Kopan Course No. 41 (2008)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Kopan Monastery, Nepal (Archive #1746)

These teachings were given by Kyabje Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at the 41st Kopan Meditation Course, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in December 2008. The transcripts are lightly edited by Gordon McDougall.

Lecture 13 is a talk on the beginnings of the FPMT by Ven. Roger Kunsang, who is Rinpoche's assistant and CEO of FPMT Inc. See also the Basic Philosophy of Buddhism, to listen to the audio files and read along with the unedited transcript for Lecture 10.  You may also download the entire contents of these teachings as a pdf file

Lecture 13: How FPMT Began

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[This is a talk by Ven. Roger Kunsang on the beginnings of FPMT with Lama Yeshe, through to the time when Lama Zopa Rinpoche became Spiritual Head of FPMT.]

So good afternoon. Sorry we’re so far apart. So I’m to give a little introduction to FPMT. You can’t hear? You can’t hear? Can you hear okay at the back? Okay, if you can’t hear then you’ll just have to come a little closer.

So, FPMT officially began around 1975, when Lama Yeshe, here at Kopan, had the idea for an organization to look after the activities that he was starting.

I arrived in Kopan, I think, end of 1973 or beginning of ’74 to do a meditation course here, six meditation courses, it was, I think, in March or April, 1974.

In those days there was nothing really on the hill, actually. There was very little here at that time and the conditions were very interesting. I think people were given accommodation in different places, and I stayed just down at the bottom of the hill where there was a little stream. It was in a Nepalese person’s loft. They had a lot of straw in the loft, and there were, I don’t know, maybe fifteen or twenty of us in one room. We were on the straw and there were a lot of little insects and things like that, so we were constantly scratching, itching all day.

Prior to that, Lama Yeshe met Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Buxa, which is a camp that was set up for the Tibetan refugees when they came out of Tibet. Rinpoche’s often told the story of what it was like. Before they came it used to be a prison and I think Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi were imprisoned there. The two houses they had were transformed into a place for about 1,500 monks, so it was a bit tight.

Anyway, that was the place Rinpoche went to when he escaped from Tibet. He was in a small monastery in Tibet, a small monastery that belonged to Domo Geshe Rinpoche. People may have heard of Domo Geshe Rinpoche because Lama Govinda wrote this book called The Way of the White Clouds, and that was about Domo Geshe Rinpoche.

So Rinpoche took getsul ordination, his novice ordination, in his monastery in Tibet. That’s where he was when the Chinese came and then Rinpoche escaped with some other monks into India and then into Buxa.

Rinpoche actually wasn’t going to Buxa. In his mind he was going to Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s place in Darjeeling, but I think on the border there was one policeman who somehow insisted or influenced Rinpoche to go to Sera Monastery—I shouldn’t say that—where the other monks were, and the monks from Sera Je were going to Buxa.

Rinpoche thinks that maybe he was somebody interesting because he changed his life, because then Rinpoche spent about eight years in Buxa before he left with Lama Yeshe. And then eventually Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe founded this place, on the top of the hill, here.

Before it belonged to the king’s astrologer. He had a small house here, just a very small house. Gradually over time, this place has changed a lot.

But the real beginnings of FPMT as a sort of global organization, actually started to happen from the very beginning. The courses that Rinpoche were teaching, Lama Yeshe used to always come at the end. But those courses would happen. A lot of Westerners in those days mostly, maybe like hippies or something, would end up in Nepal, and they would end up coming from Kathmandu up onto the mountain here, and take this course. There were some very interesting characters in those days, and they didn’t always agree with what Rinpoche had to say, so there was often some lively debate from lawyers and doctors about this and that.

What would happen is that the course would have a huge effect on people’s lives. For me it had a huge effect when I arrived. I was sort of like at the end of the road in the sense that life didn’t have any meaning or didn’t seem to have any purpose at all, and I spent a long time traveling, years, actually, several years, from here to there, all over the place trying to figure out what was worthwhile to do.

And I’d sort of come to the end of my path. So, I hitchhiked from Europe through the Middle East, and I ended up in Rishikesh, and then I went up into the mountains to live with some of the Hindu yogis, because somebody advised me to study with Hindu yogis. I spent a little time up there with them, and particularly with one Hindu yogi whose name was Tatwala Baba.

He’d been in his cave for about twenty-three years and never came out, and he was quite large, very large. Before he went in, he was in the Indian army, or the British Indian army, he was a colonel. When he was about twenty-three, he renounced his life and had lived in this cave ever since and never came out. He was very large, completely naked, and had this long, thick, matted hair that went down to the ground and just along the ground. He’d drag it behind him.

So, there were a lot of interesting gentlemen I met up there, and eventually one or two of them advised me that maybe Buddhist meditation was better. So I went down the mountains and then, seeing a poster advertising two lamas in Kathmandu giving a one-month meditation course, I went there.

By that time, I was really probably like many people who come to the course, I just didn’t know what was the purpose of life, what was meaningful, what was I supposed to do. I didn’t have any idea. Nothing made sense, really. Everything people were doing didn’t seem to really have any value to it, or didn’t really make me happy. I’d already made a commitment that if something didn’t make me happy, then why should I do it, right? So everything fell apart.

Anyway, so I ended up at the course, and the course was quite strict in those days. Lama Zopa Rinpoche led everything from five or five-thirty in the morning up to ten, eleven o’clock at night, and he was there all the time. And he talked a lot about suffering and a lot about the self-cherishing mind and eight worldly dharmas, and I was having an extremely difficult time trying to handle all that.

But at the same time, it made sense, you know. But it was also very difficult to handle, and I wanted to leave the hill. Probably every day I had the thought to leave the hill. But I couldn’t leave the hill because there was this lama sitting on this throne in front of me and what he was saying made an awful lot of sense, for the first time in my life.

It not only made a lot of sense, but it was the only thing that made sense, and if I walked down the hill, there was nothing to do, nowhere to go. Although my mind kept thinking about cake and everything else—there was all sorts of excuses to go down the hill—but in fact, I knew that if I left this course, that would be the end of my only chance to try and do something with what Rinpoche was saying. So it made an awful lot of sense.

I think that happens for a lot of people, and it’s been going on for like forty years. People come to this hill, they hear Dharma, they hear the lam-rim for the first time, and your life, our lives, completely change. What we were doing before and what we do after we leave the hill are completely different. You know, right?

Maybe not for everybody but I think a lot of people, it makes a huge difference. After one month, things start to make sense, you start to see what you can do to be really happy, to help others, to make a difference. That’s been going on for a long time now, up here, and so thousands of young people and old people have come through Kopan and left quite different.

When they went back to their countries, there was probably nothing there for them, there was nobody else like them. They were alone. So, what people started to do, some of the first people in Australia, they started to think, “We need to do something, we need to invite the Lamas here, because we can’t always go to Nepal and get teachings.”

So they invited Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche to Australia. I think actually before they went to Australia, they had a visit to New York. They flew from Kathmandu to New York, and Rinpoche always comments what a difference it was from living in Kathmandu, and then suddenly arriving in New York City, quite a difference.

Anyway, students started to go back to their countries, and they wanted to invite Rinpoche and Lama back there to teach, so that started to happen. Then, the next thing that started to happen was that Lama Yeshe and Rinpoche just couldn’t keep up with the requests to different countries and different places, and eventually, people starting to do something with their friends in their lounge rooms. Meetings started, and more people started to come. They needed more room, so they’d rent a house, and then they’d think about even buying a house. And then they needed a teacher in residence, so Lama Yeshe would work out some arrangement with one of the geshes, and ask him or request him to go to this place and that place.

So, centers started to spring up all over the world with no particular plan to do so. It just naturally, organically, started to happen because students would go back to their homes and want to share what they had found in Nepal, and they needed the support and they wanted to continue studying. Eventually, centers just started to spring up everywhere, just sort of nicely, naturally, without any plan, without any organization.

Then, around 1975, then Lama thought that we needed some kind of organization to somehow try to manage all this. Lama came up with the name: Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, and everybody, all the Westerners in the room, said it’s too long. [Group laughs]

Lama Yeshe said it wasn’t too long. And so there was a debate and then Lama made it very clear at the end, that, that’s who we are. We’re the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Soon the Westerners got FPMT, so there was some compromise.

Anyway, where FPMT is today, there is so much going on in thirty-five countries in the world. There is so much activity. It’s quite amazing. And to think, forty years ago, if you met Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, who didn’t have a penny, literally didn’t have a penny, and if they had told us, we want this and we want that, and we want a hundred and sixty centers, we want this kind of project—I think, if in 1972 or 1973 we had heard that, we would have thought it impossible.

