Tibetan Buddhist enlightened teachers & ritual masters
In Buddhism the concept of Spiritual Teacher is of supreme importance.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Role of the teacher in Buddhist traditions
- 2 - Vajrayana Buddhism’s Tantric teachings
- 3 - How to find a Buddhist teacher ?
- 4 - Well-known Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teachers
- 4.1 - Nagarjuna
- 4.2 - Yeshe Tsogyal
- 4.3 - Geshe
- 4.4 - Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
- 4.5 - Mandāravā
- 4.6 - Tsultrim Allione
- 4.7 - Thubten Chodron
- 4.8 - Machig Labdrön
- 4.9 - Atiśa
- 4.10 - Pema Chödrön
- 4.11 - Lama Gonpo Tseten
- 4.12 - Tsoknyi Rinpoche
- 4.13 - Thubten Jigme Norbu
- 4.14 - Namgyal Rinpoche
- 4.15 - Akong Rinpoche
- 4.16 - Chime Tulku
- 4.17 - Garchen Rinpoche
- 4.18 - Yumo Mikyo Dorje
- 4.19 - Lobsang Pelden Tenpe Dronme
- 4.20 - Bokar Tulku Rinpoche
- 4.21 - Tatsag
- 4.22 - Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche
- 4.23 - Second Beru Khyentse
- 4.24 - Alexander Berzin (scholar)
- 4.25 - Herbert V. Günther
- 4.26 - Ratnākaraśānti
- 4.27 - Kyabje Rinpoche
- 4.28 - Donald S. Lopez Jr.
- 4.29 - Chandragomin
- 4.30 - Tenzin Palmo
- 4.31 - Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan
- 4.32 - Rinchen Zangpo
- 4.33 - Reginald Ray
- 4.34 - Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche
- 4.35 - Jinpa Sonam
- 4.36 - Patrick Gaffney (Buddhist)
- 4.37 - John Crook (ethologist)
- 4.38 - Ayu Khandro
- 4.39 - Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche
- 4.40 - Ünyön Künga Zangpo
- 4.41 - Thupten Phelgye
- 4.42 - Yeshe Lobsang Tenpai Gonpo
- 4.43 - Changling Rinpoche XV
- 4.44 - John Makransky
- 4.45 - Thubten Gyatso (Australian monk)
- 4.46 - Jangsem Sherap Zangpo
- 4.47 - Kelsang Wangmo
- 4.48 - Tenzin Priyadarshi
- 4.49 - Judith Simmer-Brown
- 4.50 - Losang Samten
- 4.51 - Ken McLeod
- 4.52 - Rinchen Chok of Ma
- 4.53 - Elio Guarisco
- 4.54 - Nick Ribush
- 4.55 - Ngawang Samten
- 4.56 - Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen
- 4.57 - Gomchen Pema Chewang Tamang
- 4.58 - Jigdal Dagchen Sakya
Role of the teacher in Buddhist traditions
The teacher sometimes called “Guru” or “Lama” teaches the spiritual and religious knowledge.
Guru can be anyone who teach this knowledge and not generally need to be Acariya or Upajjhaya.
Buddha is called as Lokagaru, meaning “the teacher of the world”.
In various Buddhist traditions, there are equivalent words for guru, which include
- Shastri (teacher)
- Kalyana Mitra (friendly guide, Pali: Kalyāṇa-mittatā)
- Acarya (master)
- Vajra-Acarya (hierophant).
The guru is literally understood as “weighty” and it refers to the Buddhist tendency to increase the weight of canons and scriptures with their spiritual studies.
In Mahayana Buddhism, a term for Buddha is Bhaisajya guru, which refers to “medicine guru”, or “a doctor who cures suffering with the medicine of his teachings”.
Vajrayana Buddhism’s Tantric teachings
In Vajrayana Buddhism’s Tantric teachings, the rituals require the guidance of a teacher.
The teacher is considered essential and to the Buddhist devotee, the guru is the “enlightened teacher and ritual master”.
