Dharma Friendship Foundation sponsors guest teachers to teach Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. Our guest teachers and spiritual advisors have included the following:
OUR SUPREME INSPIRATION His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Although His Holiness has never taught directly at our Center, DFF members have attended his teachings worldwide, and as the teacher of our teachers, his presence is felt at DFF on a daily basis. His Holiness was born in 1935 in Amdo, Tibet, and recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet in 1937. He was awarded the degree of Geshe Lharampa, shortly before fleeing to India during the Chinese military takeover of Tibet in 1959. Over the course of the past five decades, His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., (including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989) in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility, and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books. >MORE
In the Snowy Mountain Paradise
You’re the Source of Good and Happiness
Powerful Tenzin Gyatso Chenresig
May you stay until samsara ends.
DFF'S SPIRITUAL TEACHERS
Gen Lamrimpa was born in Tibet in 1936 and became a refugee in India after the 1959 uprising against Communist Chinese rule. In 1985, he was invited by Alan Wallace (DFF's founder and first Director) to teach calm abiding meditation in Seattle, and the Dharma Friendship Foundation was founded to support his teachings. An accomplished meditator and a true yogi, he was always humble and unostentatious, having meditated in a stone and mud hut in the mountains above Dharamsala, India, for many years before coming to the American Northwest. He led a one-year samatha retreat at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center, providing earnest Western practitioners the possibility to practice under his guidance. His book Calming the Mind (Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York), first published as Samatha Meditation, is the record of some of the teachings he gave during this time. Realizing Emptiness (Snow Lion), a collection of edited transcripts of further teachings, was published in 1999, and Transcending Time, the Kalacakra Six-Session Guru Yoga (Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA) was published in 2012. After teaching in the U.S. for several years, Gen Lamrimpa returned to India to continue his practice of solitary meditation in Sikkim, India. “Gen la” passed away in meditation in 2004. >MORE
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Thubten Chodron was born in 1950 and grew up near Los Angeles, CA. She graduated with a BA in History from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971. After traveling throughout 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 postgraduate work in Education while working as a teacher in the Los Angeles City School System. In 1975, she attended a meditation course given by Venerable Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and subsequently went to their monastery in Nepal to continue to study and practice Buddhism. In 1977, she received the sramanerika (novice) ordination, and in 1986, went to Taiwan to take the bhikshuni (full) ordination. She studied and practiced Buddhism of the Tibetan tradition for many years in India and Nepal, and directed the spiritual program at Lama Tsong Khapa Institute in Italy for nearly two years. She studied three years at Dorje Pamo Monastery in France and was resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore. Venerable Chodron teaches worldwide and is the author of several books, including Open Heart, Clear Mind; Buddhism for Beginners; Taming the Mind; Working with Anger; and How To Free Your Mind: Tara The Liberator. She also recorded a series entitled “Guided Meditations on the Lamrim.” Ven. Chodron was Spiritual Director of DFF from 1992-2002, and Spiritual Advisor for 3 years following that. Ven. Chodron is founder of Sravasti Abbey, a monastery located in Newport, Washington. She emphasizes the practical application of the Buddha's teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. >MORE
Yangsi Rinpoche was recognized at the age of six as the reincarnation of Geshe Ngawang Gendun, a renowned scholar and practitioner from Western Tibet. Rinpoche trained in the traditional monastic system for over twenty-five years, graduating in 1995 with the highest degree of Geshe Lharampa from Sera Je Monastery in South India. Rinpoche then went on to complete his studies at Gyume Tantric College. Rinpoche came to the West in 1998 with the particular wish to benefit Western students of the Buddhadharma and has travelled and taught extensively throughout America and Europe. Rinpoche was a resident teacher at Deer Park Buddhist Center in Madison, Wisconsin for five years.
