Kagyü Samye Ling


Holy Island                         Stupa

The Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1959 crushed Buddhism in Tibet but at the same time drove Tibetan Buddhism into exile in the world at large. Until then, only a handful of Westerners who had travelled to Tibet had had any experience of it.

Among the refugees were two lamas of the Kagyu tradition Chogyam Trungpa tulku , Abbot of Surmang, and Dr Akong Tulku, Abbot of Dolma Lhakang.

They soon became responsible for the Young Lamas Home School, set up in Dalhousie, North India, to care for young Tibetan prodigies, considered reincarnations of its great lamas.

In 1963 the two lamas accepted an invitation to come to the UK, to study English at Oxford. Interest soon grew in them and their religion. This resulted in the founding, in 1967, of Samye Ling Tibetan Centre, the first monastic Buddhist centre of the Tibetan tradition in the West. More details of this can be found in the biography of Dr AkongTulku, in these pages.

Placed on the hills near the border between Scotland and England, Kagyü Samye Ling is the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the West; at first the centre was a modest country residence, but over the years it has grown becoming a real monastic centre that can  house over a hundred permanent residents.

It is an attraction pole for a number of visitors throughout the year, who either attend one of the wide range of courses and retreats on offer. The wonderful temple, around which the hub of activity centres, was first officially opened on 12th august 1988 by the twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche. 

The reputation of the Centre as a place for spreading high level Buddhist teachings has grown together with the development of other activities, such as therapy, i humanitarian help programs, and the preservation and diffusion of tibetan medicine, arts and crafts.

Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche's pure motivation, inspiration and tireless activity are the heart of Kagyü Samye Ling's growth; although his activity often brings him abroad, specially in Tibet, his presence constitutes the very fiber of Kagyü Samye Ling. Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche helped an immeasurable number of people through his work in the areas of spiritual development, therapy and humanitarian support projects.

Many well know tibetan Lamas gave and keep on giving teachings in Samye Ling, in order to fulfill Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche's purpose of preserving the spiritual Buddhist heritage. Under their guide prayers, rare teachings and books, that were at risk for getting lost forever, have been reprinted in tibetan, translated and published,  making accessible those precious teachings to western students.

Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche's brother, Venerable Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, is a very highly realized meditation Master and he received the full ordination, teachings and transmissions from His Holiness the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.

After many years of solitary retreat, he accepted the offer to become Retreat Master in Kagyü Samye Ling, taking on the responsibility of practitioners involved in the traditional three years and three months retreat. Since Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche is Abbot of Samye Ling. His understanding of western mentality joined with his profound meditation experience makes him the ideal figure for superintend the life of community and guide the great number of people who ask him for an advice.

The build of the temple represented the first phase of the quadrangular design that constitutes Samye Ling project. Second phase, currently under work, concerns the builiding of three remaining monastery wings, which will hold well equipped study places and libraries of tibetan texts. Many of these texts, extremely rare, are now stored in the archive.

It will also include an audio/video department and a museum for preserving and exposing many tibetan handcrafts. The wing currently under development will make more room for the new kitchens, the dining room and accomodation and respond to an increasing demand.

Another main project under construction is the Samye Ling Stupa, besides the one on Holy Island, both dedicated to world peace.

The Five Golden Rules

Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche asks residents and visitors in Samye Ling,  to observe  the Five Golden Rules, as needful guidelines to attain interior peace and keeping a peaceaful environment. The Five Golden Rules are:


  1. To protect life and refrain from killing.

  2. To respect other's property and refrain from stealing.

  3. To speak the truth and refrain from lying.

  4. To embrace health and refrain from intoxicants.

  5. To respect others and refrain from sexual misconduct.


‘By keeping these Five Golden Rules we aim to keep Kagyu Samye Ling a pure and special place and an example for ourselves and others, now and in the future’.

Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche