FPMT Annual Review 2020: Transforming Challenges into the Path

Welcome to FPMT International Office’s Annual Review 2020: Transforming Challenges into the Path! We are so pleased to be sharing this new online version of our yearly report of activities, and we hope you find this format a pleasure to read and interact with. As individuals and communities around the world would agree, 2020 was a unique year marked by many challenges, and also many opportunities for rejoicing. As Lama Zopa Rinpoche emphasized in his Thought Transformation Teachings during the Time of COVID-19 teaching series, the global pandemic gave us all an opportunity to truly practice Dharma, to take a difficult situation and utilize it on the path to enlightenment for the benefit of all. Please join us in this overview of some of our more notable accomplishments as an office and organization this past year.

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Advice From Our Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Every year, we include timely advice in our Annual Review from our most precious spiritual director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Rinpoche gave the following advice in 2020 to a Dharma center facing difficulties. Given the great challenges of our time, this advice from Rinpoche can help all of us. For too long we have focused our energy on trying to fix the outside world to ease our discomfort and suffering. But if we don’t give priority to working to change and develop our inner world through learning and practicing Dharma, we will not see any beneficial results—our efforts will go nowhere and our suffering will not end.

Read Rinpoche's Advice

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the following advice in 2020 to a Dharma center facing difficulties. Given the great challenges of our time, this advice from Rinpoche can help all of us. For too long we have focused our energy on trying to fix the outside world to ease our discomfort and suffering. But if we don’t give priority to working to change and develop our inner world through learning and practicing Dharma, we will not see any beneficial results—our efforts will go nowhere and our suffering will not end. We are sharing this advice as part of the FPMT Annual Review 2020: Transforming Challenges into the Path.

My Most Dear, Most Precious, Most Kind, Wish-Granting Jewels,

Lozang Tenpai Gyaltsen said:

When the blazing fire of anger, the enemy of the life of virtue,
Burns the seeds of liberation without exception,
Please extinguish it with the strong continual water
Of the nectar of your great compassion, Arya Compassionate-Eye-Looking One (Chenrezig).

His Holiness the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso, said:

In the view of the mind stirred by spirit possession and delusions,
Even though you feel that pride is good, it is like a dancing act of craziness.
However many collections of vices looked down upon by the holy beings you have done,
From the depths of your heart confess them individually with fervent regret.

The old mother sentient beings, who have guided me with kindness again and again,
Have fallen into the midst of a burning fire of suffering.
Since I don’t have the capacity to guide them now,
Please bless me to quickly achieve enlightenment.

On the basis of the teachings of the Buddha, the present founder of Buddhadharma, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said in his Seven Points of Thought Transformation,

Put all the blame on one.
Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Putting all the blame on one means to blame one’s own negative mind, the self-cherishing thought. This is what causes you to suffer; this has been the creator of your suffering from beginningless rebirths up to now, and if you continue to follow the self-cherishing thought, you will suffer continuously. You will continuously be stuck in samsara, experiencing suffering forever. The self-cherishing mind controls you; it has harmed numberless sentient beings in the past and continues to do so in the present. It has prevented you from achieving enlightenment from beginningless rebirths up to now. As long as you follow this selfish mind, it will prevent you from becoming enlightened in the future and will continuously harm you and all other sentient beings. This is the great demon, the enemy—the self-cherishing thought.

What is the self?

Even though there are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas, why so far have we not become free from the oceans of samsaric sufferings? Why do we suffer continuously? Why are we not yet enlightened? Why do we continue to suffer and suffer? We have followed our self-cherishing as if it were our best guide, a god, our best helper. We have been led by the selfish mind, the great demon, doing exactly what it says, thinking, “This is me. This is I. This is what I want.” That is totally wrong! That’s not you, that’s not me, that’s not the I. The body is not the I; mind is not the I; both together are not the I. Yet there is no I that exists separate from the aggregates.

Of course, I’m not saying that there is no I. There is an I. But what exists is nothing other than what is merely labeled by the mind. So what the I is, is most extremely subtle. We ordinary beings, like myself, never think we are acting for the merely-labeled I. If, for example, when we got angry we were able to meditate right at that time—“What is I? It exists in mere name”—there would be no place for our anger. It would totally disappear. It wouldn’t go anywhere; it would just become non-existent. The place from which that anger arises, the I, would no longer be there.

Similarly, the moment that you think the I exists in mere name, right at that time you see the real I is one hundred percent not there. That proves, or identifies, to your mind that the false I is simply an illusion.

In the first moment, the mind focuses on the aggregates, and then that same mind merely labels, or merely imputes, “I” upon them. That is how we create the I. Then, in the second moment, the I appears back to our mind as if it existed from its own side, as if it existed by itself, as if it were truly existent, or, in everyday language, as if it were a real I. It appears that way because of negative imprints left on our mental continuum from beginningless rebirths by the ignorance that holds the I as real, as existing from its own side, as existing by nature. That is projected, or decorated, by these negative imprints.

Then, in the third moment, we believe, or we hold on to, this concept of an I existing from its own side as one hundred percent true. Just to clarify, not a permanent I existing alone and existing with its own freedom. Also, not an I existing self-sufficiently. Also, not an I existing from its own side completely without depending on the substance, the imprint, left on the seventh consciousness, the mind-basis-of-all, and then experienced as both the object and the subject, the knowing mind. It is not even that, the gagja, the object to be refuted, according to the Cittamatra school of Buddhist philosophy.

The view of the next school higher than that, the Madhyamika Svatantrika, is that the gagja is the I that is not labeled by the mind but truly exists from its own side. According to the Svatantrika view, there is some existence from its own side but it is also labeled by the mind. Even that is not correct, but that is what they falsely believe. That is their right view.

However, in the view of the highest philosophical school, the Madhyamika Prasangika, this is the actual gagja, the object of refutation. Something that exists from its own side, even a little; something not totally from its own side but something from its own side, something small—that is totally non-existent according to Prasangika.

Realizing the total non-existence of that is the realization of the Prasangika view of emptiness. The wisdom realizing that is the only view that can directly eliminate the root of samsara, the ignorance that holds the I as real. Here I’m talking about the very subtle gagja—that there is something from its own side, even though it is labeled by mind. Even that is totally nonexistent. That belief is the root of samsara, the oceans of suffering. From that, ignorance arises, attachment arises, anger arises, jealousy arises, pride arises, and doubt arises. From that, the six root delusions and the twenty secondary delusions arise, and then in all the details, the 84,000 delusions.

Thus, that wrong concept, the ignorance that believes something exists from its own side, is the true cause of suffering, the principal one. From that, delusion and karma arise, bringing about all the various samsaric sufferings: the heavy suffering of the hells, the heavy suffering of the hungry ghosts, the heavy suffering of the animals, the heavy suffering of the human beings, the heavy suffering of the sura and asura beings, the suffering of rebirth, the suffering of sickness, the suffering of old age, and the suffering of death. All that comes from there.


I want to say that the FPMT is a religious organization, not a political one to hurt the world, to harm sentient beings. Buddhism differs from other religions in that it stresses compassion for all sentient beings in order to free them from suffering, and great compassion, where we take personal responsibility to do this by ourselves alone. The essence of Buddhism is not to harm sentient beings. That is so important.

The FPMT organization’s function is, on the basis of not harming others, to benefit them as much as possible; to bring them happiness. That does not mean allowing everybody to just do what they want, to destroy the world, even if that were to be the view of the majority, the democratic view. We cannot allow people to create the five extremely heavy negative karmas without break, creating the cause to be born in the lower realms for numberless eons just because they want to engage in such actions.

Say there are children at home and they don’t want to go to school. They want to stay home and play. Do the parents let them do that because that’s what they’d like to do? No. They get the children to go to school by cajoling them with sweet words and presents or by speaking wrathfully or punishing them, but out of heartfelt loving kindness and compassion. Parents do whatever they have to because it is important for the children to get an education so that they can get a job, make money, and survive in this world.

The practice of patience

As above, Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said:

Toward others, meditate on kindness.

Say, for example, a person is angry with you and tries to harm you with their body, speech, or mind. When the Buddha explained how to attain enlightenment through the practice of the six perfections, he gave complete teachings on patience. Then, as a representative of Shakyamuni Buddha, our guru taught us how to practice patience ourselves. But we don’t practice patience with the buddhas or with friends or strangers. The only person who gives us the opportunity to put the teachings on patience into practice is the one we consider an enemy, the angry person trying to harm us. That’s the only one.

By practicing patience with our enemy, we can overcome our anger, complete the perfection of patience, and attain enlightenment, the total cessation of all obscurations and the completion of all realizations. In doing so we achieve the infinite qualities of a buddha’s holy body, speech, and mind. And even before we get there, we become higher bodhisattvas on the eighth, ninth, and tenth levels; for us, they are like buddhas.

The one we call “enemy” gives us the infinite qualities of a buddha

But when we become enlightened, we become omniscient and can directly perceive all past, present, and future simultaneously. We can read every single sentient being’s mind at the same time, and there are numberless sentient beings in each realm. We also have the perfect power to reveal to them the methods that will free them from suffering and lead them from happiness to happiness, all the way to enlightenment, and we have complete, infinite compassion for every sentient being, with nothing more to develop. We are able to benefit them by freeing every single sentient being from all suffering and, ultimately, bringing them to enlightenment! Wow! Wow! Wow!

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha already did this for numberless sentient beings, is benefiting them now, and will continue to do so in the future, and we can do the same. We, too, can bring all this limitless benefit, as vast as the sky, and achieve all the infinite qualities of a buddha from the person we call the “enemy.” The one who is angry with us gives us the opportunity to gain all these enlightened qualities. The enemy’s kindness can never be repaid, even if we offer them skies filled with dollars, diamonds, even wish-granting jewels, all the material goods you need in life. We can never repay that unbelievable kindness; it’s like skies of kindness. What that person gives us is unimaginable. That person is most kind, most precious, most dear, our wish-fulfilling one.

So, everyone, please understand this. Read this letter carefully and think over its meaning well. This is the time to think well and not just breeze over it as if it’s some blah, blah, blah. Just this one time, think well, think well. Then you will realize what is really hallucination, false, and what in your life is the truth.

Your enemy is your teacher of patience

Now, in Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, the practice of patience with that person, the enemy, is regarded as the practice of seeing the enemy as the guru who is helping you complete the paramita of patience and making you achieve enlightenment. The enemy is your teacher, practically, your teacher of patience.