The teacher is known as the vajra guru (literally “diamond guru”).
In Vajrayana Buddhist schools found in Tibet and South Asia, initiations or ritual empowerments are necessary before the student is permitted to practice a particular tantra.
There are Four Kinds of Lama (Guru) or spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism:
- gangzak gyüpé lama — the individual teacher who is the holder of the lineage
- gyalwa ka yi lama — the teacher which is the word of the buddhas
- nangwa da yi lama — the symbolic teacher of all appearances
- rigpa dön gyi lama — the absolute teacher, which is rigpa, the true nature of mind
How to find a Buddhist teacher ?
In this short video Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo explains in simple and kind words how to find a Buddhist teacher:
Well-known Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teachers
This is the life and accomplishments of some well-known Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teachers around the world past and present.
Nāgārjuna is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is considered to be the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Nāgārjuna is also credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras and, in some sources, with having revealed these scriptures in the world, having recovered them from the nāgas. Furthermore, he is traditionally supposed to have written several treatises on rasayana as well as serving a term as the head of Nālandā.
Yeshe Tsogyal (also known as “Victorious Ocean of Wisdom”, “Wisdom Lake Queen”, was the Mother of Tibetan Buddhism. Some sources regard her as a wife of Trisong Detsen, emperor of Tibet. Her main karmamudrā consort was Padmasambhava, a founder-figure of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She is known to have revealed terma with Padmasambhava and was also the main scribe for these terma. Later, Yeshe Tsogyal also hid many of Padmasambhava’s terma on her own, under the instructions of Padmasambhava for future generations.
Geshe or geshema is a Tibetan Buddhist academic degree for monks and nuns. The degree is emphasized primarily by the Gelug lineage, but is also awarded in the Sakya and Bön traditions. The geshema degree is the same as a geshe degree, but is called a geshema degree because it is awarded to women.
Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
Thubten Zopa Rinpoche is a Nepali lama from Khumbu, the entryway to Mount Everest.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a Gelugpa lineage holder, having received teachings from many of the great Gelugpa masters.
His Root Guru is HH Trijang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso since he was a young boy studying in Buxa, India.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a devoted student of the 14th Dalai Lama and has outlined that offering service to the Dalai Lama as much as possible and to be able to fulfill his wishes is the highest priority for the FPMT organization.
Mandarava was, along with Yeshe Tsogyal, one of the two principal consorts of great 8th century Indian tantric teacher Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), a founder-figure of Tibetan Buddhism, described as a ‘second Buddha’ by many practitioners. Mandarava is considered to be a female guru-deity in Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana.
Lama Tsultrim Allione is an author and teacher who has studied in Tibetan Buddhism’s Karma Kagyu lineage.
She was born in 1947 in Maine under the name Joan Rousmanière Ewing. She first travelled to India and Nepal in 1967, returned in 1969 and January 1970 she became one of the first American women to be ordained as a Tibetan nun.
She was given her vows by the Karmapa, from the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, who gave her the name Karma Tsultrim Chodron. Allione gave back her monastic vows four years later and married.
She has given birth to four children, one of whom died from sudden infant death syndrome.
Tsultrim Allione continued her studies and Buddhist practice, which led to the 1984 publication of her book Women of Wisdom, a collection of the namtar of six Tibetan Buddhist yogini such as Machig Labdrön, Ayu Khandro Dorje Paldron (1839–1953), Nangsa Obum, Jomo Menmo (1248–1283), Machig Ongjo and Drenchen Rema.
This is the work she’s most well known for and it has since been translated from English into several foreign languages and expanded in a revised 2nd edition.
In 1993, with her husband, David Petit, Tsultrim Allione founded Tara Mandala, a retreat center in southern Colorado, in the United States.
As well as offering retreats at Tara Mandala, Allione regularly teaches in the United States and in Europe.
Thubten Chodron, born Cheryl Greene, is an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, author, teacher, and the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey, the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the United States.