In 2005, Yangsi Rinpoche founded Maitripa College, a Buddhist university located in Portland, Oregon. Rinpoche currently serves as President and Professor of Buddhist Studies at Maitripa. Rinpoche is also the Spiritual Director of Ganden Shedrup Ling Buddhist Center, San Juan, Puerto Rico as well as Dharma Friendship Foundation located in Seattle, Washington. Rinpoche is the author of Practicing the Path: A Commentary on the Lamrim Chenmo, published by Wisdom Publications in 2003. Rinpoche teaches in English and is admired for his deep understanding of the Dharma and its unique presentation that continues to make the ancient wisdom of the Buddha relevant to modern times. Rinpoche is an inspiration to many for embodying the wisdom, kindness, and compassion of the Buddhist path. >MORE
VISITING TEACHERS AND CLASS FACILITATORS
(Monks and nuns listed by year of ordination)
Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen was born in 1923 in the eastern Tibet province of Kham, and ordained as a Buddhist monk at age 7. When he was 16, he undertook a 33-day journey across 25 mountain passes to reach the Ganden Monastery near Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. He studied there for the next two decades. In 1975 he moved to the United States and taught Tibetan language, meditation and religious studies at UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. At the urging of his students, he formed Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center in Los Angeles. He passed away in February, 2009. >MORE
Venerable Havanpola Ratanasara was born in 1920 in Havanpola, Sri Lanka. A monk since age 11, he earned a BA in Pali and in Philosophy at the University of Ceylon, an MA in education from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of London. He served as an executive of numerous Buddhist organizations in Sri Lanka and in California. He passed away on May 26, 2000 in Los Angeles. >MORE
Geshe Lhundrup Sopa was born in 1923, in Tsang, Tibet, and was ordained as a novice monk at the age of 9. He was one of the last surviving Tibetan teachers originally educated in Tibet prior to 1959. He trained and taught at some of the most renowned monasteries in Tibet and in 1959 was chosen to be one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s debate examiners. He was the founder and resident teacher of Deer Park Buddhist Center and Evam Monastery in Madison, Wisconsin. He was a professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin for approximately 30 years, and was the teacher of some of the foremost American scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, including Jeffrey Hopkins, Jose Cabezon, and John Makransky. He taught several times at DFF and was a brilliant scholar and a well-loved teacher. He was the author of many books, including Cutting Through Appearances: Practice and Theory of Tibetan Buddhism; Peacock in the Poison Grove: Introduction to Mental Training Practice and Steps on the Path to Enlightenment: A Commentary on the Lam Rim Chenmo, Vol. I-V. He passed away on August 28, 2014. >MORE
Geshe Yeshe Tobden was born in 1926 near Lhasa, Tibet, and became a monk at age twelve. After the Chinese invasion of his homeland in 1959, he was arrested, but escaped, and spent two years crossing the Tibetan Plateau on foot until reaching the border with India. He completed his geshe studies in India, and spent several years teaching at the university in Varanasi. In 1970, he entered solitary retreat in a small hut on the mountain above McLeod Ganj, where he spent most of the remainder of his life, except for a few trips to the west at the request of His Holiness. He became resident teacher at Istituto Lama Tsong Khapa in Italy. Geshe-la passed away in 1999. He is the author of The Way of Awakening, A Commentary on Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara (Wisdom). >MORE
Ganden Jangste Choje Rinpoche, (formerly Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche), was born in Tibet in 1934. Rinpoche was ordained as a monk at the age of seven. He entered Sera Je monastery at seventeen and obtained his Geshe Lharampa degree in 1979. Following this, he entered Gyume Tantric University and two years later became master of discipline. In 1985 His Holiness the Dalai Lama appointed him abbot of Gyume, a position he held for 6 years. Since then he has taught extensively in India and the West. Ganden Jangste Choje is the root guru of Yangsi Rinpoche. >MORE
Khensur Rinpoche, Geshe Wangdak was born in 1934 in Eastern Tibet. Khensur Rinpoche entered Ba Zingon Monastery at age 10 and Drepung Monastic University at age 18. He received teachings in all four Tibetan traditions. After 25 years of study, he earned the highest honors degree of Geshe Lharampa in 1959. Rinpoche then taught Tantra and Sutra at Namgyal Monastery for 14 years. In 1991, H.H. the Dalai Lama appointed Rinpoche as Abbot of Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York. Rinpoche passed away in peaceful meditation on March 6, 2022. >MORE
Venerable Panchen Otrul Rinpoche was born into a nomadic family in Kham, Tibet, around the year 1939. In 1951, he was taken to Lhasa as a possible re-incarnation of the Panchen Lama who had died in 1937. In 1959, when the Chinese Communists took control of Tibet, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche was put in a concentration camp. In 1960, he escaped to India. There he completed his formal studies, studying Sanskrit as well, at Varanasi University. In 1995, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche traveled to Mongolia with His Holiness the Dalai Lama who asked him to stay and teach dharma to the Mongolian people. Since 1995, he has travelled there each year for two months in order to help with the re-establishment of Buddhism in Mongolia. In 2001, he established the Maitreya Charity to support his extensive altruistic projects in India and Mongolia. >MORE
Achok Rinpoche was born in 1944 in the Amdo province of Tibet & was identified at the age of two by the Panchen Lama as the fourth incarnation of Achok Geshe Sonam Chopel, a highly revered lama of 15th century Tibet. After studying in Amchok Tsanney Gompa and Gaden Monasteries, he and his teacher escaped to India in 1959 after the invasion of Lhasa. Rinpoche continued his Buddhist philosophical studies in the BuzaDuar Transit camp for exiled Tibetan monks and lamas in the Indian state of West Bengal. Rinpoche was the Abbot of re-established Tashi Kyil Monastery. He then worked for the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives for 14 years and received his Geshe Lharmapa's degree. Rinpoche taught Tibetan Language and Philosophies in Austria for two years, and then was the Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery for a time. >MORE
Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born in Thami, Nepal, in 1946. At the age of three he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama. From 1956 to 1959 Zopa Rinpoche studied at Domo Monastery in Tibet. Zopa Rinpoche then fled Chinese oppression in Tibet and continued his study and practice in Tibetan refugee camps in India, where he met Lama Yeshe, who became his principal teacher. In 1969 the Lamas began teaching Buddhism to Westerners at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, and in 1974 began travelling the world to spread the Dharma. Lama Zopa Rinpoche is currently the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), providing leadership for 155 centers in 34 countries worldwide (2009). Rinpoche is co-founder of the Maitreya Project and the inspiration behind the world wide Relics Tour. Lama Zopa is the author of numerous books published by Wisdom Publications, including The Door to Satisfaction, Heart Advice of a Tibetan Buddhist Master, and How to be Happy. >MORE
Venerable Palden Gyatso was born in 1933 and raised in a small Tibetan village. In 1951, he was ordained as a monk at Drepung Monastery, on the outskirts of Lhasa. In 1959, Palden was jailed along with thousands of other monks. For the next 33 years, Ven. Gyatso endured physical torture, forced labor and Communist indoctrination. Throughout his imprisonment, Palden resisted the Chinese repression and served as an inspiration to his fellow inmates. Released on August 25, 1992, from Drapchi prison in Lhasa, Ven. Gyatso has since devoted his entire life to the cause of human rights. In 1997 Ven. Gyatso's story, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk (Grove Press) was published. >MORE
Khensur Jhado Rinpoche (Tenzin Jungne) was born in 1954 to a nomadic family living in the area of Namtso Lake, north of Lhasa, Tibet. At the age of three he was recognized and enthroned as the 6th incarnation of the abbot of Jhado Monastery. After fleeing Tibet in 1959, Rinpoche took his vows as a novice monk from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1964 and his full ordination vows from the late Ling Rinpoche in 1973. From 1972 until 1990, Rinpoche studied at Sera Je Monastery in South India. In 1991, he attained the degree of Geshe Lharampa, the highest level of education in the Geluk tradition. He then continued his studies at Gyuto Tantric College in lower Dharamsala. From 1992 until 1996, Rinpoche served as a teacher at Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, the personal monastery of H.H. the Dalai Lama. In 1997, Rinpoche was appointed to the post of Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, and served the institution in that capacity until 2004. He currently teaches Buddhism worldwide and is the Spiritual Guide to Fundacion Tashi Delek in Spain. >MORE
Venerable Tenzin Palmo was born in the London in June 1943. She moved to India at 20, where she taught English at a school for young tulku lamas for a few months before meeting her root lama, the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche. In 1964 she became only the second Western woman to be ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, receiving the name Drubgyu Tenzin Palmo, or 'Glorious Lady who Upholds the Doctrine of the Practice Succession'. In 1973 Tenzin Palmo received the full bhikshuni ordination in Hong Kong, one of the first Western women to do so. Venerable Tenzin Palmo is the founder and director of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India. She is famous for her twelve-year retreat in a cave in the mountains of Lahaul, India chronicled in the book Cave in the Snow by Vickie MacKenzie. Venerable Palmo is the author of Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism (Snow Lion). >MORE
