Tag Archives: Sera Monastary

101st Ganden Tripa Leaves Ganden Shartse to Join Dorje Shugden Monastery

Dorje Shugden practitioners have known for some time that Khensur Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche, the 101st holder of Je Tsongkhapa’s throne, or Ganden Tripa, is a practitioner of this protector.

101st Ganden Tripa Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche

It has been very interesting nonetheless, to watch what has happened as he has left office, his official seven year term completed. The Ganden Tripas have been the heads of the Gelugpa lineage since the time of Je Tsongkhapa. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the Ganden Tripa has traditionally been an elected position from within the monastery system of the Gelug tradition, but at some point since 1999, the Dalai Lama has inserted himself into the process, and the head of the Gelug tradition is now appointed by this political leader of Tibetans.

As Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche was nearing the end of his term in April of 2009, he did a remarkable thing. He wrote a letter.

Leaving no doubt as to his authority to do so,

I, the undersigned, Lungri Namgyel, the official head of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism (Ganden Tripa) and successor to the said order’s founder, Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), whose headquarters are Ganden Monastery in Karnataka state, south India

the Ganden Tripa conferred upon Trijang Rinpoche and his Trijang Buddhist Institute, “the authority to represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States.”

The previous Trijang Rinpoche, Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe, was the greatest master of the previous century, and the Root Guru of the Dalai Lama. The current recognized reincarnation fo Trijang Rinpoche, recognized as such by the Dalai Lama, is a well known Dorje Shugden Practitoner like his predecessor, and his Trijang Buddhist Institute openly continues the practice in the United States.

For those who know little about this issue, it may not seem like much, but for anyone aware of the severe social and political penalties in Tibetan society for publicly going against the wishes of the Dalai Lama, it is a statement of tremendous import, not to mention courage. The fact that the Ganden Tripa waited until he was completing his career as a head of the tradition to make such a statement is also rather telling. It shows that while he held the office, it simply would have been too controversial. The Ganden Tri would likely have been removed from his office by the Government. That he had to wait until he was no longer subject to the Dalai Lama’s control to express his views, is indicative of the air of intimidation created by the Tibetan Government in Exile. For more detail on this topic, see Ganden Tripa Authorizes Trijang Buddhist Institute.

But it seems the story doesn’t end there. The latest news from South India is that the Ganden Trisur (the epithet Trisur refers to a retired Ganden Tripa such as Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche) has officially left Ganden Shartse, a monastery under the control of the Tibetan Government in Exile, for Shar Ganden Monastery. Shar Ganden is a new monastery that has recently been formed by those monks and lamas that have been expelled or otherwise made unwelcome at Ganden Shartse. It proudly and openly upholds the tradition of practicing Dorje Shugden as a wisdom protector of Manjushri Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings.

Shar Ganden Monastery, South India

Thousands of practitioners have left the traditional monasteries where they are subjected to bans, harassment and repression by the government and its enforcers, to join monasteries like Shar Ganden and Serpom Norling, a monastery formed from the practitioners previously associated with the Pomra Khangtsen of Sera monastery. These new monasteries are increasingly seen as the actual repositories of the Ganden tradition, free from Government interference, and many high lamas and tulkus have left the Government’s monasteries to join them.

Now, in a shocking move, the most recent head of the Ganden tradition along with his Labrang, or office, has joined them. The Ganden Trisur’s personal assistant related that, in the words of one member of the Dorje Shugden Forum,

HH Trisur Rinpoche had to wait this long until the term of office as Gaden Tripa completed to MAKE THIS MOVE BECAUSE IF HE HAD MADE THIS MOVE EARLIER, THE DALAI LAMA WOULD HAVE REMOVED HIM FROM OFFICE. And that would not be good for the Gelug on the whole. NOW THAT HE HAS FINISHED HIS TERM, HE CAN DO WHAT HE LIKES. NO ONE CAN TOUCH HIM, DISTURB HIM OR DISGRACE HIS POSITION. INCREDIBLE PLANNING. THIS WAS RELAYED BY HIS PERSONAL ASSISTANT!

It seems that the current Trijang Rinpoche and his entire office have also joined Shar Ganden Monastery.

Above all, it is sadly ironic that great Gelug Lamas like the Ganden Tripa and Trijang Rinpoche, whose previous incarnations include several Ganden Tripas, have had to leave Ganden Monastery in order to uphold Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage when Je Tsongkhapa established Ganden Monastery for precisely this purpose.

