This is a site dedicated to sharing the teachings of Lama Shenpen Hookham, a female Buddhist teacher based in the UK, founder of the Awakened Heart Sangha and principal teacher of the Living the Awakened Heart Training – the experiential, distance learning course in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight.
Lama Shenpen Hookham has led a fascinating life with over fifty years dedicated to Dharma, training in the Mahamudra & Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, under the guidance of some of the foremost Tibetan Buddhist teachers of our time from the Kagyu and Nyingma schools.
Lama Shenpen’s teachers include H.H. 16th Karmapa, Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and her main teacher Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Find out more about her teachers on the Lineage page.
This website shares weekly teachings, articles, video teachings, Lama’s stories of her teachers, news of teachings and events, which are often also broadcast live online via Zoom, or recorded and made available afterwards on the teaching archive on the Awakened Heart Sangha YouTube Channel.
To find out more about how to become a student of Lama Shenpen and a member of the Awakened Heart Sangha, click here.
To join our mailing list for weekly teachings and quotes directly to your inbox click here.
Lama Shenpen spent 7 years in India after being sent there by Trungpa Rinpoche at the start of the 70s where she was ordained as a nun by H.H. the 16th Karmapa. The Karmapa later sent her back to the West to teach where she met her main teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, one of the foremost living masters of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She has been a student of his since the late 70s.
After giving back her robes, in 1972 she married Michael Hookham, now known as Lama Rigdzin Shikpo, who subsequently became one of her main teachers.
Lama Shenpen has spent over 12 years in retreat and has translated a number of Tibetan texts into English for her students. On Khenpo Rinpoche’s instructions she produced a seminal study of the profound Buddha Nature doctrines [according to the Shentong interpretation of the Ratnagotravibhaga], published as The Buddha Within, and gained a doctorate in this from Oxford University. Lama Shenpen has become well known for this important study and her Shentong teachings – the name of this website was chosen to reflect that.
She is also the author of There’s More to Dying than Death and the translator and editor of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche’s seminal work Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness which has been translated into many different languages and is considered a standard text teaching meditation students to connect to the experience of Emptiness.
Following advice from the teacher of all her teachers, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Lama Shenpen Hookham established the Hermitage of the Awakened Heart in North Wales, as a retreat centre and built an enlightenment stupa.
She developed the Living the Awakened Heart training, a comprehensive distance learning course, where students can study and practise Buddhist meditation in an experiential way. The training is a way of bringing the profound and foundational principles of the Dharma to Western students and she continues to train her students in meditation, reflection and insight using the framework of the Tibetan Mahamudra tradition, in an accessible, jargon-free way. See the Teachings page for more details.
She lives in semi-retreat at the Hermitage, where she concentrates on her writing, training senior students as teachers and giving one-to-one meditation interviews to her students.