Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. C 1962: appointed to represent Nyingma tradition at Sanskit University, Varanasi; founded Dharma Publishings.1968: to USA; established Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Centre (Berkeley, Cal), Nyingma Institute and Odiyan Retreat Centre. Married to French – Egyptian lady. Books including Gesture of Balance, Openness Mind, Hidden Mind of Freedom, Skillful Means, Kum Nye Relaxation I and II, Sacred Art of Tibet; Time, Space and Knowledge; Knowledge of Freedom, Love of Knowledge and Copper Mountain Mandala. Translations including Calm and Clear, Mother of Knowledge. General Edition of Crystal Mirror series, Ancient Tibet, and of new Nyingma Edition of Kangyur and Tangyur.
One of the first lamas to come to the West; meditation masters of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages and writer. Born Geje, East Tibet. Recognized and enthroned as 11th Trungpa Tulku by Gyalwa Karmapa at 1 ½ years. Became Abbot of Surmang monasteries. Took sramanera precepts at 8 years; also went into 3- month retreat ( to meditate on Manjushri). At 9 met principal guru, Jamgon Kongtrul II of Sechen. At 11 years, began ngondro ( preliminary practices for Vajrayana teachings). At 14, conducted 1st full empowerment (wangkur), which lasted 3 months. Later left Tibet for India. Became protégé of Freda Bedi. 1963: came to West as Spalding Fellow at Oxford University; studied Western philosophy, psychology, art and comparative religion. 1967: co-founder with Chuje Akong Rinpoche of Samye-Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland, the 1st Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre in West. Late 1960s: married Diana Judith Pybus (Lady Diana Mukpo); several children born. 1970: left for USA; established important centres in Vermont (Tail of Tiger), Colorado (Karma Dzong in Boulder and Rocky Mountain Dharma Centre) and Nova Scotia (Gampo Abbey). Numerous other centres (Dharmadhatus) in USA, Europe, etc. Headed Vajradhatu, a world-wide organization. Died Halifax. Nova Scotia. Books including Meditation in Action, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, The Myth of Freedom, Mudra, Shambhala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior and Journey Without Goal. Autobiography: Born in Tibet (with Esme Cramer Roberts).
Tibetan Buddhist reformer and founder of Dge-lugs-pa (or Gelugpa, or ‘Yellow Hat’) Order. One of the greatest names of Tibetan history, he was born on the site of the present Kum-bum monastery and at an early age dedicated his life to the complete reform of Tibetan Buddhism. He founded the Ganden monastery 26 miles from Lhasa and the the new Order the Gelugpa, ‘the virtuous ones’. To this day the senior members wear on important occasions a yellow headdress. Both the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are members of this Order.
Gelugpa Lama and influential teachers of Westerners. Born near Lhasa; educated Sera Monastery (Je College). 1959: to India; settled at Buxaduar. Began teachings Westerners with principle disciple, Zopa Rinpoche, in Darjeeling and later Kathmandu. 1971: helped found Kopan Monastery at Bodh Nath in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. In subsequent years he and his students established over 65 centres under auspices of FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition). Also instrumental in establishing Wisdom Publications, The Universal Education Association, a couple of monasteries for Western monks and nuns as well as supporting leper colony in India, etc. Toured and lectured annually in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe. Books including Wisdom Energy (with Lama Zopa).
born 1985, Granada, Spain, 5th child of Maria Torres and Paco Hita, students of late Lama Yeshe who helped found Osel Ling, retreat centre near Granada. First met by Lama Zopa at age 6 months; confirmed by Dalai Lama, 1986.
Gelug lama; teachers of Westerners. Born 1946 of Sherpa stock at Thami, Northeast Nepal, near Everest. At age 5 recognized at tulku of Lawudo Lama, great Nyingma practitioner, educated Solu Khumbu region (Nepal). Taken on pilgrimage to Tibet by uncle while still young and decided to remain. Studied first at Dungkar monastery, later at Sera (Je College). 1959: to India; live in refugee camp at Buxaduar; there met Lama Thubten Yeshe, his guru. Remained several years studying under various Tibetan masters. 1965: he and Lama Yeshe met their first Westerner student ( Zina Rachevsky). 1969: with Lama Thubten Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche, founded small centre at Kopan in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal; taught intensively there in following years. 1971; helped found FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) with Lama Yeshe. 1974: made 1st visit to West., visiting USA and Australia. Co-author with Lama Thubten Yeshe of Wisdom Energy.