But, now, if you look around the world, there is so much activity, so much going on, because of these two Lamas. And all of it, all of it, is all activity to benefit others. In some way, it’s to do with teaching Dharma, doing retreats, living as monks and nuns, doing different kinds of social work, hospices, schools for children. We even do non-religious activities, an idea of Lama Yeshe that he originally called Universal Education. Now we call it Essential Education, but that’s where we have taken it, from the idea that Lama Yeshe had to what it’s evolved to today, through Rinpoche.

Buddhism explains reality, explains how to be a good, kind, honest, compassionate person. Lama Yeshe thought, you can do that without talking religion, without using the Buddhist terms. Because the understanding of the mind in Buddhism is extremely deep, so it is possible to just use non-religious terms, talking about the reality of a human being, and how that human being can be a better, more compassionate, kinder person. Lama had this idea and slowly it has developed up to today where there’s a lot of activity around the world that’s focused on balancing education.

Normal education that we get in the world, that more or less just helps us earn some money, right. But it doesn’t do too much to developing a human being who is kind and compassionate, having wisdom, patience, tolerance, who is forgiving and able to rejoice in the good things that other people do. A human being needs those kind of basic, good human qualities, regardless of whether you’re religious or non-religious.

That was the birth of what we now call Essential Education that we are trying to get into schools, and in different ways into mainstream society.

Lama Yeshe said it’s not just for young kids, it’s not just for old ones, it’s for human beings, from birth to death, where you can explain or help people to have a better understanding of themselves and be better human beings, without talking religion.

So, there is a lot of activity around the world, all just there, just trying to help people in many different ways. Also, Rinpoche has many projects amongst the monastic community, the Tibetan monastic community, particularly in South India.

When Lama Ösel first entered Sera Je Monastery, Rinpoche wanted to do something that was quite practical to help the monastery. The abbot at that time was Khen Rinpoche Losang Tsering, and he thought that maybe the most practical thing for the monks—at that time there were 1,300 monks—was for Rinpoche to establish a food fund where the monks didn’t have to pay for their food. Rinpoche accepted that very soon, from that time, 1990 I think it was, 1990 or 1991, he would offer the food to the monastery.

Now there are more than 2,600 monks, and for the past fifteen or sixteen years, Rinpoche’s been offering food. At the beginning it was just lunch, but now it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, to every monk every day. He has that commitment, so that’s more or less, close to 3,000 monks that he’s offering food to. Rinpoche’s main point is that he’s extremely happy to do it, he really enjoys doing it because it’s supporting something very, very special. The education the monks get in those monasteries is really very, very unique. They get to study the entire teachings of the Buddha, and when they’re finished, they’re able to then offer it to others, to teach others. So, Rinpoche thinks that’s an incredible opportunity.

Another thing that Rinpoche does is, at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he started a fund we call the Lama Tsongkhapa Teachers’ Fund, where we offer small—well, not a salary—but like an allowance to all the main teachers in Sera, Ganden, Drepung, Tashi Lhunpo, Gyuto, Gyume, and I think now, Rato Monastery, so all the main teachers get a salary, each month, from this fund that Rinpoche started and continues with.

So there are quite a few things that Rinpoche does that helps support the monastic community, to preserve the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa.

Maybe I’ll just tell one story of Lama Yeshe.

In the mid-seventies, I think, I traveled with Lama Yeshe once. Both Lamas would tour in the West for six months of the year and the other six months of the year they were mainly in Kopan, sometimes Dharamsala. So one time I traveled with Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe to Tushita, Dharamsala, the center we have in Northern India.

And that time Lama Yeshe was having a lot of health problems—he would often have difficulties with his heart—and we had taken the train from Delhi to Pathankot and were taking a taxi up from Pathankot, Dharamsala. Halfway up, we had to stop the car because Lama Yeshe was vomiting a lot of blood and it was quite difficult. We had to wait for a while, and then Lama Yeshe got back in the car, and he didn’t look very healthy at all.

Finally we arrived in Dharamsala, at Tushita, and then Lama Yeshe went to have a rest in the afternoon. My job was sort of like his attendant, so I became very, very serious because of what I’d just seen. There was no way I was going to let anybody in to see Lama Yeshe while he was resting. I sort of stood guard outside the door, and nobody was going to budge me.

Anyway, up the hill came a whole family of Tibetan people, and relatives. I think there must have been nearly twenty people, and they wanted to see Lama Yeshe.

