Geshe Phuntsok Tsultrim is Chenrezig Institute’s resident Tibetan Buddhist teacher and is immensely popular for his warm-hearted, outgoing, caring nature and his practical, accessible presentation of the Dharma. He continually inspires our community by the example he sets both inside and outside the gompa. We are most fortunate to have this precious teacher living here at Chenrezig Institute to directly transmit the Buddha’s teachings to us via the unbroken Mahayana lineage.
Geshe Tsultrim was born in Tibet in 1969 and ordained as a monk in his homeland of Lithang at the tender age of 13. He made his way to India aged 18 as a Tibetan refugee and enrolled at Sera Je’s monastic university, which was re-established in India after His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees fled their homeland following Chinese occupation. Sera Je’s history dates back to the early fifteenth century AD and it is recognised as one of the largest and most prestigious monastic institutes of Tibetan Buddhism in the Gelug tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa.
After many intensive years of advanced academic study Geshe Tsultrim was awarded a geshe degree in 2005 (in Western terms, equivalent to a doctorate). Research continued with a year of tantric study at Gyume Tantric College, followed by appointment as teacher of Buddhist philosophy at the Tibetan Children’s Village School, Bylakuppe, South India, which has the largest concentration of Tibetan refugees in South India. Following this two-year position, Geshe Tsultrim returned to Sera Je Monastery to become part of its administration.
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche specifically chose Geshe Tsultrim to be resident teacher at Chenrezig Institute, Australia and in 2014 Geshe-la made the long journey to teach on this distant continent, so very far from home. Just before leaving, Geshe Tsultrim taught at FPMT’s Root Institute in Bodhgaya, the most blessed place in the Buddhist world, where the Buddha is said to have meditated under the bodhi tree for 49 days and attained enlightenment.
Geshe Tsultrim teaches our renowned In-Depth program for Sangha and advanced students, teaches the twice-weekly general program for the public, conducts weekend courses and is an integral part of our traditional annual lamrim retreat. He is enthusiastically involved with the development of the centre and is always present and active onsite when work is taking place.
The beautiful Nalanda Masters Garden was Geshe Tsultrim’s vision for Chenrezig Institute and his heart project. Once a simple area of lawn, thanks to Geshe-la’s inspiration, the area has now transformed into the tranquil home for the 17 Nalanda pandits, as well as Lama Tsongkhapa and the Fasting Buddha, all of which are hand-carved from marble. The garden has become a central gathering place for special occasions and holy days and has been wholly achieved by Geshe Tsultrim’s single-minded commitment and dedication, supported by donations, benefactors and volunteer workers. Countless people now and into the future will benefit each time they walk through the garden and pause, all thanks to Geshe Tsultrim’s great kindness.
Geshe Tsultrim is a keen cook, well-known for his delicious Tibetan momos and can often be found in the Big Love kitchen making food for the volunteers.
Venerable Pende received full ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in 1986, having been ordained a novice monk (getsul) by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1983. Venerable Pende’s path into Buddhism began in 1979 on the one-month Kopan course led by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Back in Australia, he became a founding member of Atisha Centre in Bendigo, Victoria.
A physiotherapist for many years, Venerable Pende moved to Queensland in 1985 and ran a multi-therapist clinic in Brisbane. Venerable Pende started the Karuna Hospice Service in Brisbane in 1991, serving as director for six years. He subsequently set up Cittamani Hospice Service on the Sunshine Coast where he served as the inaugural director.
With extensive experience working with the dying and those in palliative care, as well as caring for their families, Venerable Pende began to teach widely on the subject in Australia. He then embarked on an overseas teaching tour in 1995, which took him across seven European countries as well as into south-east Asia.
Venerable Pende has been involved with numerous Buddhist projects and organisations through the years. He was the state coordinator for the Australia Tibet Council and was on the National Executive of the ‘The Dalai Lama in Australia’, helping organise several of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to Bodh Gaya. He was also the national and later international administrator for the Maitreya Project, which involved frequent travel to branches in India, Nepal and South East Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan).
Venerable Pende continues his life-long Dharma interest in death and dying by facilitating regular meetings at Chenrezig for an engaged group of students from all backgrounds, including the caring professions, offering guidance on how to help those facing the end of life.
With unwavering devotion to Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the triple gem, students find Venerable Pende humble, kind, a maker of laughter, and endlessly supportive. He is well known for his great love of all creatures great and small.
