Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
Venerable Thubten Chodron has been a Buddhist nun since 1977 and has studied and practiced Buddhism of the Tibetan tradition under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tsenzhap Serkong Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other Tibetan masters. Seeing the importance and necessity of a monastery for Westerners training in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, she founded and is the abbess of Sravasti Abbey, a Buddhist monastic community in Washington State.
Venerable Chodron travels worldwide to teach the Dharma. She is also active in interfaith dialogue, as well as Dharma outreach in prisons. She is the author of several best-selling books on Buddhism, such as Don’t Believe Everything You Think; Open Heart, Clear Mind; Working with Anger; Buddhism for Beginners, and recently co-authored Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well-known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings.
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi bought a one-way ticket to India in early 1991 with the intention of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She then became a student not only of His Holiness, but also of Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. After returning to the US, Tenzin Chogkyi worked in various positions within FPMT – Director of Vajrapani Institute, Co-Director of FPMT International Office, FPMT Centre Services Coordinator – and also completed several long meditation retreats. She took novice ordination in 2004 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and since 2006 has been regularly teaching at various FPMT centers around the globe. She is a visiting teacher for the Liberation Prison Project and committed to animal rescue. She is the resident teacher at Gendun Drupba Centre in Canada since 2013.
Geshe Jampa Tharchin
Geshe Jampa Tharchin is currently the resident teacher at Chandrakirti Meditation Centre in New Zealand. He was ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1990. He holds a Lharampa Geshe Degree, the highest possible level, the equivalent of a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism, rewarding 21 years of intense study and practice at Sera Je Monastery. After that, he attended Gyume Tantric college for one year completing all required exams. He taught at Kopan Monastery for one year in 2010 before being asked by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to move to New Zealand and become the resident teacher at Chandrakirti Meditation.
Geshe Ngawang Tenley
Geshe Ngawang Tenley was born in 1969 and in 1989 began preparation to become a monk under the guidance of his uncle, Geshe Tsulga. He was ordained by the late Gyume Khensur Geshe Urgyen Tseten Rinpoche in 1990 and began the program of studies to become a geshe at Sera Je Monastery. During the course of his studies, he has received many teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as other highly qualified masters. In 1998, he received his full ordination (gelong) vows from His Holiness, and in November 2008, after 18 years of rigorous studies, he completed his final exams to be conferred the geshe degree at Sera Je Monastery. He began teaching at Kurukulla Center in 2009, and was appointed the resident teacher by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2010 following the passing away of Geshe Tsulga. His cheerfulness and humility endear him to everyone he meets.
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo was born and raised in Germany. In 2011 she was awarded the Rime Geshe degree after completing her studies in the traditional Geshe curriculum of the Great Canonical Texts study program at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamsala. This seventeen-year course focused on study and debate of the Five Great Canonical Texts according to the Gelugpa tradition as well as several semesters of study and debate in monasteries of the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Sakya traditions.
Since 2004, Geshe Wangmo has taught Buddhist philosophy classes following the curriculum of the traditional Geshe study program, in English, to Westerners living in Dharamsala.
Geshe Choewang Dakpa Rinpoche
Geshe Choewang Dakpa Rinpoche was born in 1980 to the Pad Tra (Shining Lotus) family in the district of Sok in Tibet. On February 21, 1992, he was recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 8th Tri Do Shab Drung, Tenzin Tsultrim Gyatso, and was subsequently enthroned in the Tri Ru Dril Da Monastery. At the age of 13, he entered Ronpo Rabten Monastery, where he studied for two years. In 1996, Choewang Dakpa arrived in India and entered Sera Je Monastery, where he studied the various great Buddhist philosophical texts for 14 years and was awarded the Geshe degree (equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist studies).
