Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Geshes Namdrol Phuntsok and Jangchub Gyalmo, Kopan Nunnery, Nepal, November 2016. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Kopan Nunnery has its first two geshemas. They are Geshe Namdrol Phuntsok and Geshe Jangchub Gyalmo, who graduated with their Geshe degrees in 2016 after an intense program lasting more than twenty years. Lama Zopa Rinpoche met with them in November 2016 at Kopan Nunnery to congratulate them—and to watch them debate philosophy, a skill they honed during their years of study (see video below).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the first Himalayan geshemas at their graduation ceremony, Drepung Monastery, India, December 2016. Photo by Olivier Adam.

While many people have commented on the great benefits the geshemas will bring to others by teaching and mentoring, what benefits will their studies bring to them?

In a letter sent to a student in 2014 on the merit of in-depth Dharma study, Lama Zopa Rinpoche pointed out that those who follow their guru’s advice to undertake serious study create tremendous merit. Speaking directly to such students, he stated that this merit “means unbelievable, most unbelievable imprints are left on your mind. It means even if you don’t actualize the path in this life, because of doing this study and purifying so much, in the next life you will meet the Buddha’s teachings and be able to learn, because you have purified so much past negative karma and obscurations. This helps to achieve a higher rebirth, a perfect human rebirth, to meet the Dharma again and to become so expert and through that to have realizations through practicing, and not only that, to be able to go to nirvana and to enlightenment. That is so great!”

Watched by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshes Namdrol Phuntsok and Jangchub Gyalmo debate a monk at Kopan Nunnery, Nepal, November 2016. Photo by Ven. Lobsang Sherab.

Rinpoche continued, saying, “That means each time we are studying, we are fulfilling our Guru’s wishes, so we are becoming closer to enlightenment each time. We become closer to being free from samsara, and closer to enlightenment. So this is what has been happening all these years that you have been studying, doing homework, attending classes, these are the benefits of that. So you have gained unbelievably, so much … Therefore you should rejoice, it is most unbelievable, your whole life should be filled with incredible joy and happiness.”

Kopan Nunnery’s two new geshemas with Rizong Rinpoche, former Ganden Tripa, Nepal, November 2016. Photo by Mukhiya Ghale.

“Among all the sentient beings,” Rinpoche concluded, “the amount of people who are Buddhists is so small. Then from those who are Buddhist, those who have the opportunity to study are very rare. Then to be able to find a qualified teacher who can teach philosophy, it’s so, so rare. So you can rejoice, it’s unbelievable.”

Join Lama Zopa Rinpoche in rejoicing at the graduation of the geshemas. Watch them debate in front of Rinpoche and Rizong Rinpoche, former Ganden Tripa (head of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism), at Kopan Nunnery, Nepal, in November 2016:

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.