You can see now how that practice of patience is so priceless, how it changes your mind from negative to positive, into patience. And what happens from that? What can you achieve from that precious thought? You can achieve a healthy mind. We always seek to have a healthy body, but that comes from a healthy mind. A healthy mind is most important. So now, everybody, please think that you need a healthy mind.

Nowadays, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasizes very much to the world that it is not enough to be physically healthy; that really, physical health has to come from a healthy mind. Please everyone, practice that. These teachings are not just for listening by ear. We need to use these teachings for practice. If we don’t practice patience right now, right now, we will lose the opportunity, because that person’s anger won’t last for a long time, and when it’s gone, we will have lost an opportunity that is a much greater loss than losing skies of jewels, skies of gold, diamonds, or even wish-granting jewels.

Then, just to finish the quotation, by depending on that sentient being, the enemy who’s angry with or harming us, we generate great compassion. From great compassion, we generate bodhichitta. With bodhichitta, we become a bodhisattva, and from there we become a buddha. A buddha has two holy actions: one is in the buddha’s own holy mind and the other is in us sentient beings—all the virtue that we sentient beings create. From a buddha’s holy action comes all our virtue. That brings all happiness—all our past happiness from beginningless rebirths, all our present happiness, and all our future happiness, including that of enlightenment, the peerless happiness. Therefore, all our past, present, and future happiness, including enlightenment, even the happiness we experience in dreams, the happiness of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and even worldly happiness, every happiness that we experience is completely received from the person we call an enemy. So, that is how kind that person is. The sky has no limit in terms of measuring the kindness of that sentient being. So toward that sentient being, we should give the best of everything, like our own life. Just as we do the best for ourselves, likewise we should do the best for our enemies.

The source of suffering and happiness

All suffering comes from the I, from cherishing the I, and all happiness comes from cherishing others, as I just explained. Therefore, renounce the I and cherish other sentient beings most of all. Even that one sentient being. Like that, every sentient being is most precious, most kind, most dear, most wish-fulfilling; every single one. Also, from every sentient being, even a tiny insect, come all the numberless Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They all come from this one.

When we take refuge at the beginning of any practice we do, the numberless Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha in which we take refuge all came from this one sentient being. So, this sentient being is most precious, most kind, and wish-fulfilling. Therefore, for that one we do our best. This is our motivation and how we offer service to them.

With the mind, there’s always attachment to our own side and hatred toward others. On top of that we have jealousy, pride, and so forth, ignorance and self-cherishing. Day and night, we create so much negative karma with our body, speech, and mind.

How it seems is that for many lifetimes we practiced morality and prayed to be reborn human, but now that we’ve received a human body, all we do is create negative karma. It’s as if our purpose in having been born human is simply to create the cause to be reborn back into the lower realms, our permanent residence. This is how the state of our life appears. It looks as if we’ve prayed to create much heavier negative karma than even animals do so that we’ll be reborn in the lower realms and suffer greatly for many more numberless eons.

Do not harm others

Now you know that the numberless sentient beings are most kind, most dear, most precious, and totally wish-fulfilling. Now you know what I said at the beginning—this is the realization that we all should have if we really think of Dharma. If you want to be a really good human being, a better human being, at least do not harm others. Do no harm in this world. Do nothing harmful to others or yourself.

The most important thing I want you to know is that the real, the best Dharma practice is to hold others as most precious and to offer them the best of everything. Even if a child creates so many problems, the child’s mother loves that child the most; more than her own life. She will do the best for her child that she can.

That example shows us how we should be toward every sentient being. That is what allows us to attain enlightenment quickly. Otherwise our mind just follows delusion, and by living with delusion, jealousy, attachment, ignorance, and so forth we continuously create additional negative karma to remain in samsara and the lower realms.

Normally we create negative karma day and night and then, on top of that, we create additional negative karma as if it were in short supply. It’s as if we were worried that there is such a scarcity of negative karma that we need to plan to create some more, like pouring rain, by following delusion.

The conclusion is that we must stop, or at least cut down on, creating negative karma. Otherwise, instead of causing others to practice virtue, we will cause them to collect more negative karma and as a result everybody will continuously suffer in samsara, go to the lower realms, and suffer for eons and eons to come.

How to be an FPMT center director

The best way of being an FPMT center director is to study and practice the lamrim before taking the job. Don’t just study the lamrim intellectually, but practice it. Then you’ll be able to offer service to the FPMT and sentient beings correctly. Not only will you not harm sentient beings, you’ll benefit them as well. The more you understand the lamrim, the more you practice it, the more you realize it, the better you’ll be able to benefit sentient beings and serve the organization. You will purify your negative karma accumulated since beginningless rebirths, collect the greatest, most extensive merit, and attain enlightenment more quickly.

Of course, in general, I must stress how important it is for everybody to know the lamrim, but it is an essential prerequisite for an FPMT center director. We have a director’s manual to which I have added my own advice.

Before you become a director, you need some training. Even before becoming a waiter you need to be trained somewhat. You need to learn to be friendly when people come to the restaurant. Greet them nicely, “Hello, how are you?” Say some nice words, kind words. That makes people happy. Chat with them, and when they leave tell them goodbye, wish them a nice day, that sort of thing. Smile a lot. All these small things make people feel good. It’s also important for directors to be nice. You have to change your mind; you have to have a good heart. You have to have compassion for sentient beings and pay attention to the Buddhadharma, to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. You have to have patience. Then your service becomes correct.

If your motivation is self-cherishing based upon the root of samsara, the ignorance holding the I as real, a total, lifelong hallucination, attachment and anger arise, as Lama Tsongkhapa explained in the Great Treatise. If you live your life with self-cherishing and all those other delusions, nothing you do is pure; nothing becomes Dharma. Whatever you do—even if you attend teachings or study Dharma or meditate—when you offer service, nothing becomes Dharma. That is terrible, terrible, terrible—nothing becomes Dharma. Even if you are doing something, it doesn’t become Dharma. In your mind, you do not cherish others, you don’t have even effortful bodhichitta. All you have is strong self-cherishing thought and everything revolves around you: your happiness, your power, your wealth. Then, so many problems arise. You try to defeat others, bringing them anger and suffering and making them upset. There are problems at your center. Everybody is unhappy with you, everybody criticizes you. Like that, it is very sad.

It’s also possible that you don’t care about the center. All you care about is your own happiness, your own reputation. You pay no attention to the center. It’s like certain people who work for the government who care only about their own power and reputation. They don’t care about the government or the health and happiness of the population. They just care about themselves. When it’s very much like that at the center, only problems arise. When someone becomes a president or prime minister, many people become unhappy with that person. It can be the same with an FPMT center director.

I’ll tell you a story. There was one student who became a director of a large center, and immediately many people started criticizing him. It’s always like this. That’s why I say, when someone becomes director they should expect criticism. They should say to themselves, “I’m the person everybody is going to criticize.” Prepare yourself for that. Since that is going to happen, be ready for it. Then it won’t bother you. You won’t get emotional. It’s also very good for your Dharma practice; very, very good. And as a result, you become very kind to others. As a director, you have to be kind to others. As I said, with compassion for sentient beings, serve them. With devotion to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, serve them. That’s what an FPMT center director has to do.

If someone is untrained, they will create many problems, like presidents and ministers who run a country but are only in it for themselves. They work in politics only for their own happiness, reputation, and wealth, while so much of the population is unhappy. Then, they don’t like these leaders, they suffer, and eventually they rise up against them. Then there’s a civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people get killed. We’ve seen this happen in many countries. That’s the big one.

Thank you very much. Why I have to appeal to you is so that you won’t create downpours of negative karma. So, with palms pressed together at my heart, I thank you all for not doing that. Thank you very much.

In conclusion

I hope everyone has gotten some clarity from my blah, blah. It’s quite long. I’m sorry for that but I have to clarify everything for you. When things don’t get solved, then there is a lot of blah, blah, blah, and so much negative karma gets created with one’s body, speech, and mind due to attachment, anger, and ignorance, just like a rain falling.

Old students who know Dharma may understand what I am saying, all this blah, blah. When one’s motivation is not pure, when the eight worldly dharmas reign, then there’s anger and jealousy. Even if it’s a correct situation, you may think that it is wrong. Then you make wrong decisions. This happens many times in life, due to anger, the dictator of the self-cherishing thought, and so forth.

Unlike the buddhas and bodhisattvas, who totally serve sentient beings, we do not let the people of the center use us. Buddhas and bodhisattvas just let others use them, whether it’s with praise or criticism. They just totally dedicate themselves to others’ happiness. While we become a slave to the dictator, the self-cherishing thought, bodhisattvas who work for sentient beings have unbelievable peace and happiness. Compare this with using self-cherishing for power and so forth, which in reality is simply working for oneself.

When there’s a problem, one has to research both sides to establish what is right and what is wrong. If one considers only one side, one gets stuck in a quagmire that is hard to get out from. Many times both can be right and many times both can be mistaken.

Problems come from a wrong motivation, self-cherishing, and anger. Problems arise from delusion and karma. They are created by past karma and present delusion. Even if what you are doing is good, virtuous, but past lives’ karma can be experienced out because it was not purified well. One result is eons of suffering in an unfortunate realm or in some other form of chaos.

Kadampa Geshe Garab Wangchug said:

Experiencing the present small suffering purifies heavy suffering.

That means that for a long time, one will experience happiness like the sun shining, and from life to life things will get better and better. You can look at it as negative but you can also look at it as positive. That’s why the Kadampa geshes said, “Rejoice. Be happy with suffering.”

Then, with the motivation of compassion and actions done for sentient beings, if there’s limited wisdom, mistakes will be made because of not having full understanding. I want to say, buddhas are the ones who know politics best. Like His Holiness, they have omniscience, no ignorance. We are ignorant; therefore, we make mistakes and have suffered since beginningless rebirths. If you really think and feel that, not just the words, that’s the most frightening thing—how long we have suffered.

When people criticize you, it doesn’t mean that they are right. We carry past lives’ negative karma, give rise to heresy, and lack devotion. There are people who criticize His Holiness and there were six heretics who criticized the Buddha. You have to know that. One thing is that you can be evil, but others can look at you as positive, pure, and enlightened, even if you are a demon. The other is that you are a buddha, but people don’t see it.

