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Who we are

Our Vision & Mission

Our vision is to benefit every being on the planet by enabling them to discover and follow their spiritual path, to increase their understanding, joy, and capacity to help others. 

We do so by building bridges between the authentic Tibetan Buddhist tradition and Western culture by using modern, innovative ways and technology to communicate Dharma and to reach people of all ages and backgrounds globally.

Our Story

It was started almost twenty five years ago by Ajna Seret. He’d been at Kopan Monastery in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal the year before where he was deeply moved by the teachings of the meditator Geshe Lama Konchog.

He learned there that Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who established the monastery with Lama Thubten Yeshe in 1970, the first of the centers that make up their Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, was planning to move the FPMT International Office to Taos, seventy miles north of Santa Fe, where he lived with his family. “I offered to show Rinpoche around when he came,” Ajna says.

Ajna Seret with Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2000

The following year Ajna spent days with Rinpoche in Santa Fe and Taos, driving him around, organizing places to stay. He remembers well a conversation with Rinpoche and his attendant, Ven. Roger Kunsang, in a cabin in Questa, north of Taos. They were discussing the benefits of starting a center in Santa Fe and Rinpoche was suggesting that Ajna be the director. Ajna didn’t know what to say.

Finally, Rinpoche turned to him and said, “What would Geshe Lama Konchog say?”

Ajna thought about it for days. “It was a shock! I was 19. I had big plans to travel to India and Nepal. Running a Buddhist center was the complete opposite of what I thought I would do!” Finally, he realized that “since it came from Rinpoche, it was the right thing to do.”

He sat down with his parents, Ira and Sylvia, and came up with a plan. They were so supportive, offering their home as the venue and deciding to use the yurt in the back garden. “My mom was our marketing person, doing the ads, hanging up posters.”

Geshe Thubten Sherab

Gen Don Handrick

Ven. Robina Courtin

Ven. George Churinoff

Ven. Connie Miller

 

Ven. Robina Courtin, who was then based at the International Office in Taos as the editor of FPMT’s magazine, Mandala, would come once a week to teach and lead meditations. And later, Ven. Connie Miller and Ven. George Churinoff and Dr. David Komito were among the center’s regular teachers.

Ven. Robina remembers one thing well about the first teaching in the yurt. “It was a snowy evening and I fell into the adjoining pool!”

As the center grew, Rinpoche appointed Geshe Thubten Sherab and Gen Don Handrick as our joint resident teachers.

Moving from place to place through the years – many of them kindly offered by Ajna’s parents, and under the guidance of several kind directors, among them, Karen Meador, Rowena Mayer, Alex Williams and Charmaine Hughes – we are delighted to now have bought and renovated our own property.

Our Los Angeles-based architect John Winston was honored to be involved in the project to help us “create a very happy building.” And renowned Feng Shui expert Hup Cheng, who runs the FPMT center in Singapore, has given us advice “to increase the center’s prosperity and harmony.” The renovation of the center and the development of the grounds were overseen by our former executive director, Charmaine Hughes.

Five miles from downtown,  and conveniently located at the intersection of St Francis Drive and Interstate 25, our new center is a 5,000 square-foot former church sitting on three acres with two event spaces to hold Buddhist teachings and meditations, classes for children, and yoga and Qi Gong. The rooms are equipped with advanced video conferencing technology to enable us to stream almost all our classes on Zoom, thus fulfilling our mission of building bridges between the authentic Tibetan Buddhist tradition and Western culture by using modern, innovative ways and technology to communicate Dharma and to reach people of all ages and backgrounds globally.

The building consecration ceremony was performed by the monks from Drepung Monastery on November 4, 2022. Since then, our building has become a beautiful, functional and well-attended oasis for our vibrant community of individuals supporting each other on the spiritual journey to learn the nature of our own minds and to bring more balance, joy and kindness to our inner and outer world. We provide an inclusive, friendly and safe environment that utilizes tools such as study, meditation and movement. 

Everyone is welcome at The Buddhist Center! Our amazing team of volunteers is working with much joy and dedication to offer a rich study, meditation and movement program to enable our students and visitors to discover and follow their spiritual path, to increase their understanding, joy, and capacity to help others. You are invited to join our classes or to just stop by and check out how Buddhist teachings can enhance your experience and wellbeing!,” says Nina Highfill, our current executive director.

Charmaine Hughes

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Nina Highfill

Our Lineage

Our Buddhist teachings are rooted in the the fourteenth century Gelug tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa and greatly inspired by His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. Our broader vision is based on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Five Pillars: 1. Buddhadharma, 2. Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom, 3. Community Service, 4. Interfaith Activities, and 5. Revenue-Generating Activities.

FPMT Affiliation

Thubten Norbu Ling is one of over 130 organizations in over 30 countries that make up the FPMT family, driven by the bodhisattva aspiration to be of benefit to the world.

We are Buddhist teaching centers, monasteries, retreat centers, hospices, publishing houses, prison projects, animal sanctuaries, Tibetan interpreter training programs and other activities developed under the spiritual care of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who passed away in 2023. Lama Yeshe passed away in 1983.

Thubten Norbu Ling is a non-profit religious charity affiliated with FPMT Inc., our International Office now based in Portland, Oregon, which supports the work of the centers and helps fulfil our spiritual director’s Vast Visions for FPMT.

Our Founders

After escaping from Tibet in 1959, Lama Yeshe joined the other thousands of monks in exile in Buxaduar in northeast India. Here he met 15-year-old Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and became his teacher.

The lamas met their first Western students in the late 1960s. Moving to Kathmandu, they established Kopan Monastery, which soon became a hub for spiritual seekers from the around the world as well as a monastery for the local monks, and eventually nuns, along the lines of the monastic universities of Tibet.

Read more about our lamas at A Joint Biography of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.