Recognition of Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Recognition of Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Date Posted:
April 2010

A letter and e-mail had been circulated to FPMT centers claiming Rinpoche had been recognized in his current incarnation by Shugden, which is incorrect. Rinpoche sent the following letter providing the correct information regarding his recognition.

To my very dear friends and students,
I heard there is some misunderstanding about how I was recognized, so I just want to give you the details here.

The main disciple of the Lawudo Lama Kunsang Yeshe (who it is said was my previous incarnation) was Ngawang Chopel. He did many retreats during his life and he also followed the Buddha’s example of offering his own body (charity) to the insects and animals for seven days. This was quite amazing, as he completely offered his body, and they ate parts of it, and he had to be taken to hospital. Later, Ngawang Chopel also built a monastery in Maritika near a Guru Rinpoche cave (considered one of the most holy places of Guru Rinpoche, where it is said he achieved immortality). Ngawang Chopel was with the Lawudo Lama at the time of his death. The Lawudo Lama explained the signs happening during the death process to him as he was dying.

I was born in a very poor family. There was doubt by some whether I was the incarnation, mainly on the part of Lama Kunsang Yeshe’s son. When Ngawang Chopel heard this he went immediately to Tibet to consult high lamas, and all six lamas confirmed without doubt that I was the incarnation of the Lawudo Lama Kunsang Yeshe. Two of the six high lamas were His Holiness Trulshig Rinpoche (one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama) and his root guru the great Lama Rongpu Sangye. So, at an early age, long before going to Tibet and the monastery at Pagri (a small branch of Domo Geshe’s main monastery), I was recognized. Before I left for Tibet, Lama Kunsang Yeshe’s son accepted me as the incarnation and promised to return to me the cave and texts, etc. belonging to his father after I returned from Tibet.

I was taken to Tibet by two uncles; both were my alphabet teachers. Why did I have two alphabet teachers? The first one was from Thangme, near Lawudo; he took care of me. When I was very small (maybe four years old) I was always escaping and running home, so my mother sent me far away to the monastery in Rolwaling, a very isolated place high in the mountains near Tibet. There I was in the care of another uncle, Ngawang Gendun, who also taught me the alphabet (Tibetan). I stayed with him in Rolwaling for seven years, memorizing, reading texts, and doing pujas called shi trol.

These two uncles took me to Tibet. In Tibet, I stayed with another uncle. He was in the Indian army, then he met a Tibetan woman from Tsang and they married and lived in Pagri, Tibet. Pagri was a very busy place for traders from Bhutan, Kalimpong, Lhasa, etc. The three uncles, with some other Sherpas, left me in the care of my auntie while they went on pilgrimage to Lhasa. They didn’t take me, as they thought the journey would be too difficult and I could die, as I was still very young. After living in Pagri for some time, I met a very tall monk outside my house, who, externally, did not appear to know me. Immediately, he asked me if I would be his disciple (there must have been very strong karma with him). I answered him immediately “yes.”

Next day, in the morning, my aunt made a very nice thermos of tea and put some bread in a bamboo container inside a basket, and took me to the small branch monastery (of Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s main monastery), about 15 to 20 minutes’ walk away, where I met the tall monk again. He was the lobpon of this small monastery. The lobpon had heard stories about me from people in the village, that I was a tulku from Lawudo, near Thangme. So, the lobpon, for his own benefit, asked the oracle of the monastery if this was true.

With much love and prayers...