|Venerable Lama Thubten
Founder of FPMT
"We should develop the Mahayana mind, the inner, universal vehicle: respect others as we respect ourselves, put others in our place and share our time and energy with them, actually give ourselves to others. The ability to do this is our greatest gift and the highest human potential. Infinite kindness and sensitivity to the immediate and ultimate needs of others bring human totality -- something that each of us can definitely achieve."
by Jonathan Landaw
Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935 not far from Lhasa in the town of Tolung Dechen. Two hours away by horse was Chi-me Lung Gompa, home for about 100 nuns of the Gelug tradition. It had been a few years since their learned abbess and guru had passed away when Nenung Pawo Rinpoche, a Kagyu lama widely famed for his psychic powers came by their convent. They approached him and asked, "Where is our guru now?" He answered that in a nearby village there was a boy born at such and such a time, and if they investigated they would discover that he was their incarnated abbess. Following his advice, they found the young Lama Yeshe to whom they brought many offerings and gave the name Thondrub Dorje.
Afterwards the nuns would often take the young boy back to their convent to attend the various ceremonies and other religion functions held there. During these visits -- which would sometimes last for days at a time -- he often stayed in their shrine room and attended services with them. The nuns would also frequently visit him at this parents' home where he was taught the alphabet, grammar and reading by his uncle, Ngawang Norbu, a student geshe from Sera Monastery.
Even though the young boy loved his parents very much, he felt that their existence was full of suffering and did not want to live as they did. From a very early age he expressed the desire to lead a religious life. Whenever a monk would visit their home, he would beg to leave with him and join a monastery. Finally, when he was six years old, he received his parents' permission to join Sera Je, a college at one of the three great Gelug monastic centers located in the vicinity of Lhasa. He was taken there by his uncle who promised the young boy's mother that he would take good care of him. The nuns offered him robes and the other necessities of life he required at Sera, while the uncle supervised him strictly and made him study very hard.
He stayed at Sera until he was twenty-five years old. There he received spiritual instruction based on the educational traditions brought from India to Tibet over a thousand years ago. From Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the Junior Tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he recieved teachings on the Lam-rim graded course to enligthenment. ... At the age of eight he was ordained as a novice monk by the venerable Purchog Jampa Rinpoche. During all his training one of Lama Yeshe's recurring prayers was to be able some day to bring the peaceful benefits of spiritual practice to those beings ignorant of the dharma.
This phase of his education came to an end in 1959. As Lama Yeshe himself said, "In that year the Chinese kindly told us that it was time to leave Tibet and meet the outside world." Escaping through Bhutan, he eventually reached Northeast India where he met up with many other Tibetan refugees. At the settlement camp of Buxaduar he continued his studies from where they had been interrupted. ... At the age of twenty-eight, he received full monk's ordination from Kyabje Ling Rinpoche.
One of Lama Yeshe's gurus in both Tibet and Buxaduar was Geshe Rabten, a highly learned practitioner famous for his single-minded concentration and powers of logic. This compassionate guru had a disciple named Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and, at Geshe Rabten's suggestion, Zopa Rinpoche began to receive additional instruction from Lama Yeshe. Zopa Rinpoche was a young boy at the time and the servant caring for him wanted very much to entrust him permanently to Lama Yeshe. Upon consultation with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, this arrangement was decide upon.
[Lama Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche's contact with Westerners began in 1965. The lamas, with permission from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and their first Western student American Zina Rachevsky took residence near the Boudhanath stupa several miles from Kathmandu, Nepal. There they founded the Nepal Mahayana Gompa Centre in 1969. The lamas began travelling extensively throughout the West, bringing the precious dharma to many students.]
On March 3, 1984, Lama Yeshe passed away in Los Angeles, USA, at the age of forty-nine. He had suffered from chronic rheumatic heart disease for many years but despite this and against doctors' recommendations, he spent the last years of his life working tirelessly and without interruption for the benefit of others. Lama Yeshe was a living example of the path he taught and he moved the hearts of thousands of people during the fifteen brief years that he lived among Westerners.
From Jonathan Landaw's Afterword in
|Jonathan Landaw in the forword
Wisdom Energy by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Wisdom Publications, Boston, MA, USA, 1993, 152 pages.
US$8.95 ISBN #0-86171-008-8
and the Afterword in
Return to the Teachers Page
Return to Osel Shen Phen Ling
FPMT | Gallery | Prayers &
Suggested Reading | Links | Teachings | Schedule & Projects
Feedback to our Webmaster