Chenrezig Institute is a Buddhist retreat and study centre nestled in the hills of the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland, Australia. Established in 1974, the Institute was among the first Tibetan Buddhist centres in the Western World and remains one of the largest. It is a registered charitable organisation affiliated with the FPMT.
The Institute is home to a Tibetan teacher, a large number of nuns and monks, and a thriving community of students, volunteers and guests. We provide a range of Buddhist and secular programmes through which people’s minds and hearts can be transformed for the benefit of others.
Our programmes include meditation retreats, teachings on Buddhism, advanced study courses, art classes and workshops on Buddhist psychology and mental well being.
The centre also has accommodation facilities, a vegetarian cafe, library, meditation hall, art studio, memorial garden and beautiful grounds which are all open to the general public from Thursday to Sunday every week.
Everyone is welcome to visit.
History of our centre
Chenrezig Institute traces its origins to 1974, when a month long meditation course – the first of its kind in Australia – was conducted by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in nearby Diamond Valley, Mooloolah. This historic course attracted approximately 200 people from all across Australia.
During the course many students decided they wanted the opportunity for ongoing study and so the Eudlo property was donated by four students so that a meditation centre could be established. This rather barren plot of land, lying fallow, became what is now the lush sub-tropical environment of Chenrezig Institute. This transformation from one-time cattle grazing land to thriving centre for Tibetan Buddhist education and practice was made possible by the hard work of countless volunteer students and visitors over many years.
The centre gets its name from Chenrezig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of compassion. Chenrezig is one of the most beloved figures in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. He represents the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in their tireless work for the benefit of all beings. Chenrezig’s mantra is: OM MANI PADME HUM. Chenrezig literally translates as “all seeing”, and manifests in many forms; male and female, and often with many arms and eyes.
During his lifetime, the Buddha gave numerous teachings on how to live a worthwhile human life and train one’s mind through meditation. After his passing some 2500 years ago, his teachings spread widely throughout Asia – from Japan and China in the east, Sri Lanka and Indonesia in the south, Afghanistan in the west, and Korea and Mongolia in the north. In each country that Buddhism traveled to, certain teachings that the Buddha gave were more or less strongly emphasized. These teaching were later influenced by the characteristics and temperaments of people in the different Buddhist countries, thus giving rise to the variety of Buddhist traditions and practices we see today.
‘Tibetan Buddhism’ actually refers to a form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and parts of India. It is unique in that it encompasses all the teachings of the types of Buddhism found in other countries around the world – the Foundational Vehicle (Hinayana), the Universal Vehicle (Mahāyāna) and the Tantric Vehicle (Vajrayāna). Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes the Mahayana goal of spiritual development – to achieve the enlightenment in order to help all other sentient beings – and teaches methods for achieving buddhahood more quickly by including the Vajrayāna practices.
For some, Tibetan Buddhism is simply a philosophy for living, for others it seems to be a highly ritualistic religion, and yet others see it as an advanced study of the nature of mind. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to approach it – what works for people of one disposition may not work for those of another. In fact, the Buddha himself encouraged us to listen to, contemplate, and integrate what is useful for them and to discard anything that they do not find useful.
As our founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe put it:
Learning meditation, or studying Buddhism, is learning about you, your own nature. The subject is about your own mind. Learning meditation or Buddhism does not mean learning sceptical doctrine or philosophy. It is a method how to control undisciplined mind, which is what we have. So, by learning the characteristic nature of our own undisciplined mind, the control is the nature, because you understand; through the understanding, you release the emotionally ignorant. It is so important to know the mentality of your own mind, no matter you believing or not believing, you are religious or not religious, you are Christian, or you are Hinduism, or you are science, or you are black or East or West or…no matter. To know your own mind is very , very important.
There are numerous sources of information about Buddhism on the internet, but if you’re really interested in exploring the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism we’d encourage you to attend a Buddhism in a Nutshell course at Chenrezig Institute, or to do it online via FPMT Foundation Store. You can also read and listen to teachings from our founding lamas, the Dalai Lama, and many other lineage lamas at Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Copies of the LYWA free books are available through any FPMT centre.
Chenrezig Institute is affiliated with the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition). The FPMT is an international, non-profit organization, founded in 1975 by Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-84). The Spiritual Director of the Foundation is Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The FPMT is devoted to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service. It provides integrated education through which people’s minds and hearts can be transformed into their highest potential for the benefit of others.
