The Sangha of Tushita
Geshe Tenzin Namdak
Geshe Tenzin Namdak, born in 1970 in The Netherlands, met the Dharma in 1993. After his graduation (B.Sc. in Hydrology) he lived for one year at Maitreya Institute where he received Lam Rim teachings from Geshe Sonam Gyaltsen.
On the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche he moved to Dharamsala in 1994 to learn Tibetan language and to take Getsul (1995) and Gelong ordination (1996) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 1997 he entered the Geshe Study Program of Sera Jey Monastery in South India.
Geshe la is director of Sera IMI House, a house for western monks studying at Sera and he also teaches and translates at Choe Khor Sum Ling in Bangalore. Tushita has been most fortunate to have Geshe la lead our Pre-Ordination Course since 2012.
On April 26, 2016, Ven. Tenzin Namdak received the title of “Geshe” from Sera Je Monastic University in recognition of his completion of the advanced Buddhist studies and practice program. Completing the geshe studies program is a remarkable achievement in itself. As a Westerner, Geshe Namdak’s completion of the program speaks to his exemplary dedication to the study and practice of Dharma. We rejoice in his outstanding accomplishment.
In the print issue of Mandala (January-July 2016), Geshe Namdak wrote an article, “The Union of Study and Practice,” describing the benefits of the in-depth Buddhist studies.
In addition, Ven. Tenzin Legtsok, who also studies in the geshe program, wrote about Geshe Namdak’s outstanding service during his time at Sera Je, which you can read here.
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo
Geshe Kelsang Wangmo was the first – and currently only – woman to be awarded a Geshe title (only for monastics, it is equivalent to a PhD in Buddhist philosophy).
She was born in Germany and took ordination as a nun in 1991. She later enrolled in the traditional Geshe curriculum at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamsala (a course 16 years in duration) and was awarded the Geshe title in 2011. Since 2004 Geshe Kelsang Wangmo has been teaching Buddhist philosophy classes in English in Dharamsala, following the curriculum of the IBD.
Tushita is so very fortunate in being able to count Geshe-la as one of our teachers, as she joins us whenever her very busy schedule allows. She also sometimes translates for senior Tibetan teachers during our initiations. Here are two online interviews with Geshe-la, one in audio and one in text.
Venerable Kabir Saxena
Venerable Kabir Saxena (Venerable Sumati), was born to an English mother and an Indian father and raised in both Delhi and London, attending Oxford University.
He met his main teachers Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1979 and has been living and working in FPMT Centres almost ever since, including helping to establish Root Institute and serving as its Director for many years, before being ordained as a monk in 2002. He is currently the Spiritual Programme Coordinator at Tushita Delhi.
Ven Kabir has been teaching Buddhism to Westerners and Indians in India and Nepal since 1988 and presents the Dharma in an appropriately humourous and meaningful way for modern students.
Venerable Joan Nicell
Venerable Joan first met the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1987 and that same year did her the one-month November course at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. After doing a second one-month course in 1988, she received ordination as a nun with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
After spending a couple of years doing retreat, she moved to Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy where she lived for 22 years. During that time she was responsible for organizing the seven-year advanced Masters Program as well as the other standard FPMT programs taught at the Institute. In addition she also transcribed the daily teachings and translated a number of the core texts from Tibetan to English.
As of early 2014 she teaches courses and guides meditation retreats in Nepal and India. In addition she works for FPMT Education Services in the role of reviewing the standard programs and developing new course materials.
Venerable Lobsang Namgyel
Venerable Lobsang Namgyel, of Australian nationality, has been living in India and Nepal studying Buddhism for more than 20 years with such masters as H.H. the Dalai Lama, Denma Locho Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche and Geshe Sonam Rinchen. He has completed four years of lam-rim retreats, as well as many other tantric retreats.
During his more than twenty years in Buddhism, Ven Namgyel has taught at various FPMT centers around the world. He had the honour of being the attendant and tutor to Osel in 1990.