For example, the Buddha’s attendant Legpai Karma always criticized him. One day the Buddha went out for alms and a girl offered a handful of grain into his begging bowl. As a result, the Buddha predicted her enlightenment as Sangye Tsema. Then the Buddha’s attendant thought, “Why is the Buddha saying that? He is lying.” For twenty-two years, he believed the Buddha had lied and in his next life he was born in hell for eons.

This example is brought up in the root text of the Graduated Path to Enlightenment. Therefore, you have to make an effort to make your mind pure, positive. You have the responsibility of becoming enlightened. Like you have the responsibility of getting better if you are sick, take care to keep your mind healthy. His Holiness emphasizes this, the hygiene of the emotions. Get sick with attachment and great negativity will ensue all day long. This happens with the five poisonous minds. We do take care of our body, but the best thing is to make sure you have a healthy mind; that’s what makes a very healthy body.

One final point

FPMT center, project, and services directors should be good human beings and, like a bodhisattva, have less attachment. They should not be partisan, should not abandon others, and so forth. When attachment increases, fighting follows.

This is the attitude of buddhas and bodhisattvas: every sentient being is most kind, most dear, most precious. Each is a wish-fulfilling-gem mother, as the Buddha taught in his sutra teachings and as integrated in the lamrim. Or, you can become the most loving mother toward all sentient beings, like when someone is suffering, a mother cherishes that person as if it were her most suffering child.

The more you understand Dharma, the better decisions you can make. Like when running a government, the more the motivation is pure, the better the result. The essence is understanding the Dharma, otherwise you’ll make many mistakes and put yourself into great suffering. Better than that is to have the clairvoyance that knows what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future. And best of all is to have omniscience.

The great bodhisattva Shantideva said in Bodhicharyavatara:

If I can’t bear even
This much present suffering,
Why don’t I abandon anger,
The cause of hell suffering?

And the glorious pandit Chandrakirti from Nalanda said:

Think: “This is not the mistake of sentient beings,
But the mistake of the disturbing thoughts.”
By examining, the Learned Ones don’t get angry with sentient beings,
But reflect on their kindness and don’t criticize them.

Thank you.

Thubten Zopa

Colophon: Excerpted from a letter sent to an FPMT center, written on July 20, 2020, at Kopan Monastery, Nepal. Scribed by Ven. Tenzin Namdrol. Edited by Ven. Joan Nicell and Nicholas Ribush for use in the FPMT International Office Annual Review 2020. You can find the complete letter “Reflecting on the Kindness of Others” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

This advice can also be seen on its own webpage.

Continue below to Welcome from CEO Ven. Roger Kunsang or Return to the Main Menu

Welcome From CEO Ven. Roger Kunsang

One of the highlights of our Annual Review every year is Ven. Roger Kunsang’s letter. Our CEO has once again framed the organization’s past year in relatable and encouraging language and highlighted many areas for us to rejoice in and reflect upon.

Read the full message

Dear Friends,

This last year has been quite a challenge! COVID-19 impacted students and FPMT centers, projects, and services around the world, including changes to the teaching events we had planned for Rinpoche. However, while it wasn’t what we expected, one of the major highlights resulting from the COVID-19 upheavals has been Rinpoche’s Teachings on Thought Transformation during the Time of COVID-19.

Another major highlight for 2020 is that Lama Zopa Rinpoche could finalize the offering of the Maitreya Project land in Bodhgaya to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This is an amazing offering and an incredible achievement for the organization that we can all rejoice in!

The donation of about thirty acres (twelve hectares) of valuable, prime land in Bodhgaya will help fulfill His Holiness’s wish to build an international institute in this most sacred place of Buddhism. His Holiness’s vision is that the institute will share the wisdom of the Nalanda tradition in order to create happiness and peace in the world. The project includes three aspects:

  1. To create a learning center for studying philosophy of the mind; emotional health; as well as methodology, etymology dialects, and meditation as embodied by Nalanda masters.
  2. To build a replica of the ancient Nalanda University to connect with Buddhists around the world and bring the world into the “ecosystem” of Bodhgaya.
  3. To promote the four principal commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, inspired by the Nalanda tradition.

The plan to build a large Maitreya statue at this site has been integrated into the overall vision for His Holiness’s institute. The FPMT will continue to sponsor the statue.

Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan government in exile, wrote to me recently, thanking the FPMT for the offering of the Maitreya Project land:

“I would like to sincerely express my gratitude to FPMT for offering land to His Holiness the Dalai Lama through the Nalanda Institute of Dalai Lama at Bodhgaya. The institute, as envisioned by His Holiness, will be a secular international institution that will preserve and promote India’s ancient wisdom that flourished at Nalanda University.

“The land offered by FPMT to His Holiness will be specifically used by the institute to provide an opportunity for people from around the world to study His Holiness’s philosophy and vision. The land will host seven core structures, which are the Maitreya statue, a temple, a museum, an international Buddhist library, a meditation center, classrooms, and a state of the art convention hall.”

In January 2020, Rinpoche had an appointment with His Holiness seeking advice on other matters. During the meeting, His Holiness expressed gratitude for the offered land and also for the role Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche have played in establishing the Gelug tradition in the West. His Holiness also praised Rinpoche’s generosity and other qualities as well as the work of the FPMT organization.

What Rinpoche has offered to His Holiness is something that helps to actualize a strong wish of His Holiness. As Rinpoche has taught, fulfilling the wishes of the guru is the most enjoyable thing in life. When Rinpoche told Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme) about the donation, she said that offering land to His Holiness for the institute is far more beneficial than building thousands of Maitreya statues. (Of course, we are still going to build Maitreya statues.)

So please rejoice in the merit created by the donation of Maitreya Project land to His Holiness. And also rejoice in the merit generated by all those who have helped with and donated to the Maitreya Project in Bodhgaya over the years. This generosity has created the conditions for Rinpoche’s amazing offering to His Holiness—all of this fulfilling the wishes of our gurus!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who is bowed low, with Vens Tsenla, Tendar, Topgy, and Roger kneeling with hands in prostration mudra

Rinpoche meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya – Namgyal Monastery, Bodhgaya,McLeod Ganj, India; Photographer: Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; 2020-01

A few weeks after this most exciting development, COVID started to hit. Teaching events were cancelled, in a discussion with Rinpoche, I suggested a regular program called something like “Breakfast with Rinpoche” where for about seven to ten minutes (I know, this already sounds very unlike Rinpoche!) Rinpoche could give practical advice to students on practice, helping them through the challenges surrounding the pandemic.

Rinpoche didn’t initially seem to be interested. A few days passed then Rinpoche said to me, “We are surrounded by the conditions for death all the time! Impermanence! It is the key to Dharma practice, so why this extra worry due to COVID? We are supposed to be developing the awareness that death can happen and will happen at any time!” This was the point that Rinpoche wanted to emphasize—to use the situation of COVID to remind us of Dharma and motivate us to practice! Of course, each teaching session went beyond seven to ten minutes!

We also took the opportunity to tell the story of Kopan Monastery through video, sharing short video segments at the beginning of Rinpoche’s teachings, as it has been fifty years since Rinpoche started teaching there. We included video of Kopan monks doing prayers and dedications and of them talking about the monastery, explaining Dharma, and telling stories of how they came to the monastery and where they are today. We also heard from people who were involved at the beginning to show how Kopan Monastery and the annual one-month lamrim course—which was the beginning of FPMT—influenced the establishment of centers around the world. “Mummy” Max Mathews talked about how it was with Lama Yeshe and Zina, the lamas’ first Western student. This story of FPMT was published alongside Rinpoche’s ninety video sessions of approximately ninety to 120 minutes each on lojong. Rinpoche still has not reached the actual subject yet, but in the meantime so much preliminary subject matter has been taught.

All of this was captured and managed by the FPMT International Office team and can now easily be accessed on the internet by anyone who wishes to engage. This is an amazing resource and the teachings having started up again! What a truly wonderful resource thanks to a lot of hard work by the team in Rinpoche’s office (IOF)!

A comprehensive summary of those teachings up to this point is included in the latest version of the online Mandala magazine and is offered to all students of Rinpoche. Rinpoche says that this way of teaching online makes it so easy to share his teachings, rather than always having to travel. In the past fifty years Rinpoche has been on the road continuously, never in one place longer than about a month (apart from the period of manifesting a stroke in 2011). Since the passing of Lama Yeshe in 1984, a massive effort has gone into maintaining the nonstop schedule—no doubt a bodhisattva’s way of life!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the staff of International Office for the excellent work in making these teachings available in multiple languages and all the other work and activities accomplished during this last year, truly taking advantage of these difficult conditions we have faced and making it worthwhile for so many—now and in the future. I was very inspired reading the reports from our various departments this year and wanted to highlight some of the achievements of the office over the last year. You will read more about these accomplishments, and many others, as you engage in the sections below.

  • A major focus during 2020 was reviewing, responding, and implementing the recommendations of the fact-finding assessment and safeguarding audits we commissioned. A significant outcome of this work was developing a new Protecting from Abuse policy, which is being finalized and rolled out soon, combined with training and education, with the goal of improving protection through the entire organization.
  • We continued to receive support from thousands of kind and generous donors through our different fundraising programs. This allowed us to offer grants of US$3,766,654 through FPMT Charitable Projects to many beneficial activities, including support to Sangha, monasteries, and nunneries; help to children through education; assistance to elderly Tibetans; service to animals; holy object creation; pujas for world peace and merit making; protection for the environment; investment in teachers of the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition; social services in Nepal, India, and Mongolia; and many other worthy causes.
  • Support continued for 114 centers and forty-seven study groups in thirty-nine countries, with forty-two resident geshes, fourteen resident teachers, five regional coordinators, and seven national coordinators. Many centers and study programs had to adapt and take advantage of technology to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and develop many new online opportunities.
  • International Office also had to adopt to the pandemic conditions, of course. We made our IT infrastructure more accessible and reliable as the office became a fully remote “virtual” office at the beginning of the outbreak and continues to operate in this way. All the processes and procedures that previous relied on paper and hard-copy supplies went completely digital.
  • Just prior to COVID-19, we completed the sale of part of our building in Portland. We have had less need for the same level of physical space due to more remote staff, the transition of our Foundation Store to a digital-only store, and the change of Mandala print magazine to an online format.
  • We created a new Teacher Services Director position to oversee different matters regarding teachers, including the registration process for non-Tibetan teachers, the updating of the FPMT Registered Teacher List and of the Tibetan Teacher List, the handling of grievances and complaints, as well as safeguarding issues related specifically to teachers.
  • We commenced work on two new foundational level education programs, which are currently being developed, and continued to support existing programs.
  • New educational materials were developed and updated and made available with over 26,000 items obtained or downloaded from the Foundation Store.
  • Over 127,000 hours of video were seen on FPMT’s YouTube channel reaching over 1,000,000 views. These included over 100 new short video extracts of Rinpoche’s teachings.
  • New communication strategies began with the aim of developing a more integrated approach for blogging and communications. Over 284 blogs were published this year.
  • A new Inner Job Description training video was made available online and a Foundation Service and Teacher Development Service Seminar took place.
  • US$31,368 in funds were collected from Merit Box practitioners and centers, and offered to thirteen centers and one FPMT regional office; 432 “workers” contributed US$46,028 to the Work a Day for Rinpoche campaign; 1,139 Friends of FPMT supporters contributing US$270,008; and US$83,755 was donated to the Give Where Most Needed fund.
  • As a show of appreciation, the International Office offered the biography of Lama Yeshe, Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe, to more than a hundred and fifty people, including people who have offered service in the organization for a long time, early students of FPMT, and a small number of benefactors. The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, who published Big Love, offered the book copies and the International Office covered the shipping expenses of the book. We also offer huge appreciation to LYWA for their great efforts in producing Big Love.