Has it ever been more clear that religion and politics should not be mixed? The brilliant founding fathers of the United States gave this gift to the people of this country, and this policy is also enshrined in the guiding documents of many of the most influential and prosperous western democracies. May the Tibetan people too gain the privilege of engaging in their spiritual practices without the ominous shadow of government control obscuring the light of religious freedom.

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The Dalai Lama’s ‘Research’ Concerning Past Masters and Dorje Shugden

When the Dalai Lama speaks out against the practice of Dorje Shugden, he often describes how he came to renounce his own practice of this deity, a practice he engaged in for a quarter-century. In these speeches, he inevitably mentions his own “thorough research.” Due to this reference, repeated over and over again, most people already inclined to believe the Dalai Lama are mollified, and are therefore disinclined to look into the matter further.

As an example, consider this introduction on the Dalai Lama’s own website…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning Dolgyal (Shugden)
Following long and careful investigations, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strongly discourages Tibetan Buddhists from propitiating the fierce spirit known as Dolgyal (Shugden)….

and from the Dalai Lama’s talk at Lehigh University in July 2008.

During the Fifth Dalai Lama this problem started. From 1951 to the early 70’s, I myself was a worshipper of this spirit, so actually, previously, I was also one of them….Then around early 70’s..using different sort of methods to investigate, also reading the biographies of past many great masters, mainly the lamas of the yellow hat sect, …suppose if this Shugden is truly reliable, most of the great lamas after the fifth Dalai Lama, then I think must practice….but this is not the case. So….I developed some doubt.  Then…thorough investigation, then it became clear.

So, what are the results of all this thorough research? What did the Dalai Lama discover amongst the thousands of works written by the great masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition?

Let’s take a look.

Three of the seven “historical references” listed on the Dalai Lama’s website refer to works that do not even mention Dorje Shugden. Of the remaining references, one is by Je Pabongka, one of the most well-know advocates of Dorje Shugden practice. Another is from the Fifth Dalai Lama, although it is believed by many that he later retracted this opinion and changed his view, composing prayers to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being. The final mention is by one “Jigme Damchoe Gyatso” and is hardly compelling. It is also rejected by several important contemporary Lamas, such as Lama Zopa and Zong Rinpoche.

However, this does not stop the Dalai Lama and his government from citing the many “references” they have found, and representing them as being about Dorje Shugden when they are not.

Trichen Ngawang Chogden

Trichen Ngawang Chogden

This extraordinary master was the root guru of Kelsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama. He was also the 54th Ganden Tripa, head of the Gelugpa Tradition. The view that this Lama spoke out against the practice of Dorje Shugden is derived from an episode in his biography written by Chankya Rolpai Dorje, another highly renowned Lama of the Gelug tradition. This Biography, however, never mentions Dorje Shugden. Instead, it talks about a local spirit known as Taktse Gyalpo.

The incident (the Dalai Lama) refers to is narrated in Changya’s biography of Trichen Ngawang Chogden. An evil monk spirit (rgyal.’gong) from Dragsob (brag.sob) who was invoked by some active Lama retired from his monastic office (bla.zur) and a Khamtsen at Ganden. They built a wayside shrine for this spirit in the circumambulation path of Ganden.

Trichen Ngawang Chogden declared this unsuitable. He said that since the time of Je Tsong Khapa and his disciples no worldly spirits were worshiped at his [Ganden] monastery and that in future this would also not be permitted. When that spirit was invoked through an oracle, he said that since the Trichen Rinpoche had said this, he had no choice but to leave and he excused himself and left for Taktse-Shöl. The Lama retired from his monastic office who had relied on that evil spirit died soon after as punishment by Kalarupa [one of Je Tsong Khapa’s protectors]. There is no reference to Dorje Shugden in this passage . The evil monk spirit (rgyal.’gong) was continued to be worshiped as a local deity at the place where he came from.

-Ursula Bernis,  Condemned to Silence A Tibetan Identity Crisis, 1999

The reason this spirit from went back to “the place where he came from,” Taktse, an estate not far from Ganden Monastery, is because the spirit referred to in this verse is Taktse Gyalpo, a local spirit said to have been the spirit of a monk who died in bad circumstances.

In this biography master Changya clearly mentions what Trichen Ngawang Chogden has expelled is a ‘Gyalpo’, instead of ‘Dolgyal’. ‘Gyalpo’ is a general name used for all the deities and spirits born as incarnation of former lamas or monks. Therefore hundreds of Gyalpos exist in the Tibetan pantheon, and the term does not only apply to the Dolgyal. The name Dolgyal is a short term for ‘dol gyi gyalpo’. Dol is the name of a place, where the first temple of Dorje Shugden was erected by the 5th Dalai Lama.

-Dorje Shugden Charitable Societey, Chronicle, 2008.

So the original text says “Gyalpo,” and clearly refers to Taktse Gylapo, not Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden is not mentioned.

The Samlo department of Ganden monastery took over (the Taktse) estate, and with it, adopted that spirit of the estate as a protector deity of the department. It was then worshipped in the Ganden monastery in their department for some time, until it was expelled by the great master Trichen Ngawang Chogden, who at that time was the throne-holder of Ganden. The spirit was sent back to its estate, where it was worshipped by the villagers until 1959.

-Chronicle

The recognized reincarnation of Trichen Ngawang Chogden was called Trichen Tenpa Rabgya. Tenpa Rabgya was a Geshe lharampa from Sera Monastery, and became the tutor to Changkya Yeshe Tenpai Gyaltsen, the reincarnation of Chankya Rolpai Dorje. Among his teachers were such luminaries as Panchen Lama Palden Yeshe and Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen. Tenpa Rabgya was a famous practitioner of Dorje Shugden, and wrote praises and rituals for his practice, requesting him to come from the “wisdom Dharmakaya,” clearly indicating his view that Dorje Shugden was a Buddha.

“An Unbelievable Expert on All Subjects…”

Sermey Jetsun Khen Rinpoche Losang Tharchin on Pabonka Rinpoche

Dalai Lama, Corje Shugden, NKT, Kadampa Tradition

Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Lharampa, ex-Abbot Sera Monastery

KYABJE PABONGKA RINPOCHE DECHEN NYINGPO and his classmate, Gyelrong Sharpa Choje—known as Jangsem Choje Lobsang Nyima—went together very often to debate when they were at their monastery. Indeed, both of them became Geshes. Later Jangsem Choje Lobsang Nyima entered Gyu Me Tantric College and became a great scholar. He proceeded to become gi-go, an administrator, as I did, then Lama Umdze, then Abbot, and finally almost reached the position of Ganden Tripa.

Pabongka Rinpoche Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo’s life proceeded in another direction such that he was later to become a very famous teacher of Sutra and Tantra, especially of the Lam Rim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) tradition. Whenever he taught, many people came from miles and miles around to attend his teachings. Everybody said he was an unbelievable expert on all subjects.

Later, when Lobsang Nyima had learned that Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo was going to be in nearby Chusang Ritro, his curiousity piqued from having heard so much relating to Kyabje Pabongka’s fame coming from all quarters, he decided to visit him and so he brought along a pot of excellent yogurt as a gift for Rinpoche. During that visit they met for a long time discussing many points on numerous topics. Since Kyabje Pabongka had answered every one of his questions so thoroughly, Lobsang Nyima couldn’t argue with him at all on any of the points.

Upon his return, when others asked about the visit he remarked: “When we were on the debate ground at Sera Mey, Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo wasn’t an expert at debate by any means. At the time I didn’t think he had learned very much. But now I understand that his way of studying and mine went in different directions. For instance, when we debated, I for my part, would apply reasons and quotations to back up my arguments, all the time focusing on the other debater. But Kyabje Pabongka, for his part, when studying, asking questions, giving answers, reciting quotations, giving reasons, everything, would focus all of these on himself, applying them to his own mind. Therefore, by using such a method, there is no way to argue with him on any of the points since he has mastered them all.”

Ganden Tripa Authorizes Dorje Shugden Pratitioners to represent the Gelugpa tradition

"I confer upon Trijang Buddhist Institute the authority to represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States."

"I confer upon Trijang Buddhist Institute the authority to represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States."

In April of this Year, the Ganden Tripa, spiritual head of the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, wrote a letter authorizing Trijang Buddhist Institute of Northfeild Vermont to “represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States.”