Yangsi Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnation of Geshe Ngawang Gendun, a renowned scholar and practitioner from Western Tibet, at the age of six. Rinpoche trained in the traditional monastic system for over 25 years, and in 1995 graduated with the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa from Sera Je Monastery in South India. He then completed his studies at Gyume Tantric College, and, in 1998, having the particular wish to benefit Western students of the Buddhadharma, Rinpoche came to the West to teach and has traveled extensively throughout America and Europe. Rinpoche was a resident teacher at Deer Park Buddhist Center in Madison, Wisconsin for five years, and is currently the Spiritual Director of Ganden Shedrup Ling Buddhist Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Spiritual Director of Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle, Washington. Rinpoche is the author of Practicing the Path: A Commentary on the Lamrim Chenmo, published in 2003 by Wisdom Publications. Rinpoche teaches in English, and is admired wherever he travels for his unique presentation of the Dharma, his interest in and enthusiasm for Western culture, and his evident embodiment of the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhist path.
Geshe Thubten Soepa
Geshe Thubten Soepa was born in Zanskar, India in 1955. At the age of 14, he entered the monastery of Dromo Geshe Rinpoche in Kalimpong and at 19, he was sent to Sera Je monastery in South India. He studied for 21 years at Sera Jey monastery, where he passed the highest level of examinations for his Lharampa Geshe degree. He later taught for three years in Sera and Dzongar Choden monasteries.
Geshe Soepa served as resident teacher for Aryatara Institut in Germany for 10 years. He has been visiting and teaching at Land of Compassion and Wisdom in Austin, Texas since 2006, where he is the unofficial, part-time resident teacher. He is also dedicated to the promotion of vegetarianism.
According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Soepa has studied very widely and broadly, having the ability to speak with people interested in discussing various areas of study and being good at talking to new people in a straightforward manner.
Geshe Thubten Sherab
Geshe Thubten Sherab was born in 1967 in a small village in the province of Manang, the western part of Nepal, to a Kagyu-Nyingma family. He entered Kopan Monastery at the age of nine and completed his Geshe studies at Sera Je monastery in South India, followed by a year at Gyumed Tantric College. He then completed retreat and teaching assignments both in the U.S. and Asia. He served as Head Master of Kopan Monastery’s school for four years, overseeing debate training and tantric training activities. Geshe Sherab understands and connects very well with Western students, presenting the Dharma in an accessible, warm, and open manner.
Geshe Sherab taught and helped in FPMT International Office for two and a half years in Taos, New Mexico, from 2001-2003, and also served as Director of the FPMT Board for a few years. After he returned to Nepal from the United States, Geshe-la was in retreat for a year and was then appointed as Head Master of Kopan. For the last few years, he has been travelling and teaching at FPMT Centers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe.
Venerable Robina Courtin
Venerable Robina Courtin has worked full-time for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s organization, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, since her ordination in the late 1970s. Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, executive director of Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.
Venerable Robina is known for her straightforward and energetic teaching style, helping people discover the potential of their own minds with clear explanations about Tibetan Buddhism and how to apply it to their lives.
Venerable René Feusi
Venerable René Feusi was born in Switzerland in 1959, and has been trained in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in the experiential lineage of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He first encountered Buddhism at the age of 20, when he attended the annual November course at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. When he was 26, he took getsul (novice) ordination in Dharamsala, India and took (gelong) full ordination the following year.
In 1988, René entered Nalanda Monastery in France and studied with Geshe Tegchok for four years during which time he also completed the traditional 900,000 preliminary practices. Between 1993 to 1995 he completed a two and a half year solitary retreat in Spain. From 2002 to 2008 he was the resident teacher at Vajrapani Institute. Since then Venerable René has continued to study, teach and guide students in meditation and retreats worldwide.
Venerable Fedor Stracke
Venerable Fedor Stracke has been a Buddhist monk since 1988. For the past 25 years, he has been studying the Dharma with various masters, translating Tibetan texts, interpreting for his teachers, and teaching the Dharma at FPMT centers around the world.
He has received many teachings from masters in Kopan Monastery, Nalanda Monastery, and Sera Monastery. At Sera Monastery, he followed the Geshe Program for many years, and during his time in India, attended extensive teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
For the last seven years, Ven. Stracke has been the resident teacher at Aryatara Institut in Munich and also teaches the FPMT Basic Program for Western students at Kopan Monastery.