I want to take the opportunity, again, to sincerely thank all the staff in Rinpoche’s Office for this amazing work in challenging times! I also thank everyone around the world who help so much to continue the compassionate activities of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche—all those offering service, the teachers, translators, students, volunteers, and benefactors who work so hard and support the organization in so many different ways creating the “family feeling” of FPMT. Thank you!

I hope you will enjoy our new online format for our Annual Review and join me in rejoicing in all of the beneficial accomplishments.

roger kunsang

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Who We Are & What We Do

The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) is devoted to preserving and spreading Mahayana Buddhism worldwide by creating opportunities to listen, reflect, meditate, practice, and actualize the unmistaken teachings of the Buddha, and based on that experience, spread the Dharma to sentient beings. Every organization has its own distinctive culture, and in FPMT centers, projects, and services, reflected in policies, charitable giving, and educational programs, FPMT “Wisdom Culture” remains at the heart of all our activity. FPMT programs offer a comprehensive, experiential approach to study, practice, and service in the great educational tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa of Tibet as taught by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

FPMT, Inc. is a non-profit Buddhist organization incorporated in the State of California, US. There are more than 160 centers, projects, and services around the world that have entered into or are in the process of entering into affiliation agreements with FPMT, Inc. Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Office, or FPMT International Office, is based in Portland, Oregon, US, and provides the necessary framework for all FPMT activity; develops and delivers high quality education programs and materials; maintains several primary channels for communication; manages charitable projects key to FPMT’s mission; coordinates communication between Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the larger organization; and provides support to FPMT centers, projects, and services.

Who We Are | Meet Our Board

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Message From Our Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors are a diverse group of individuals with a broad range of professional skills and FPMT organizational experiences, with new members joining at the time of this publication in March 2021.

Read the full message
Dear Friends,

This last year has not been an easy one—quite challenging! We hope that everyone has been taking good care of themselves during the pandemic.

In early 2020, board members, staff of International Office, and regional and national coordinators completed a four-week online training course with FaithTrust Institute in response to the accusations and subsequent investigation of Dagri Rinpoche’s actions of sexual abuse. The main learning objectives of that course were to understand the importance of an awareness of power and vulnerability within teaching relationships, and to consider best practices regarding responding to misconduct by spiritual leaders. Additionally, in preparation for receiving the reports from the investigation, additional online training sessions were held with the board to help us with our responsibilities in adjudication of the findings from the report.

The full report from the investigation was received in September 2020. FaithTrust Institute reached its conclusions and associated analysis based on a standard for civil proceedings in the US, which is “a preponderance of evidence.” It was the FPMT Inc. Board’s responsibility to make final decisions about how to proceed in regards to the information contained in this report. The report contained a number of recommendations related to actions pertaining to (1) Dagri Rinpoche, (2) complainants, (3) communication and public statements, (4) policy and procedures, (5) ongoing training and education, and (6) additional complaints.

The board was determined to implement the recommendations received and work to do what was necessary to improve safeguarding within the organization. Many of the recommendations received have been completed in 2020 and in early 2021. During that time we have been prioritizing a review of FPMT policies and guidelines instituted to uphold a safe and respectful environment in FPMT centers, projects, and services.

The current steps are responding to and enriched by the learning provided and recommendations made as part of the investigation of Dagri Rinpoche by the two safeguarding organizations commissioned by FPMT Inc., which are Thirtyone:eight and FaithTrust Institute.

We’re implementing a robust menu of new policy, guidelines, and a supporting training presentation to help enable each of us in the FPMT organization to offer a safe environment for Dharma practice with clear protection from harm and abuse, and with transparent and appropriate processes in place to report and resolve any complaint. Here we share key steps we are taking in this important process:

  • A new online Protecting from Abuse training presentation is about to launch. This will be mandatory for all in leadership positions within the FPMT organization, including registered teachers, and has been reviewed by Thirtyone:eight and other stakeholders within the FPMT organization. It includes guidance regarding sexual abuse, healthy boundaries, power imbalance, and crisis intervention. The training presentation is being provided in several languages, including Tibetan.
  • Alongside the new training presentation, we will be providing a new Protecting from Abuse policy, which the training presentation is designed to unpack and support. This policy includes input and recommendations received during our safeguarding audits.
  • We are also reviewing whether additional new policy and guidelines related to FPMT teachers may be needed, to supplement the Protecting from Abuse policy.

Our aim in providing these new resources, in addition to current ethical policy and guidelines, is to help provide learning, tools, and strategies to better ensure protection from harm and abuse in FPMT-affiliated centers, projects, and services, and to make sure that any complaints can be appropriately reported, processed, and resolved locally.

Additionally, FPMT Foundation and Teacher Development Service Seminars will refer to and make use of the new Protecting from Abuse policy and training. We are also working on how to more clearly communicate that any spiritual advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche is given purely from the perspective of personal spiritual practice and to ensure that clear pathways are separately outlined for processing any complaints or allegations.

The adjudication of the findings from the report was a difficult and challenging process for a board that was spread across the world in different time zones with different experiences and views. The board made efforts to conclude the initial work to the stage where the final report was received and adjudicated and the initial conclusions accepted.

The board worked on this for over a year, which was demanding and difficult considering outside work, family needs, and other personal responsibilities. Due to various reasons, some board members resigned near the end of the investigation. We would like to thank them for all the effort and invaluable contribution they made under such challenging circumstances. Special thanks to Andrew Haynes, who was the Chair of the Board and has been an FPMT Board member for so many years. Andrew has indicated he would like to return to the board after a period of rest.

New board members have already accepted to join the board and were recently announced. The intention is to have a mixture of ordained and lay individuals, a gender balance, and a good range of professional skills and FPMT organizational experiences.

We sincerely wish that all of us involved in the FPMT organization will continue to contribute to the necessary reflections and changes that will help us to better prevent harm and abuse, and to process complaints appropriately and fairly, and that the new policy, guidelines, and training will provide powerful support and oversight for this essential aspect of the service our organization provides around the world. We welcome any further suggestions toward this outcome.

Despite the challenges of this year, we are happy to see all of the accomplishments that International Office has achieved in 2020, and we continue to be inspired by all of the great work happening around the world throughout the FPMT organization.

Board of Directors, FPMT, Inc.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Activities in 2020

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has spent decades traveling and giving teachings, and it seemed that another year of doing so was on the horizon when 2020 began. Of course, the year ended up being anything but typical! Rinpoche responded to the pandemic crisis by offering his time in the most beneficial way possible, offering an incredible amount of powerful pujas to create merit, remove obstacles, and mitigate the negative effects of the virus on the world.

Please join us in rejoicing in Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s many beneficial activities this year.

Read highlights of Rinpoche's year

Rinpoche began the year in Bodhgaya, India, staying at Root Institute, where he did many of the activities that he usually engages in while there, including visiting the children at Maitreya School and also circumambulating the Mahabodhi Stupa.

Rinpoche then went to Kopan Monastery in Nepal and was offered a long life puja there on January 22. The next day, as news of the novel coronavirus became more serious, Rinpoche offered his first advice on practices to protect from the coronavirus and COVID-19.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in full prostration before the Guru bumtsok altar below the giant Guru Rinpoche thangka

Lama Zopa Rinpoche prostrating to the giant Guru Rinpoche thangka during the Guru bumtsok at Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, January 2020.

For the fifth year in a row, a very large thangka of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) was displayed and an auspicious 100,000 tsog offering event (Guru bumtsog) took place at Khachoe Ghakyil Ling on January 23, 2020. The thangka, which is 75 feet (23 meters) high and 87 feet (27 meters) wide depicts, in stitched appliqué, the Padmasambhava merit field in the center. Rinpoche attended this powerful bumtsog.

At the end of January, Rinpoche traveled to Sera Je Monastery in South India for teachings. While at Sera Je, Rinpoche visited with many lamas, including Zong Rinpoche, Khyongla Rato Rinpoche, and Domo Rinpoche. On February 13, Rinpoche was offered a long life puja by Drati Khagtsen at Sera Je Monastery.

Rinpoche returned to Kopan and did one of many Most Secret Hayagriva tsog kong pujas with the Kopan monks on March 2 for removing the coronavirus and other obstacles.

On March 9, the Bodhicaryavatara and Rinjung Gyatsa Retreat at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia was postponed. The postponement of the retreat, which was planned for March and April, was the result of observations by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the implications of the coronavirus.

On March 19, we published the first video advice from Rinpoche in relation to the coronavirus. For the following nine months Rinpoche continued recording what became his thought transformation video teaching series, which by the end of the year had 90 videos.

As lockdown and stay at home orders were being issued around the world, Rinpoche and other high lamas in Nepal performed incense pujas to mitigate the spread and damage of COVID-19. Rinpoche remained at Kopan Monastery for the rest of 2020, allowing him the opportunity to participate in many activities there, such as attending debate sessions and meeting with the monastery’s monk staff members and teachers. Rinpoche celebrated Saka Dawa with the Kopan community in June.

On July 4 a long life puja was offered to Rinpoche under the guidance of Khadro-la. There were three days of preparations leading up to the special White Tara long life puja that was offered to Rinpoche with Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi and about one hundred senior monks from the monastery and twenty nuns from the nunnery.

