Spiritual Leaders

His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Inspiration and Guide of FPMT

His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is the 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 of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989, he is universally respected as a spokesman for the compassionate and peaceful resolution of human conflict. He has travelled extensively, speaking on subjects including universal responsibility, love, compassion and kindness.”

“My religion is a kindness to all.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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Venerable Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) – Founder of FPMT

Lama Yeshe, California, 1977

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, in which year, as Lama Yeshe himself 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, eventually founding The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Lama Yeshe died in 1984.

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Venerable Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche – Spiritual Director of FPMT


Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, the FPMT’s Spiritual Director, is the reincarnation of the Sherpa Nyingma yogi Kunsang Yeshe, the Lawudo Lama. Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Thami, 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. Together with Lama Yeshe, he began teaching courses on Buddhism to Westerners in 1965 and founded several centers that eventually became the building blocks of the FPMT.

Of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the FPMT, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said:

“Rinpoche is someone who follows my guidance sincerely, very expansively and with one hundred percent trust. He possesses unwavering faith and pure samaya; not only has he pure samaya and faith but whatever I instruct, Zopa Rinpoche has the capability to accomplish it. So whatever dedications Lama Zopa Rinpoche makes, I also pray to accomplish this and you should do the same thing.”

“I would like to thank all the people working in Rinpoche’s organization… I would like to request you to continue. Rinpoche works with such determination and great sincerity in the service of Buddha’s teachings and sentient beings, it’s important that we all combine our efforts.”

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