The Living is Dying Presentation Team and Guest Presentors

Presentation Team

Jakob Leschly

Jakob was appointed by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as resident teacher for Siddhartha’s Intent in Australia, where he has lived and taught since 2008. He is well known globally for his many online teachings, book studies and study programs.

Jakob began his studies of Buddhism in 1974 and studied with numerous great teachers, including Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Jakob completed a three year retreat in Dordogne in 1984 and worked with translation and interpreting in the years that followed. He has collaborated on translations, including The Life of Shabkar and Wondrous Dance of Illusion: The Autobiography of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang. He has also served as interpreter for a number of Lamas. Since 1993, he has primarily served and studied with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, and has translated various works on philosophy and practice instructions, including an early translation of Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra. He is a member of the Khyentse Foundation Ashoka Translation Grants Sub-committee and one of Khyentse Vision Project’s main project consultants. 

Since 1998, Jakob has worked as an instructor in Buddhist theory and practice for Siddhartha’s Intent, and during this time also completed a BA in Tibetology at the University of Copenhagen exploring the commonalities and differences between Buddhism and western humanities and sciences. Jakob seeks to present the profound theory and practice of Buddhism in a way that is accessible and applicable to a modern audience.

Tsering Chodron

Tsering Chodron lives in Northern New South Wales, Australia, and is an instructor with Siddhartha’s Intent. Tsering took refuge in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1976. During Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s first visit to Australia in 1984, she met Rinpoche and became his student. Tsering was involved with the establishment and administration of Rinpoche’s retreat centre in Australia, Vajradhara Gonpa, during which time she had the opportunity to receive teachings, do retreats and serve many renowned Tibetan Buddhist masters.

Tsering’s interest in Death and Dying was sparked by life experiences, the Buddhist teachings, and from attending workshops facilitated by her dharma friend Judy Arpana

Jangchub

Jangchub has been a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche for thirty plus years. During this time she has been actively involved with Vajradhara Gonpa and was requested by Rinpoche to become an instructor for Siddhartha’s Intent Australia at Vajradhara Gonpa in 1995.

Jangchub completed a three year retreat in France under Pema Wangyal Rinpoche in 2006. Subsequently she was one of the supervisors for the second three year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa in the first and last year.

Jangchub’s main emphasis is in the area of Pastoral Care for Buddhist practitioners or people who are open to the spiritual values of the Buddha’s teachings, to assist them through the dying process.

Ani Zangmo

Death has never been distant and it is such a great teacher. I have always been very curious about it. In my lived experience and jobs in hospitality, crisis youthwork, child protection and disability prior to becoming a nun, I would see the impact of death on people’s lives. Buddhism gave me a new framework to make sense of this. I am acutely aware of the impact death has had on me and how important making friends with it is.

I was a late bloomer finding Buddhism at 34 and took ordination as a Buddhist nun in 2004. I have had the good fortune to study with Traleg Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and have been a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche since 2009.

I completed 3 year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa (2009-2012), I’m a Ngondro and Dharma gar instructor and I’m also involved with the online SI practice community.

I have a Bachelor of Social Science in Welfare studies, Diploma in Shiatsu and Oriental therapies and in 2014 I completed Buddhist spiritual care training (hosted by the Buddhist Council of Victoria (BCV) in conjunction with Spiritual Health Australia) and have a voluntary role as a Buddhist Chaplain through this program.

I have learnt the most through being fully present with people, families and animals at end of life not through any theory or study.

Julie St Aubyn

Julie St Aubyn studied Visual Art at the DDIAE in Toowoomba, attaining a Diploma of Arts. With her young family she moved to Northern New South Wales. There she lived in the bush, raised four children and taught Art in local schools. Her work has been represented in exhibitions and group shows since 1983.

Julie’s interest in the human spirit and her intrigue of death led her into working in the field of palliative care. Coordinating “The Caring Circle”, a community based support service, clients with end stage illness and their carers were supported through all stages of their illness.

Julie has studied herbalism, working as an assistant in a herbal apothecary and has been a lifelong student of homeopathy. Julie volunteered regularly at Vajradhara Gonpa, and was the medical support person for the two 3year retreats.