My attitude was, “No! No way!” I was very clear, and they were very persistent but I was very clear. So after a little bit of discussion, they started to walk back down the hill. And then the door opened, and there was Lama Yeshe standing there, not looking very well, and he said, “What’s going on?”

I was quite confident that I could say what happened, and feel I did the right thing. So I slowly started to explain to Lama Yeshe what had happened, that I turned these people away. He cried, “Go and get them!” I sort of hesitated, and Lama was really wrathful. He said, “My life is about benefiting sentient beings. I’ve got nothing else to live for, I just live to benefit sentient beings. Go and get those people.”

So, I had to go down the hill and bring them back up. And Lama Yeshe really didn’t look very well. He’d lost a lot of blood, but he insisted that they come back, and that he would see them, spend a little time with them. So, I blew it! But that’s sort of how Lama Yeshe was.

There was another time when the first of the Western Sangha got ordained and we lived where you were doing the beginning part of the retreat. There was a little house there before that. So there were about twenty-five, thirty Western Sangha living there, and we had our schedule set up by Lama Yeshe. It was quite a good schedule, but there was a bit of a problem because the idea was that we do puja from five in the morning, and then we’d go out about eleven o’clock at night. It was very structured, very good, but some of the Western Sangha were having some difficulty because we also had to cook for ourselves, and then we had to serve ourselves. So all the meals were done in puja, and we’d take turns of serving each other. So some of the Sangha were sort of grumbling about having to do all the work.

And then we had a ge-kyö, a disciplinarian, an American monk who didn’t last very long. I shouldn’t say that. [Rinpoche laughs] He’s in Chicago, on the stock market. [Group laughs] I don’t know where he is now but anyway he went up and explained to Lama Yeshe what was happening, that some of the Sangha were grumbling, or not happy with having to serve the other Sangha.

And then Lama Yeshe sort of grabbed hold of his robes and he actually started to cry. He said, “The meaning of these robes is to serve sentient beings. The real meaning of the robes is to serve others, to serve sentient beings. And if you can’t serve your brother or your sister,” he said, “It’s very sad, very sad.” Lama Yeshe was like that.

In those days Lama Zopa Rinpoche was quite different, because Lama Zopa Rinpoche was Lama Yeshe’s student, and so whenever you’d seen them together, Rinpoche was like the perfect example of a perfect student, and not just any student, he was like in the category of a special student.

I think often His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains it like this because the whole thing with guru devotion sometimes gets a little bit complicated, and maybe especially for Westerners. You hear stories of Marpa and Milarepa, and Tilopa and Naropa, and some of the things they do, as soon as something is said by the guru, there is absolutely no doubt, you just do it, whether it’s jump off a cliff, whatever, you just do it.

I guess because His Holiness was scared that some Westerners would be jumping off cliffs or something, I think His Holiness would make the point that that happens just in a very special guru-disciple relationship, and the guru is special, and the disciple is special. Probably many of you, we take a different approach.

Anyway, Rinpoche was like that, where whatever the guru said, instantly, it would happen, he would just do it.

I remember one time Rinpoche and Lama went to see His Holiness. In those days it was relatively easy. Rinpoche and Lama were walking into His Holiness’s room, and they were just about near the door when His Holiness came in view. He said, “Sit,” so both of them just sat. As soon as His Holiness said that, they sat exactly right there, right on the edge of the doorway, not quite in the room, they just sat down there, and that was it. And His Holiness laughed and told them to come in.

So, Rinpoche was like that with Lama Yeshe; he was just a perfect example of a student, of a disciple.

Then, around 1984 Lama Yeshe passed away. At that time there were about thirty-five centers around the world. Lama passed away and of course, Rinpoche was supposed to be the person to take over the organization, but Rinpoche went to a number of his gurus and kept offering the organization to them. Anyway after that, Rinpoche talked to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and His Holiness said that Rinpoche should keep the organization. [Rinpoche laughs] So, Rinpoche started his work as the head of the organization. That time there were thirty-five centers, and then a lot of traveling, a lot of teaching, but now there was only one Lama.

That time I was with Rinpoche, so for twelve, maybe fifteen years, Rinpoche was on the road 365 days a year, going from one center to another, talking to students. I think this was partly because when Lama Yeshe passed away a lot of students, especially Westerners, had felt a really big loss, and I think Rinpoche really wanted to make sure that people could see that everything would continue, and everything would be okay.