During July and August, Rinpoche participated in offering more than forty fire pujas to purify and heal the coronavirus pandemic situation and its negative impact in Nepal and around the world. Based on advice from Khadro-la, a core group of lamas, which included Khadro-la; Tsoknyi Rinpoche; Mingyur Rinpoche; Lama Zopa Rinpoche; the Abbot of Shechen Monastery, Yeshe Gyaltsan; and the Abbot of Mindroling Monastery, Theckchok Gyaltsan, did fire pujas and incense pujas in several locations in Kathmandu.

monks holding incense sticks during puja

Lama Zopa Rinpoche attends annual consecration ceremony at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, July 2020. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

In July, Rinpoche attended the second day of the annual Kopan consecration ceremony, which is a three-day event of pujas. The day Rinpoche attend was on Chokhor Duchen, when the consecration ceremony itself took place in the rebuilt Chenrezig Gompa.

In August, Rinpoche attended a Most Secret Hayagriva tsog kong puja offered at Kopan Monastery. This puja was one of a few that was advised by Khadro-la for Rinpoche’s health and long life. Rinpoche was also present for offering a tsog puja on the ninth anniversary of Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup’s showing the aspect of passing away; as well as most of the tsog pujas at Kopan all year.

A Most Secret Hayagriva tsog kong puja was offered at the end of October for Rinpoche’s long life and good health and for the entire FPMT organization.

Rinpoche participated in the meritorious activities at Kopan on Lhabab Duchen. Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi, and the Lama Gyupa monks recited Guhyasamaja Tantra in Lama Gyupa gompa at Kopan Monastery next to the beautiful Thirteen-Deity sand mandala that was created for the holy day. This year on Lhabab Duchen the monks did the Thirteen-Deity Yamantaka self-initiation for three days. On the third day, they offered a peaceful fire puja and dismantled the sand mandala. The following day the sand went into the river and a naga puja followed.

This year, the annual Kopan Course was canceled due to the pandemic. But Rinpoche’s birthday was still celebrated with some of the usual festivities on December 3. The day began with a Sixteen Arhant long life puja and a body, speech, and mind mandala offering to Rinpoche on behalf of the entire FPMT organization. This was followed by a program of dancing, Dharma plays, singing, and cake!

Khadro-la and Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi offering a dharmachakra to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who is seated on a throne, wearing golden hat

Khadro-la and Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi offering a dharmachakra to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, during a long life puja for Rinpoche, Kopan Monastery, December 2020. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Lama Tsongkhapa Day was on December 10, and Rinpoche participate in the activities at the monastery honoring the day, which included a Heruka Lama Chopa in the morning, the Kopan Lama Gyupas taking Guhyasamaja self-initiation, and all the monks making extensive light offerings at night.

On December 25, Rinpoche was offered a long life puja at Kopan with Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi and Khadro-la in attendance as well as Kopan monks and nuns. This was part of the official long life puja offered every year on behalf of the entire FPMT organization (with a second part following in 2021).

Throughout the year Rinpoche has been giving lamrim teachings to the monks of Kopan Monastery and to the nuns of Kachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, and he also attended the debate festivals of the monks and nuns respectively.

Visit the Lama Zopa Rinpoche Photo Gallery to see more photo highlights from Rinpoche’s 2020.

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Our Charitable Work

FPMT’s Charitable Projects exist to benefit others in the most extensive ways possible. In 2020 an incredible US$3.7 million was offered to support initiatives such as offering food and support to ordained Sangha; investing in the main teachers of the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition; offering essential social services to elderly homes, schools, hospitals, the poor and monastic institutions; sponsoring holy objects such as: statues, stupas, and prayer wheels; offering continual pujas and prayers for the benefit of the entire FPMT organization and the world; and liberating animals from untimely death.

These projects come from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s incredibly Vast Visions and offer long-term benefit to those in need, help preserve the precious Buddhadharma, and those who selflessly uphold the teachings.

Please join us in rejoicing in the ways that we are putting Dharma into action. Our ability to offer this support and benefit so many is due to the kindness of all who support our work. Thank you so much for your kindness.

Highlights of 2020

This year, the Social Services Fund offered support to five different schools in Nepal and India that benefited nearly 1,000 students! Many of these schools were required to temporarily close in March of 2020 and have remained closed due to local restrictions. Some of the schools that have hostels on the premises remained open and offered restricted classes to the children still living there, and some offered a form of online schooling or direct limited support to older children.

In 2020, we offered an amazing US$134,810 toward the support and education of children by:

  • Students of Ngari Institute enjoying lunch prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

    Providing grants for all the food for the children at Ngari Institute, Ladakh, India, and lunch for all the children at Sambhota Tibetan School, Bylakuppe, India.

  • Offering a grant to cover most of the annual expenses of Maitreya School, Bodhgaya, India.
  • Providing a grant to Sagarmatha Secondary School in Chailsa, Nepal, for the salaries of the teachers, yearly text books, and school uniforms for the students.
  • Offering a grant to build a school building for Samtenling Monastery, in Boudhanath, Nepal. This school is providing the young monks of the monastery with a modern, progressive, and secular education, and has been operating without a building or classrooms since it started.

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The Social Services Fund offered support to over 350 Tibetans living in five elderly homes in India. We were pleased to hear that each home took the necessary precautions and ongoing safety measures needed to protect those in their care and the surrounding communities during the pandemic. Even so, sadly some elders did pass away due to COVID-19.

In 2020 we offered US$378,741 for the support of five elderly homes. These funds provided the following support:

  • Some of the elders of Lugsam Elderly Home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Covering the shortfall or the entire operating budgets of Jampaling Elder’s Home, Dharamsala; Lugsam Samduling Home for the Aged and Disabled, Bylakuppe; Rabgayling Old Age Home, Hunsur; Dhondenling Old People Home, Kollegal; and Doeguling Home for Elderly and Disabled, Mundgod.

  • Sponsoring an ambulance to transfer the elderly and extremely sick to the hospital for Doeguling Home for Elderly and Disabled, Mundgod.
  • Sponsorship of the construction of a 35-foot (9-meter) stupa that is close to Rabgayling Old Aged Home in Hunsur, India, so the elders can easily circumambulate it. Rinpoche has explained that offering support such as food, shelter, and medicine is extremely important, but purify mistakes and creating merit is what will bring one to enlightenment. One of the best and easiest ways to create merit is with holy objects, such as circumambulating stupas. When Rinpoche first visited this home, he expressed how important it would be to have a stupa close by for the elders to circumambulate, and we were very happy to be able to fulfil this wish.
  • Elders of Jampaling Elder’s Home, Dharamsala, India, joining in puja together.

    Sponsorship of the building of a community hall at Rabgayling Tibetan Settlement in Hunsur so the 4,500 settlers there are able to meet for religious and cultural activities, including 100 million mani retreats, in a conducive environment. This is also for the benefit of the elders of the Rabgayling Old Age Home.

  • Recently, Rinpoche suggested that the elders staying in these elderly homes could use their time reciting sutras, such as the Vajra Cutter Sutra, so that every moment is used to practice Dharma. Many were very happy to receive this advice and are seriously undertaking this request.

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The Social Services Fund offered substantial support to the poor and disadvantaged in Mongolia and India.

In 2020 we offered US$93,100 in this way:

Lamp of the Path beneficiaries enjoying a community meal prior to COVID-19 restrictions.

  • A grant for the annual operating expenses of Shakyamuni Clinic, Bodhgaya, India, a medical hub that offers help to those most in need in Bodhgaya and surrounding areas.
  • Most of the annual budget of Lamp of the Path, Mongolia, which offers a soup kitchen with free food, free medical support in a health clinic, and educational programs centering around the epidemic of alcoholism.
  • A grant to MAITRI Charitable Trust, which has been tirelessly operating since 1989. This year, MAITRI continued their hugely impactful program benefiting those with leprosy and tuberculosis, offering mobile clinics and care to mothers and children, as well as caring for animals in need.

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The Supporting Ordained Sangha Fund offers support to nunneries and monasteries around the world for food, accommodation, health care, education, and practice. The FPMT also offers support to non-Himalayan Sangha through the Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund and through the Lama Tsongkhapa Teachers Fund, which helps to preserve the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism by offering monthly stipends and annual offerings to all the main teachers of the main Gelug monasteries, the past and current abbots, and also the top scholars.

In 2020 US$898,949 was directly offered to support the precious Sangha with food, accommodation, education, and medical expenses. Some highlights include:

  • Some of the monks of Shalu Monastery.

    Offering toward a new temple for Ngari Institute in Ladakh, India.

  • Offering food throughout the year to all the Sangha of Shalu Monastery, India; Thame Monastery, Nepal; and Idgaa Choizinling Monastery, Mongolia.
  • Sponsoring all the nuns of a small Drikung Kagyu nunnery, Tashi Chime Gatsal, Nepal, while the nuns offer two 100 million mani retreats.
  • Offering five months of food for 1,300 the monks in Gaden Shartse Monastery. This was due to a number of monks in the monastery becoming infected with COVID-19. To maintain a sterile environment and protect further spread, the monastery decided to stop the preparation of food in the communal kitchen and instead provided uncooked food to the individual houses of the monastery. We were happy to sponsor five months of food for the monastery at this critical time.
  • Dry food offered to Gaden Shartse Monastery.

    A vast offering was made to over 20,000 Sangha, as well as to the abbots and abbesses, at twenty-four Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug monasteries and nunneries in India and Nepal. Under ordinary circumstances, one way that monks and nuns are able to supplement their food and medical needs, and provide other basic care items for themselves, is through offerings received during pujas. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, large groups of monastics are currently not able to gather for pujas in many monasteries and nunneries. This substantial offering was made due to the kindness of a benefactor, who was deeply concerned and wanted to offer this extra support to the Sangha.

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During this uncertain time in the world, the power of prayer is critically important as well as creating merit by making offerings to holy objects. FPMT arranges activities like this to happen continuously.

In 2020 we offered US$99,951 toward this, including to thousands of Sangha who offer the practices. Here are some example of the incredible activities sponsored:

  • lamas doing fire puja outside

    Khadro-la; Tsoknyi Rinpoche; Mingyur Rinpoche; Lama Zopa Rinpoche; the abbot of Shechen Monastery, Yeshe Gyaltsan; the abbot of Mindroling Monastery, Theckchok Gyaltsan; and Kopan Monastery abbot Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi offering fire pujas Based on advice from Khadro-la more than forty fire pujas were offered to purify and heal COVID-19. Kopan Nunnery, Nepal, July 2020. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

    Through the FPMT Puja Fund, ongoing pujas and prayers are sponsored. These specific pujas have been chosen by Lama Zopa Rinpoche as being most effective for the FPMT organization and the entire world. In addition there were special pujas arranged related to the pandemic for those who passed away or to help protect those effected by the virus.