After moving to live in a riverside town on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Julie trained, and then worked as a funeral director.

Through the years Julie has continued to develop her Art practice, her creative journey through life being influenced by the themes of impermanence and death and enhanced by her Buddhist practice and by the Buddhist teachings.

Kirsten Isbel

Kirsten’s first encounter with death was when she attended one of her first shifts as a nursing student in 1999. An elderly woman ended up dying in her arms due to a sudden physical event and instead of being fearful of this experience, Kirsten became fascinated with the process of dying and began to ask herself ‘What happens to someone after they die?’. It was always clear to Kirsten that the essence of the person doesn’t just disappear into ‘nothing’. Although there a many theories and belief systems out there to explain this, Kirsten found that the Buddhist reasoning and logic of mind is the most detailed and profound explanation she has encountered. These Buddhist teachings on death and dying have been a source of great strength in her work as a Palliative Care Nurse but also an inspiration for Kirsten to train and guard her own mind.

Kirsten has been a palliative care nurse working in hospice settings for over 15 years. She is currently working at a Buddhist Hospice Service at the Sunshine Coast. In her role as a Registered Nurse, Kirsten supports people with a terminal illness and their families to facilitate end of life care in their own home and provides education and support for those caring for the dying loved ones. Kirsten is also a professional Astrologer working at Pramana Wellbeing at the Sunshine Coast.

Kirsten’s first encounter with Buddhism was in 2013 when she went to India and met Karma Lhundup Rinpoche. She then went on to take refuge in 2014 with Khensur Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering back in Australia. Kirsten has followed Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s teachings for many years, but it wasn’t until she met Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at Shechen Monastery in Nepal in 2019 that she decided to become a Ngondro Gar practitioner.

Guest Speakers

Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche

Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche is a ngakpa (lay yogi practitioner) of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. His teachings are simple, direct, humourous and applicable to everyday life.

He specialises in the Dudjom Tersar, Northern Treasures (Changter) and the Dzogchen traditions of meditation, and performs various ancient Tibetan rituals, rites and ceremonies for living, dying and after death.

Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche was recognised as the reincarnation of a 19th century Tibetan mahasiddha called Wariktsel Thokme by Kyabje Hungar Dorje Rinpoche and Terton Kusum Lingpa Rinpoche.

Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche speaks fluent English and has travelled around the world making connections with people of many backgrounds. Rinpoche has said that on his travels he gave simple teachings, performed ceremonies and made people happy with funny Tibetan stories. Rinpoche’s humility is only one of his many qualities.

Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyal

To be touched by the beauty and pain of life, rather than trying to live around it, creates grace” – Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyal

Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel has studied and practiced the Buddhadharma for over 35 years under the guidance of her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is the retreat master of Samten Ling in Crestone, Colorado and has spent over six years in retreat. She holds a degree in both anthropology and Buddhist Studies. She has published two books: “The Power of An Open Question” and “The Logic of Faith.”

Elizabeth is fascinated with the Buddha’s essential teachings on the natural principle of pratityasamutpada, or interdependence, and how this insight serves as the doorway to understanding the teachings on the middle way. These teachings—often referred to as the wisdom aspect in Mahayana Buddhism—elucidate the essence or view that reside at the heart of the entire path. Due to the subtlety of their meaning and the cryptic nature of traditional texts, the middle way teachings are often either misunderstood or overlooked completely.

During many decades of studying these teachings with Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Elizabeth found herself probing for language to further explain them to herself. This process of contemplation and discovery brought the middle way teachings to life for her. Now she shares her inquiry with others using fresh, contemporary language that doesn’t water down their authentic message or transformative power.

Elizabeth’s longing to engage with others and share this process set the Middle Way Initiative in motion. https://www.middlewayinitiative.org/   

Khandro Thrinlay Chodon

Khandro Thrinlay Chodon is a Meditation Master rooted in the authenticity of her own tradition while also being a modern laywoman of warmth and insight. She is committed to revealing how ancient methods of wisdom and compassion are to be practiced and applied in our everyday lives.

