Born in England in 1942, Sonam Gyatso is currently the Spiritual Director and Resident Teacher of the Namgyal Centre of Toronto. In 1961, while studying Mathematics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he met his Root Lama, Namgyal Rinpoche, then known as Bhikkhu Ananda Bodhi, in London, and became his lifelong student.
Graduating from Cambridge in 1963, he moved to London and was ordained as Vanaratana Samanera by Venerable Saddhatissa Mahathera, with Ven. Ananda Bodhi as Acariya, learning Pali from Ven. Saddhatissa and meditation from Ananda Bodhi.
In 1965, following two years’ intensive training in the Theravada tradition, he came to Toronto as the attendant of the Ven. Ananda Bodhi, assisting him in the founding of the Dharma Centre of Canada, and between 1967 and 1974 on several pilgrimages to India, Burma, Sri Lanka and other Far Eastern lands.
Acknowledged as a Lama by Namgyal Rinpoche in 1972, Lama Sonam then received full ordination from H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, at the Dharmachakra Monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim, and lived as a Buddhist monk for ten years. Back in Canada in 1982, he received lay ordination vows from the Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, who named him Sonam Gyatso, as well as from the Ven. Sayadaw U Thila Wunta and the Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche.
During years of constant travel and meditation retreat work with Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche, he met and studied with many high Lamas, including H.H. Gyalwa Karmapa, H.H. Sakya Trizin, H.E. Chogye Rinpoche and the Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, receiving all the major Empowerments of the Tibetan lineages, and translating numerous Sadhanas and Wongkur texts into English.
After further retreat work, in 1998 Lama Sonam Gyatso was authorised by Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche to transmit the Vajrayana Empowerments. He currently teaches in Toronto and on request visits other Centres to give Wongkur and teachings.