Venerable Amy Miller
Venerable Amy Miller (Ven. Lobsang Chodren) first encountered Tibetan Buddhism in the spring of 1987 during a course at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. Since then, she has spent a great deal of time engaged in meditation retreats, study, teaching, and Buddhist center management throughout the world. Prior to connecting with Buddhism, Amy was a political fundraiser in Washington, DC and also worked for Mother Jones magazine in San Francisco, California.
Venerable Amy has been teaching extensively since 1992 and was ordained as a Buddhist nun in June 2000 by the great Tibetan master, Ven. Choden Rinpoche. Her teaching style emphasizes a practical approach to integrating Buddhist philosophy into everyday life. She is the co-author of Buddhism in a Nutshell and has also directed two retreat centers in the United States – Vajrapani Institute in California and most recently, Milarepa Center in Vermont.
Don Handrick is the resident teacher at Thubten Norbu Ling (TNL) in New Mexico and teaches for FPMT at the Ksitigarbha Tibetan Buddhist Center in Taos. Don also serves as a Board member and Buddhist teacher for Liberation Prison Project, which includes teaching Buddhism at a local prison in New Mexico. Don’s study and practice of Buddhism began in 1993 when he read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Over the next two years, he practiced with Rigpa, Sogyal Rinpoche’s organization, until he began attending classes with Venerable Robina Courtin at Tse Chen Ling, the FPMT center in San Francisco.
At the beginning of 1998, Don left the Bay Area to attend the FPMT’s Masters Program of Buddhist Studies. in Sutra and Tantra, a full-time seven-year residential study program in Tuscany, Italy, taught by Geshe Jampa Gyatso. By 2004, he successfully completed the program and received an FPMT final certificate with high honors. Soon after, Don moved to Santa Fe and served as the Spiritual Program Coordinator for TNL, and in 2006 he was appointed Resident Teacher.
Venerable Lhundrup Damchö
Born and raised in New York, Venerable Lhundrup Damchö previously worked for seven years as a financial journalist, based in New York and Hong Kong.
While in Asia, Ven. Damchö first encountered the teachings of the Buddha, and shortly thereafter left her work to devote herself full-time to study and practice. In 1999, she received permission from her teacher, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, to take monastic vows, and was ordained as a Buddhist nun by Geshe Sopa that same year.
Ven. Damchö lived and studied as a resident nun at Geshe Sopa’s center in Madison, Wisconsin, for most of the five years following her ordination. During that time, she also received her Masters degree in languages and cultures of Asia from the University of Madison-Wisconsin, specializing in Sanskrit and Tibetan, and now holds a doctorate in Asian Studies.
Currently Ven. Damchö lives in India at Dharmadatta, a Spanish-speaking monastic community she founded under the guidance of His Holiness the Karmapa. For the past three years she has offered weekly Dharma teachings on facebuda.org and is co-founder of Buddhadharma Institute, a center for the study of Tibetan Buddhism online. She also regularly travels to various countries in Latin America to teach the Dharma and lead meditation retreats.
Venerable Constance Miller
Venerable Constance Miller is an American nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Ordained by Kyabje Zong Rinpoche in 1978, she has been teaching Buddhist philosophy and practice in FPMT centers in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. since 1982. She assisted Lama Thubten Yeshe in establishing the project entitled Universal Education, now known as Essential Education, and served as its Director for a number of years following its inception.
From 1992 to 1996, Venerable Connie was responsible for the editorial department of Wisdom Publications in Boston. Starting in 1996, she served in the Education Services of the FPMT’s International Office, serving as the Education Materials Coordinator from 1998 through 2002. She continues to work actively on Essential Education.
Since 1980, Paula Chichester has devoted her life to attaining the realizations of the path to Enlightenment by following the advice of her teachers, mainly Lama Thubten Yeshe and Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. She spent 25 years completing two great mantra retreats in Lama Tsong Khapa’s Ear Whispered Lineage. She is also a scientist, healer, dancer, and musician.
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, with his wife and three children, and leads the Discovering Buddhism courses at Land of Medicine Buddha.