On April 26, two weeks after the sudden passing of our beloved and incomparably kind Guru, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the FPMT Council was able to have an interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Four of the five Council members were present at the meeting, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi (Abbot of Kopan), the Venerable Roger Kunsang, Dale Davis and Karuna Cayton. Also present were two senior monks from Kopan, Venerable Tenpa Choden, Director of Kopan Monastery, and Venerable Thubten Kunken, Office Manager.
We are pleased to share the video and translation of our meeting, in which His Holiness clearly offers the important guides and essential advice we have requested. The three areas we sought advice on were Lama Zopa Rinpoche's reincarnation, how the organization will be led, and advice to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's students.
While Rinpoche's passing is beyond comprehension and heartbreaking for many of us, His Holiness offers a bright light of hope and comfort.
Please read the full translation below and watch the video, which contains a short simultaneous translation by His Holiness's translator, Tenzin Tsepak.
FPMT Board of Directors
TRANSCRIPT OF MEETING WITH THE FPMT BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA, APRIL 26, 2023
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Lama Zopa Rinpoche was indeed a trusted Dharma friend. He really did him better than him. I am now in my eighties and expect to live another 10-15 years. Since Lama Zopa Rinpoche was a close and intimate friend of Dharma, for my part I am praying and have great hopes that I will see a young reincarnation who will continue to benefit the Dharma and sentient beings.
Based on the signs that are showing up, it looks like I may live to be over a hundred years old. Therefore, in that last phase of my life, I think I will be able to see the young reincarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche as a child at approximately this height [His Holiness points to his chest height with his hand].
Ven. Roger Kunsang: We would like to ask Your Holiness to guide us in finding the exact reincarnation.
His Holiness: Sure. First I will do a divination to check whether it is time to seek reincarnation or not. If this indicates that the time is right to seek reincarnation, then I will do a more precise divination to verify where to seek reincarnation – India, Nepal, Tibet or other countries.
I have warm feelings for dear Rinpoche. He has been so loyal and good to me. Therefore, I have the responsibility to find the right reincarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, so that the reincarnation continues to benefit the Dharma. If the reincarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche is teasing, I can discipline the child myself! [Laughs]
Ven. Roger: Rinpoche has said many times that when he dies there will be no master to lead the organization. But he [Lama Zopa Rinpoche] thought that between his office and the FPMT board, some members are here, and the Abbot of Kopan Monastery [who is a board member], would lead the organization.
His Holiness: Very good. Marvelous.
Ven. Roger: Does His Holiness have any advice for Rinpoche's students right now?
His Holiness: My dear friend Lama Zopa Rinpoche has taken a great responsibility to preserve the Dharma and the Sangha community. Therefore it is now important to continue to fulfill the wishes that Lama Zopa Rinpoche had when he was alive.
For my part, I will continuously offer all possible support, as if dear Lama Zopa Rinpoche were next to me.
Tashi Delek, is that all?
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi: The FPMT Board pledges to sincerely follow whatever His Holiness says.
His Holiness: Thank you. A thousand thanks.
For my part, I have no command or order. It is important that you analyze the facts of a situation. Through your discussions, and after an agreement is reached, you can bring it to me and I can offer my support. I like democracy. I have already given up the Dalai Lama's position of authority. I gave power to the Tibetan people. Now the Tibetan administration is run under the parliamentary system.
You have a better understanding and experience of the [FPMT] situation. So first have a good discussion among yourselves, then you can ask me and I will offer you my support.
In regards to the reincarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, it is important on your part that you do your own investigations. And I will too for my part. I will do the divinations and when the reincarnation becomes big it is important that you study.
I will live for another 15-20 years. As I get older it is important that young people, like the reincarnation of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, gradually take on more responsibilities.