Ven Carla Tsultrim
Ven Tsultrim was ordained in 2009 at Chenrezig Institute in Australia. She has spent much of the last several years in India and Nepal doing retreat, listening to different teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist lineages and visiting many pilgrimage sites. She is currently living in Brisbane and working at Karuna Hospice Service as a counsellor and the Spiritual Program Coordinator. She has worked for many years in suicide prevention and intervention.
She has a very strong conviction that most of us can find contentment in our lives irrespective of our external circumstances through understanding and training our minds, particularly through using mindfulness. She has a Bachelor of Counselling, a Bachelor of Social Science (Social Policy), and Master of International Studies (Peace and Conflict Resolution).
Ven Thubten Pema
Ven. Pema was ordained by our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2010. She completed Discovering Buddhism in 2005, and has successfully completed all Basic and Master Program subjects over the last 12 years.
Ven. Pema previously taught nine modules of Discovering Buddhism here at Chenrezig Institute before leaving to study in Italy. Prior to her ordination, she gained invaluable experience in her profession as a high school teacher for almost 20 years. She now combines her teaching skills and Dharma knowledge with enthusiasm and passion.
Since 1974, TY Alexander has been a student of Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, as well as many other teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Following her first one-month Kopan retreat, she studied in Nepal and India, during which time she was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. She remained a nun for 9 years and has lived in Australia since 1985. TY has taught at Chenrezig Institute many times over a long time on subjects as diverse as Introduction to Meditation and Mahamudra and has led various tantric retreats.
Jhampa (karl william gratton)
Jhampa (Karl William Gratton) was a monk at Chenrezig Institute for many years studying philosophy, engaging in practice and is well known within the Chenrezig community. He then lived in India and Sri Lanka for some years learning Tibetan language and continuing Buddhist studies and practicing. He is now a qualified Psychotherapist and Counsellor working in private practice on the Sunshine Coast and on-line. His meditation days at Chenrezig Institute include creative and integrative presentations and perspectives on meditation, mind and being human, as well as guidance in practice.
Peter Shepherd was introduced to Buddhism in 2009 when his friend lent him a copy of ‘What Makes You Not a Buddhist’, by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. It was the first time he’d ever read anything that was explicitly talking about our reality. This led him to attend the Discovering Buddhism Course with Venerable Tenzin Tsepal at Chenrezig Institute shortly after, to which he is still grateful for and drawing inspiration from today.
He has a very keen interest in how dharma is relevant to us each day and how it can be applied in every moment. He’s passionate about how this ancient wisdom tradition can be applied to us living in a different part of the world in a very different culture. Whilst at our core we are no different to the Indians and Tibetans of the past centuries, we have a very different education system, upbringing, social circumstances and exposure to a much wider range of experiences and information. As some of our great teachers have shown us in recent years, there are a few very important considerations, to make sure the dharma is received and practiced as intended.
He has attended numerous study and meditation retreats at Chenrezig Institute and other locations. He currently lives in Caloundra with his partner and works part-time as a landscape architect and Zenthai Shiatsu therapist. His study of Zenthai Shiatsu, Chinese Five Element Theory and Ayurveda have led him to explore the body-mind relationship in greater depth and he is passionate about how other traditions and modalities can support Buddhist practice.
Miffi Maxmillion runs the spiritual program at Langri Tangpa, the FPMT centre in Brisbane, and is a registered FPMT teacher. Miffi was brought up a Buddhist and had the great good fortune to play with Lama Yeshe as a child. His hook of compassion sustained her through the many rebellious stages of growing up. She took refuge with Lama Yeshe at age 10 and did her first Lamrim and Nyung Na retreats with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at age 16.
She left behind a thriving haute couture and costume business to help her mother Inta Mckimm, who established Langri Tangpa Centre, when she became sick with cancer. Packing her bags for two weeks, she ended up continuing her mother’s life work. She is still there, teaching classes and leading pumas with great enthusiasm and joy, over twenty years later!
Miffi’s passion is in bridging the seemingly disparate worlds of modern life and the rich inner experience of Buddhist practice. She readily admits to watching far too much late-night TV and is an avid New Yorker Magazine reader.
Ben Isbel is a mindfulness teacher with over 25 years’ experience spanning both traditional Buddhist meditation techniques and contemporary psychological approaches to mindfulness. Ben has studied in both the Theravadin and Mahayana Buddhist traditions and holds a B. of Psychology (Honours) and a PhD in Psychology.