Ven. Geshe Kalsang Damdul studied at the Central School for Tibetans in Mussoorie, India, after his escape from Tibet. In 1973 he continued his education at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala where he studied all the major Buddhist texts. He received his Master of Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra) degree and was also awarded the Master of Madhyamika degree. Since 1987, Geshe-la has served as Assistant Director for the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics under the direct administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1995, he received his geshe degree from Drepung Loseling Monastery in South India. Spiritual advisor of the Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association and founder and resident teacher at the Shakyamuni Buddhist Center in Portland OR, he has also taught at Portland State University as a visiting Tibetan scholar. >MORE
Geshe Thupten Phelgye was born in 1956 and became a monk at Seraje Monastic University in 1973. He received the novice ordination from the senior tutor to H.H. the Dalai lama (the late Kyabje Ling Rinpoche) in 1974. He received the bhikshu ordination from H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1977. In 1979 he was appointed as head teacher at the monastic school. He also studied medicine in 1981 and became the chief health worker at the monastic health center saving hundreds of lives from tuberculosis. He has been campaigning for vegetarianism since 1984, when he saw the cruelty of a slaughter-house. In 1993 H.H. the Dalai Lama inspired him to teach Dharma in the West, however he wanted to do an extensive retreat before he taught others. Therefore with blessings and guidance from H.H. the Dalai lama, he went to the hermitage retreat on the mountains of Dharamsala until December 1997. In 1998 with blessing at a private audience with the Dalai Lama, he founded the Universal Compassion Movement and openly campaigned for vegetarianism around the world. >MORE
Geshe Damdul Namgyal was born in 1959 in a refugee camp in India, shortly after his parents followed the Dalai Lama into exile after the Chinese communist invasion of Tibet. He is a fully ordained monk who completed all the traditional studies and obtained the degree of Geshe Lharampa (Doctor of Philosophy), with honors in 1992. He also holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature, and has pursued higher studies in Western philosophy and psychology. Geshe-la is currently the principal of the monastery school at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mungod, India. >MORE
Venerable Sangye Khadro. A Buddhist nun since 1974, Ven. Sangye Khadro (Kathleen MacDonald) trained in Nepal and India for many years. She was resident teacher at Buddha House in Australia and has been the resident teacher at Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore for over ten years. Her books include How to Meditate (Wisdom). >MORE
Venerable Robina Courtin was born in 1944 and ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 at Kopan Monastery. Ven. Robina is director of the Liberation Prison Project and teaches at Buddhist centers around the world. Until recently, she was the editor of Mandala magazine. Ven. Robina’s work is the subject of two documentary films – On the Road Home (1998), and Chasing Buddha (2000). >MORE
Ajahn Amaro was born in Kent, England in 1956, obtaining a BSc in Psychology and Physiology at the University of London. In 1978, he travelled to Thailand and visited Wat Pah Nanachat where he met the great Thai master Ajahn Chah who ordained him as a Bhikku the following year (1979). He returned to England and joined Ajahn Sumedho at the newly established Chithurst Monastery. He resided for many years at the Amaravati Buddhist Centre north of London, making trips to California every year during the 1990s. Since June of 1996 he has lived at Abhayagiri Monastery. He has written an account of his 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara called Tudong - the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain, now available for free distribution and he published another book, Small Boat, Great Mountain, in 2003 that is also available for free distribution. >MORE
Venerable Tsen-la was born in Lhasa, Tibet. In 1965, like many other Tibetans, she had to move to Kathmandu, Nepal due to the Chinese invasion of Tibet. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1979 by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu. Ven. Tsenla has taught Buddhist meditation courses there and around the world, as well as acting as translator for many Tibetan Buddhist teachers. She also established the Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal. >MORE
Venerable Tsultrim Palmo was born in Poland, received a degree in psychology, and raised two children before receiving the sramanerika vows in 1982 and the bhikshuni vows in 1984. She is based at Gampo Abbey in Canada, where she served as Director.
Venerable Tenzin Kacho was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1985 and worked for many years at Thubten Dhargye Ling Buddhist Center in Los Angeles. She is currently the resident teacher at Thubten Shedrup Ling Buddhist Center in Colorado Springs. Tenzin-la completed her MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan language in December 2004 from Naropa University. She has been the Buddhist Chaplain at the US Air Force Academy since Fall 1999. Interestingly, she is considered a layperson there, because she is not in the military.