  • Special pujas were arranged for animals killed during Darsain, for turkeys killed during Thanksgiving, and for minks killed due to the pandemic.
  • 100,000 tsog offerings were made to Guru Rinpoche, under the gaze of the giant Guru Rinpoche thangka that is displayed annually at Kachoe Gyakyil Nunnery, Nepal.
  • Continual light and extensive water offerings happened around the world in different monasteries and centers.
  • Monthly offerings were made to some of the most precious holy objects in Tibet, India, and Nepal, such as robes offered to the Buddha statue, Bodhgaya, India; gold offered to the Jowo statue and statues in the Potala, Tibet; and fresh paint and umbrellas offered to Swayambunath and Boudhanath stupas in Nepal.
  • Extremely precious Lokeshvara statue offered gold in Potala Palace on behalf of the entire FPMT organization, Saka Dawa 2020.

    Through the Protecting the Environment and Living Beings Fund, specific pujas and monthly recitations of precious sutras, such as the Golden Light Sutra and recitations of the Guhyasamaja root tantra, occured. These recitations were offered with strong prayers to pacify the elements and protect those harmed by disasters of earth, wind, fire, and water.

  • Through the Practice and Retreat Fund individuals are supported to undertake incredible practices such as 108 nyung na retreats and 100 million mani retreats. This year, two different 100 million mani retreats were sponsored in a small Drikung Kagyu nunnery, near the border of Tibet, and a number of individuals were sponsored to complete the 108 nyung na retreats in France.

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Due to the power of the holy objects, one can purify negativities and create merit simply by making contact with them. The Holy Objects Fund provides support needed to create holy objects around the world for the benefit of all beings and for peace and harmony in the world.

In 2020, US$138,619 was offered directly toward the creation of holy objects, including:

  • Some of the 1,000 statues of Shakyamuni Buddha that will be offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on behalf of the entire FPMT organization.

    Some of the 1,000 statues of Shakyamuni Buddha that will be offered to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on behalf of the entire FPMT organization.

    The most amazing offering of 1,000 Buddha statues to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These 1,000 gold-gilded statues were made by local artists and carefully filled by monks from Kopan Monastery with mantras rolled by nuns from Kachoe Ghakayil Ling Nunnery. Each of the 1,000 faces was painted by hand by artists. This offering came from a heartfelt wish of Lama Zopa Rinpoche to make and offer 1,000 statues for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

  • The Prajnaparamita Project now has three people writing the Prajnaparamita Sutra (12,000 verses) in Tibetan script, with perfect calligraphy and in pure gold. Each person is working on a different volume, and the writing is happening almost continually. Rinpoche recently expressed that he wants the Prajnaparamita Sutra to be continually written out in gold for as long as FPMT exists.
  • Sponsorship of a 35-foot (9-meter) stupa in Rabgayling Tibetan settlement, Hunsur, India.
  • Grants were given toward the building of the 100,000 Stupa at Land of Medicine Buddha, US, and the large prayer wheel at Vajrapani Institute, US.
  • Sponsorship of four large Buddha statues in a temple in Nepal and sponsorship of a large prayer wheel in a remote area of Nepal.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s endless capacity for benefiting others is evidenced by all these charitable projects that he has initiated. Rinpoche generously offers support to a variety of social and charitable activities; to monasteries, nunneries, and Sangha around the world; to FPMT centers, projects, and services; and for prayers, practices, pujas, and much, much more. The Lama Zopa Rinpoche Bodhichitta Fund enables Rinpoche’s compassionate service to others to flourish, and 2020 was an incredible year for giving.

In 2020 through the Bodhichitta Fund Lama Zopa Rinpoche offered US$1,770,583 of support, including for:

  • rinpoche in front of a computer in his room with his hands in prostration mudraSponsorship of building retreat rooms for those doing three-year retreat at Institut Vajra Yogini, France.
  • A retreat house for one of Rinpoche’s gurus and a number of others who are undertaking serious retreats.
  • Investment in the projects and vision of Lelung Tulku, who is working to preserve the sanctity and purity of the teachings of the Buddha for present and future generations.
  • A grant for the new retreat land next to Nalanda Monastery, France.
  • Offerings to many individual Sangha and also sponsorship of the Dharma education of a number of young incarnate lamas who are studying in the great monasteries in India.

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Taking care of all sentient beings, including insects and animals, is a high priority for Lama Zopa Rinpoche. We have a number of projects that directly support non-human living beings, such as buying and saving animals that would otherwise be killed and then caring for them for their rest of their lives, as well as animal liberations, where endangered animals are released back into the wild, where they can live safely.

In 2020 US$24,115 was offered to directly benefit animals. Some highlights include:

  • Goats being cared for at the Animal Liberation Sanctuary, Nepal.

    Through the Animal Liberation Fund we liberated approximately 71,791 animals at Kachoe Dechen Ling and Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, US.

  • An annual grant was given to the Animal Liberation Sanctuary in Nepal near Kopan Monastery, which provides ongoing shelter and care for animals rescued from being killed.
  • A number of goats were saved by Rinpoche this year. When Rinpoche sees goats tied up outside butcher shops in Nepal, it is almost unbearable for him, and if he can, he will buy the goats on the spot. There have been times that Rinpoche will come back to Kopan Monastery with a large goat in the car.
  • Sangha at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Washington, US, are offering the practice of Charity to Ants every week (other than during the winter when the weather doesn’t allow it). This is a special practice Rinpoche translated, and it takes a number of hours each week to prepare the food (just as the ants like it), to walk to the more than 180 different ants nests, and to offer the prayers and practices.

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The table and chart outline the direct grants of US$3,766,654* during 2020 to FPMT’s Charitable Projects.

Bodhichitta Fund disbursements includes offerings to various monasteries and projects in India and Nepal of $194,802; donation to FPMT centers and projects of $192,110; offerings and sponsorship of holy objects of $1,250,000; and sponsorship of Tibetan and Western Sangha, offering practices for the organization, and care of our Spiritual Director of $133,671.


* The disbursement figures do not include expenses for administration fees and credit card merchant fees and are inclusive of some interfund disbursements which will be subject to audit adjustments during our annual independent financial review.

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Continue below to Offering the Dharma or Return to the Main Menu

Offering the Dharma

FPMT Education Services develops, reviews, improves, and makes available in multiple formats on several platforms a range of introductory-to-advanced Buddhist education programs available in FPMT centers and online; publishes practice materials in digital and hard copy formats; and works with translators and editors to translate crucial texts.

FPMT Education Services would like to extend huge thanks to all our online elders and assessors, who skillfully respond to comments on the forums and painstakingly review student assessments and points for reflection, providing the personal human touch that continues to make these online programs work so well.

Highlights of 2020

FPMT Education materials are essential resources for our students worldwide. Highlights of this work in 2020 include the following:

  • We edited, transcribed, and published a range of materials to support Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s thought transformation teaching series.
  • New Chenrezig prayers and other supporting materials were published to help support students’ practice and care for loved ones.
  • We completed several new translations, including three new Thangtong Gyalpo prayers advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for COVID-19 pandemic practices.
  • New online resources pages for advice and downloads were created, and over ninety new videos were published and transcribed.
  • Quotes from Lama Zopa Rinpoche were located and collected to support our common quote database and to compile into one handy “write-it-down” text.
  • We published more than sixty new and updated translations!
  • In order to help students follow Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice, new audio recordings—including the Medicine Buddha Sadhana and several mantras recited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche—were extracted from the thought transformation teachings video series and published.
  • In response to the Foundation Store transitioning to a digital-only format, we created a new licensing policy to offer FPMT centers, projects, and services the opportunity to print FPMT education materials locally, eliminating shipping costs and minimizing our negative impact on the natural environment.
  • We published new updates to the Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga and Foundation of All Good Qualities based on direct advice and editing from Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

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We offer a range of programs suitable for those at the introductory, foundational, and in-depth levels. Highlights for 2020 included the following:

  • Two new Foundational Level programs began development: one focusing on meditation and the mind, and the other preparing students for text-based study in our Basic Program.
  • We awarded certificates of achievement to students who successfully completed Buddhist Meditation 101 and Buddhism in a Nutshell through the FPMT Online Learning Center. Completion Certificates were awarded for Discovering Buddhism and Basic Program at FPMT Centers.
  • Centers made use of the Basic Program review forum, accessed through the FPMT Online Learning Center. The forum is moderated by Education Services’ Basic Program coordinator and helps make the three-month review and final exam, previously difficult for centers to implement, an easily facilitated and interactive process.

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Being an international organization of Tibetan Buddhism, translations into various languages is essential for the success of our students and the preservation of our lineage. Key accomplishments in 2020 include the following:

  • Thangtong Gyalpo

    The great yogi Thangtong Gyalpo, a thangka in Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s house, Aptos, California, USA, 2020.

    We completed The Source of All Attainments, a Chenrezig Guru Yoga by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

  • We updated Eight Mahayana Precepts, which is a key practice advised by Rinpoche.
  • We updated the Singhananda Chenrezig practice, Thangtong Gyalpo prayers, and many other important prayers and practices advised for use during the pandemic.
  • We continue work on the editing and translation of the Great Liberation Sutra, Dashachakra Sutra, the 31 and 29 chapter version of the Sutra of Golden Light, and the Ornament of the Essence.
  • We added a large collection of new mantras to our Mantra Database, which helps us have consistent transliteration in our publications.
  • Development began on a new online translation database, containing searchable terms in English, Tibetan, and Sanskrit, including the respective script and Roman characters.
  • Our Preferred Term Glossary grew to contain over 1,200 entries. This glossary is a dynamic document for FPMT translators that helps standardize the FPMT translation of technical Dharma vocabulary.
  • We standardized the use of IAST Sanskrit diacritics in all mantras and Sanskrit terms in texts, and developed materials to support students to learn and become comfortable with this more accurate form of notation.
  • We assisted with and posted materials in more than seven different languages, including new materials in Vietnamese and German.

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The Foundation Store is FPMT’s online shop with a vast selection of Buddhist study and practice materials in accordance with the lineage of our gurus. For 2020, accomplishments include the following:

  • MP3 album cover is turquoise blue with black font.

