Inspiring Founders and Examples


His Holiness the 14 Dalai Lama of Tibet

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Yeshe, Founder of the FPMT

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of TibetKyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of the FPMTLama Yeshe, Founder of the FPMT

Guru is from the Sanskrit; it means “heavy, weighty.” A guru is someone who is weighty in the sense of having a substantial presence, someone weighty with good qualities. A qualified Guru will be able to teach you from their own imediate, experiential realizations, because they have become a living embodiment of the Buddha's teaching. This sublime quality inspires, allowing you to open up and discover Dharma truths, and your own true nature easily and without confusion.

A relationship with a Guru is different from being a student of Buddhism in relationship with a Buddhist professor or Dharma instructor or meditation facilitator.  The Guru represents your own potential physically manifest to your senses; the Guru provides direct access to your own latent Buddha potential. The Guru is not only what you seek outside of yourself (through a healthy relationship with your Guru), but is what you seek inside yourself (through a deep heart commitment and practice of his or her teachings and advice). Problems you may have with your Guru amount to problems you have with your own Buddha potential so it is traditional to carefully evaluate a candidate Guru prior to making a heart comittment.

Whether the Guru, who is the active expression of the buddhas’ infinite kindness, manifests to us as a teacher of the Dharma or in the form of ordinary beings, situations, even inanimate objects in our life, whatever the outer form, the guru always serves to reveal to us our minds, our best and worst inner natures, so that we can grow in wisdom and compassion, and surpass our limitations on the path to awakening. It is simply up to us to open our minds to these manifestations of the Guru in our lives.



Geshe Sherab of Kopan Monastery, Nepal



Venerable Geshe Sherab, Kopan Monastery, NepalVenerable Geshe Ngawang TharchinVenerable Robina CourtinVenerable Amy Miller (Lobsang Chodren)
Geshe Sonam NgodrupVenerable Connie Miller 


Geshe Sherab Biography

Visit the March 2017 event information page here.

Geshe Sherab was born in Nepal of Tibetan parents, and received his education at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, the spiritual centre of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). He completed his studies at Sera Je Monastic University and at Gyume Tantric College in India. He has lived in the USA working at the FPMT Central office and several nearby Dharma Centres in Taos, New Mexico. He returned to Nepal after several years in the U.S.A. to become Headmaster of Kopan Monastery.  Geshe-la has retired from the Headmaster role in order to have more time to devote to meditation and to teaching internationally.  For the last few years, he has been travelling and teaching at FPMT Centres in USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia and Europe.

Mandala magazine has a story of Geshe Sherab here.  You can download and listen to several recordings of Geshe Sherab teaching here.

Learn more from www.geshesherab.com.

Several community members have met and studied with him personally and two share their impressions of him below...

Suzanne Rhodes met Geshe Sherab at Kopan Monastery where he ran the English reading groups that she participated in with the young monks.  She writes...

"He's amazing, warm hearted, generous, accessible, and articulate.  He also spent an afternoon going through the Eight Verses of Mind  Training that he zipped through in 2 hours!  He's extremely concise yet so humorous.  He kept punctuating the important bits by stopping and asking ‘did you get it? did you get it?’ while laughing.  This happened so much throughout his teaching that it became our own way of underlining stuff in our discussion group as it really seems to stamp ideas and concepts onto the mind.  He is so easily understandable as his English is great and we really enjoyed him as a teacher because of his light hearted presentation".

Florence Sicoli also met Geshe Sherab at Kopan during a meditation retreat there. She writes....

"I offer here two brief personal observations about Geshe Sherab. During his teachings, a quality that really impressed me is his enthusiastic intellect. This surfaced when students asked questions, particularly difficult questions. Geshe-la seemed to delight in engaging students in heart-felt debate, very much in the style of the animated monks’ daily debates in front of Kopan’s main gompa. This is not to say that he presented himself to us as all knowing. On the contrary, he  frankly admitted if he did not know the answer to a question and quickly added he would consult with his colleagues. Then he would return the next day to tell us what he and the senior monks had discussed about the question. I really admired Geshe-la’s dynamic approach to explaining and discussing dharma".

"Also, during a private meeting when I sought advice from him on a family issue, I found Geshe-la to be very approachable and conducted himself  with a wise, gentle demeanour. He quickly grasped my issue, and his counsel helped me develop the compassionate mindset necessary for me to find positive, respectful ways to approach this ongoing issue."

Here is a portion of an interview with Geshe Sherab taken from the online edition of The Hindu, one of India's national newspapers.