Ajahn Santikaro, a graduate of the University of Illinois, served in the Peace Corps in Thailand for over four years. A bhikkhu since 1985, he trained at Suan Mokkh, the monastery founded by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, a leading Thai teacher, scholar, and reformer. He became Ajahn Buddhadasa’s primary English translator and was abbot of Suan Atammayatarama, a training center for foreign monks in Thailand. Ven. Santikaro translated and edited Mindfulness with Breathing and Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree. Active in inter-religious dialogue and socially-engaged Buddhism, he gives lucid Dharma talks and guides students around the world in meditation practice.
Mitra Bishop-sensei is a Dharma heir of Ven. Philip Kapleau-roshi, author of The Three Pillars of Zen, and with whom she trained since 1976. Ordained as a Zen priest in 1986, she completed her formal training at the Rochester Zen Center in 1992 under Kapleau-roshi's successor, Ven. Bodhin Kjolhede-sensei, then went to Okayama, Japan, where she continued to practice under the guidance of the Ven. Harada Shodo-roshi, Abbot of Sogen-ji, a Rinzai Zen temple. When Mitra-sensei returned to the United States in 1996, she was formally sanctioned to teach by Kapleau-roshi, and in that same year was asked to come to Hidden Valley Zen Center to teach. Concurrently, she established Mountain Gate, a monastic training center in the mountains of northern New Mexico. >MORE
Ajahn Jitindriya was born in Sydney, Australia in 1963. She studied Visual Arts in college and later travelled through Southeast Asia, India & Europe. While living in England in 1987, she became seriously interested in meditation and Buddhism. She joined the Amaravati Community, taking novice ordination in 1988 and higher ordination in 1990. Since then, she has lived and practiced in various communities of this order—spending time in England, Australia, and the USA.
Venerable Yarphel discovered the dharma in 1973 and met his first teacher, Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen in December of 1976. A few months later, he met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche and helped build the first retreat center buildings at Vajrapani where he was director for 4 1/2 years, and later at Land of Calm Abiding. In 2001, he received his ordination vows from Choden Rinpoche. In 2003, he moved to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's land (Amitabha Pure Land) in Washington state, first to help with construction, and later, with Rinpoche's blessing to enter into solitary retreat. Ven. Yarphel has had over 40 teachers in the last 32 years from all four of the Tibetan traditions. All of his main teachers are in the Geluk tradition and are closely connected to his root gurus, Geshe Gyeltsen, Lama Yeshe, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. >MORE
The Tibetan nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery (KGN) visited DFF as part of their North American tour. This tour marked the first time a troupe of nuns has traveled to the West introducing audiences to the central role of women in the spiritual life of Tibet. KGN is a part of a new generation of nunneries established in exile. It was founded in 1986 in Kathmandu under the direction of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Historically, Tibetan nuns have been denied access to scholastic training. That has changed with the establishment of the KGN nunnery. The nuns of the KGN have had the doors of the classical Buddhist education opened to them. They are provided with highly trained scholars as their teachers and they memorize texts, study, and debate in the grand tradition of Tibetan monastic culture. >MORE
Ven. Tenzin Tsepal was first introduced to meditation in high school in the 70s. While working as a dental hygienist in Seattle and hospital administration in Yakima, she practiced and attended retreats in the Vipassana tradition. In 1995, she found Dharma Friendship Foundation and teachings with Venerable Chodron. She attended the Life As A Western Buddhist Nun conference in India as a lay volunteer in 1996. Following a life-changing 3-month Vajrasattva
retreat in 1998, Tsepal lived in Dharmsala, India for two years where she further explored the idea of monastic life. She received novice ordination as a Buddhist nun with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in March of 2001.Since ordination, she has been immersed in the full time residential Buddhist Studies Program at Chenrezig Institute in Queensland, Australia, principally with Khensur Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering. As a qualified FPMT teacher, Venerable Tsepal was appointed the Western Teacher at Chenrezig from 2004 to 2014, teaching the Discovering Buddhism series, tutoring for the general program and leading retreats. In 2015, she tutored three subjects for the FPMT Basic Program. Venerable Tsepal arrived at Sravasti Abbey mid-January for the 2016 winter retreat. She is currently living at the Abbey, and is sincerely exploring joining the community.
