Dr. Ross Moore was born in 1954 in Broken Hill, an outback desert mining town in New South Wales, Australia. He first met Tibetan Buddhism at Atisha Center in 1983. His first glimpse of Lama Zopa Rinpoche was on a throne in a small wooden church in a reconstructed gold-rush town built as a swash-buckling tourist resort, complete with steam-engines, horses and drays and giant aviaries full of sulphur-crested cockatoos and other birds, to whom Lama Zopa recited mantras following the discourses. In 1984 he became the Spiritual Program Coordinator at Tara Institute, Melbourne, a position he held, except for a short interval, until 1992. At the instigation of the resident teacher, Geshe Doga, he set up the Tara Institute Study Group as well as other areas of the teaching program. Over the years he has taught many introductory classes and weekend courses and retreat workshops as part of a team of dedicated Tara Institute students who are also asked to teach. He is a frequent visitor to Sera Je Monastery, where he has had the fortune to sit amongst the monks receiving Lama Zopa’s heart advice on how to conduct a meaningful life. Moon in Rippling Water has had a long gestation. Following recommendation from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Ross began researching via the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive in order to prepare a book based on Zopa Rinpoche’s emptiness teachings. A core purpose of this blog is to make available at least some of this extensive unpublished material prepared over a twenty year period. Ross is also currently editing Geshe Doga’s commentary on A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life based on Gyalsab Je’s commentary. He has retired early from lecturing on art and design in order to do this publishing work.
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Lama Zopa Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditator who for 30 years has overseen the spiritual activities of the extensive worldwide network of centers, projects and services that form the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) which he founded with Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Rinpoche is also a famous teacher. His extensive talks and discourses, given in many locations around the world, across many cultural settings, and over many decades, are uniquely powerful and direct. Because their archived volume is now so immense, even we, as dedicated, readers, meditators, researchers, amateur and professional alike, even when armed with sophisticated search-engines, are faced with a daunting prospect: sheer scale. Moon in Rippling Water is therefore offering something very special: a carefully extracted and edited collation of Rinpoche’s teachings (we can hardly say Best Of, as they are all amazingly good) focused on the vital topic of emptiness and compiled in such a way that they address key points while also working dynamically within the virtual economy of the blog with its serialising time-based post format and freedom of movement. To publish even a small portion of Rinpoche’s teachings in this highly accessible manner is the sole reason for this blog. Rinpoche’s precious words of advice (potentially to us all) therefore reside at Moon in Rippling Water’s very core.
Born in the Mount Everest region of Thami in 1946, Rinpoche was recognized soon afterwards by His Holiness Tulshig Rinpoche and five other lamas as the reincarnation of the great yogi Kunsang Yeshe. At the age of ten, Rinpoche went to Tibet and studied and meditated at Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s monastery near Pagri, until the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 forced him to forsake Tibet for the safety of Bhutan. Rinpoche then went to the Tibetan refugee camp at Buxa Duar, West Bengal, India, where he met Lama Yeshe, who became his closest teacher. Rinpoche was with Lama Yeshe until 1984 when Lama Yeshe passed away and Lama Zopa Rinpoche took over as spiritual director of FPMT.
The Lamas met their first Western student, Zina Rachevsky, in 1965 then traveled with her to Nepal in 1967 where they began teaching more Westerners. Over the next few years they built Kopan and Lawudo Monasteries. In 1971 Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the first of his famous annual lam-rim retreat courses, which continue at Kopan to this day. FPMT was established at the end of 1975. Lama Yeshe served as the organization’s spiritual director until he passed away in 1984, at which time Rinpoche took over. Since then, under his peerless guidance, the FPMT has continued to flourish.
Rinpoche’s vision is vast and includes the proliferation of many charitable and beneficial activities. Among many projects dear to Rinpoche’s heart are the two Maitreya Projects: under Rinpoche’s guidance, FPMT plans to build two large statues of the future Buddha, Maitreya, in Bodhgaya and Kushinagar in India; The Sera Je Food Fund, which offers three vegetarian meals a day to all 2,500 monks studying at Sera Je Monastery in south India; Animal Liberation events around the world, at which creatures, big and small, are freed from immediate harm or blessed every year– the total number of animals liberated to date (by Lama Zopa Rinpoche or those inspired by him) is over 200,000,000 and counting! Rinpoche is also utterly dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama wherever and whenever possible.