He also stated catacorically that Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche (“having been educated in the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism, and officially recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as being the incarnation of the late Trijang Dorje Chang, Tutor to the 14th Dalai Lama and one of the greatest twentieth-century Buddhist masters of this order…”) is fully qualified to act as director of TBI.

As it is widely known that Trijang Rinpoche has steadfastly refused to abandon the Dorje Shugden practice that was so precious to his predecessor, this letter seems somewhat remarkable. The Ganden Tri, holder of the throne of Je Tsongkhapa and leader of the Gelugpa tradition, authorizes a famous Dorje Shugden Lama and his institute to represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelugpas?

If he feels that Dorje Shugden practitioners “represent the teachings of the

Ganden Tri Letter

Click to Read Letter

Gelug order,” this clearly indicates that Dorje Shugden practice is a valid part of the Gelug tradition, does it not? At very least, it gives lie to the idea, much promoted on the internet of late, that Dorje Shugden practitioners are a fringe group who do not represent mainstream Buddhist practice.

He also wrote ”Thus authorized, Trijang Buddhist Institute is dedicated to preserving, representing, and transmitting the Buddhist teachings of the Gelug tradition.”

I find it noteworthy that has authorized a Dorje Shugden lama to “preserve” the teachings. Perhaps he, too, is concerned that certain aspects of the precious Ganden Tradition that have been passed down master to disciple for hundreds of years, will be wiped out if someone doesn’t do something.

Scholars and yogis, Please check!

His Eminence Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche

His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang was one of the foremost Tibetan Buddhist Masters of our time, taking birth at the turn of the twentieth century and passing away in 1981 at the age of eighty-one.

Not only had he followed in age exactly the example of the Enlightened Buddha, but also through his precious activities and in particular through his extraordinary method and capacity of teaching he fulfilled the purpose of countless beings and the teachings of the Buddha, particularly the tradition of Je Tsong Khapa. All the great Masters and the followers of this tradition were brought up by his compassionate spiritual guidance.

Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang served His Holiness the Dalai Lama first as philosophical assistant, then as personal tutor, together with Kyabje Ling Dorje Chang, for altogether fifty years.

Trijang Rinpoche (Right) with Ling Rinpoche (Left) and their disciple, the present Dalai Lama (center)

Trijang Rinpoche (Right) with Ling Rinpoche (Left) and their disciple, the present Dalai Lama (center)

Not only did he offer to His Holiness studies from the elementary level up to the highest tantric transmissions, he was also the backbone of the struggle against the Chinese occupation at the most difficult and confused time of Tibetan history. The escape of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959 was also thanks to the wisdom and efforts of Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang.

Up to the end of his life Trijang Rinpoche continuously turned the Wheel of Dharma for the sake of all sentient beings. The flourishing of Dharma in the West is also directly and indirectly connected with him, because of his own teachings as well as the precious activities of his disciples, such as Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Ven. Geshe Rabten, Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Ven. Lama Yeshe and many more. Without him the situation of Tibetan Buddhism in the West would be completely different.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche said

The (present) incarnation of Kyabje Dorje Chang, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, is His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru and the lama of all the Tibetan people…. In his previous life (as Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe) he performed incredibly holy actions; therefore, his present incarnation has the potential to spread Dharma in both the East and the West like the rising sun spreads light.

Trijang Rinpoche receives offerings at Monlam

Trijang Rinpoche receives offerings at Monlam

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has likened Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to

“a vast reservoir from which all Gelugpa practitioners of the present day received ‘waters’ of blessings and instructions.”

He held many important positions within the Gelug School including Ganden Tripa, the head of Gelugpa tradition. He was the Lama most responsible in his generation for spreading the Dorje Shugden practice, especially to the west. Trijang Rinpoche was also responsible for editing the classic Lam Rim text Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, by Kabje Pabongka Rinpoche, from which the following quotations are drawn.

“…Our childish minds were unfit vessels for so vast an ocean of teachings…”

(From Trijang Rinpoche’s introduction to Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand- A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment By Pabongka Rinpoche, Edited by Trijang Rinpoche Translated by Michael Richards Wisdom 1991. All emphasis and formatting mine)

Trijang Dorjechang

Trijang Dorjechang

Prasdrin pararia syaklutaki yanta,
Tray am guhyanatd tigolama eka,
Sudhi vajradharottarah muni aksha,
Prayachchha tashubham valdruga kota.

