Excerpts > The Lama

The Perfect Teacher

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, Summer 2022

My retreat lama, Karma Sherab, was something of a scholar in his younger years. At one point after he had served his root lama, Lama Tsepal, and had received mind instructions, Lama Tsepal said the only text he should read from then on is the Words of My Perfect Teacher. From that time onwards, for […]

Tell Tale Signs

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 1st June 2022

A sign of a true lama is that they give up what normal worldly people like and pursue. If a lama gives up the chance to become famous, that would be a sign that they might be a real lama. Everybody wants more money, so if a lama has the chance to come into some […]

True Yogis Die Like Dogs

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, Spring 2022

A retreat lama once died in the retreat place where I and my main lamas and their root lama (Lama Tsepal) stayed. It was before my time though. The lama who had died was sitting upright on his seat in meditation posture, while other retreatants were doing prayers and meditating. When Lama Tsepal entered the […]


Samye Ling Retreat Centre on Holy Isle, Scotland, 2012

As Westerners, you won’t like this. But if you are taken on and cared for by a real lama in an authentic fashion, they will mind your business. They won’t just leave you to your own devices. They will pull you up on even what might be considered small things, the way you eat, the […]

Fine dining (with flies)

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, March 2022

After the first cycle of retreat at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, the retreat lamas and I went on pilgrimage with Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche in south India. At that point I had not had so many personal meetings and interactions with Kyabje Rinpoche. But nevertheless I did have some faith in him and believed he was […]

If You Find Such a Place

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat, Nepal, 24th January 2022

Today a Chinese nun came to see for advice about where to go for the dharma. She said since it seems like she doesn’t have the opportunity to stay here in the retreat centre, where could she go to get good opportunities for the dharma. I was stumped, I didn’t know what to say. The […]

Meeting a New Lama

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 25th January 2022

If you are going to approach a lama with a request for teachings, it is best to approach them with humility and conduct yourself humbly. That is if you think that the lama has the mentality of a real practitioner and you truly wish to be taken on as a student. I wouldn’t advise approaching […]

Recognising the Nature of Mind

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 10th September 2021

In its simplest form, to recognise the nature of mind is to recognise the thoughts that run through our head and our habitual ways of thinking. It’s impossible to recognise the true nature of mind without first recognising the grosser nature of mind. The role of the lama is to first introduce us to the […]

Go Easy on the Platitudes

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 21st July 2021

In Tibetan Buddhist circles you hear many people theses days referring to their lama as Buddha so-and-so, or Dorje Chang so-and-so. But in truth only those who have attained accomplishment can see their lamas as Dorje Chang, Vajradhara. Ordinary beings cannot. I think I have quite strong faith in my Lamas, I think it would […]

The Freedom To Be Free – Or Not

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 3rd June 2021

In the Buddhist view we each have to take responsibility for ourselves. We cannot expect the Buddha to bless us out of our suffering. For example, Devadatta was born in hell before the Buddha’s very eyes and the Buddha couldn’t stop it from happening. We each experience the results of our own actions.  What the […]

Reading the Lama’s Mind

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 14th March 2021

Whether we come to have a good understanding of the dharma or not is determined by how well we are able to understand the intention of the lama who is teaching us. In truth, what we are trying to learn in the dharma is nothing other than the intention and view of the lama. It […]

The Liberation Stories of the Kagyu Masters – Day 12

Online Teaching from Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 12 June 2020

It is difficult to determine whether a lama is good or not, because we only see the outside. But that which makes someone a genuine lama lies inside. We are told that we need to examine the lama, but in order to do this effectively we have to be quite knowledgable about the dharma. These […]

The Liberation Stories of the Kagyu Masters – Day 10

Online Teaching from Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 10 June 2020

When we hear that Tilopa received teaching directly from Vajradhara, it is difficult to understand. We think the three kayas of a buddha are different buddhas, teaching in different places at different times. But in reality it is not like this, it is simultaneous. What we perceive depends on our level, our perception. Those with […]

In service

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 23 August 2020

Having the name “lama”, I don’t see myself as someone who tells others what to do and what not to do, like a boss. I feel more like a servant. I try to carry myself with the thought that I will do whatever I can to help any being for them to turn out better […]

Treasure it or lose it

Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Centre, Nepal, 19 August 2020

A good lama will not teach the dharma easily, to just any student. Feeling that we can get dharma whenever and wherever we want is a sign that the dharma has become devalued. A genuine lama, like Milarepa, Gampopa, or Patrul Rinpoche, will not teach the dharma lightly. For example, when they detected a hint […]