Until recently Ben was the Research Program Coordinator at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic where he investigated the use of mindfulness to prevent the development of age-related cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. As a neuroscientist and contemplative researcher, Ben has developed a comprehensive cognitive model of mindfulness and has used advanced EEG techniques to show how mindfulness training can improve cognition and mood in older adults while at the same time transforming the ageing brain.
Ben is currently offering mindfulness training at Pramana Wellbeing in Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Alan Carter has been a dharma practitioner for over 30 years and is a graduate of Chenrezig’s Buddhist Study Program. He has led two one-month group retreats at Chenrezig Institute and taught various topics in Brisbane as well as at Chenrezig Institute and various other FPMT Centres.
He has been teaching Buddhism for almost 20 years.
Although Ven Kartson has left Chenrezig Institute for the time being, we hope he will return to teach is in the future and will try to organise online teachings with him while he is away.
Venerable Kartson was Chenrezig Institute’s translator of Tibetan into English from 2005 until the end os 2022 as the skilful interpreter for Geshe Lobsang Jamyang and then our precious Tibetan teacher Geshe Tsultrim. Venerable Kartson’s generosity and expertise in language mean that teachings direct from the Buddha and Mahayana lineage are available to us all.
Venerable Kartson is multi-lingual and studied conversational and classical Tibetan in India for four years before joining Chenrezig Institute in 2005. He has an academic and comprehensive understanding of the Dharma having worked closely alongside our resident geshes for over 17 years, and has been instrumental in opening up the Dharma to thousands of people during this time. Venerable Kartson has also translated for visiting geshes and high lamas here at the centre and overseas, including His Eminence the 7th Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche.
Venerable Kartson successfully completed the advanced Buddhist Study Program as well as the Madhyamika Studies component of the Master Program. He was appointed tutor for the advanced study program in 2015, instructing and guiding students in complex traditional texts and advancing their conceptual and philosophical understanding of the Dharma. In addition, he leads regular meditations and facilitates an online international Dharma group. He also keeps busy teaching courses and sessions during geshe breaks.
Venerable Kartson’s extensive knowledge of the Dharma, sense of fun, warm and lively style and easy rapport with everyone he comes into contact with make him a very popular part of the spiritual program.
Tony Beaumont set off on his travels to South East Asia and India in the mid-seventies aged 25. With around 30 different jobs under his belt at that point, it was time for a break and to go exploring. Kopan Monastery became one of his destinations and so, most fortuitously, his path into Buddhism began.
He attended Introduction to Buddhism, the now well-established month-long course held at Kopan, where he met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Venerable Tony remained in India and Nepal, intensively attending group courses and retreats for a full year before returning to Australia, where he embarked on a career in the health profession, training and then working as a psychiatric nurse.
In the early eighties Venerable Tony decided to volunteer at Chenrezig Institute to experience life in a Buddhist community and to continue to learn the Dharma. It was supposed to be for a year, but he stayed until the end of the decade, participating in all aspects of the centre and undertaking diverse roles, including cook, receptionist, gardener, and director. Shortly after his time at Chenrezig, Venerable Tony ordained as a novice monk at the place where it all started, Kopan Monastery.
Venerable Tony took novice monk ordination with Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche at Kopan in 1991 and full ordination in 1993 with Geshe Yeshe Tobden at Lama Tsong Khapa Institute, Italy. For the next 17 years he was based between two monasteries spanning each side of the globe: Nalanda Monastery in France and Thubten Shedrup Ling, Bendigo, Australia.
Chenrezig Institute has been home base again since 2014, but Venerable Tony travels frequently to teach and lead retreats at Tushita in Dharamsala and Kopan Monastery in Nepal. He also teaches at FPMT centres around Australia, including Chenrezig.
In addition to his teaching work, Venerable Tony has also served as a prison chaplain in Victoria.
Students find him a warm, wise and welcoming presence. His previous work and life journey deeply inform his teachings, making them very relatable and relevant. As a previous long-term volunteer at Chenrezig, he understands the community and its people well.
Venerable Tony hopes to spend more time in retreat in the future. He is currently spending time at Mahamudra Centre in New Zealand but keeps a home at Chenrezig Institute and will hopefully return regularly to teach his many students here.