Chodron is a central figure in the reinstatement of the Bhikshuni ordination of women. She is a student of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, and other Tibetan masters.
She has published many books on Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and is the only nun who has co-authored a book with the Dalai Lama—Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions.
Machig Labdrön, or Singular Mother Torch from Lab”, 1055-1149) was a renowned 11th-century Tibetan tantric Buddhist practitioner, teacher and yogini who originated several Tibetan lineages of the Vajrayana practice of Chöd.
Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna was a Bengali Buddhist religious leader and master from the Indian subcontinent. He was one of the major figures in the spread of 11th-century Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism in Asia and inspired Buddhist thought from Tibet to Sumatra. In 1013 CE, he traveled to the Srivijaya kingdom and stayed there for 12 years and came back to India. He is recognised as one of the greatest figures of classical Buddhism, and Atisa’s chief disciple Dromtön was the founder of the Kadam School, one of the New Translation schools of Tibetan Buddhism, later supplanted by the Geluk tradition in the fourteenth century, adopting its teaching and absorbing its monasteries.
Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist.
She is an ordained nun, acharya and disciple of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Pema currently teaches in the United States and Canada and plans for an increased amount of time in solitary retreat under the guidance of Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche.
Pema is interested in helping establish the monastic tradition in the West, as well in continuing her work with Buddhists of all traditions, sharing ideas and teachings.
She has written several books: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”.
Lama Gonpo Tseten
Gonpo Tseten Rinpoche (1906–1991) was a Dzogchen master, author, painter, sculptor, and teacher of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Among Lama Gönpo Tseten’s artistic works are two murals in Clement Town, Dhera Dun, India: “Amitabha in Dewachen” at Tashi Gommo Gelugpa Monastery, and “Mount Meru and the Universe System” at the Nyingmapa Lamas College.
He also painted a large thangka of the Longchen Nyingtik Refuge Tree and smaller thangkas of Padmasambhava and Vajrakilaya, some of which he gave to Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.
Subsequently, the main figure of Guru Rinpoche of Lama Gönpo’s painting was used as the cover for the Padmakara Translation Group’s translation of White Lotus by the 1st Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche or Ngawang Tsoknyi Gyatso is a Nepalese Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author, and the founder of the Pundarika Foundation. He is the third Tsoknyi Rinpoche, having been recognized by the 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche. He is a tulku of the Drukpa Kagyü and Nyingma traditions and the holder of the Ratna Lingpa and Tsoknyi lineages.
Thubten Jigme Norbu
Thubten Jigme Norbu, recognised as the Taktser Rinpoche, was a Tibetan lama, writer, civil rights activist and professor of Tibetan studies and is the eldest brother of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. He was one of the first high-profile Tibetans to go into exile and was the first to settle in the United States.
Namgyal Rinpoche, Karma Tenzin Dorje (1931–2003), born Leslie George Dawson in Toronto, Canada, was a Tibetan Buddhist lama in the Karma Kagyu tradition.
Chöje Akong Tulku Rinpoche was a tulku in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and a founder of the Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland.
Chime Tulku Rinpoche is a Buddhist Tulku. Rinpoche was born in 1991 into the family of Jamyang Khechog, an official at Surmang Namgyal Tse monastery.
Garchen Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher in the Drikung Kagyu lineage. He is believed to be an incarnation of Siddha Gar Chodingpa, a heart-disciple of Jigten Sumgön, founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage in the thirteenth century CE. He is also believed to have incarnated as Mahasiddha Aryadeva in ancient India – the lotus-born disciple of Nagarjuna himself. He was known as Lonpo Gar, the minister of Tibetan dharma king Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century CE.
Yumo Mikyo Dorje
Yumo Mikyö Dorjé was a student of the Kashmiri scholar Somanātha and an 11th-century Kalachakra master.
Yumo Mikyö Dorjé is regarded as one of the earliest Tibetan articulators of a shentong view of śūnyatā — an understanding of the absolute radiant nature of reality.
