OM MANI PADME HUM
Nestled on one of the hills that surround Kathmandu Valley, next to the buddhist town of Boudanath, sits the tranquil Kopan Monastery. It was founded in the 1970's by two highly revered lamas, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Thubten Yeshe, in Gelug tradition of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism and significantly, offering teachings to westerners alongside the monastic community.
This connection with westerners began by chance. After fleeing Tibet as refugees in the 1959, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa lived in a refugee camp in India for 8 years. After leaving the camp they met some westerners travelling through India to whom they began teaching mediation. It is said that Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who was originally from Nepal, was a great yogi in his past life and had promised his villagers that he would return in his next life to start a school. To this purpose, Rinpoche and Yeshe travelled to see the Dalai Lama and received his blessing to return to Nepal and start the Monastic school. Initially it began as a modest monastery in the Solu Khumbu region however conditions were too difficult and those 25 monks moved to Kopan Hill. It was there that Kopan Monastery was founded and it's monastic community established under the guidance of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche along with also opening it's doors to westerners for teaching and meditation. for the first time.
Now the monastery is home to over 350 monks, many of whom are from Tibet which sits alongside a teaching and mediation retreat for westerners. The two exist harmoniously and to great benefit to each other.