Tenzin Ösel Hita, born in 1985, is a radical freethinker, humanitarian, documentary filmmaker, musician, father, friend, lifelong student, and former 21st-century Buddhist monk.
When just 14 months old, Ösel was formally recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Lama Thubten Yeshe, the revered Tibetan yogi, scholar, and teacher.
Today, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), which Lama Thubten Yeshe and his main disciple Lama Zopa Rinpoche founded in the early 1970s, comprises an international family of thousands of students and a network of more than 160 centers, projects, and services. The FPMT was under the spiritual direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche until Rinpoche’s passing in early 2023.
Ösel served on the FPMT board of directors from 2008 to 2013. He continues to attend teachings and supports the organization by sharing love, experience, and knowledge with the FPMT family around the world.
“There is no separation between me and the FPMT,” says Ösel. “We are all working together in many aspects and fields. Humanity is our office.”
Ösel was enthroned as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe in March 1987. In 1991, when he was six years old, he entered Sera Je Monastic University in southern India, where he lived and studied until he was 18 years old. Ösel then made the decision to leave monastic life to explore modern ways of living and thinking.
Ösel continued his education, graduating from high school at St. Michaels University School, a private boarding school in British Columbia, Canada. After high school, Ösel attended university in Switzerland, studying Western philosophy, human rights, the French language, and art.
Ösel furthered his interest in film by moving to Madrid and studying for a degree in Film Direction, Direction of Photography, and a Master’s in Documentary Filmmaking at the International School of Audiovisual Media. Ösel has also taken communication courses at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, California.
From California, Ösel went to the University of Hawaii, where he studied financial and organizational behavior. Ösel returned several times to continue his Buddhist philosophical studies at Sera Je Monastery with his beloved teacher Geshe Gendun Choephel, who passed away in 2016. Ösel continues his studies today, placing an emphasis on seeking non-traditional learning and creative experiences.
“We are all one family and we are sisters and brothers,” says Ösel. “Never forget this. Starting with yourself. You are your best friend. You have to live with yourself all your life, so make the most of it. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just relax. Love yourself. Enjoy your own company without depending on external agents, such as intangible concepts—surreal and intoxicating idealizations which add more samsara on top of the samsara we already have. Be present, and don’t be dissatisfied, because the main cause of dissatisfaction means that you are not living in the moment. Or—live in the moment. This moment. It is always the same moment. Agree?”