The above biography is sourced from Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s official home page.
I wish to pay tribute and also thank my precious teacher, the Venerable Geshe Doga with whom I began studying in 1983. As resident teacher of Tara Institute, Brighton, Melbourne, since 1984, he has given many extensive teachings and provided guidance of the rarest kind. His detailed commentaries on Candrakīrti’s Supplement to the Middle Way (Madhyamakāvatāra, Dbu ma la ’jug pa) and other core texts such as Āryadeva’s Four Hundred Stanzas (Catuḥśataka) and Pabongka Rinpoche’s Lectures on the Stages of the Path (Lam rim rnam grol lag bcangs) not to mention teachings on tenets, tantric stages and paths, mind and its functions, mahāmudrā, sūtric and tantric stages and paths, and many more. Without his persistent care and continual insistence that we must intensively study and know exactly what we are doing if we are to have realizations and progress skilfully and successfully on the path, I would in no way be able to envisage launching such a project as this, let alone find sufficient temerity to actually launch it. To be an ordinary Australian lad yet nonetheless to have such ample opportunity to consistently study, along with many fortunate others, with an esteemed Sera Je Monastically-trained Geshe steeped in the extraordinary rich centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist tradition (stemming as it does from direct transmission from ancient scholars of the Nalanda tradition) beggars belief. Or rather, it is a sign, surely magical, that the Buddhas are tenderly watching out for us no matter where and what we are!
Nor could I have hoped to sensibly navigate the complexities posed by the blog’s topic without the continual inspiration of His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, without whom even the word “emptiness” might not have reached the ears of the West. His visionary kindness in blessing the efforts of Lama Yeshe and so many other great lamas in their pioneering wheel-turning work transmitting the rich Dharma lineages still preserved and practiced in Tibet to distant lands in our own lifetimes, is surely a source of awe and delight, so vast is the scale and so deep the foundations being laid. Nor would the notion of love and compassion as panacea to a troubled world have circulated so universally, and with such force, without the smiling figure of His Holiness appearing on the global stage as well as in the schools of small villages and urban suburbs where poverty reigns. Over the years I have travelled to India many times to receive teachings from His Holiness and at the same time forge wonderful friendships with Tibetan and Western sangha whose hospitality and generosity made such pilgrimages possible.
But especially I wish to acknowledge Lama Zopa whose compassionate wisdom and expansive purpose knows no bounds. Without his “idea” so many years ago, that I might somehow have “some karma” to collate and prepare his extensive oral teachings for publication, I would never have ventured to consider, let alone undertake such an ambitious task. That I can now offer this blog at the heart of which is the resplendence of his Holy Speech, is testimony to the inestimable impact Lama Zopa Rinpoche has made and continues to make on my life, on someone, alas, who still struggles to tie his own shoelaces. I rejoice in the knowledge that there are so many others who have been similarly touched.
Finally, I must express from the bottom of my heart my gratitude for all the wonderful teachings given by my other equally precious and revered teachers, including the Venerable Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey and the Venerable Khensur Urgyen Tseten Rinpoche, both of whom are now reborn as recognized tulkus and without whom I would be left impoverished and bereft
That said, any faults to be found in this blog are unquestionably my own. I apologise in advance and ask you to write and let me know so corrections can be made.
Due to the kindness of my lamas,
I have met the teachings of the greatest of teachers.
I dedicate this virtue, therefore, for every living being
to be nourished by true spiritual friends.
I pray that the teachings of he who is solely benevolent
remain unscattered by the winds of false views until the end of time,
and with faith in the Buddha gained from understanding
their essential nature, may they pervade forever.
 These verses are from Lama Tsongkhapa’s “Dependent Arising: A Praise of the Buddha” in The Splendor of an Autumn Moon (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001), 243.