You can see more about Ven Namgyel, with online teachings and schedule information on his own website: www.venerable-namgyel.com
Venerable Amy Miller
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 has been teaching extensively since 1992 and was ordained as a Buddhist nun in June 2000 by the great Tibetan master, Ven Choden Rinpoche. 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 stressful living.
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 the FPMT. She has also directed two retreat centers in the US: Vajrapani Institute in California and most recently, Milarepa Center in Vermont.
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 AmyMiller.com.
Venerable Legtsok was born in the USA and named Brian, in 1973. After being inspired by explanations of the Lam-Rim and the amazing attitude of Bodhicitta, he became a monk in 2001 and has since taken the full-ordination vows. In 2004 he entered the Geshe studies program at Sera Je Monastery in South India where he claims that he “hardly studies but lounges about eating and sleeping instead”. This report has been contradicted by many close observers.
Since 2007 Ven Legtsok has given monthly talks about the Buddhist path at Choe Khor Sum Ling study group in Bangalore. While he warns students that “he has no positive qualities whatsoever but you might have a good laugh watching him bumble along”, he enjoys celebrating the good fortune to have met the Buddha Dharma in this life, by sharing his knowledge of Buddhist thought and practice with others.
Venerable Tenzin Drolma was born in Chicago, US, in 1961 and became a lifelong learner. She received her undergraduate degree in religious studies, philosophy and psychology. She has a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver and in Buddhist Studies from Maitripa College. For 25 years she worked as a mental health therapist and trainer.
Ven. Drolma was ordained as a nun in the Tibetan tradition in 2009. She moved to Vajrapani Institute and has been resident sangha and assistant SPC since August, 2011. While at Vajrapani Institute she taught courses and lead meditations as well.
Ven. Drolma’s teaching style includes the psychological aspects of Buddhism and she has been described as a very approachable teacher. While strongly based in the tradition of the Gelukpa school, her teaching emphasizes those aspects most helpful to modern students.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Venerable Tenzin Namjong studied and trained in Zen and Theravada traditions before embracing the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, due mainly to the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Princeton University and has been part of the 19 year Geshe (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) study program at Sera Je Monastery in Bylakuppe, India since 2007.
Venerable Lozang Drolma
Originally from England, Venerable Lozang Drolma met the Dharma when volunteering at the FPMT Centre, Chenrezig Institute in Australia. Venerable Drolma ordained and began her formal studies with the Buddhist Studies Program and, further on, the two year Masters program at Chenrezig Institute.
Throughout most of this time she assisted the resident Tibetan lama and lead workshops and meditations for the many students who came through Chenrezig Institute. In 2013 she assisted as meditation leader on the annual Kopan Lam Rim retreat and began to teach at Chenrezig Institute, becoming well known for her natural warmth, kindness and wisdom.
Venerable Drolma presently she is studying Tibetan in Dharamsala.
Glen is from Australia and has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism since 1995. After completing a degree in IT at the University of Queensland, Glen spent eight years working and traveling around the world before “bumping into” Buddhism – taking his first Introduction course here at Tushita!
He then attended two Kopan November Courses, followed by seven years of intensive Buddhist philosophical studies and nine months of meditation retreat in the FPMT Master’s Program (a teacher-training course) at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy.
Since completion of the Master’s Program in 2005, Glen has taught extensively around the world and is one of Tushita's most regular teachers. His teaching style emphasizes clarity and simplicity and he is increasingly interested in the practice of shamatha meditation. You can see Glen’s teaching schedule on his own website: www.glensvensson.org
Born in 1948 in Italy to American parents, Jimi was raised in America and attended the University of Southern California. He first came to India in 1971-72, and in 1974 met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. He was ordained by Lama Yeshe at Tushita in 1980.
A monk for 15 years, Jimi divided his time between Nalanda Monastery in France, and India. Since disrobing, Jimi has lived permanently nearby and spent some time as Tushita's Director. He began teaching since 1992 and has taught many times at Tushita, and elsewhere, over the years.
Jimi usually joins us toward the end of the year and you are most likely to catch one of his courses in October/November.
David is originally from Melbourne, Australia. After graduating from Law School in 1978 he traveled around Asia, developing an interest in eastern religion and meditation along the way.
