Teachers & Authors

HH the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th the 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.

Forced into exile in 1959 by the illegal Chinese communist colonization of Tibet, which continues to this day, he has continued to inspire the Tibetan people and also inspires millions of others the world over. In 1989 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his unwavering advocacy of a non-violent solution to China's brutal occupation of his country.

Lama Yeshe
Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered the great Sera Monastic University, Lhasa, where he studied until 1959, when the Chinese invasion of Tibet forced him into exile in India. Lama Yeshe continued to study and meditate in India until 1967, when, with his closest student, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, he went to Nepal. Two years later he established Kopan Monastery, near Kathmandu, in order to teach Buddhism to Westerners.

In 1974, the Lamas began making annual teaching tours to the West, and as a result of these travels a worldwide network of Buddhist teaching and meditation centers — the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) — began to develop.

In 1984, after a decade of giving a wide variety of teachings and establishing one FPMT activity after another, at the age of forty-nine, Lama Yeshe passed away. He was reborn as Ösel Hita Torres in Spain in 1985, recognized as the incarnation of Lama Yeshe by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1986, and, as the monk Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Rinpoche was born in Thami, Nepal, in 1946. At the age of three he was recognized as the reincarnation of Sherpa Nyingma yogi, Kunsang Yeshe, the Lawudo Lama. Rinpoche’s Thami home was not far from the Lawudo cave, in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, where his predecessor meditated for the last twenty years of his life. At the age of ten, Rinpoche went to Tibet and studied and meditated at Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s monastery near Pagri, until the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 forced him to leave Tibet for the safety of Bhutan.

Rinpoche then went to the Tibetan refugee camp at Buxa Duar, 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.

In 1974, with Lama Yeshe, Rinpoche began traveling the world to teach and establish centers of Dharma. When Lama Yeshe passed away in 1984, Rinpoche took over as spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), which has continued to flourish under his leadership.

Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) is also a poet and peace and human rights activist. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to follow the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the "engaged Buddhism" movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On more travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World.

Sakyong Mipham
The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, is one of Tibet’s highest and most respected incarnate lamas. The Sakyong—literally, “earth protector”—is king of Shambhala. The first king of Shambhala, Dawa Sangpo, was empowered directly by the Buddha.

The Shambhala tradition emphasizes confidence in the enlightened nature of all beings—windhorse—and teaches courageous rulership based on wisdom and compassion. It holds that these qualities are ultimately more stable than aggression and greed. It shows how to use worldly life as a means to ripen this spiritual potential. It practices turning the mind toward others as a discipline that creates lungta, windhorse, the ability to attain success that occurs from acting virtuously. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche leads a global community of over 150 meditation centers rooted in these principles.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is unique in that he bridges two worlds. The eldest son of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who was instrumental in bringing Buddhism to the West, he is the incarnation of Mipham the Great, who is revered in Tibet as an emanation of Manjushri, the buddha of wisdom. He descends from the Tibetan warrior-king Gesar of Ling. He also holds the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche was born in 1962 in Bodhagaya, India, to Lady Könchok Palden. He spent his early years receiving a Buddhist education, later joining his father in the West, where he continued his study of Buddhist philosophy and ritual. He has studied with the great masters His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche—teacher of the HH Dalai Lama and the king of Bhutan—and HH Penor Rinpoche. He is married to Princess Tseyang Palmo, daughter of His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche, head of the Ripa lineage.

Dzogchen Ponlop
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a leading Buddhist teacher in North America and an advocate of American and Western Buddhism. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, an avid photographer, an accomplished calligrapher and visual artist. He is the founder and president of Nalandabodhi, an international network of Buddhist study and meditation centers, and of Nitartha International, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to preserving the contemplative literature of East Asia.

Chogyam Trungpa
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987) was a Buddhist meditation master and holder of both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, the eleventh Trungpa tülku, a tertön, supreme abbot of the Surmang monasteries, scholar, teacher, poet, artist, and originator of a radical re-presentation of Shambhala vision.

Recognized both by Tibetan Buddhists and by other spiritual practitioners and scholars as a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, he was a major figure in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism to the West, founding Vajradhatu and Naropa University and establishing the Shambhala Training method.

