Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe

By Adele Hulse

Big Love, the official, authorized biography of Lama Yeshe, will make a significant contribution to the history of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. It contains personal stories of the lamas and the students who learned, lived and traveled with them, as well as more than 1,500 photos dating back to the 1960s. Watch this short video, The Big Love of Lama Yeshe, for an overview of this historic publication.

Order your copy using the "Add to Cart" button on this page. Read more about how to order here.

Please see what people are saying about this amazing book and explore our Big Love resources to find links to excerpts from the book, a homemade audiobook version of chapters from Big Love, a special image gallery of rare photos, a video of Lama Yeshe's final teaching at EEC1 in 1982, and Adele Hulse's dramatic readings on the LYWA YouTube channel.


LYWA is pleased to bring you a growing collection of resources for Lama Yeshe's biography, Big Love. Click on the links below to explore our Big Love resources, which include excerpts from the book, a homemade audiobook version of chapters from Big Love, a feature article by Laura Miller for Mandala magazine, a special image gallery of rare photos from Big Love, a video of Lama Yeshe's final teaching at EEC1 in 1982, and Adele Hulse's dramatic readings, available on the LYWA YouTube Channel.

Index of Big Love Resources

Video overview of Big Love: A short YouTube video featuring archival photos and chanting by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Audiobook: A homemade audiobook version of chapters from Big Love, read by people who were there as the story unfolded.
Errata: A list of amendments to the first edition of Big Love.
Lama’s laughing ringtone: Links to an mp3 of Lama Yeshe’s laughter.
A letter from Lama: An original typewritten letter sent to two students in 1971.
Photo album: A special Big Love album created for Losar 2019.
Sample chapters: Chapters 2, 7 and 18, available for download as PDF files.
Search the archive database: Instructions on how to find the teachings featured in Big Love on our website.
YouTube videos: Lama Yeshe’s final teaching at EEC1 and Adele Hulse’s dramatic readings from Big Love.

Short video overview of big love

Watch this short video, The Big Love of Lama Yeshe, for an overview of this historic publication. The video features archival photos and a recording of Lama Zopa Rinpoche chanting the prayer Calling the Guru from Afar.


Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe with students at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1971.This is a homemade audiobook version of Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, read by people who were there as the story unfolded. It is comprised of narrations recorded by a group of friends of the late Åge Delbanco (Babaji), who was one of Lama Yeshe’s earliest students. Åge was in his 90s when Big Love was published and was having trouble with his eyesight, so his kind friends decided to record it for him, but he passed away before it could be finished. With those same friends, we are now completing our recording of Lama's biography and gradually bringing you this informal oral transmission of Big Love in his honor.

We now have the following audio recordings on YouTube for you to listen to:

Forewords by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Narrated by Jonathan Landaw.
Prelude. Narrated by Jonathan Landaw, this brief prelude describes the situation in Tibet when Lama Yeshe was born.
Introduction. Written and narrated by Jonathan Landaw, the Introduction gives an overview of the life of the Buddha, traces the spread of the teachings to Tibet, and concludes with the meeting of East and West.
Chapter 1. 1935–40: Beginnings. Narrated by Janet Brooke, this chapter recounts the birth and early home life of the child who would grow up to become Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Chapter 2. 1941-1958: Living a Monastic Life. Narrated by Elaine Jackson, chapter 2 describes life at Sera Monastery in Lhasa, where Lama became ordained and engaged in intensive study and debate, despite the increasing unrest across Tibet due to the Chinese occupation.
Chapter 3. 1959: Flight to India. Narrated by Keith Emmons, chapter 3 describes how His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe and many Tibetans fled from the brutal and violent conquest of Tibet by the Communist Chinese government, the harrowing difficulties of their escape and the many challenges they faced upon arrival in India.
Chapter 4. 1959-66: Refugee Life in India. Read by Shasta Wallace, chapter 4 describes life in the Indian refugee camps, the challenges for the Tibetan monastic community in exile, and the story of how Lama Yeshe first met and became the teacher of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Chapter 5. 1967: Thubten Yeshe Meets a Russian Princess. Narrated by Shasta Wallace, this chapter describes the life of Zina Rachevsky, the story of how she first met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and what happened after she became the Lamas' first Western student.
Chapter 6. 1968: Zina Is Ordained. Narrated by Lara Brooke, chapter 6 describes Zina Rachevsky's decision to become ordained, how Lama Yeshe guided her to ordination in Nepal, and the fortuitous reunion of Zina and "Mummy" Max Mathews.
Chapter 7. 1969: Kopan's Beginning. Narrated by Lara Brooke, chapter 7 describes the Lamas' first trek to Lawudo, how a precious statue inspired the idea of Kopan, and how the land and community of Kopan began to assemble. 