He ordained as a monk soon after meeting his teacher Lama Zopa Rinpoche and then studied at Nalanda Monastery for several years, later teaching here at Tushita, Kopan Monastery, and Root Institute. He has also been resident teacher at Vajrayana Institute and director of Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery.
Since 2007 he has lived mostly in solitude while trying to develop his personal meditation practice. Recently David returned to lay life and has now begun teaching again at FPMT centres in India and Nepal.
Rachel received a BA in Religious Studies and Anthropology at Amherst College, USA in 1988 and spent many years as a Middle School "Language Arts and Social Studies" teacher. She completed the MA in Buddhist Studies at Maitripa College, Oregon USA in 2009 and has continued her studies at Maitripa in the Tibetan Translation Seminars and Vajrayana Certificate Program. She also participated in the 100 million Mani retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Mongolia in August 2013. She is a qualified teacher of the FPMT’s Discovering Buddhism program and occasionally takes on extra service opportunities such assisting with projects for the FPMT's Education Department and Maitripa's Community Service Center.
Throughout this, Rachel has juggled study, practice, service, and teaching with family life, and she has one teenage daughter.
Shahar was born in Israel but has lived in the UK for most of his life. He holds an MSc in Physics from the University of Reading, an MA in Philosophy from King's College London, and is currently applying for a PhD program in Religious Studies in London and Oxford. Also, he is currently part of a translation committee with the UMA Institute of Tibetan Studies.
Shahar has been a student and practitioner of Buddhism since 2007. Starting with Tushita's very own Introduction to Buddhism course, he spent 2 - 3 years travelling in Asia and also attended 2 Kopan November courses. This was followed by two years of intensive Buddhist philosophical studies and three months of meditation retreat in the FPMT's Basic Program at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy. Shahar is a registered FPMT Teacher.
Venerable Tony Beaumont
Resident Sangha 2012
Ven. Tony Beaumont was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1951. His first intensive contact with Buddhism was in Nepal and India in 1976-1977 during which time he attended 2 one-month long Kopan Lam-rim courses and their retreats and a three month group Vajrasattva retreat here at Tushita.
On returning to Australia he trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked for four years in psychiatric hospitals. For most of the 1980′s he lived at Chenrezig Institute where he worked at various times as cook, office worker and gardener.
In 1991 he took novice ordination with Kirti Tshenshab Rinpoche at Kopan and in 1993 took full ordination with Geshe Yeshe Topden at Lama Tsong Khapa Institute in Italy. For the first 4 – 5 years following ordination he was based at Nalanda Monastery, France and since then he has been based at Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery, Australia where he was director for 4 years and later director of the International Mahayana Institute (the organization for ordained Sangha of the FPMT) for 3 years.
Ven. Tony has taught Lam-rim Courses and the Discovering Buddhism Program and led various retreats as well as teaching in prisons and schools.
Venerable Robina Courtin
Resident Sangha Apr 2010 to Apr 2011
Born in Australia in 1944, Ven Robina spent the the early part of her life studying classical singing, being involved with the radical left/feminist activism and then, in her quest for a spiritual path, studying martial arts.
She became a student of Lama Yeshe and was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun at Kopan Monastery in 1978. Since then, she has worked full-time for the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) in several roles; editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of the magazine Mandala and director of the Liberation Prison Project. Since 1987 she has taught Buddhist courses and retreats at FPMT centers worldwide.
Well-known for her intense energy and no-nonsense manner of expressing her profound understanding of Buddhist philosophy, Ven Robina is the subject of an award-winning documentary, “Chasing Buddha” and a film by Christine Lundberg called “On the Road Home”. You can see and hear some of her teachings online, including here here and here.
Tushita was incredibly fortunate to have had Ven. Robina as resident teacher at Tushita between April 2010 and April 2011 and we hope that she’ll join us again to lead some courses again in the future. You can see Ven Robina’s teaching schedule on her own website, www.robinacourtin.com
Venerable Jampa Dekyi
Resident Sangha 2008 and 2009
Venerable Jampa Dekyi was born in Australia in 1945 and lived in the Solomon Islands for 25 years, alongside her late husband. She has 4 children and 1 granddaughter.