Among his contributions are the translation of a large number of Tibetan texts, the introduction of the Vajrayana teachings to the West, and a presentation of the Buddhadharma largely devoid of ethnic trappings.

Tashi Tsering
Tsering was born in Purang, Tibet in 1958, and his parents escaped to India in 1959. He entered Sera Mey Monastic University in South India when he was 13 years old, and graduated with a Lharampa Geshe degree 16 years later. Geshe Tashi then entered the Higher Tantric College (Gyuto) for a year of study.

Tsering's teaching career began at Sera, after which he taught the monks at Kopan Monastery, Nepal for a year. He went on to the Gandhi Foundation College in Nagpur, India and then moved to Europe, initially to Nalanda Monastery in the South of France.

Tsering teaches in English and is renowned for his warmth, clarity and humour. Besides Jamyang, he is a regular guest teacher at other Buddhist centres in the UK and around the world as well as creator and teacher of the Foundation of Buddhist Thought, the two-year FPMT correspondence and campus course on the basics of Tibetan Buddhism.

Pema Chodron
Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren.

While in her mid-thirties, Pema traveled to the French Alps and encountered Lama Chime Rinpoche, with whom she studied for several years. She became a novice nun in 1974 while studying with Lama Chime in London. His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa came to England at that time, and Pema received her ordination from him.

Pema first met her root teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1972. Lama Chime encouraged her to work with Rinpoche, and it was with him that she ultimately made her most profound connection, studying with him from 1974 until his death in 1987. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full monastic ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong.

Pema served as the director of Karma Dzong, in Boulder, until moving in 1984 to rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be the director of Gampo Abbey. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche asked her to work towards the establishment of a monastery for western monks and nuns. Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.

Thubten Chodron
Born in 1950, Thubten Chodron grew up near Los Angeles. She graduated with a B.A. in History from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971. After traveling through Europe, North Africa and Asia for one and a half years, she received a teaching credential and went to the University of Southern California to do post-graduate work in Education while working as a teacher in the Los Angeles City School System.

In 1975, she attended a meditation course given by Ven. Lama Yeshe and Ven. Zopa Rinpoche, and subsequently went to Kopan Monastery in Nepal to continue to study and practice Buddha's teachings. In 1977 she was ordained as a Buddhist nun by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan.

She studied and practiced Buddhism of the Tibetan tradition for many years in India and Nepal under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, Zopa Rinpoche and other Tibetan masters. She directed the spiritual program at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy for nearly two years, studied three years at Dorje Pamo Monastery in France, and was resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Center in Singapore. For ten years she was resident teacher at Dharma Friendship Founation in Seattle.

Ven. Chodron travels worldwide to teach the Dharma: North America, Latin America, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and former communist countries.. Seeing the importance and necessity of a monastery for Westerners training in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, she founded Sravasti Abbey, a Buddhist monastic community in Washington State, USA, and is currently the abbess there.

Thubten Gyatso
Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1943, Dr Adrian Feldmann graduated from the University of Melbourne with a degree in medicine. After practicing medicine in Australia and overseas, he traveled for several years through Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eventually finding his way to a Tibetan monastery in Nepal. After much study and soul-searching, he became ordained as the Buddhist monk, Thubten Gyatso. Since then he has run a free medical practice in Nepal, taught Buddhism and meditation in Nepal and in France, and established monasteries and Buddhist centers in France and in the country town of Bendigo, outside Melbourne. In recent years he has lectured extensively in the United States of America. He was the resident dharma teacher at a Buddhist center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for four years where he was helping to re-establish Buddhism in country after the Stalinist purges of the 1940s to 1950s wiped out nearly all temples and monasteries. His teachings are presented on radio and television and published in the local newspapers.

Surya Das
Lama Surya Das (born 1950) is an American-born lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is a poet, chantmaster, spiritual activist and author of many popular works on Buddhism; a teacher and spokesperson for Buddhism in the West. He has long been involved in charitable relief projects in the Third World and in interfaith dialogue. Surya Das is a Dharma heir of Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche, a Nyingma master of the non-sectarian Rime movement. His name, which means "Servant of the Sun" in a combination of Sanskrit (sūrya) and Hindi (das, from the Sanskrit dāsa), was given to him by the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba.

