Principal teachers

Karma Thinley Rinpoche

Lama Jampa Thaye


The Sakya Buddhist Centre was founded nearly 40 years ago in 1977 by its principal teacher, Lama Jampa Thaye, on behalf of the Tibetan lama, Karma Thinley Rinpoche.

Over the years, both Lama Jampa and Karma Thinley Rinpoche have given many teachings here in Bristol, with Lama Jampa continuing to give regular teachings to students from right across the UK and beyond.


Lama Jampa Thaye is one of the most important Western Buddhist masters of our time. Born in Bolton, England in 1952, he became a student of Karma Thinley Rinpoche at the age of 20 and met His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, a year later. In 1977, as well as founding Sakya Buddhist Centre Bristol, Lama Jampa was appointed by Karma Thinley Rinpoche as his dharma regent. Later, in 1988, he was given the authority to carry out the activities of a lama, such as bestowing initiations. Even today, he remains one of the few Westerners qualified to give all levels of Buddhist teachings.

During over 40 years of Buddhist teaching and practice, Lama Jampa has received innumerable initiations, transmissions and instructions from the Kagyu, Sakya, Nyingma and Kadam schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He has also travelled extensively giving teachings and initiations in many countries, from Mexico and Bulgaria to France and the US. Lama Jampa Thaye holds a doctorate from the University of Manchester for his work on Tibetan religious history and his published works include Garland of Gold (1990), Way of Tibetan Buddhism (2001) and Rain of Clarity (2006). He now lives in London with his family. For more information about Lama Jampa, visit:

“One of the great Western dharma teachers is my dharma regent, Lama Jampa Thaye. We have opened many dharma centres in Great Britain and he has been giving teachings all over Europe. He is not only a great scholar, but also a great dharma practitioner.”

Karma Thinley Rinpoche, Millennium Letter, Toronto 1999

Lama Jampa Thaye, under the spiritual authority of Karma Thinley Rinpoche, is the founder of Dechen, an international association of centres of the Sakya and Karma Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The name ‘Dechen’ (English: ‘great bliss’) comes from a line composed by Karma Thinley Rinpoche: “The antidote to laziness is great bliss”. Sakya Buddhist Centre Bristol was Dechen’s very first Sakya centre, with sister centres now in locations as diverse as California, Stuttgart and London.