Venerable Thubten Tarpa is an American practicing in the Tibetan tradition since 2000 when she took formal refuge. She has lived at Sravasti Abbey under the guidance of Venerable Thubten Chodron since May of 2005. She was the first person to ordain at Sravasti Abbey, taking her sramanerika and sikasamana ordinations with Venerable Chodron as her preceptor in 2006.Click here for pictures of her ordination. Her other main teachers are H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya and H.E. Dagmo Kusho. She has had the good fortune to receive teachings from some of Venerable Chodron's teachers as well.Before moving to Sravasti Abbey, Venerable Tarpa (then Jan Howell) worked as a Physical Therapist/Athletic Trainer for 30 years in colleges, hospital clinics, and private practice settings. In this career she had the opportunity to help patients and teach students and colleagues, which was very rewarding. She has B.S. degrees from Michigan State and University of Washington and an M.S. degree from the University of Oregon. She coordinates the Abbey's building projects.On December 20, 2008 Ven. Tarpa traveled to Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights California receiving bhikhshuni ordination. The temple is affiliated with Taiwan's Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order.
Ven. Chonyi met Venerable Chodron in the mid-1990s, taking refuge with her at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle in 1997. After completing a three-month Vajrasattva retreat the following year, she made a strong commitment to study and practice Dharma as a lay student. After moving to Idaho in 2001, she was a founder and leader of the Coeur d'Alene Dharma Friends, a founder of Friends of Sravasti Abbey, and a frequent Abbey visitor before realizing her extraordinarily precious circumstances. She moved to the Abbey in June 2007 and took sramanerika and sikasamana vows in May 2008. (Click here for pictures of her ordination.) She received bhikshuni ordination at Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan in 2011. (Photos here.) Ven. Chonyi's formal education was in theatre, and she worked for many years as a performer, publicist, fundraiser, and producer in the performing arts. She was a Reiki teacher and practitioner for nineteen years, was the communications coordinator for The Reiki Alliance, and served for eight years as the Managing Editor for Reiki Magazine International. At the Abbey, Ven. Chonyi is involved with publicity and "inviting generosity," oversees the vegetable garden, and manages the kitchen.
Venerable Jigme met Venerable Chodron in 1998 at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center. She took refuge in 1999 and attended Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle. She moved to the Abbey in 2008 and took sramanerika and sikasamana vows with Venerable Chodron as her preceptor in March 2009. Click here for pictures of her ordination. She received bhikshuni ordination at Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan in 2011. (Photos here.) Before moving to Sravasti Abbey, Venerable Jigme (then Dianne Pratt) worked as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in private practice in Seattle. In her career as a nurse, she worked in hospitals, clinics and educational settings. At the Abbey, Ven. Jigme is a photographer, technical consultant, thanks donors, creates flyers and other graphics, and manages the prison outreach program.
Venerable Gyalten Mindrol met the Dharma through her father when she was ten years old and came to Tibetan Buddhism at the age of seventeen. She joined the FPMT family in her mid-twenties, first attending Basic Program courses with Geshe Tsulga at Kurukulla Center in Boston and Ven. George Churinoff at Land of Medicine Buddha in California. She has also received numerous teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche, Geshe Lhundub Sopa Rinpoche, and Gyume Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche, as well as Ven. Sarah Thresher and Ven. Robina Courtin. She joined the staff of FPMT International Office as editor working in educational materials development in 2005, and later that year took novice ordination with Choden Rinpoche. She has led Nyung Ne fasting retreats at Land of Medicine Buddha and currently visits a prison near Vancouver, WA, as well as offering "Discovering Buddhism" courses as part of Maitripa College’s Jokhang program. She has been a student of Yangsi Rinpoche at Maitripa College since 2006.
Rinchen Khandro Choegyal, the sister-in-law of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was the president of the Tibetan Women's Association for many years, and is currently the Minister of Health and Education in the Tibetan government-in-exile. See "My True Religion Is Kindness", a 1992 interview with Rinchen Khandro Chogyel by Venerable Thubten Chodron.
Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., served for a decade as the interpreter for the Dalai Lama. A Buddhist scholar and the author of more than thirty-five books and translations, he is Emeritus Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist studies at the University of Virginia, where he founded the largest academic program of Tibetan Buddhist studies in the West. >MORE
Alexander Berzin, Ph.D. received his doctorate from Harvard University. Dr. Berzin has translated and written many books on Buddhism, as well as translated oral teachings for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Serkong Rinpoche. He travels worldwide, often to third-world countries, to teach the Dharma and currently lives in Berlin. A vast compendium of his translated works can be found on the internet at The Berzin Archives. >MORE
Geshe Jamyang Tsultrim holds the geshe degree in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and a masters degree in Western psychology. He served an appointment as resident teacher at the Sakya Institute in India for several years. A former Buddhist monk, he is now a practicing psychotherapist. He also directs the Lojong Center in Olympia, Washington, where he gives regular teachings on Buddhist meditation. >MORE
Elizabeth Nappe, Ph.D. studied at the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center, and received her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. She spent two years in India as a Fulbright scholar. She has taught at the University of Virginia and has translated and edited many Dharma books, including Dependent Arising and Emptiness (Wisdom). She is currently co-director of the Tibetan Nuns Project and has been instrumental in the establishment of Dolma Ling Nunnery in India. >MORE
Anne Klein, Ph.D. holds a Doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, where she specialized in Tibetan Buddhism. As a Fulbright scholar, she studied Buddhist epistemology and soteriology with leading Geluk and Nyingma scholars in India and Nepal. Her books include Meeting the Great Bliss Queen (Wisdom). She was a lecturer at Stanford University and now is a professor at Rice University in Houston. >MORE
Tenzin Dechen Rochard has been a practicing Buddhist since 1984 and is a disciple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She was ordained as a nun by him in 1986 and remained within the monastic order for twelve years. She completed several three-month solitary retreats while in England during 1987-88. Then she went to India where she completed a traditional 10-year study programme in Buddhist philosophy at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala. Since her return to England as a lay-woman she has translated and edited the "insight" volume of Geshe Sopa’s oral commentary on Tsongkhapa's Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, Vol. 5, (forthcoming from Wisdom Publications). She is in a Ph.D program in Buddhist philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Dechen also teaches meditation, Buddhism, and Tibetan language in the UK and abroad.
Jhampa Shaneman, a disciple of Ling Rinpoche, studied and did retreat in Dharamsala, India, for many years before returning to Canada where he founded and is resident teacher at Thubten Choling Buddhist Center in Duncan, British Columbia . >MORE
Soo Hwa Yeo, from Singapore, studied at Amitabha Buddhist Centre and later in Dharamsala. She was director of Land of Medicine Buddha in California.
Lorraine Lester, originally from Seattle, has lived, studied, and practiced in India for many years. She was one of the retreatants at Gen Lamrimpa's calm abiding retreat at Cloud Mountain and has practiced meditation in retreats in India.
Vicki Mackenzie is a Dharma practitioner and author. Vicki's books include Reincarnation: The Boy Lama and Reborn in the West.
Dr. William Wilmot is a member of Osel Shen Phen Ling Buddhist Center in Missoula, Montana. Dr. Wilmot is a professor of communications at the University of Montana. He has led communication and conflict workshops nationally and at DFF.
Steven Vannoy, Ph.D. I first met Venerable Chodron in the summer of 1993 when I signed up for a retreat at Cloud Mountain with no idea of what I was getting into. I had done a little Tai Chi and taken a very casual meditation class, but I had not received any formal teaching on Buddhism. That event changed my life and continues to influence me every single day. I also had no idea that Ven. Chodron was living a few minutes from my house in Seattle as the spiritual director and resident teacher of Dharma Friendship Foundation. I quickly began attending events at the little house in the Greenlake neighborhood and remained involved in DFF, wearing various hats, for twenty years until I moved to the North East. Ven Chodron introduced me to Lama Zola Rinpoche, Geshe Sopa, and Yangsi Rinpoche, all of whom have been major influences on my life. While the Teachers deserve all the credit and more that we give them, I also want to express my gratitude for all of the community members who have come and gone at DFF and who have also had profound impact on my life.
Jordan Van Voast, M.Ac. (he/him) began practicing TM meditation in high school. He met his first Buddhist teacher, Venerable Thubten Chodron in 1991 and attended weekly classes for many years before moving to India, studying at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives with Geshe Sonam Rinchen, and Geshe Dawa, attending regular teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (2000-2002). He also completed a 3 month insight meditation course at Insight Meditation Society in 1999 with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzburg. He is the co-President of the Dharma Friendship under the spiritual guidance of Yangsi Rinpoche, and works as a community acupuncturist in Seattle. He has also been active in racial justice and climate activism for many years.