Her parents were great Yogi Masters who met their demise when she was young. Her husband also a realised Master, met an early demise and she served him till his last breath. Her experience in matters of loss and grief is direct and she has helped many in their most vulnerable times.

Born in Lahoul, northern India, a place known in the sacred texts as “Land of the Dakinis”, her great- grandfather was the famed Himalayan yogi, Togden Shakya Shri. Her father Kyabje Apho Rinpoche (1922-1974) was responsible for reviving the Drukpa lineage in Lahaul, Ladakh, Zanskar, Pangay and Manali, where he established several retreat centres. He was one of the first spiritual masters who gave teachings to students from the West.

Khandro Rinpoche’s mother, Sangyum Urgyen Chodon (1931-1985), was also an accomplished yogini, who first sowed the seed of her daughter’s passion for spiritual practice. As a child, Khandro Rinpoche received spiritual training from the late Yogi, Gegen Khyentse, a master of the Six Yogas of Naropa and Mahamudra, from whom she received all the empowerments and transmissions of her Lineage. She also studied with Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) and has practised in solitary retreat in the mountains of Nepal at Tato Pani Bhakang under the guidance of Kyabje Sengdrak Rinpoche (1947- 2005).

Khandro Rinpoche earned her Bachelor’s degree in India and Master’s degree In East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, USA.

Since the death of her husband, H.H.Shabdrung of Bhutan in 2003, she has been teaching in the West with a clear focus on integrating spirituality into daily life.

Khandro Thrinlay Chodon’s life’s work and vision “Khachodling” engages in spiritual and humanitarian projects in the Indian Himalayas. Khachodling translates as a place where the heart essence of wisdom, known as the feminine principle in Buddhism, is nourished and respected.

Khandro Thrinlay Chodon is the embodiment of warmth, purity and humanness and her teachings skilfully inspire us to deepen our awareness and courageously expand into the path of wisdom, joy and compassion.

Chagdud Khadro

Chagdud Khadro is the spiritual director of Chagdud Gonpa in Brazil. She was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist teacher in 1997, by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche—a great master of the Nyingma school. Khadro and Chagdud Tulku were married in 1979. She remained his devoted student for twenty-three years. Since Rinpoche’s Parinirvana in 2002, Khadro has focused on continuing the high-quality Vajrayana training he established and passed on to her. 

Formerly the managing editor of Padma Publishing in the United States, Khadro has edited many translations of Tibetan works. She was instrumental in the publication of Chagdud Tulku’s autobiography Lord of the Dance. She has compiled commentaries of his teachings on the Dudjom Tersar Ngöndro, Longsal Nyingpo Phowa, and the concise version of Apang Tertön’s Red Tara practice. She is overseeing the construction projects, translation and publishing of texts in Portuguese and Spanish, and projects related to education and to death and dying.

In addition to supervising the activities and teachings in all the Chagdud Gonpa Brasil centers and Chagdud Gonpa Hispanoamérica, Khadro also teaches in Europe, the United States, and Australia, and is a founding director of Middle Way Education, a nonprofit organization helping parents, educators, and school leaders introduce the timeless wisdom of the Dharma to students in creative, age-appropriate ways.

Ben Isbel

Ben Isbel is a mindfulness teacher with over 25 years’ experience spanning both traditional Buddhist meditation techniques and contemporary psychological approaches to mindfulness. Ben has studied in both the Theravadin and Mahayana Buddhist traditions and holds a B. of Psychology (Honours) and a PhD in Psychology.

Until recently Ben was the Research Program Coordinator at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic where he investigated the use of mindfulness to prevent the development of age-related cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. As a neuroscientist and contemplative researcher, Ben has developed a comprehensive cognitive model of mindfulness and has used advanced EEG techniques to show how mindfulness training can improve cognition and mood in older adults while at the same time transforming the ageing brain.

Ben is currently offering mindfulness training at Pramana Wellbeing in Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

Annie Whitlocke

I call myself an end of life consultant. I have completed various death walker/doula/midwifing trainings including the death of babies.

