Lama Rinchen Phuntsok to visit Swindon

By Anna Mansell, Swindon Advertiser, Dec 19, 2007

Swindon, UK -- ONE of the top figures in Buddhism will be in Swindon this weekend as part of his UK tour. Tibetan Buddhist, the Venerable Lama Rinchen Phuntsok Rinpoche will be spending the weekend at the Stanton House Hotel, hosting sessions about meditation.

His lineage dates back around 1,000 years to one of the main Buddhist teachers to have brought the faith to Tibet, and he is a leader of the nyingma school of the faith.

Lama Rinchen is regarded as the Buddhist equivalent of a cardinal in the Catholic religion, and in his youth was recognised as the reincarnation of one of the previous masters of the belief system.

Because of this he received an elite education.

Event organiser Ben Schmidt said: "What makes him a very rare character is that he is incredibly learned as one of the greatest scholars, far beyond someone like an Oxford professor.

"He is a highly-recognised meditation master and he speaks English.

"There's only a very small number of people who can match him in these areas and usually one of those three things is missing.

"His elite education included attending the greatest Buddhist university in the world, which is in India, and there he graduated at the top of his class there.

"His level of learning is such that he knows many texts to comment on by heart."

Since university he has spent more than 20 years as a disciple and personal secretary under the grand master of Tibetan Buddhism in New York.

In spite of all he has done, Lama Rinchen is still in his 50s.

Dr Schmidt said: "It seems that if someone is recognised as an authentic reincarnation then they go through life at an accelerated pace as they are seen to be such an advanced being."

The weekend's event at the Stanton House Hotel is open to anyone who "has a connection or sympathy" with Buddhism, according to Dr Schmidt.

The Lama will be giving initiations into the meditation practice connected to the female Buddha Tara.

Dr Schmidt is also keen to speak to anyone interested in finding out more about the faith. For more information about Tibetan Buddhism or this weekend's event contact Dr Schmidt on 07875 357891.