Kopan Monastery, a Buddhist monastery and retreat center on the outskirts of Kathmandu and affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), and its branch organization Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 among their resident monastics. At the time of writing, details of the number of infections were not available, although a statement shared over social media indicated that Kyabje Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, co-founder of Kopan Monastery and the FPMT, and his attendants have all tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
“Many individuals at Kopan Monastery and Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, both in Nepal, have now tested positive,” the statement read. “Infected and non-infected individuals have been separated for accommodation, meals, and study, and this will continue for 10 days.” (Lama Zopa Rinpoche Facebook)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and his attendant and secretary, FPMT director Ven. Roger Kunsang, were reported to be well and remaining in isolation in Rinpoche’s apartment.
Kopan Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery near Boudhanath, on the edge of Kathmandu and a member of the international FPMT network of Gelugpa Dharma centers. Kopan was established by Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1972 and is a popular retreat and Buddhist practice center for visiting foreign practitioners. The nearby Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery was established in 1979 by Lama Yeshe to provide spiritual and practical education for female monastics and lay practitioners.
Kopan monastery is home to more than 350 monks, lamas, teachers and workers, while Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, sometimes known as Kopan Nunnery, houses a similar number of female monastics and staff.
A message posted on the Facebook page of Lama Zopa Rinpoche stated:
Kopan has requested that contact to the monastery should be limited to emergency only at this time. Ani Fran (Ven. Fran Mohoupt) has set up automatic replies to some of the website links in order to deal with the normal puja and prayer requests.
Please keep all at Kopan Monastery, Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, as well as everyone around the world affected by this virus in your prayers and dedications. You can find Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice for this critical time on our Resources for the Coronavirus Pandemic page.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the FPMT have published a collection of free multimedia resources and teachings related to living and maintaining a Buddhist practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
You are not alone because all the time there are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas surrounding you everywhere, loving you, guiding you—that is what they do. – Lama Zopa Rinpoche
At the time of writing on 30 April, Nepal, which has a population of some 29 million people, had reported 317,530 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,246 related deaths, with 280,167 people reported to have recovered.*
Buddhism is the second-most widespread religion in Nepal, which lays claim to being the birthplace of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni in what is now Lumbini in Rupandehi District. Buddhism is mainly practiced among the Newar and Tibeto-Nepalese communities, representing 9 per cent of the overall population, according to government census data for 2011. Hindus make up the majority at 81.3 per cent.
Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery
Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Facebook)
Resources for the Coronavirus Pandemic (FPMT)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Teachings on Thought Transformation during the Time of COVID-19 and Practice Advice (FPMT)