Emphasized within the Kalachakra tantra and Gautama Buddha’s teachings on Buddha-nature in the so-called Third Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma of the Yogacara school of Buddhism philosophy; this view later became emblematic of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
Lobsang Pelden Tenpe Dronme
Lobsang Pelden Tenpe Dronme was a clergyman of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and the 7th Changkya Khutukhtu. He was the highest person of Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia and the fourth highest lamas of Tibetan Buddhism in general. He supported the Kuomintang and accompanied the Republic of China Government to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War in 1949. He was awarded titles by the Kuomintang and also received living expenses until his death.
Bokar Tulku Rinpoche
Bokar Tulku Rinpoche was heart-son of the Second Kalu Rinpoche and a holder of the Karma Kagyü and Shangpa Kagyü lineages.
The Tatsag or Tatsak lineage is a Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation lineage whose first member was Baso Chokyi Gyaltsen (1402–73). Since 1794 the Tatsag has been the owner of the Kundeling Monastery in Lhasa. There has been some controversy over the representative of the lineage in recent years.
Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche
Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche was a Tibetan lama and the Supreme Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. He received the highest Dzogchen teachings from Polu Khenpo Dorje, a direct disciple of Khenpo Ngakchung.”Kyabje Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, throneholder of the Dorje Drak monastery, accepted the position of the Supreme Head of Nyingmapa lineage, the “Old Translation Tradition” in Tibetan Buddhism. He is following Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche, Kyabje Mindroling Trichen Rinpoche, and then finally Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, who died late last year.”
Second Beru Khyentse
The Second Beru Khyentse (1947–), born Thupten Sherap is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the third reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892).
Alexander Berzin (scholar)
Alexander Berzin is a scholar, translator, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.
Herbert Vighnāntaka Günther was a German Buddhist philosopher and Professor and Head of the Department of Far Eastern Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. He held this position from the time he left India in 1964.
Ratnākaraśānti was one of the eighty-four Buddhist Mahāsiddhas and the chief debate-master at the monastic university of Vikramashila. At Vikramashila he was instructed by Nāropa, and taught both Atiśa and Maitrīpa. His texts include several influential commentaries to Buddhist tantras, as well as works of philosophy and logic.
Kyabje Khensur Kangurwa Lobsang Thubten Rinpoche, was a Buddhist monk, Abbot of Sera Jey Monastery, and the founder of Tibetan Buddhist Institute (Adelaide). Khensur means “former abbot” and Rinpoche means “precious teacher”.
Donald S. Lopez Jr.
Dr. Donald Sewell Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.
Chandragomin was an Indian Buddhist lay scholar who the Tibetan tradition believes challenged Chandrakirti. According to the Nepalese tradition, Chandragomin’s student was Ratnakirti. It is unclear when Chandragomin lived, with estimates ranging between 5th to 7th-century CE.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a bhikṣuṇī in the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
She is an author, teacher and founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.
She is best known for being one of the very few Western yoginis trained in the East, having spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation retreat.
On 16 February 2008, Tenzin Palmo received the title of Jetsunma (reverend lady) in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism by the head of the Drukpa Lineage, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa,.
Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan
Satish Chandra Vidyabhusan was a Bengali scholar of Sanskrit and Pali Language and principal of Sanskrit College.
Lochen Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055), also known as Mahaguru, was a principal lotsawa or translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan during the second diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. He was a student of the famous Indian master, Atisha. His associates included (Locheng) Legpai Sherab. Zangpo’s disciple Guge Kyithangpa Yeshepal wrote Zangpo’s biography. He is said to have built over one hundred monasteries in Western Tibet, including the famous Tabo Monastery in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, and Poo in Kinnaur.
Reginald “Reggie” Ray is an American Buddhist academic and teacher. He is the spiritual director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, a non-profit organization that he co-founded in 2005 “dedicated to the practice, study and preservation of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.” Ray, a student of Tibetan Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche, was a faculty member at Naropa University from 1974 until 2009 and teacher-in-residence at Shambhala Mountain Center from 1996–2004.
Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche
The Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche’ is a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, a holder of the religious lineage of Terchen Barway Dorje. Rinpoche is the founder of a Tibetan Buddhist center, Kunzang Palchen Ling, and the Raktrul Foundation, in Red Hook, New York.
Geshe Lharampa Jinpa Sonam is a Tibetan Buddhist philosopher and Spiritual Director for the Indiana Buddhist Center. Sonam was born on May 25, 1955, in Zanskar valley, Ladakh, in the Republic of India. In 1967, he became a monk at the Stagrimo Gompa, a Drukpa Kagyu monastery in Ladakh near Padum. He studied at this monastery for six years before joining the Drepung Gomang Monastery, a Gelugpa monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka India as a novice monk.
Patrick Gaffney (Buddhist)
Patrick John Gaffney is an English author, editor, translator, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism who studied at the University of Cambridge. He was one of the main directors and teachers of Rigpa—the international network of Buddhist centres and groups founded by Sogyal Rinpoche. As of April 2019, Gaffney has been disqualified by the UK Charity Commission from acting as a trustee in all charities for a period of 8 years.
John Crook (ethologist)
John Hurrell Crook was a British ethologist who filled a pivotal role in British primatology.
Ayu Khandro, also known as Dorje Paldrön, lived from 1839 to 1953. She was a practitioner, yogini, and terton of Tibetan Buddhism in Eastern Tibet. An accomplished Dzogchen meditator, she is renowned for her extensive pilgrimages throughout Tibet, long periods of dark retreat practice, the gongter of the practice of the yidam Senge Dongma, various forms of Chöd, and her lifelong dedication to spiritual practice.
Phakchok Rinpoche is a teacher of the Nyingma lineage and chief lineage holder of the Taklung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He is Vajra Master of Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling monastery, abbot of several monasteries in Nepal, and assists monasteries and practice centers in Tibet. In addition, he serves as Director of the Chokgyur Lingpa Foundation, a nonprofit organization engaged in a wide range of humanitarian projects.
Ünyön Künga Zangpo
Ünyön Künga Zangpo was a famous yogin of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. While Künga Zangpo is a personal name that he received at the time of his monastic ordination, the moniker Ünyön (“ü-nyön”), meaning “Madman from the Ü [region],” was a title he earned through his distinctive tantric asceticism.
Geshe Thupten Phelgye is a Tibetan Buddhist lama who is known for promoting vegetarianism and humane treatment of animals, and for his work as a peace activist. Geshe Thupten Phelgye represents the Gelug tradition in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
Yeshe Lobsang Tenpai Gonpo
Yeshe Lobsang Tenpai Gonpo was the 8th Tatsag, a Tibetan reincarnation lineage. From 1789 to 1790 and from 1791 until his death in 1810 he was regent of Tibet, appointed by the Qing dynasty of China. He was the first owner of the Kundeling Monastery, founded in 1794 in Lhasa.
Changling Rinpoche XV
Ngawang Lekshey Gyaltso is the 15th in the lineage of Changling Rinpoches. His lineage was started by Rechung Dorje Drakpa, who lived in eleventh century Tibet.
John Makransky is an American professor of Buddhism and comparative theology at Boston College and a meditation teacher within the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He practices the meditations of compassion and wisdom from Tibetan traditions and has introduced new ways of bringing these powerful contemplative methods into the secular world of social service and social justice by making them newly accessible to people of all backgrounds and faiths. He has also helped Western Buddhists deepen their contemplative experience of presence and loving compassion in the context of socially engaged practice
Thubten Gyatso (Australian monk)
Thubten Gyatso is an Australian monk and was ordained by Lama Thubten Yeshe in the 1970s and was one of the first Westerners to become a monk in the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. He is a Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition veteran who has been instrumental in establishing a number of Dharma centres in France, Taiwan, Australia, and Mongolia.