The organization is based on the Gelug tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa of Tibet as taught to us by our founder Lama Thubten Yeshe and Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The FPMT is a rapidly growing non-profit organization participating in many aspects of the world community. Following the example and inspiration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his compassionate service to humanity, FPMT students in retreat and study centres, monasteries and businesses around the world try to serve others with kindness and wisdom.
Temporal head of the Tibetan Government in Exile, and a prominent teacher in the Gelug Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the greatest source of inspiration for the Foundation. His Holiness is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. He was born Lhamo Dhondrub on 6 July 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, His Holiness was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor the 13th Dalai Lama, and thus an incarnation Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
Founder of Chenrezig Institute and the FPMT
Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered Sera Monastic University in Tibet where he studied until 1959, when as Lama Yeshe himself has said, “In that year the Chinese kindly told us that it was time to leave Tibet and meet the outside world.”
Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, together as teacher and disciple since their exile in India, met their first Western students in 1965. By 1971 they settled at Kopan, a small hamlet near Kathmandu in Nepal.
In 1974, the Lamas began touring and teaching in the West, which would eventually result in The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Lama Yeshe died in 1984, his reincarnation Osel Hita Torres was born to Spanish parents in 1985.
Spiritual Director of the FPMT
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, FPMT’s spiritual director, is the reincarnation of the Sherpa Nyingma yogi Kunsang Yeshe, the Lawudo Lama. Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Thami, not far from the cave Lawudo, in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, where his predecessor meditated for the last twenty years of his life. From time to time whilst giving teachings at various centers around the world, Rinpoche would tell stories of his childhood: in Thami, then in Tibet, where he went when he was ten, and finally India, where he first met Lama Thubten Yeshe, with whom he would remain as heart disciple until Lama passed a way in 1984.
Click here to visit the website for Lama Zopa Rinpoche. This site contains lots of advice, updates, schedules, teachings, and much more.
Advice regarding practice of Shugden or (Dolgyal)
FPMT worldwide has a policy regarding the practice of Shugden, following advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Those in service or teaching in FPMT centers, projects and services do not engage in the practice of Shugden.
Students regularly attending FPMT centers should not practice Shugden.
FPMT teachers and key staff should not attend teachings by teachers who are known Shugden practitioners.
The full collection of advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other important lamas can be found here.
Chenrezig Institute Team
Primary Teacher – Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim
Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim was born in Tibet in 1969. At the age of 14 he became a monk and was admitted to Sera Je monastery, where he was awarded his Geshe degree (the equivalent of a doctorate in Buddhist studies) in 2005.Geshe Tsultrim spent a further two years studying tantra at Gyume Tantric Monastery. Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim was appointed to the position of teacher of Buddhist philosophy at TCV School, Bylakuppee in 2006 where he spent two years teaching. Before coming to Chenrezig Institute, Geshe Phunktsok Tsultrim also spent some time teaching at Root Institute where he was immensely popular for the warm and approachable way in which he presented the Dharma.
Translator Venerable Kartson (Yaki Platt)
Centre Director To be appointed
Executive Committee Babette Furstner, Phil Williams, Dan Clark
Spiritual Program Coordinator Kirsty Sharman
Wellbeing Centre Coordinator To be appointed
Advanced Program Coordinator Kathy Victa
Advanced Program Tutor Venerable Kartson (Yaki Platt)
Gompa Manager Ven. Lozang Wangmo
Librarian Hilary Tilton
Manager of Monks Community Ven. Lozang Jhampa
Manager of Nuns Community Ven. Tenzin Palyon
Chenrezig Arts Garrey Foulkes & Carolyn Pearce
Guest Services Manager Jennifer Thomas
Volunteer Coordinator Aaron Watkins
Caretaker Kym Bartlett
Housekeeping To be appointed
CUSTOMER SERVICE & RETAIL
Reception, Dharma & Gift Shop Susanna Naqasima, Gemma Davies
Procurement Dechen Gerrard
Chenrezig Institute is fortunate to be home to a large Sangha community. There are currently more than 25 Australian and International Western Buddhist Nuns who form the Chenrezig Nuns Community. There are also a number of monks living at the centre as part of the Losang Dragpa Monastery.
Most Sangha members come to our Institute to engage in the Advanced Study Programme. After graduating from this program, they will take up a variety of roles to help meet the great need for qualified teachers in the Western World.
The Sangha offer support to many sentient beings through teachings, leading meditations and pujas, offering spiritual counselling and undertaking hospice work. If you are visiting the centre, you are welcome to chat to any of the Sangha members.