Click here to access the Errata sheet, a list of amendments to the first edition of Big Love. Compiled with thanks to the astute readers who reported errors in the text. Readers are encouraged to notify the publisher of any further errors by emailing [email protected]

Special Big Love Laughing Ringtone

Download the mp3 of Lama Yeshe laughing by clicking here or by using the audio link at the top of this page and hear Lama’s big love laugh every time your phone rings. Check your phone specifications for how to add this mp3 file to your ringtone library. You can also listen and watch Lama laughing with students at Vajrapani Institute in California in 1983 on the LYWA Youtube channel.

Rare 1971 Letter

Read the original typewritten letter sent by Lama Yeshe to students, Randa and Robbie Solick, in August 1971. This treasured artifact, in which Lama offers Randa and Robbie advice and encouragement, is one of the earliest of Lama's letters that we have. Read about the Solicks' first meeting with Lama in 1969, in Big Love, pp. 147–49.

Big Love Photo Album

Visit our online gallery to see a selection of unique photos of the lamas in a special album created for Losar 2019.

SAmple Chapters

Read sample chapters excerpted from Big Love, listed below:

Chapter 2. 1941–58: Living a Monastic Life: This chapter describes Lama Yeshe's daily routines as a young monk at Sera Monastery in Lhasa, where he pursued rigorous geshe studies during the turbulent times prior to the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Click on the link above to read or download a PDF of Chapter 2, laid out exactly as it appears in the book, along with an article by Laura Miller, featured in Mandala magazine, July 2019 edition.

Chapter 7. 1969: Kopan's Beginning: In this chapter, the lamas and their early Western students trek to Lawudo, in Solu Khumbu, and after their return to Kathmandu, they find the site for what would become Kopan Monastery. Included are wonderful anecdotes and rare photos of the lamas and their Inji students in the early days.

Chapter 18. 1980: The Teachings Are All About You: This chapter begins with the second CPMT meeting at Kopan and an excerpt from Lama’s address to participants. Lama was exceptionally busy in 1980, travelling all over the world, visiting the emerging Dharma centers and giving teachings and initiations as requested by his students. He also found time for a cruise to Alaska, later telling students about the magnificent icebergs, glaciers, and abundant wildlife in the region.

Search the Archive Database

Big Love contains many excerpts from teachings by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. You can search the Archive database using the archive numbers provided in the Big Love footnotes to track the teaching event and find links to relevant pages on our website.

Youtube videos

Lama Yeshe's Farewell Teaching at the Enlightened Experience Celebration (EEC1): This teaching is excerpted from Lama Yeshe's final talk to students at the First Enlightened Experience Celebration (EEC1), April 1982. Lama discusses bringing the Dharma to the West and encourages students to work together harmoniously. You can also read an edited transcript of this teaching on our website.

Adele HulseClick on the links below to listen to Adele Hulse's dramatic readings from Big Love on the LYWA YouTube channel.

The First Chenrezig Course: In this reading, Adele describes the beginnings of Chenrezig Institute in Queensland, Australia and the events surrounding the first Dharma course given there by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1975.

The Yucca Valley Course: The excerpt begins with a teaching given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a lamrim course in Yucca Valley, California, and continues with anecdotes from students who describe their life-changing experiences after meeting the two lamas.

Meeting Zina Ravchevsky: The excerpt begins with Zina's birth, moves onto her wild youth and tumultuous adulthood, and ends with a description of Zina's first fortunate encounter with the lamas in India.

Ordination: This reading describes the ordination of early Western Dharma students during the Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya, India, 1974.

Writer Adele Hulse on Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe: In this talk, the author, Adele Hulse, discusses the creative process for Big Love from its inception. Adele also reads from Chapters 1 and 2 of the book. This talk was given in 2014 during a one-month retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion near Bendigo, Australia.