I am a qualified relaxation and mindfulness teacher, funeral celebrant, advanced care directive facilitator, palliative liaison coordinator with the Buddhist council of Victoria and CPE Buddhist chaplain.

The reason and purpose of what I do is to normalise dying and death in whatever form that may take. And to empower people that they have agency over many things.

I am a Buddhist practitioner of 40 years and share my space with a Buddhist monk and 5 severely disabled, wonderful dogs.

Dr Rachael Buckley

I am specialist GP and have worked widely with marginalized communities in various settings underpinned by a Harm Reduction approach. Buddhism has informed my medical practice most importantly through the recognition that, upon encountering the other, a subtle consciousness of wavering fear arises leading to a sense of separation. I try to gain insight into the lives and beliefs of clients when offering treatment as well as facilitate connection, trust and confidence in healing.

After graduation I worked with inner city Sydney communities, including injecting and other drug users, exposed to HIV at a time when therapeutic treatment was inadequate and many died with AIDS. Being able to support clients and their loved ones during the death process became a pivotal part of my practice. My commitment to this has continued in various settings, notably within Tibetan refugee settlements in India where most die at home cared for by family and community.

I am currently working with the homeless population in inner city Sydney with an aspiration to improve palliative care and communication for the dying within this community.

I describe myself as a ‘rabid Buddhist’ and a long-term disciple of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche although, despite my aspirations, others may call me a Scapegrace.

Dr Diana Cousens

Dr Diana Cousens has a PhD in Himalayan Studies from Monash University (2008). She is the Vice-Chair of the Buddhist Council of Victoria and a long standing student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. She is the Australian representative for the 84000 Project and publishes on the Tibetan treasure tradition and engaged Buddhism. Her publication, ‘Buddhist Care for the Dying’ (2004), is a standard text used in Buddhist chaplaincy in the health care sector. She was the Foundation President of Sakyadhita Australia (2016)

Nila Norbu

Nila Norbu is originally from Brisbane but spent lots of time in Bhutan, Taiwan and India whilst growing up. She has been blessed to know Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche since birth and has been learning about the Buddha for as long as she can remember.

Nila studied a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Medical Science at the Australian National University in Canberra. She now lives in Sydney and is a lawyer at a large global law firm. Whilst these days Nila is often occupied with corporate and commercial matters at work, Nila’s passion lies in social justice. During her time at University Nila worked at the Women’s Legal Centre ACT and volunteered for the Kimberley Community Legal Service, even getting the opportunity to spend some time on Miriwoong country (East Kimberley, WA) doing paralegal work and completing part of her honours thesis.

Nila was the Australia & New Zealand Coordinator of Rinpoche’s ‘Bhumisparsha: Touching the Earth’ project as well as its Head of Social Media and Content when it launched in 2020.

For Nila, her strong foundation in the dharma is what has guided her and continues to guide her in all aspects of her life, especially her work. Treating people with kindness, fairness and compassion in all aspects of life is crucial to Nila.

Tara Frances

Tara Frances has practised vipassanā and metta (lovingkindness) meditation for 40 years in Burma, Nepal and Australia, with Sayādaw U Pandita, the senior disciple of Mahāsī Sayādaw, and other senior teachers in the Mahasi Burmese tradition. She is a co-founder and was a major sponsor in the establishment of the Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Centre. Tara has also been a teacher of meditation. She has a deep respect and interest in the variety of Buddhist traditions and received teachings from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama and many others. Tara has degrees in Social Work and Health Science, and has worked in the fields of Mental Health, Environmental Health and as a volunteer, over a number of years, in Palliative Care

Ani Lhagsam

Ani Lhagsam provides spiritual care to those who request her assistance towards the end of their life. She is an ordained nun from Chenrezig Institute on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. Since 1994 she has been involved with the Cittamani and Karuna Hospice services. Lhagsam began her career in health as a registered nurse with a certificate in psychiatry and mental health. She has a post grad certificate in Palliative Care from Flinders University in South Australia and has also worked with Drug and Alcohol Services.

