Thubten Zopa Rinpoche (born 1946) is a lama from Thami, a village in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Early in life, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, from the same region (hence the title "Rinpoche"). He has took its vows of monk at Dungkar Monastery in Tibet where he travelled in 1957, but he had to flee due to severe treatment on monks inflected by the Chinese army after the 1959 Tibetan uprising. Instead of continuing in Tibet, his spiritual teacher, Geshe Rabten, entrusted him to the care of Lama Thubten Yeshe. Lama Zopa has received teachings from many high lamas.
Lama Zopa met the previous Panchen Lama in Nepal in 1986 and in Tibet.
"Lama Zopa" is most noteworthy as the co-founder, with Lama Yeshe, of Kopan Monastery, of the Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa in Italy and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Since the 1984 death of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa has served as the FPMT's spiritual director.
Zopa's books are published by Wisdom Publications. Free transcripts of some of his teachings are available from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. There is an extensive biography of him in the book The Lawudo Lama by Jamyang Wangmo.
Lama Zopa supports--apparently in accordance with the dying wish of Lama Yeshe--the controversial Maitreya Project, a planned 152 m (500 ft) high Maitreya statue in Kushinagar, northern India. If built, it will be one the largest Buddha statues in the world, only one meter shorter than the Spring Temple Buddha in China's Henan province.