I think for the next twelve years, fourteen years, something like that, he didn’t stop, he just simply didn’t stop. He just went from one center to another. And in those days, Rinpoche didn’t have diabetes or blood pressure, so, two weeks with Rinpoche and I think everybody was exhausted, and it was probably good that Rinpoche moved to another center.

And, anyway, it was quite incredible. I mean, for many days Rinpoche wouldn’t sleep, he would just go non-stop, non-stop.

And I remember, one time after ten, twelve, fifteen years on the road, I thought it was interesting because I had still not heard Rinpoche say, “Well let’s take a break, let’s have the day off.” I’ve not even heard Rinpoche ask for a cup of tea. I always bring the tea, but he wouldn’t even ask for a cup of tea, he wouldn’t even just say, “Okay, let’s take an hour and drink the tea quietly, alone.” It sounds strange, doesn’t it? [Rinpoche laughs]

I don’t think Rinpoche ever had the slightest thought for himself, ever. That’s the way it appeared to me. And even though there have been a lot of obstacles, a lot of difficulties, et cetera, I’ve never seen a minute of anger, never seen him getting frustrated, never getting impatient, never saying anything unkind. It’s amazing. I mean, you get into some really intense situations, and if you don’t sleep for days you get very irritable. I do, and I was always having to deal with falling asleep at the dinner table. I’d fall asleep standing up.

One time, it was a long time ago, I went to the bank in Nepal. Because Rinpoche kept me on this sort of strict daily schedule, when I went to the bank—a Nepal bank or something—and I went up to the counter to talk to the teller, to do my thing, I fell asleep! [Group laughs] I just sort of fell asleep on top of the table there at the teller’s counter. The Nepalese are very easy-going, so they just went around me and everybody just continued the work while this monk was sleeping on the teller’s desk. I don’t know how long it was, but anyway, after a while I woke up, and then I finished doing the work, and I started moving because that’s the best way to stay awake.

At that time in Kathmandu we had a little workshop where we did things to help support the monastery, and so I sat down there, to have lunch. Lunch was quite good, so I picked up the food, like that, and then went to eat it, and then I’d go again. I never thought I’d ever be in a situation where I couldn’t get the food on a spoon. I was attached to food, but I couldn’t get it into my mouth because I kept falling asleep. Then I thought about the big cup of tea they have, so I got the tea and went to drink it, and then went this way [Roger demonstrates—seems like he fell over to the side or something.] Then I woke up, for a little while, anyway. [Group laughs]
It was very, very difficult to keep up with Rinpoche, because none of this would be an issue. Sometimes I would leave Rinpoche after the day had finished, which might be like four o’clock in the morning, and I was just completely exhausted, but then Rinpoche would just be sitting bolt upright, meditating.

There was one time in Europe when we were flying into Spain, and it was only a short trip, I think, like an hour and a half. The hostess had given everybody their food. I was sitting there beside Rinpoche—he had his food and I had my food—and I was a little anxious to get the food because it was only an hour and a half, and you have to land, right, so I was timing it wondering what the very last minute I could start eating it was, so I could finish before we landed. Rinpoche was doing the offering prayer, the food prayer, and was going on for a long time, and I thought, well it’s gone on long enough, if I don’t start eating I’m not going to get my lunch.

So, I started eating lunch, and then the hostess came and took my plate and she wanted to take Rinpoche’s plate away, but I asked her to please wait a little bit longer. She came back again, I said, no, please wait, please wait. And then finally we were starting to coming into land and she said, “I’m sorry, I have to take the food,” and she took Rinpoche’s food away. Rinpoche hadn’t touched it; he was still offering the food. I sort of went to Rinpoche and apologized, saying I couldn’t help it, and Rinpoche said, “Oh, no, I got the main benefit, I offered the food.” He said, “It’s okay, I offered the food,” that was the main benefit. So it’s like that. He’s not an easy person to move around with. [Rinpoche laughs]

Anyway, so, they were just a couple of stories.

So now, FPMT exists in something like thirty-five countries around the world doing a range of activities, and there is a lot going on, and a lot does happen because so many people help. Rinpoche always accepts help, so that’s how we exist today. We can do what we’re doing because so many people help, so many people offer service in different ways. People help in all sorts of ways; they help with money, they help with their energy, their expertise, in every different way. The organization exists because so many people work very hard and make incredible sacrifices.