Jangsem Sherap Zangpo
Jangsem Sherab Zangpo, also known as Jangsem Sherab Sangpo, (1395-1457) was a 15th-century Tibetan Buddhist monk and teacher, and one of the six contemporary disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of one of the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelug school. He is crediting with establishing the famed Thikse Monastery and the remotely located Phugtal Monastery in Ladakh, in the North Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo is a German-born Buddhist nun, scholar, and teacher. She is the first woman to be awarded a Geshe title, considered equivalent to a Ph.D. in Buddhist philosophy.
Tenzin Priyadarshi is the president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. He also serves as the founding president of the Prajnopaya Foundation, a worldwide humanitarian organization.
Judith Simmer-Brown is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University.
She has expertise in Tibetan Buddhism, Women and Buddhism, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, Western Buddhism and Contemplative Education.
She is an Acharya — a senior Buddhist teacher — in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and was a senior student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
She serves on the Board of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies, and is on the steering committee of the Contemplative Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion. Previously she was a member of the Lilly Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter.
Losang Samten is an American Tibetan scholar, sand mandala artist, former Buddhist monk, and Spiritual Director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He is one of only an estimated 30 people, worldwide, qualified to teach the traditional art of Tibetan sandpainting. He has written two books and helped to create the first Tibetan sand mandala ever shown publicly in the West in 1988. In 2002, he was made a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2004, he was granted a Pew Fellowship in Folk and Traditional Arts.
Ken McLeod is a senior Western translator, author, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. He received traditional training mainly in the Shangpa Kagyu lineage through a long association with his principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, whom he met in 1970. McLeod resides in Los Angeles, where he founded Unfettered Mind. He has currently withdrawn from teaching, and no longer conducts classes, workshops, meditation retreats, individual practice consultations, or teacher training.
Rinchen Chok of Ma
Ma Rinchen Chok, is numbered as one of the twenty-five principal disciples of Padmasambhava. Rinchen Chok was also a senior disciple of Vimalamitra. Rinchen Chok was an important lotsawa in the first wave of translations and was one of the first seven monks ever to be ordained in Tibet by Shantarakshita, known as the ‘seven men who were tested’. The ordination lineage was Sarvastivadin.
Elio Guarisco was an Italian writer, translator and Tibetan Buddhist scholar and Dzogchen practitioner, member of the International Dzogchen Community.
Nicholas Ribush was one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. A founder of Wisdom Publications, Ribush is today the director of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, a collection of thousands of teachings by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who pioneered the teaching of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.
Ngawang Samten is a Tibetan educationist, Tibetologist and the vice chancellor of the Central University for Tibetan Studies. Besides editing publications such as Abhidhammathasamgaho, Pindikrita, Pancakrama and Manjusri, he is the co-translator of Je Tsongkhapa’s commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2009, for his contributions to Education.
Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen
Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen, 1894–1977, known also as Negi Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen, Tenzin Gyaltsen, and various other names like Kunu Rinpoche, Kunu Lama and Negi Lama, was born in 1894 in the village of Sunam which lies in the forest-clad Kinnaur district of India in the western Himalayas. Khunu Rinpoche was neither a tulku nor a Buddhist monk but a layman who took the lay practitioner’s vows.
Gomchen Pema Chewang Tamang
Gomchen Pema Chewang Tamang (1918–1966) was a Tibetan buddhist scholar, teacher and a renounced practitioner.
Jigdal Dagchen Sakya
Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche was a Tibetan Buddhist teacher educated in the Sakya sect. He was educated to be the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the successor to the throne of Sakya, the third most important political position in Tibet in early times. Dagchen Rinpoche was in the twenty-sixth generation of the Sakya-Khön lineage descended from Khön Könchok Gyalpo and was regarded as an embodiment of Manjushri as well as the rebirth of a Sakya Lama from the Ngor sub-school, Ewam Luding Khenchen Gyase Chökyi Nyima.