    The FPMT Foundation Store processed 11,219 orders from more than 5,000 students, for a total of 26,456 individual items ordered for income/donations of US$95,869 (inclusive of donations) and approximate gross income of US$80,866.

  • More than 17,000 PDF and ebooks; 889 online programs; 2,078 audio and video materials; and 2,396 digital cards, posters, and calendars were downloaded.
  • We continue to distribute PDFs, ebooks, and audio from select Buddhist organizations, including Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, Kopan Monastery, FPMT nunneries, Wisdom Publications, Ediciones Dharma, Nalanda Edizioni, among others. A total of 2,597 titles were downloaded, including 809 prayers and practices in other languages.
  • FPMT Education Services material is also distributed on third party platforms like Kindle, Apple Music, Google Music, and Spotify, among others. Students ordered 3,070 ebooks through Kindle, Smashwords, and Google Play, and streamed 208,512 mantras and mediations.

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The FPMT Online Learning Center (OLC) provides an opportunity for students from all parts of the world to study Buddhism online according to their interests and needs.

Programs include Discovering Buddhism, Living in the Path, Basic Program, Heart Advice for Death & Dying, Buddhist Meditation 101, and Buddhism in a Nutshell. For 2020:

  • A total of 1,666 new OLC student accounts were created.
  • We currently have 22,552 registered users from 249 countries. Users initiated 1,373 new discussion posts.
  • The OLC website received 60,041 visits from 22,117 visitors.

Continue below to Supporting Centers & Teachers or Return to the Main Menu

Supporting Centers & Teachers

With the help of regional and national coordinators, Center Services assists FPMT centers, projects, services, and study groups— which are probationary centers, projects, and services—establish and sustain good governance structure to support the preservation of the Mahayana tradition now and into the future. We facilitate communication between Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT centers, projects, and services; coordinate Rinpoche’s teaching schedule (when travel is allowed!); and facilitate the placement of resident geshes and teachers at centers.

A new department, Teacher Services, was created in 2020 and oversees different matters relating to teachers, including the registration process for non-Tibetan teachers, updating the FPMT Registered Teacher List and the Tibetan Teacher List, handling grievances and complaints, as well as safeguarding issues related specifically to teachers. The creation of a specific department for Teacher Services, formerly overseen by the Education Services Department, is to enable the office to improve the ways we support teachers in all fields of their activities.

Highlights of 2020

At the end of 2020, there were 161 centers, projects, services, and study groups in 39 countries worldwide that are under the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and FPMT International Office, including one new center and two new study groups. There are forty-two geshes resident in FPMT centers, and fourteen registered teachers resident, including one new. The FPMT Registered Teacher List includes 150 Foundational Buddhism Teachers and ninety-one In-Depth Buddhism teachers. In 2020, we registered five new Foundational level teachers and upgraded one teacher to In-Depth level. Additional highlights include the following:

  • We’ve been reviewing the recommendations received in the safeguarding audit commissioned from UK safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, and working on developing new, and improving existing, policy and guidelines for FPMT Inc. and FPMT affiliates to protect from abuse.

  • Two new draft policies were circulated to FPMT registered teachers for comment and feedback, a “complaints and remedial process policy” and “new centers and new programs policy.” Both of these policies are now being revised with the excellent input we received from registered teachers as well as restrictions related to COVID-19.

In order to support and connect the directors, board members, spiritual program coordinators, and study group coordinators of these FPMT entities, one physical regional meeting was held in Europe in February. Little did we know this would be the only one for the year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Fortunately, more than nine meetings were held online, and a considerable amount of support was provided by five regional and seven national coordinators to affiliates who were racing to pivot their support to students online.

Five people standing in a circle with post-it notes stuck to their foreheads with text written on each one engaged in a group discussion.

Foundation Service Seminar, Institut Vajra Yogini, Lavaur, France, January 2020. Photo by Harld Weichart.

FPMT service seminars provide support and training to those offering service, and those wishing to offer service, within FPMT centers, projects, and services. The seminars help develop a shared understanding of the FPMT mission and establish a firm basis to serve joyfully and effectively within the organization.

  • A Foundation Service Seminar (FSS) was hosted by Nalanda Monastery, France, in January 2020.

One participant said, “Practice is service, and service is practice. I collected many ideas to implement in our center.” Another shared, “FSS is very practical, providing material to deal with basic problems at the center. Such as learning about immersion aversion, because now it makes more sense why people act in different ways … and to know there is support for that.”

  • A Teacher Development Service Seminar was hosted by Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, in January 2020 and attended by an international group of Foundation Service Seminar graduates. One participant commented, “I’m profoundly moved by the energy that Lama [Yeshe] and [Lama Zopa] Rinpoche have created in the worldwide mandala. I feel that we can really change the world!”
  • Development began on a new Protecting from Abuse training presentation to help enable the FPMT organization to offer the safest environment possible, with robust protection from abuse, and with clear and appropriate processes in place to report and resolve a complaint.
  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche recently asked about training for FPMT directors and gave some additional advice about the correct attitude for directors to develop and maintain. We’ve added that to our list of the building blocks provided to help become a beneficial director, organized as FPMT Director Training, in our Affiliates Area.

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Here are a few important highlights from centers, projects, and services for 2020:

  • A screen shot of the Inner Job Description App landing page.We created the Inner Job Description (IJD) as a practical aid for developing mindfulness about our thoughts, speech, and actions, so that increased awareness of our mental habits would enable users to make real, positive change, by becoming an “inner professional,” as advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. A new 45-minute IJD Training video explains how to use the IJD tool in daily life, including how to personalize it to work best for one’s work. It includes meditation and an introduction to FPMT Wisdom Culture, and can be used to explore how helpful the IJD can be, whether one is serving in an FPMT center, project, or service, or unconnected with the FPMT organization. The Inner Job Description Mindfulness Practice Tool is freely available as an app, or as a card to print. The app is available in English, Chinese, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
  • Mongolian and Slovenian languages were added to the Ethical Policy translations.
  • Ian Green, director of the Great Stupa for Universal Compassion, received an Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours list. The award is for services to Buddhism and Interfaith Harmony.
  • The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive released Big Love: The Life and Teachings of Lama Yeshe. This authorized biography arrived in the hands of students and supporters around the world after nearly thirty years of work by author Adele Hulse, who completed it with the assistance of LYWA and the financial support of individuals, the International Merit Box Project, and donors to LYWA. The beautiful two volume book, with more than 1,500 photos, illustrates how the FPMT organization comes from the heart of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and how the love and hard work of so many people has developed and sustained it.
  • The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW) provided Best Practices for Facilitating Courses Online to individuals and those offering service in the organization. Lama Zopa Rinpoche opened the FDCW Big Love Festival this year, which was offered online due to the pandemic restrictions.
  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche recording one of his video teachings from his room at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, April 2020. Photo by Ven. Tenzin Tsomo.

    Twelve graduates from the FPMT two-year Tibetan language studies and interpreter training program, Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program (LRZTP), have received their language study graduation certificates. Congratulations to each graduate, and to the LRZTP faculty!

  • FPMT International Sangha Day was celebrated for the eighteenth consecutive year, and the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) organized a Heart Sutrathon. IMI then organized an ongoing “Healing the World” Prayerathon with Thangthong Gyalpo’s prayer in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

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Continue below to Connecting the FPMT Community or Return to the Main Menu

Connecting the FPMT Community

On a daily basis, International Office communicates with students around the world through several different channels. The year 2020 brought new challenges and opportunities in the realm of communications. The new realities of social distancing and isolation due to the pandemic increased the significance and necessity of our international community’s online connections.

Technology was of utmost importance. Instead of focusing our efforts on expanding our IT infrastructure, we made it more accessible and reliable. Like many businesses and organizations around the world, FPMT International Office became a fully remote virtual office at the beginning of the pandemic. The FPMT community as a whole took advantage of technology as well, relying on video conferencing platforms to take the place of center gompas. Online teachings flourished organically and became the standard worldwide. We rejoice in all the opportunities that this crisis brought to our organization in terms of digital connectedness.

International Office welcomed Francois Lecointre into the newly created position of Communications Director in 2020.

Highlights of 2020

Through daily blogs, our monthly digital e-newsletter, the CPMT e-group, and various social media accounts we keep in touch with the FPMT global community and foster a sense of connectedness throughout our affiliates, students, and supporters. Highlights for 2020 include the following:

  • Our daily online blog, FPMT News, published a remarkable 284 items. This includes ninety summaries of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s thought transformation video teachings, plus an additional forty-four posts sharing Rinpoche’s news and additional advice. News and updates from FPMT centers, projects, and services; FPMT Education Services; FPMT Charitable Projects; and FPMT Center Services comprised the remainder of FPMT News items.
  • The daily and weekly email digests of FPMT News reached more than 3,300 subscribers.
  • Our monthly e-newsletter, the FPMT e-News (International Office News), was sent to 39,600 recipients and included updates from FPMT International Office and the broader FPMT organization.
  • Four new photo albums were added to the Lama Zopa Rinpoche Photo Gallery, documenting Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s activities for the year.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people around the world connected with FPMT through Facebook and Twitter, and with Lama Zopa Rinpoche on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Our CPMT e-group shared information with the many people working in service in the FPMT organization.

Sign up to receive the monthly FPMT e-News and also the FPMT News as a daily or weekly digest.

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We continued to offer timely online access to Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings and activities through video and audio recordings. Key accomplishments for 2020 include the following:

  • Lama Zopa Rinpoche recording one of his video teachings from his room at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, April 2020. Photo by Ven. Tenzin Tsomo.

    FPMT International Office published Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s ninety thought transformation video teachings, all recorded at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, as Rinpoche was not traveling due to the pandemic. Each video had a cooresponding transcript, created by Ven. Joan Nicell with the help of Ven. Tenzin Tsomo and others.

  • More than 250 video translations of Rinpoche’s teachings were made into Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, Portuguese, and Russian.
  • Short videos of Rinpoche’s activities were regularly shared on Rinpoche’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
  • Nearly 136,000 hours of video were watched on FPMT’s YouTube channel, which reached more than1,000,000 views.
  • The essence of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings is continuously being captured in short videos excerpts. We produced more than one hundred of these short videos in three languages, which are accessible from our Essential Extracts page. There are also transcripts for these extracts, and you can open the video from within the transcript as well.
  • FPMT International Office continued archiving and organizing digital media into a digital assets management system. More than 1,700 new images and 140 videos were archived.