Dr Julie Kidd

Dr Julie Kidd is a GP, medical hypnotherapist, and Vajrayana practitioner. The realms of life and death, mind and body have always been woven through her professional life.But, when her 3-year-old son had strong premonitions of his own death in an accident, death came right to her door. And then it came again, some years later, when Julie suddenly had a haemorrhaging brain tumour that took her to Intensive Care and looking death directly in the face. She survived, thanks to an excellent surgeon, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and the prayers of sangha. Since then, Julie has written a book, “The Mind of Healing”, to help people use their minds effectively to have agency in their own healing.

Margaret Hassett

Born in 1949, I was brought up in a very devout Catholic family and educated in a Catholic Convent. After graduating in Science Law from Monash University I practiced in Family Law. In my early forties I studied Comparative Religious Studies at Deakin University and joined a Christian Theological group where I discovered mysticism. It was during this time that I came across Buddhism and in 1992 I took refuge with the Venerable Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche. My husband and three sons all in their own time made a strong connection with Rinpoche and took refuge and are practicing buddhists. I was fortunate enough to travel with Rinpoche on his first and second trips back to Thrangu Monastery in Tibet which gave me the wonderful opportunity to experience the Tibetan culture first hand. In 1999 Rinpoche put 8 of his students in a traditional 3year 3 month retreat which we completed over 16 years spending either three or six months at the one time in any one year. Rinpoche thought it was best for us to do the retreat practices in this way so we could maintain our jobs, and families and put into practice what we were learning as we went along.

Venerable Ban Ruo Shi

Born in Anhui, China, Venerable Ban Ruo Shi was ordained at the age of fourteen and had since studied under renowned Buddhist masters in China and Taiwan.

Since arriving in Australia in 1994, he has dedicated himself to serving communities with his skills and wisdom acquired through his years of Buddhist training and practices. In addition to undertaking the role of abbots of Huazang Monastery and Lin Yin Buddhist Institute, he took on appointments as Buddhist Counsellor of the Sydney Olympics, Religious Counsellor of Concord Hospital, Buddhist teacher at the University of New South Wales, Sydney University and Macquarie University, Police Chaplain at the Parramatta Police Headquarters, Religious Counsellor at the Australian Refugee Detention Centre, President of the Australia China Buddhist Council. Many of these appointments were first of their kinds.

At the age of 35, Venerable founded Prajna Monastery. In 2015, the Monastery acquired 130 acres of land in Razorback near Picton. His vision is to build the largest Buddhist Temple in the Southern Hemisphere there, which will include much needed aged care and palliative care facilities, and a sanctuary for abandoned animals.

Venerable regularly leads a team of monastics in performing prayer sessions to support the dying and their families at Concord Hospital, Bankstown Hospital, Royal Prince of Wales Hospital and St George Hospital.

Zenith Virago

Zenith known as a Deathwalker, an educator and a celebrant, is a maverick pioneer of a more contemporary, holistic death style.
Her approach supports dying well, family led body care, meaningful and appropriate ceremony. Blending traditional and contemporary understanding Zenith encourages people to take their dying, death, after death care and ceremony back into their own hands and hearts, even in cases of sudden death and trauma.
With a legal and community background, Zenith is a seen as a community resource, assisting people to know and reclaim their legal rights and to co-create their own social rites of passage. For over 25 years she has been influencing holistic cultural change in approaches to better end of life and after death care.
She shares the subtle and obvious layers involved to support people to be as informed, open and courageous as they can be, and to experience their dying and loss in the best way possible.
Her work may best be summed up as assisting people to die well, and for those left behind to have a healthier bereavement, as they move into their healing with no or few regrets.
Feminist, dyke, swimmer and liver of life, Zenith lives in Byron and was Byron Citizen of the Year in 2021. She speaks and teaches in Australia and Internationally, is the founding member of the Natural Death Care Centre NSW. Co-author of the book
The Intimacy of Death and Dying, and subject of the international independentdocumentary, Zen & the Art of Dying, and patron of the Good funeral guide, UK.