A lot of centers started because of people with their own jobs, who had their families. Still, after going to work, they’d go home and look after their family, and then they’d go to the center. And sometimes you’d find people working there until two o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the morning, doing the accounts or this or that, people making an incredible effort to support the Dharma, to help others make a connection with the Dharma.

If you look at the history of all the centers around the world, they were started because we didn’t have much karma with money, but people just worked very hard. So many people made such an effort to establish the centers, and then once they were established, then, in different ways helped them grow and develop.

So that’s one thing that Lama Yeshe would always make clear. He didn’t do this. This didn’t happen just because of Lama Yeshe or just because of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It happened because thousands of students helped. So many people helped in so many different ways.

And for us to continue, we need so many people helping in so many different ways.

If you are interested in helping—because we do need help—there are many things that you could do, or you can offer, and if you are interested in some way to help, then you could see me later, or you could go to our website, FPMT.org and make yourself known.

Also, if you go to that website you’ll see a lot of things on the website that will help you understand what we offer people all around the world, like the education programs we have, that are happening in many different centers in many different countries.

We have education programs like Buddhism in a Nutshell, or Buddhism 101 that are just basic introductions to Buddhism. And then we have an education program called Discovering Buddhism. Originally we put that together for Mongolia because of the situation in Mongolia, which was—it’s a bit of a long story to tell now, but—to help revive Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia, especially amongst young people. So that program is on DVD also, and then you have people like Richard Gere and Keanu Reeves, sort of movie stars, introducing different subjects, just to make it interesting.

And then we have Foundation of Buddhist Thought, then we have two programs, Basic Program and Master’s Program where Buddhist philosophy is taught. These are available in centers we have around the world, so when you leave here, I’m almost sure whichever country you go to, there will be an FPMT center with a resident teacher that you could visit and continue your studies, and practice.

And also, now we have programs that are going on, online, so that you can actually do some of these programs online. You can do them from home.

Are there any questions?

I think Rinpoche is coming down soon to sign books. Yes?

Student: You had talked a little about the Maitreya Project [rest of his question inaudible]

Ven. Roger: One of Rinpoche’s projects, which is probably the biggest, is the Maitreya Project, which is a statue. It’s actually two statues now. It was Lama Yeshe’s wish. I think it was in a will that Lama Yeshe left that he wanted a very large statue of Maitreya built, which is not unusual in monasteries in Tibet. There’s often a large statue of Maitreya. So Lama Yeshe wanted a large statue of Maitreya built, and that was one of the things that Rinpoche took up. Because it was Lama Yeshe’s wish, Rinpoche wanted to complete that.

I think Lama Yeshe’s idea was that the statue would be about the same height as Boudhanath stupa which is a 170 feet. But over time, the statue grew to 500 feet. Rinpoche thought it would be more inspiring to have the largest statue in the world, and many other benefits.

So that became quite an interesting project. It’s been going on for a long time and there have been a lot of difficulties and obstacles in trying to achieve that statue, I mean unbelievable obstacles and difficulties. Sometimes I think, when I look at some of the people who are involved in that project and what they’ve gone through, to try and make it happen, in some ways, Milarepa didn’t have such a difficult time. It’s hard to imagine, but there are a lot of incredible obstacles.

There’s a long history to it but as of now, we have moved. It was supposed to be in Bodhgaya and now it’s in Kushinagar where the Buddha passed away.

It was the UP government that actually pushed quite a bit for Maitreya Project to come to UP, and they offered this land, 750 acres in Kushinagar, for the statue. It was the government’s job to relocate the farmers from the land so the land could be used in that way, and that became quite a complicated job, but, and it still is. The government said they would do that in three to six months, now it’s four years, and still hasn’t happened, and there have been a lot of complications, but now it seems to be quite close to happening in the sense that the land will be passed over to Maitreya.

But, in the meantime we had land in Bodhgaya, which was originally for the Maitreya Project but, because we moved, we didn’t use it. Rinpoche now wants to build a 150-foot Maitreya statue there on that land, and so that statue is actually starting in 2009.

Student: That’s happening in Bodhgaya?

Ven. Roger: That’s happening in Bodhgaya, yeah. So there are two statues now.

Are there any other questions?

So maybe we’ll just take a break. I’ll just go up and see. I think Rinpoche will come down in a few minutes. Thank you very much.

[Students applaud]

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