Brad Warner
Brad Warner (born 1964) is an ordained Soto Zen teacher. Born in Hamilton, Ohio, in 1972, Brad’s family relocated to Nairobi, Kenya. When he returned three years later, nothing about rural Ohio seemed quite the same anymore. In 1982, Brad joined 0DFx, a band famous for an eighteen-second burst of noise titled “Drop the A-Bomb On Me.”

While still playing hardcore punk, Brad became involved in Zen Buddhism. The realistic philosophy reminded him of the attitude the punks took towards music. He made it to Japan in 1993 where he began studying the philosophy with an iconoclastic rebel Zen Master named Gudo Wafu Nishijima. After a few years, Nishijima decided to make Brad his successor as a teacher of Zen.

Nishijima asked him to write a book about Buddhism, but Brad knew he couldn’t write anything like the Buddhist books he’d seen. So he published his sometimes abrasive about the Dharma as a website. When the website became tremendously popular, he began to think again about putting out a book. So he collated his writing, sent them off, and soon he had a book out. That book sold so fast his publishers could hardly keep up with demand. A second and third book followed. He has also published work in the Buddhist magazines Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma, and Tricycle as well as rock magazines such as Alternative Press, Maximum Rocknroll and Razorcake.

Geri Larkin
Geri Larkin had a successful career as a management consultant. After a doctor suggested meditation as a means of helping with an ailment, she underwent a spiritual transformation. Her new understanding of the power of prayer brought her to quit her job and enroll in Chicago's Maitreya Buddhist Seminary. Her teacher was Ven. Samu Sunim, a Korean Zen master who started several temples in North America. She was ordained three years later in 1995. She served as a Dharma teacher at one of the temples Ven. Samu Sunim started in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Larkin later started a Zen meditation center in the heart of inner-city Detroit called Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple. She has written numerous books. She now lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Jack Kornfield
Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West.

He began his training after graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967. Then he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to the Public Health Service in northeast Thailand, which is home to several of the world’s oldest Buddhist forest monasteries. He met and studied under the Buddhist master Ven. Ajahn Chah, as well as the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. After returning to the United States, Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with fellow meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. He is also a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California, where he currently lives and teaches. Over the years, Jack has taught in centers and universities worldwide, led International Buddhist Teacher meetings with the Dalai Lama and worked with many of the great teachers of our time. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a husband, father and an activist.

Karen Maezen Miller
Karen Maezen Miller is a mother, wife, writer and Zen Buddhist priest. She began her Zen training in 1993 as a student of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, the founding abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, one of the first Japanese masters to bring Zen to the West and a seminal figure in 20th century Zen. Following Maezumi Roshi’s death in 1995, the author continued her study under Nyogen Yeo Roshi, the last successor of Maezumi Roshi and the abbot of Hazy Moon Zen Center of Los Angeles where she is now a dharmaholder and meditation instructor.

A journalist by training, Ms. Miller had a 20-year career in marketing and public relations before devoting herself to marriage and motherhood. She and her husband have the good fortune to live amid Southern California’s oldest private Japanese garden, a 90-year-old treasure in the backyard of their Sierra Madre home. Their daughter, Georgia, was born in 1999.

In 2003 while writing Momma Zen, she took her own advice, confronted her fears and resistance, and took the next step in her Zen training by ordaining as a priest, thus integrating her roles as practitioner, wife, mother and gardener into a seamless life of service.

Jonathan Landaw
Jonathan Landaw spent six years living in northern India studying Tibetan Buddhism and is the editor and author of a number of Buddhist books. He has led meditation courses at Buddhist centers for over twenty-five years and is a popular teacher at dharma centers around the world.

Jon Landaw, author of Buddhism for Dummies, was born in New Jersey in 1944. From 1972 to 1977 Jon worked as an English editor for the Translation Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, producing numerous texts under the guidance of Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey. As a student of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche since 1973, Jon has edited numerous works for Wisdom Publications, including Wisdom Energy and Introduction to Tantra. He is also the author of Prince Siddhartha, a biography of Buddha for children, and Images of Enlightenment, published by Snow Lion in 1993. As an instructor of Buddhist meditation, he has taught in numerous Dharma centers throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Capitola, California, USA with his wife and three children, and leads the Discovering Buddhism courses at Land of Medicine Buddha.

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