His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of Tibet and also held political leadership until 2011. Dalai is the Mongolian word for "ocean" and lama means "spiritual teacher" in Tibetan. The title Dalai Lama can be translated as "Ocean of Wisdom".
On 17 November 1950, at the age of sixteen, His Holiness was forced to assume the full political responsibility that accompanies the function and position of Dalai Lama in view of the imminent invasion of Tibet by China. He fled to India on 17 March 1959, followed into exile by more than 100,000 Tibetan refugees. He has been living ever since in the Northern Indian town of Dharamsala, where the Tibetan government-in-exile became established.
His Holiness' tireless commitment to Tibet's freedom and to world peace has been highly praised and in 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize Committee wrote: "The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature."
In May 2011 H.H. the Dalai Lama resigned from his political function and transferred the leadership of the Tibetan Central Administration to a democratically elected regent.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born in 1946 in the Solo Khumbu region, near Mount Everest in Nepal. He was recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama and started his education as a monk in Tibet. In 1959 Rinpoche fled from Tibet and continued his studies at Sera Je monastery in Buxa Duar, in the north of India. There he became a student of Geshe Rabten and of Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa first had contact with Westerners in 1965, and in 1971 they both started the famous meditation courses for western people in the new Kopan Monastery in the Kathmandu valley. Due to many requests Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche were the first teachers travelling around the world to teach Tibetan Buddhism.
The international organization Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), founded in 1975, comprises the centres and activities of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. At present it comprises more than 130 institutions and projects worldwide. After the death of Lama Yeshe in 1984 Lama Zopa Rinpoche assumed full responsibility for FPMT.
Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche was born in 1926 in the province of Amdo, eastern Tibet, and at the age of six was recognized as the reincarnation of the abbot of Kirti Gompa. At the age of nine he was ordained as a monk. At the age of 32, after having completed his monastic studies, he was appointed abbot of Kirti Gompa. Rinpoche received teachings from many high lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and was a lineage holder of the Kalachakra Tantra. Having fled from Tibet in 1959 Rinpoche settled down at Dharamsala. At the age of 45 he began a 15-year meditation retreat.
Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and gave teachings all over the world. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche was very well known for his kind nature. After a serious illness Rinpoche passed away in December 2006.
Ven. Jhado Rinpoche comes from Namtso-Khar in Tibet. At the age of three he was recognised as the sixth incarnation of the Jhado Rinpoche. In 1959 he fled to India and finished his 19 years' studies in Buddhist philosophy with the degree of a Geshe Lharampa in 1991. In the same year, on the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he began to teach at Namgyal Monastery, Dharamsala. From 1997 to 2004 Rinpoche also was abbot of the monastery.
Jhado Rinpoche received initiations and secret teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his two tutors as well as from Ven. Trulshik Rinpoche und Ven. Choegye Trichen Rinpoche. He teaches and leads retreats in Dharma centres in America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan and is known for his erudition and the clarity of his visualisations.
Ven. Jhado Rinpoche attended the Kalachakra for World Peace Graz 2002 and gave an introduction to Kalachakra. On 23 October 2002, together with twenty monks from Namgyal Monastery, he consecrated the newly erected Kalachakra Stupa on the premises of the Kalachakra Kalapa Retreat Center at Garanas, southwestern Styria, Austria.
Regular Guest Teachers
Geshe Tashi TseringAt the age of 13 years Geshe-la entered Sera MeMonastic University in South India and graduated 16 years later as a Lharampa Geshe (the highest degree). Afterwards, he studied for another year at Gyuto Higher Tantric College.
Geshe Tashi started to teach at Sera, later he taught at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, and at the Gandhi Foundation College at Nagpur, India. Geshe-la's first stay in Europe was at Nalanda Monastery in southern France. In 1994 he moved to Jamyang Buddhist Centre London, where he has been resident lama ever since.
Geshe-la teaches in English and is renowned for his warmth, clarity and sense of humour. Geshe-la initiated and teaches the "Foundation of Buddhist Thought", a two-year correspondence and campus course on the basics of Tibetan Buddhism.
Geshe Thubten Soepa was born in Zanskar, India, in 1955. At 14 he became a monk, studied at the monastic university of Sera Je and gratuated 1993 with the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa, comparable to a Doctor of Philosophy.
Then he taught at Dzongkha Chode Monastery, spent seven years as resident lama at Aryatara Institute Munich and served several months at the monastery of Nalanda/France, in London, Toronto and Austin/Texas. He currently resides mainly at Sera Monastery in South India, but spends several months each year to teach at FPMT centers in Europe and America.
Geshe Soepa has extensive knowledge about both Sutra and Tantra, and is not only well versed in the Gelugpa texts, but also in those of the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions.
