Buddhism A–Z

In Tibetan Buddhism, lama is the title given to a respected teacher or one who has completed the traditional three-year meditation retreat. Lamas transmit the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism to their students and guide them on the Buddhist path.

Important lamas often hold the title of Rinpoche (Tib., “Precious One”), and some are tulkus, who are considered reincarnations of important teachers. Tulkus are often recognized as children and trained to lead the monasteries or communities of their previous incarnation. The best-known of such tulkus is His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, who, at the age of two, was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

Lamas play important roles in leading Buddhist ceremonies, rituals, and practices. They may perform ceremonies for various purposes, including blessings, initiations, and other religious events. They may also bestow empowerments and initiations, granting students permission to engage in specific practices and connecting them to their lineage.

Buddhism A–Z

Explore essential Buddhist terms, concepts, and traditions.