Judy Arpana

Judy has been a counsellor for more than 30 years, specialising in grief and loss.  She has extensive experience in developing and delivering a range of seminars and training workshops for staff and volunteers in hospitals, community settings, aged care facilities, and hospices throughout Australia and Europe.   

She initiated and coordinated a branch of the AIDS Council of NSW in Lismore and was a Spiritual Care Educator for the Rigpa Spiritual Care progam. 

Judy studied Jungian Therapy with Patrick Jansen and trained with Mal and Di McKissock and Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  She has studied Buddhism for more than 35 years. 

Judy is inspired to offer practical ways to benefit and support those facing life threatening illness or death, their families and care givers.  In her work she brings together Buddhist wisdom and insights to improve end-of-life care – exploring universal spiritual principles that resonate with people of any faith or none. 

Sarah Wilkinson

Sarah Wilkinson is a Buddhist Chaplain, volunteer, wife, and mother, who in her early 20s had a near-death experience that forever changed her perspective towards death, and, ultimately, life. She discovered the beauty and sensibility in the Buddhist approach to death and now finds immense satisfaction in easing people’s discomfort about the inevitable journey facing us moment to moment. An ordained lay Buddhist minister, she earned a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Buddhist Chaplaincy in 2016. After some years in Hong Kong, she completed a yearlong program in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia. She is further qualified as an end-of-life doula and has led a number of “Death Cafés.” After volunteering for several months as a spiritual caregiver at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, a cancer treatment centre, she moved to London where she now volunteers as a chaplain for the NHS in the oncology ward at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. In addition to leading the monthly practice of Korwa Dongtruk – a Tibetan Buddhist ritual to benefit the deceased – for Siddhartha’s Intent Australia, she works for Khyentse Foundation in editing, identity development, and communications and is a board member of Lotus Outreach International. 

Melanie Andrews

Melanie Andrews, program worker with StandBy support after suicide North Coast team, covering from Port Macquarie to Tweed Heads. StandBy support after suicide provides support to those impacted by a suicide loss or a serious suicide attempt, individualised for each person’s unique circumstance. This support is continued for up to two years to ensure those that engage with StandBy are not alone and receive ongoing support.

Much of StandBy’s work involves exploring the grief and loss surrounding these circumstances, and how a reluctance to speak about death and the loss of a loved one can exacerbate one’s grieving state.

Tsunma Gosha

The reason Gosha made a conscious decision to follow Buddhism was because she wanted to be ready for death – something she realised she wasn’t prepared for, following a near death experience as the result of a motor bike accident when she was 19.

In 1995, at the age of 34, the teacher and mother of three teenage children read Sogyal Rinpoche’s book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying which started her on her journey with Buddhism. Gosha completed Judy Arpana’s training  twice and utilised her training when volunteering as a palliative carer with the Kyogle Caring Circle for many years.

Gosha began visiting Vajradhara Gonpa in Kyogle, northern New South Wales and in 2000, she met Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and was given her refuge name (Gosha is Sanskrit for ‘Melody’). In 2003 Rinpoche gave her the first stage of vows to become a nun and permission to wear the robes. Gosha then participated in the first 3-year Retreat at the Gonpa from 2005-2008. Since completing retreat Gosha has been an instructor with Siddhartha’s Intent.

Gosha went overseas for the first time in 2009 (on pilgrimage with Judy Arpana) to India and also on to Nepal and Bhutan. In 2011 she received novice monastic ordination in Bodhgaya, India, through the auspices of Rabjam Rinpoche, Changling Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. She continued to travel on pilgrimage tours each year, most especially to India and Bhutan, until 2019, and completed a 10-year program of studies at Shechen Monastery in Bodhgaya, India.

The traditional Tibetan title for a nun is ‘Ani’ which means ‘Aunty’. Gosha is encouraging the use of the formal and more respectful term ‘Tsunma’, as is suggested by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. This is the classical Tibetan term for a nun: ‘Tsun’ means ‘pure, noble, disciplined, learned, virtuous and of good character…’ which is something Gosha aspires to.

Lisa Herbert

Lisa Herbert is an author, freelance journalist, cemetery wanderer, death awareness advocate, blogger and public speaker. A radio journalist for 17 years, Lisa has also worked as a TV reporter and producer.

Her interest in western society’s perception of death and dying was sparked as a teen after reading the books of renowned psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The works, inspired by Dr Kübler-Ross’ work with terminally ill patients, were groundbreaking at the time. Never before had the emotional needs of the dying been given attention by the medical profession.

It’s now more than fifty years on and many people are still reluctant to talk about the inevitable. However, while researching The Bottom Drawer Book, Lisa found that once the discussion began people opened up and gave their mortality some measured thought. All they needed was someone to initiate the discussion. And that’s where The Bottom Drawer Book comes in, openly and respectfully starting the conversation.

Hōjun Futen

Hōjun Futen (Gentle Dharma – Universal Heaven) has been a Buddhist monk for 13 years. After spending 6 years with a Theravada monk from Sri Lanka as his teacher, Hōjun then spent 9.5 years with his Zen teacher in Melbourne before moving to Japan for 3 years for his monastic training. Upon his return to Australia Hōjun began working in both hospital and prison spiritual care for the Buddhist Council of Victoria before taking on the roles of Senior State Chaplain for Buddhism (Prisons) and Spiritual Care Coordinator at the BCV. During this time Hōjun also spent 5 years in the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Currently Hōjun looks after 10 prisons across the state teaching men mindfulness, meditation and the Buddha Dharma. He has been the Buddhist Chaplain at both Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Austin Repatriation Hospital (Coral-Balmoral Unit for PTSD) and trains new Buddhist chaplains in the art of Buddhist Spiritual Care.

Alex Antunes

Alex Antunes(she/her) is a Naarm based aged care worker and holistic funeral assistant. She is a child of portuguese migrants, and interested in understanding attitudes and cultural practices of people who have limited connection with their ancestors. She is passionate about empowering communities to make informed decisions about their care. She is the current treasurer of Natural Death Advocacy Network and a founder of Queer As Death Collective which facilitate monthly Death Cafes for LGBTQIA+ people. She is advocating for an LGBTQIA+ space at Harkness Cemetery.

Tulku Ngawang Tenzin

Tulku Ngawang planting trees at Buddha Pāda

Tulku Ngawang Tenzin Loden Rinpoche was born on 26 August 1987 in Sikkim and at the age of eight was recognized by Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Gaywe Shenyen Losal Rinpoche of Khahong Ladhang Monastery in Tibet. He is also regarded as the reincarnation of the Terton Guru Choewang lineage.

Tulku Ngawang trained from a young age under his guru Kyabjé Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, spent several years studying the rites and rituals of the Nyingma lineage Northern Treasures at Thupten Dorji Drak Monastery in India, and studied Buddhist philosophy at Dzongsar Institute.

These days Tulku Ngawang takes care of his monastery in Gangtok, Sikkim, and manages the Buddha Pāda Institute in Kalimpong, West Bengal, where he also leads courses in Buddhism and meditation. He also steers the 2021 Bhumisparsha Team’s initiative to plant 84000 trees on this earth.

Tulku Ngawang was featured in Khyentse Norbu’s latest film, Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache and dreams of making films himself one day.

In addition to Tibetan and English, Tulku Ngawang speaks fluent Nepali, which enables him to communicate freely with the ethnic groups of the Himalayas.

Siddhartha’s Intent Australia is looking forward to hosting Tulku Ngawang Tenzin on his first visit to Australia in June.

“I have a small monastery in Gangtok, Sikkim, which is about 3 hour’s drive from Kalimpong. Since Khyentse Rinpoche invited me to join Buddha Pāda last March, I spend my time half here and half in my monastery. My experience here is beautiful. I have been living my life previously mostly in a monastic environment, so this is all new to me. I get to meet a lot of new people who are interested in Buddhadharma. I listen to their stories and hear about their lives. So that is something very interesting for me. It’s like a new insight. The biggest challenge for me is social skills. Monastic people are usually shy and introvert and little difficult to open up. Now I am getting used to it. Slowly.”

