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Lama Shenpen Hookam, Awakened Heart

United Kingdom

Lama Shenpen Hookham is the Spiritual Director and principal teacher of the Awakened Heart Sangha.

In the 1970s, on the advice of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, she went to India where she lived among the Tibetans as a nun for six years. There she studied and meditated in retreat under the guidance of Tibetan teachers such as Karma Thinley Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche. In 1978 His Holiness, the 16th Karmapa, head of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, instructed her to return to the West to teach Mahamudra.

There she met Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, who became her main teacher. She also met her husband, Lama Rigdzin Shikpo, whom she has been teaching alongside for twenty years and who has been a great source of inspiration and guidance for her. In all she has spent nine years in retreat, and Khenpo Rinpoche is sufficiently satisfied with her understanding and meditation experience that he has encouraged her, as lama, to teach and transmit Mahamudra, the innermost teachings of the Kagyu tradition.

Lama Shenpen is fluent in Tibetan 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 of Mahayana Buddhism, published as The Buddha Within, and gained a doctorate in this from Oxford University. She is also the author of There's More to Dying than Death.


Discovering the Heart of Buddhism is a structured training in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation that gives you the opportunity to:

  • Engage in a comprehensive & structured training in Buddhist study, reflection and meditation.
  • Discover the truths of Buddhism through your own experience. All you need is an open & inquiring mind.
  • Connect to the heart of Buddhist teachings without the confusion often caused by Eastern cultural trappings.
  • Explore some of the most profound Buddhist teachings, which are essential for everyone whether new or very experienced.
  • Make contact with and receive guidance from an experienced lama and senior students.
  • Share the fruits of years of study in the Mahamudra & Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

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The Awakened Heart Sangha (AHS) is a mandala of students, teachers and supporters continually evolving around the core principle of Openness Clarity and Sensitivity and the path of Awakening for  all beings.

Most of the students came to join the Sangha because they were inspired by what they were uncovering in their own experience as a result of studying Discovering the Heart of Buddhism, In those teachings and in the relationships with ama Shenpen and fellow students they have found a spiritual home. Members live all over the world and connect with one another online at the student and member's website, Sanghaspace