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Mandala magazine is the official publication of FPMT.

Mandala Issue One 2020

In 2020, we published one print issue of Mandala magazine. Issue One 2020 was mailed out in March of the year. Unfortunately, pandemic lockdowns disrupted its delivery in many locations.

The issue explored three of the Five Pillars of FPMT Service: Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom, Social and Community Service, and Interfaith Activities.

We also had stories that presented the environmental crisis from the spiritual, as well as practical, perspectives and shared an account from Ven. Robina Courtin of 2019’s November Course at Kopan Monastery, including many photos and accounts from participants.

In addition, the magazine included inspiring teachings from Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a remembrance by Tenzin Osel Hita of his teacher Geshe Gendun Chompel, an interview with Wisdom Publication’s Daniel Aitken, a story on volunteers at the Institut Vajra Yogini retreat, and more.

Mandala 2021

In the early months of the pandemic, we made the difficult decision to no longer offer Mandala as a print magazine. And we chose a two-step strategy to transition to a completely digital Mandala. First, we would produce one more issue in the same format as previous issues, but only distribute it digitally as a PDF. Once that issue was completed, we would do a complete reimagining of Mandala publications.

We began this first step in the second half of 2020, when we started production of the PDF issue Mandala 2021. We published this issue in March 2021. The issue’s cover story, “The Time to Practice is Now: Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Teachings on Thought Transformation during the Time of COVID-19,” provides a detailed summary of the key points Rinpoche has been emphasizing so far in this teaching series.

In addition, the magazine shares an overview of the practice advice, oral transmissions, and practice materials Rinpoche has recommended for this critical time and a behind the scenes look at how his video teaching series is being made and disseminated to students in various languages.

Also included is an overview of how the international FPMT community has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, some timeless wisdom from Lama Yeshe, and inspiration from Choden Rinpoche’s posthumous book Mastering Meditation: Instructions on Calm Abiding and Mahamudra.

Mandala Online Feature Stories

We published seven exclusive online feature stories, covering activities in Australia, India, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, and the UK.

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International Office’s website, FPMT.org, had more than 1.42 million unique views in 2020. With the pandemic forcing people online more than ever, the functionality and usefulness of our website was a top priority for 2020:

  • This year we installed the Max Mega Menu plugin on our website. Rather than the traditional drop-down, fly-out method, Mega menus display the navigation in columns. This allows for more content to be displayed all at once, making navigation easier for end users. The menu system also allows for other content to be displayed alongside the navigation: images, latest news, quotes, text, etc. Menu items are expandable allowing visitors to navigate to any page on the site, eliminating the need to click through several pages to get to where you wish to go.
  • We redesigned the Online Learning Center to utilize the full-width of today’s modern high-definition displays. This is beneficial in being able to display more content on the screen before having to scroll, and also mirrors the FPMT website design.
  • We made a number of improvements to speed up our page load times and to make our site more mobile friendly. These include image compression software, a plugin that removes resources from web pages if they aren’t being used, caching improvements, and implementing suggestions from the Google Page Speed and Mobile Usability reports.

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Continue below to Operations & Finances or Return to the Main Menu

Operations & Finances

FPMT International Office is responsible for managing and supervising the finances of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, Inc. (FPMT, Inc.) as directed by its Board of Directors. Finances are divided between general funds (unrestricted) and funds designated for specific charitable projects (restricted funds).

The FPMT Development department serves the supporters of the FPMT mission and works to ensure that FPMT International Office activities and projects have the financial resources needed for their fruition. This is accomplished by offering daily assistance to supporters, providing channels to practice generosity, and inviting contributions to FPMT activities through annual giving campaigns.

In 2020, donations to FPMT-managed funds came from 3,597 supporters in 80 different countries.

Below are some of International Office’s main fundraising channels:

Friends of FPMT

Illustration of the Four Harmonious FriendsThe membership program of International Office, our Friends of FPMT donors offer one of the strongest and most reliable sources of support for International Office activities and projects. Our Friends of FPMT are provided complimentary access to online study programs and downloadable materials from FPMT Education Services, Mandala Publications, the Liberation Calendar and other resources. 1,139 Friends of FPMT supporters contributed US$270,008 in 2020.

Work a Day for Rinpoche

The Work a Day for Rinpoche fund is featured during the time of Saka Dawa and draws inspiration from our Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s tireless service and vast vision for benefiting others. A two-week drive to raise support for Rinpoche’s International Office culminates on the meritorious day of Saka Dawa each year. One can “Work a Day for Rinpoche” by donating a day’s work earnings, or any amount. Recitations of the Sutra of Golden Light, one of Rinpoche’s Vast Visions for FPMT, are also encouraged as a way to participate. In 2020, 432 “workers” contributed US$46,028 to Work a Day for Rinpoche.

Give Where Most Needed Fund

International Office’s unrestricted general fund can be used to support activities that are working to fulfill the FPMT mission and provide stability and immediate resources for any project with unforeseen needs or new projects not previously budgeted for. The Give Where Most Needed Fund is boosted by a year-end drive in December each year. US$83,755 was donated to the Give Where Most Needed Fund in 2020.

International Merit Box Project

In 2020, the International Merit Box Project served as a timely source of hardship relief for centers encountering financial struggles in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike previous years, where grants were offered for a variety of projects and initiatives, all fourteen grants awarded in 2020 were for COVID-19 economic hardship relief. In all, US$31,368 in funds collected from Merit Box practitioners and centers were offered to thirteen centers and one FPMT regional office.

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In 2020, total unrestricted operating income for International Office was US$1,186,606, and total operating expenses were US$1,188,257, resulting in an operating deficit of US$1,650.*

In 2020, the total restricted income for Charitable Projects was US$4,392,746, and the total disbursements and expenses for credit card and administration fees were US$4,024,321.

FPMT also processes and manages funds on behalf of others, and in 2020 these funds had income of US$1,216,779 and disbursements of US$419,478.

Unrestricted funds do not have any donor-imposed restrictions and are used to fulfill the various activities and operations of International Office. The table and charts give a summary of income and expenses for 2020.

* Notes:

  1. Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, Inc. (abbreviated as FPMT, Inc.) is the legal entity of FPMT International Office. The terms FPMT, Inc. and International Office are interchangeable. In practical terms, the International Office functions and serves as Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s office, therefore the guidance of our Spiritual Director is implicit.

  2. Restricted funds include all the charitable projects of FPMT, Inc. as outlined on our website in addition to certain other charitable projects as directed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the Board of Directors.

  3. Operating expenses exclude depreciation of $120,796 and unrealized gains (losses) on investments and exceptional items.

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Just prior to COVID-19, we completed the sale of part of our building in Portland, Oregon, US, to Maitripa College, which has shared the building with FPMT International Office since 2005.

We have had less need for the same level of physical space due to more remote staff, the transition of our Foundation Store to a digital-only store, and the change of Mandala print magazine to an online format.

Continue below to Billions of Thanks or Return to the Main Menu

Billions of Thanks to YOU!

All of our 2020 accomplishments are due to the kindness of the FPMT centers, projects, services, teachers, students, volunteers, and benefactors who supported us this year.

We also offer our heartfelt thanks to our generous 2020 volunteers, who gave their time and enthusiasm with sincere devotion:

  • All of the Sangha offering service at Kachoe Dechen Ling, Buddha Amitabha Pure Land and Nalanda Monastery, who make extensive prayers for the organization and for those who are sick and have passed away.
  • The Sangha and students who make offerings at Kachoe Dechen Ling, Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Rinpoches rooms at Kopan Monastery and Root Institute.
  • Regional and National Coordinators—Paloma Fernandez Garcia, Selina Foong, Lara Gatto, Frances Howland, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Llopis, Mauricio Roa Mackenzie, Drolkar McCallum, Ven. Barbara Shannon, Deepthy Shekhar, Peter Stickels, Gilda Urbina; FPMT Service Seminar Coordinator Amy Cayton; and all of our Service Seminar registered facilitators—Ven. Connie Miller, Charlotte Elliott, Paloma Fernandez, Annelies van der Heijden, François Lecointre, Drolkar McCallum, Martha Portillo, Wendy Ridley, Gilda Urbina, and Andy Wistreich.
  • The generous individuals who volunteer their time to us in a variety of ways—Ven. Paloma Alba, Ven. Siliana Bosa, Ven. Thubten Dechen, Ven. Lobsang Detchen, Ven.Tenzin Dorje, Ven. Thubten Kalden, Ven. Tenzin Gache, Ven. Jinpa Gyeltsen, Ven. Tenzin Kunsang, Ven. Connie Miller, Geshe Tenzin Namdak, Ven. Tenzin Namjong, Ven. Chonyi Taylor, Ven. Tsen-la, Ven. Tenzin Tsomo, Alexis Benelhadj, Meida Chang, Christian Charrier, Grant Couch, Adrian Dec, Annelies van der Heijden, Swee Kim, Angela Neo, Francesca Paoletti, Tubten Pende, Maria Suominen‎, and Andy Wistreich.
  • All those reciting the sutras every month for the Protecting the Environment and Living Beings Project.

How to Get Involved

You can support our work by volunteering and attending teachings at your local FPMT center or finding out about their online teachings and events, making a contribution to our charitable projects, enrolling in our Friends of FPMT program, participating in one of our education programs, or offering your prayers and good wishes. Your support and kindness allow us to continue our work.

Dedications at the pujas sponsored by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the great monasteries throughout the year are made especially for purifying obstacles and creating merit for Dharma activity to flourish in FPMT as well as for all students, supporters, and FPMT friends who are ill or have died, and for all those who have worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much to benefit the organization in different ways.

In 2021, may you have perfect happiness and be free from every suffering!

Continue below to Our Year in Photos or Return to the Main Menu

Our Year in Photos

Please explore more highlights from 2020 in this photo gallery of our activities around the world this year. We invite you to rejoice along with us through this beautiful visual presentation. View the gallery.

Thank you so much for reading our Annual Review 2020!
You can explore our archive of Annual Reviews from prior years below, or return to the Main Menu

If you have any questions, please reach out to our staff in the relevant department listed below, or contact our Office Assistant:
Charitable Projects | Education Services | Center Services | Teacher Services | Foundation Store | Donor Services | Finance

Annual Review Archive

Below is a catalog of our FPMT International Office Annual Reviews dating back to 2006, in online and downloadable PDF formats. We invite you to please enjoy and rejoice.