Read more in the interview with Tulku Ngawang in Khyentse Foundation Focus January 2022 

Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang is a dharma teacher and translator of tantric texts and pith instructions of the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. Erik is leading workshops for our Translator Training Program, advising the project on the esoteric textual material, and sharing his own translations with the project.

Early in life, a deep curiosity about the nature of reality led Erik to connect with the tradition of Buddha Shakyamuni and Padmasambhava, which he has studied, practiced and served ever since. Under the guidance of his main teachers, the dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Erik has translated numerous Dharma texts in inspiring and accessible language. He is the co-founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Rangjung Yeshe Institute (Nepal), and several Gomde retreat centers across Europe. Appointed by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche to teach the dharma, he now guides retreats on simplicity, naturalness, love, and insight.

In 2016, Erik founded Bodhi Training in Denmark, a two-year education initiative that explores all levels of insight into the Buddha’s teachings, giving participants an opportunity to connect with the dharma in a gradual, experiential, and interactive way.

A prolific translator, Erik has put together numerous dharma books. Notable examples include The Light of Wisdom, volumes 1 to 5, by Padmasambhava and Jamgön Kongtrül; Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche; and Mirror of Mindfulness, a commentary on the bardo states by Tsele Natsok Rangdröl. Khyentse Foundation is grateful for his invaluable translation of these precious dharma texts and for his other contributions to the field, such as his editorial work for 84000 and lately, mentoring the translators for Khyentse Vision Project.

When Khyentse Foundation asked Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche to say something about the Erik he knows, he responded with a touching reply:

“From the time I was a teenager trying to learn Danish from him, I have known this man and occasionally even observed him. In all that time, I have noticed that he was not going astray. He went from one great master to another, each one of whom was the Buddha in person.

During all this time, this man has not wasted his time but instead gained profound Buddhist knowledge and subsequently became a great translator. But all that does not really move me. What moves me most is that, in my humble opinion, he has become a genuine dharma practitioner. And that is very rare today, even among Tibetans.

I don’t say this lightly and had to think really hard before saying it. So, coming from someone like me with a mountainlike ego and pride, I hope people will take a bit seriously my deep appreciation for Erik Pema Kunsang.”
— Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, May 2022, Bir, India

 

Do Tulku

Raktrul Rinpoche Do Tulku is the resident lama and spiritual guide of the Arya Tara’s Net centre near Cologne, Germany. He is a lay practitioner and lives with his family in Germany. Following his recognition by H.H. Sakya Trizin at the age of 17 as the reincarnation of the 5th Raktrul Rinpoche, he received an eleven-year training in Buddhist philosophy, practice, and debate at the Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro Institute in India, from which he graduated with the title of Acharya (Lopon).
 
Following the instructions of his teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, he now teaches regularly in Asia, Europe and South America. Do Tulku has received teachings, transmissions, and initiations from some of the greatest masters of our time, including H.H. Dalai Lama, H.H. Sakya Trizin, Khenchen Kunga Wangchuk, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Dagchen Rinpoche, Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, and many more. Rinpoche worked as a translator for the 84,000 Project, and is an expert Himalayan scholar advisor for the Khyentse Vision Project.
 
Do Tulku is appreciated for his learned, interactive, and often unconventional, humorous way of communicating the Buddhist teachings.

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche was recognised as an incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, and the 16th Karmapa.

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche is the youngest son of the renowned master Kangyur Rinpoche and spent his childhood in Darjeeling with his family. After his father, Kangyur Rinpoche, passed away, he spent many years studying under the guidance of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche moved to France in 1980, where, under the guidance of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he and his brother, Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, established the retreat center Centre D’Études de Chanteloube. Over the past 40 years, both Rinpoche and his brother have invited many great lamas to visit and teach in the West, including Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Nyoshül Khen Rinpoche, and Trulshik Rinpoche. Rinpoche speaks fluent English and French, and teaches regularly in Europe, Australia, Vietnam, Canada, and the United States. Rinpoche also oversees the projects of the Padmakara Translation Group, leads retreats, teaches seminars all over the world and is the Principal Advisor of the Khyentse Vision Project.

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