O Lama Lozang Dragpa, One with Shakyamuni and Vajradhara, O sum of every perfect refuge, O mandala-guise complete With three mysteries of enlightenment, rain upon us ten million goodnesses.

(About Pabongka Rinpoche) O my guru, my protector, who, through the Supreme Vehicle, vanquished the extreme of selfish peace, who, unattached to worldly comforts, upheld the three high trainings and the teachings of the Victor, whose noble good works remained untarnished by the eight worldly concerns.

Kyabje Pabongka

Kyabje Pabongka

You were the very fountain-head of goodness. Everything you said was medicine to drive out hundreds of diseases;

Our childish minds were unfit vessels for so vast an ocean of teachings,

So precious a source of qualities. How sad if these teachings were forgotten!

Here, I have recorded but a few. Immeasurable, countless numbers of Buddhas have come in the past. But unfortunate beings such as myself were not worthy enough to be direct disciples even of Shakyamuni, the best of protectors, who stands out like a white lotus among the thousand great Buddhas, the saviours of this fortunate aeon. First we had to be forced into developing even a moment’s wholesome thought; this took us to the optimum physical rebirth as a human.

We have been taught this most unmistaken path, which will lead us to the level of omniscience, at which time we shall gain our freedom. But, to be brief,

I was saved time and time again from infinite numbers of different evils, and was brought closer to an infinity of magnificent things.

My glorious and holy guru did this.

“…This feeling of renunciation was overwhelming…”

(FromTrijang Rinpoche- The introduction to Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand – A Concise Discourse on the Path to Enlightenment By Pabongka Rinpoche Edited by Trijang Rinpoche Translated by Michael Richards Wisdom 1991. All formatting and emphasis mine…)

Trijang Dorjechang

Trijang Dorjechang

His kindness is without equal.

He was — and now I shall give his name in view of my purpose — Jetsun Jampa Taenzin Trinlae Gyatso Paelzangpo. (Pabongka Rinpoche) Although people like me are immature, uncultured and unregenerate, there was a time when I feasted on his oral instructions into the Mahayana [the Supreme or Great Vehicle] at Chuzang Hermitage, a lonely place that was blessed by the presence of great meditators.

He started the following informal teaching on the thirtieth day of the seventh month of the Iron Bird Year [1921], and it lasted twenty-four days.

People braved great hardships to get there from the three major monasteries in Lhasa, from the Central Province, from Tsang, Amdo and Kham to taste the nectar of his oral teachings, as the thirsty yearn for water.

There were about thirty lamas and reincarnations of lamas, and many upholders of the three baskets of the teachings – in all a gathering of over seven hundred.

The informal teaching he gave combined various traditions on the Lam-rim – the stages of the path to enlightenment.

Je Pabongka

Je Pabongka

There were the two oral lineages related to the Lam-rim text Manjushn’s Own Words. One of these lineages was quite detailed and had developed in the Central Province; another lineage of a briefer teaching flourished in the south of Tibet. He also included the concise teaching, the Swift Path Lam-rim; and in the part of the Great Scope section that deals with the interchange of self and others, he taught the seven-point mind training.

Each part of the teaching was enriched by instructions taken from the confidential oral lineages. Each section was illustrated by analogies, conclusive formal logic, amazing stories, and trustworthy quotations. The teaching could easily be understood by beginners, and yet was tailored for all levels of intelligence. It was beneficial for the mind because it was so inspiring. <h2>Sometimes we were moved to laughter, becoming wide awake and alive. Sometimes we were reduced to tears and cried helplessly. At other times we became afraid or were moved to feel, ‘I would gladly give up this life and devote myself solely to my practice.’ </h2>This feeling of renunciation was overwhelming. These are some of the ways in which all of his discourses were so extraordinary.

Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche

Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche

How could I possibly convey all this on paper! Yet what a pity if all the key points contained in these inspiring instructions were lost. This thought gave me the courage to write this book. As my precious guru later advised me, ‘Some of the people present could not follow the teaching. I’m afraid I do not trust all the notes people took during the classes. I therefore ask you to publish a book. Put in it anything you feel sure of.’

In this book I have accurately recorded my lama’s teachings in the hope that this substitute for his speech will be beneficial to my friends who wish to succeed in their practice