Geshe Tenzin Dhargye was born in Leh, Ladakh (Northern India), in 1968. He got his monastic education at Sera Me monastery, where he studied Buddhist philosophy for 18 years. In February 1995 he completed his studies with the degree of Geshe Lharampa. In 1997, on the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geshe-la went to Dharamsala.
In the following years Geshe-la gave teachings in Buddhist philosophy in several European countries. Afterwards he was teaching for one year at the University of Virginia, where he also collaborated with Jeffrey Hopkins. In December 2000 Geshe Tenzin Dhargye was sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to She Drup Ling Buddhist Center in Graz, in order to support the preparations of Kalachakra for World Peace Graz 2002 as resident lama. During his stay of nearly two years, Geshe-la gave many teachings in form of regular courses and retreats, from Lam rim to Kalachakra Tantra.
Currently Lama Geshe Tenzin Dhargye is director of the Tibet Center Institute at Hüttenberg, Carinthia.
Ven. Fedor Stracke is a resident teacher at the Aryatara Institute in Munich. In 1986, during a journey to Asia, he got also to Tibet and Nepal and participated in several Lamrim teachings at Kopan Monastery.
In 1994 he received full monastic ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. At the monastic university of Sera Je inSouth India, he studied more than ten years for the Geshe exam.
Besides teaching at the Aryatara Institute, at Kopan Monastery/Kathmandu and other FPMT centers, he also works as a translator and editor of Buddhist texts. Ven. Fedor offers us the precious opportunity to obtain profound Buddhist teachings in German.
Swiss born Ani Losang Palmo (Rita Riniker) has been a Western Tibetan Buddhist nun since 1991. All over the world she teaches courses on the fundamentals of Buddhism and meditation. She is especially well known for leading Nyung-nä retreats.
With her characteristic sense of humour, her down to earth and compassionate way of teaching, Ani-la Losang succeeds in bridging Buddhism and Western religions for us “Westerners”.
Ven. Losang explains Buddhist topics in a way to make them directly applicable in our everyday life.
Dr. Birgit Schweiberer (Ven. Lobsang Drime): Ordained nun in the Gelugpa tradition since 1998, completed the Buddhist Basics and Master Programmes on Sutra and Tantra at Lama Tzongkhapa Institute in Italy with Ven. Geshe Jampa Gyatso, Ven. Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Jampa Tekchog and others. On the basis of her profound knowledge and precise analysis of the traditional texts Ven. Birgit teaches with a good sense of humour in a clear and structured way. Graduated in medicine, worked in anaesthesiology, several times European champion in karate.
Geshe Ngawang Jangchup was born in Lingshed, Ladakh. At the age of 14 he took the novice vows at the monastery in Lingshed. In 1968 he went to Drepung, India, to continue his studies at the Tibetan monastic university. In December 1990, in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he passed the final exam for the Geshe Lharampa, the highest degree in the Gelug tradition.
In 1991, when Geshe Ngawang Jangchub came back to Ladakh after 23 years of absence, the living standards and the level of education in Lingshed had not improved. Since then he has been trying to take several measures in order to decrease the hardships of the people.
His spiritual guidance also consists in applying Buddhist philosophy to the problems and conditions of everyday life. Some years ago Geshe-la started to build a nunnery in Lingshed.
Between 1997 and 2002 Geshe Ngawang Jangchup traveled several times to the West to teach at Buddhist centers and to lead retreats.
At present he teaches as a lay Geshe and runs several projects in support of the people of Lingshed.
Stephan Pende Wormland was born in Germany and practiced in various spiritual traditions for over 25 years. He graduated in clinical psychology and studied Gestalt Therapy. For 8 years he workedin psychiatry and as a paramedic.
As a student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche he lived 11 years as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, including 8 years as a manager and director of Nalanda Monastery in southern France. Stephan spent 4 years in various retreats. He derobed in 2009.
Currently, he lives as a resident teacher at the FPMT center in Copenhagen, offers courses and leads meditation retreats in Europe.
Dieter Kratzer has been teaching Buddhist philosophy and meditation for more than 35 years. He lived 12 years as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and spent a total of more than 6 years in retreat in order to deeply experience the content of the teachings. He founded several meditation centers and taught in Europe, Asia and Australia. He is resident teacher of TARA-MANDALA Buddhist center in Germany, a member of the FPMT.
Claudia Wellnitz met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche first in 1980 and since then is actively involved with Buddhist teachings, including four years of studies at Nalanda Monastery in France and several extended retreats. For ten years she has been leading retreats and meditation courses and works as a translator and editor for various Buddhist publishers.