"Love and compassion will help destroy the ‘inner terrorist’ of each person and this purging of negativity from individuals is the only lasting solution to hatred, bigotry and terrorism", Geshe Lama Thubten Gurung (Geshe Sherab) of Kopan Monastery (Nepal) has said.  He was speaking after inaugurating the Pre-Parliament Summit of the Parliament of the World’s Religions to be held at Melbourne, Australia, in 2009. The Summit was organized here on Sunday by the School of Bhagavad Gita.

"Rules and regulations can bring only an outer peace, that too temporarily. If there is hatred and the feeling of revenge inside man’s mind, it is bound to come out some time and then outer peace will disappear. Real peace has to come from a person’s mind", he said.




























































Geshe Ngawang Tharchin Biography

Geshe Ngawng Tharchin

Geshe Nawang Tharchen was born in Northern India in 1966. After moving to Southern India, he attended the Central School for Tibetans in Mundgod until he was 14, at which time he decided to enter Drepung Nyagre Khangtsen Monastery.

Geshe-la became a novice monk in 1981, and in 1992 was ordained by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. He was awarded the degree of Geshe (Lingtse Tsoramp) in 1999, and futher studied for an additional year at Gyüto Tantric University, also in India.

In 2001, Geshe-la began teaching with Dagyab Rinpoche in Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. He became the resident Lama at Chodzong Buddhist Center in Germany beginning in 2003 and completed his term at the end of 2004.

In addition to being part of the Drepung Spiritual Arts Fund Raising Tour in 2007, Geshe-la has also taught in Malaysia and Singapore.

Geshe-la has lived in Toronto, Ontario for the last three years and is focused on English studies (he is of course fluent in Tibetan and Hindi) and is eager to continue teaching Dharma to students in our area.


The designation ‘Geshe’ is the equivalent of a Ph.D (doctorate) in buddhist studies and is awarded after a minimum of 18 years of intense study including a three year, three month retreat. It is attainable only by monastics. The term "Geshe-la" is the correct form of address meaning "Honoured Geshe".


Venerable Amy Miller (Lobsang Chodren) Biography

Amy J. 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 meeting the Dharma, Amy was a political fundraiser in Washington, DC and also worked for Mother Jones Magazine in San Francisco, California. 
Amy also trained as an emotional support hospice counselor during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco and offers courses and retreats on death and dying and end-of- life care. 
From 1992-1995, Amy managed Tse Chen Ling Center in San Francisco, California. She then served as Director of Vajrapani Institute, also in California, from 1995-2004. From 1998-2002, she was also the Manager of the Lawudo Retreat Fund (which supports the center in which the sacred cave of Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche is located) in the Mt. Everest region of Nepal. In 2004, after resigning as Director, Amy completed a seven-month solitary retreat at Vajrapani. For most of 2005 and 2006, she organized international teaching tours for and traveled with the esteemed Tibetan Buddhist master, Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche until Rinpoche’s death in 2006. Amy then became a touring teacher for the FPMT (the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition). From 2008-2014, Amy was Director of Milarepa Center in Barnet, Vermont. 
Amy has also had the good fortune to visit Tibet in 1987 and again in 2001 as a pilgrimage leader for the Institute of Noetic Science in the United States. She has also led pilgrimages to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Darjeeling, and Sikkim for the Liberation Prison Project and Milarepa Center. 
Amy was ordained as a Buddhist nun in June 2000 by the great Tibetan master, Ven. Choden Rinpoche, and has been teaching extensively since 1992. Her teaching style emphasizes a practical approach to integrating Buddhist philosophy into everyday life. She is happy to help people connect with meditation and mindfulness in an effort to gain a refreshing perspective on normally stressful living. Amy’s courses and retreats focus on establishing and maintaining a meditation and mindfulness practice, death and dying, overcoming anxiety and depression, battling addiction, dealing with self-esteem issues, and cultivating compassion and loving kindness. She is also often involved in leading a variety of retreats. 
Amy is the co-author of Buddhism in a Nutshell, and a contributor to Living in the Path, a series of online courses produced by FPMT. 
Based in the United States, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Amy teaches and leads retreats and pilgrimages around the world. Her teaching schedule and other information can be found at www.AmyMiller.com.

Venerable Connie Miller Biography

Venevenerable Connie Millerrable 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 America since 1982. She assisted our namesake, Lama 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.

Respectfully known as the ‘Mother’of Essential Education, Connie translates Buddhist philosophy and wisdom into simple terms to benefit all cultures and walks of life. In May of this year she co-facilitated ‘What is EE?’ at the Latin American Essential Education Conference in Mexico and will be teaching and training at the EE Gathering in Toulouse, France this summer.

Venerable Robina Courtin Biography

Ordained since the late 1970s, Robina Courtin has worked full time since then for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's FPMT. 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.