Dekyi attended her first meditation session in Australia in 1992 and instantly had the wish to become a nun. She ordained the following year. Since then she has studied extensively on the Buddhist Studies Program at Chenrezig, was the resident teacher at Vajrayana in Sydney for 5 years and also for 1 year at Kadam Sharawa in Gosford. After a short stay at Hayagriva Centre, she spent 2008/9 as Tushita’s resident teacher. Dekyi’s wish is to share the beauty, depth and practical compassion of the Buddhadarma with all who have an interest.
Geshe Graham Woodhouse
Born in England, Geshe Graham has deep knowledge of the texts, skill in translating, and an ability to convey the subtleties of Buddhist thought in lucid English. He has extensive knowledge of Madyamika (emptiness) philosophy gained through 16 years of study at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamsala.
Completing his Geshe degree (the equivalent of 4 Ph.D’s!) in 2006, Geshe Graham become one of the very few Westerners trained in the traditional Tibetan way as a Gelug geshe.
He is currently resident back in the United Kingdom and doesn't plan to teach in India again for the foreseeable future, but it is an incredible privilege to study with such a knowledgeable native English-speaking teacher, so if you get the opportunity, don’t miss it!
Venerable Sarah was born in London, England in 1960. She graduated from University in 1982 and shortly afterwards met her Root Guru Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. Since then she has studied with many great masters and was ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1986.
After working as an editor for Wisdom Publications for nine years, she began teaching in 1992 and has taught in countries around the world. She is currently an FPMT registered touring teacher and editor of LYWA’s Heart Advice series. Ven. Sarah has also worked with Lama Zopa Rinpoche to help lead practices according to his instructions at several major retreats. She is particularly interested in trying to preserve and spread the special flavor of Rinpoche’s way of leading pujas and practices.
Venerable Sarah teaches with insight from the heart, and has an enjoyable Western perspective on the Dharma.
Andy was born in England in 1950 and spent most of his career in further education. During the eighties, he began to practice and later teach Buddhism; leading and undertaking retreats and became a regular teacher at Jamyang Leeds.
In 1998 he and David Reigle set up the International Kalachakra Network, which through the internet has become a major source of information and support for Kalachakra practitioners around the world.
Andy has been married since 1981 and has 4 grown-up sons. Since retiring from full-time teaching in 2007, he undertook a year of personal retreat and plans to dedicate the rest of his life to studying, practicing and teaching the Dharma. He will join us in July & August 2014.
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi
Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, from the USA, has been studying Buddhism since the early 1970s with teachers such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She has been ordained as a Buddhist nun since 2004 and has completed 6½ years of solitary meditation retreat.
In addition to touring, in the past few years she has also taught regularly at Vajrapani Institute in California, and Mahamudra Centre in New Zealand. She is a visiting teacher for the Liberation Prison Project and is currently the resident teacher at Gendun Drubpa in Canada.
Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi is dearly loved by those who have studied with her, many of whom describe her as straightforward, engaging, inspiring, sincere and fun. You can see her own website at www.ventenzinchogkyi.com
Born in South Africa in 1951, Ondy grew up in England. In 1980 she took refuge with Geshe Jampa Tekchog and moved home to be near him. Since then she has received teachings and initiations from high lamas including H.H. Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. In 1983, she did her prostrations retreat in Bodhgaya.
Ondy was Head of Belief, Philosophy and Ethics in a British high school for many years, and contributed to educational publications on moral issues and spirituality. She went on to develop Wellseeing Consultancy which offers training in Mindfulness Psychology and Ethics to the private and public sectors in the UK and internationally. She founded Yeshe Buddhist Group in 2001 and still teaches there regularly. In 2009 she published her story of the Buddha’s early life, "Ten Thousand Days of Summer".
Her teaching style combines head, heart and humour with the emphasis on making Buddhism relevant in today’s world. She is currently based in Cumbria, UK but teaches the dharma nationally and internationally for FPMT centres.