Lama Zopa Rinpoche visits UM

In a private meeting with ten UM-affiliated individuals, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, currently the main Tibetan Lama spreading Buddhism to the West, gave a candid depiction of his journey to becoming a Lama, followed by a lecture in the Learning Center [LC] that was filled to capacity.
“I was so excited that such a renowned figure of Buddhist religion was on campus that I called in sick to work to attend his lecture,” Fahadh Faasil, freshman, said. “I wish I could have met with him in person to ask him personal questions.”
During the meeting, Rinpoche spoke to a group comprised of religion students and faculty, a representative from the Tibetan library of Buddhism in Miami and a reporter from The Miami Hurricane.
Rinpoche told the group that he was born in Nepal in a mountain village near Mt. Everest, surrounded by fresh water rivers and beautiful trees. At the age of four, he said, he went to a special Buddhist school near his home. However, he said he would sneak out of the school to visit his mother in the middle of the night, until his mother became angry and sent him to another school farther away.
He then went on to say that one day he asked his guru [a Buddhist teacher/monk]to visit his home with him. Rinpoche’s mother had made potato wine and offered some to the guru and to her son.
Rinpoche said he drank so much that the guru had to carry him on his shoulders through the mountains all the way back to the school.
“His life sounds so cool,” Andres Engel, junior, said after he was presented with the information provided at the meeting.
During the lecture held immediately after the private meeting, Rinpoche explained that if one understands the meaning of life, emotional problems will be eliminated.
He also said that much of the problems in life arise from not knowing the purpose of living.
“I pondered on Rinpoche’s words carefully after he spoke them,” Suchita Thakkar, freshman, said. “I’ve often wondered about the meaning of life but never actually sat down and analyzed it – I felt so harrowed.”
“The way to enlightenment is by truth,” Rinpoche said. “The root to suffering is not knowing oneself.”
Rinpoche also believes that happiness is universal.
“Happiness is for both humans and animals – all need happiness to grow and peace,” Rinpoche said.
“The whole thing was enriching,” Engel said. “Rinpoche helped us find happiness in a very simple way.”
“I don’t think I’ll ever be sad again,” Thakkar said.
Rinpoche believes that all should take the time to learn about themselves.
“By enriching the human body, one can attain so much,” Rinpoche said. “Understanding of the mind can solve problems within the hour, minute, even second.”
“Although you might have everything, your heart can be in misery,” Rinpoche said.
Currently, Rinpoche is on a world tour. He will be in the area for one more week until he travels to France for two weeks, followed by two weeks in Russia.
He will end his trip in Mongolia, where he will meet his Holiness the Dali Lama, the highest-ranking priest of Buddhism.
For more information on Lama Zopa Rinpoche, contact Dr. Stephen Sapp, head of religious studies, at

Abhishek Shah can be contacted at

April 11, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.