Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s special thangka
In Tibetan Buddhism, especially when you have entered the Tantric path, it is vital that you have your teacher’s blessings, that you are in good relations with your teacher (have clean samaya) and that whatever you do within the religious sphere, you have your teacher’s permission.
At a very early stage in my life, it was instilled in me that Guru Devotion is more than just saying “This person is my Guru” or “That person is my Guru”, “I attended this teaching” or “I go to this Dharma center”. Guru Devotion was explained as devoting oneself to a teacher whom you are karmically connected to and that whatever you do on your spiritual path from henceforth should be backed by your Guru’s blessings. This does not mean approaching your Guru for permission in way where he is forced to say yes. If he is cornered to give you consent, it is not considered a blessing. One should never manipulate one’s teacher, one should never force one’s teacher and one should never create a situation where the teacher has to do something.
When we believe our teacher is a fully enlightened being whilst we are in meditation, however out of meditation we treat him like he’s an ordinary being with manipulations, forceful maneuvers or scheming things to be in his favor, it obviously shows that we subconsciously don’t think that he is of an enlightened nature. Viewing our teacher as an enlightened being is a form of mind training for us to view everything around us as embodying the body, thoughts, sounds and interactions of a Buddha.
True, everything around us is not of a Buddha nature. However, if we always look at people and situations in a negative way, we will gradually become more depressed, angry and bitter. When we try to look at things in a more positive and happier way, it trains our minds to look at the same situations in a way that would make us less unhappy, less angry and less bitter.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s original thangka which I was allowed to photograph
We can look at a disturbed person and say, “This person is mean… this person is not good to me… this person is angry… this person makes my life difficult… disrespects me… I am going to quit… I am not happy.” These thoughts and feelings cause us to throw everything onto “this person” who becomes the perceived root of our downfall, unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It may be that “this person” is everything that we are saying that they are. They may also be disturbing our lives. However, the key point here is not how they behave but how we perceive this person and our reaction. We can choose to perceive them as treating us negatively and unkindly, causing us to quit and run. However if we choose to think of this person in such a way, this view will only spill over to the next person, and the next person and the next person. And guess what? In the end, we have pretty much trained our minds to react negatively to anyone who comes into our lives. This is not to say that we will not get 10, 20, 30, 40, 100 negative people on our path. But why let the behavior of others disturb your own equilibrium? Why let the behavior of others throw you off your path, your journey and your goals?
The next 100 people we meet can be absolutely difficult and problematic, and if they do give us problems that is not to be overlooked. We shouldn’t live in a fantasy world where we pretend that nothing negative exists. Instead we should look at the person from another point of view. Perhaps some of these people were highly disturbed and traumatized when they were younger, perhaps someone hurt them very badly, perhaps they are stuck in a mode of thinking that they can’t get out of and no one is helping them find a solution. Therefore they are acting and reacting in a negative way over and over again because they can’t find a way out.
It is like a dog that has been beaten, abused and spat upon since he was a puppy. When he grows older and you go near to him, what does he do to you? He snarls at you, he wants to bite you, his tail is curled in, and he tries to escape even if you are trying to help. He doesn’t realize that because his reaction and actions are based on what he experienced: a whole life of abuse, being beaten, and being spat upon. So when you go near him, he automatically thinks that he is going to get some form of abuse. Dogs, people and animals are not exactly the same but all these beings have feelings and reactions. Therefore when we come across a person who is highly disturbed and they disturb our mind, we should not corner and hurt them further. We should not throw sticks and stones at them or be nasty towards them. The worst thing we can do is to use those who have been mean to us as an excuse to fail, to run, to give up or as some sort of justification for our own downfall. That is the worst because if we can find a spot, a place, an island, a land, a town, a city, a house, a family… a group of people with no one that is imperfect, and a group that is full with light, love and everybody is perfect then, by all means, let me know where it is as I would like to join you!
So in tantric practice, when we view all beings as Buddha bodies, Buddha minds and all sounds as Buddha mantras, we are not in a state of delusion thinking that everyone is a Buddha. We don’t run around in some new age kind of fantasy where everybody who hurts us is a purification of karma, and that we should just tolerate it when people do negative things to us because it is our spiritual journey. It is not that. What we should do is not overreact, and to realize that we have to change our views.
When we visualize our surroundings in the tantric sense and see that everything is an enlightened form, speech and mind, we are shooting for something high and we will probably achieve 10% of that. This practice of visualizing our surroundings in a tantric sense uplifts our wrong view of others to a higher level.
The thangka that I had reproduced from Geshe-la’s original thangka
For example, if we can view everybody in the pure tantric sense of an enlightened body, speech and mind, if we can develop such a view, then all of our depressions will be gone. All of our negative thinking, anger and impatience will be gone. That is the absolute goal. It is not that everybody around us becomes enlightened; it is that we become enlightened and therefore, their actions do not affect us anymore.
Hence, what is very important is to develop this view of tantric meditation. Especially in the Anuttarayoga Tantra, the highest yoga tantra, this view of others and the vows that come along with it are very important. The vows that come along with it are not something restrictive, the vows are strictly to train us to develop this type of tantric view. When we develop this type of view, it is very hard at the beginning and we will find that there are a lot of rules and regulations. However, eventually they become just guidelines to develop this type of mental thought so that when we come across difficult situations in the future, we will react much, much less negatively.
Therefore, to have pure view of people around us is not that they are or have become pure, or that we should take their abuse. To have pure view of people around us is to uplift our minds to view things in a different light, in a different manner and in a different perspective. When we look at someone as loud, abusive, sneaky, harmful, hateful, angry and damaging to us, it is most likely that we are right, and that they are doing these things to us. However, we can look at it for what it is and think, “They are doing this and it ruins my life, it ruins my space, I am angry, it ruins my day, it ruins my week and guess what, I am going to say negative things about them. I am going to create a blog against them. I am going to create a webpage against them. I am going to go online and talk about them. I am going to advertise about them, talk about them incessantly and get together with people to talk about them incessantly.”
I can do that or alternatively, I can think that, “Well, they probably have their problems, they have their issues, they have their traumas and they grew up that way: harming other people. And so, what I am going to do is I am not going to add to that trauma. If I cannot help them, then I am going to kind of stay away from them. Not be mean to them but simply of stay away from them and not deal with it because I am not capable of dealing with it.” So when we look at it that way, we go away from the situation less angry. We go away from the situation less bitter and we don’t develop this type of long-term bitterness that when we reach our 30s or 40s or 50s, we are constantly angry, constantly bitter, constantly talking about the negativities of others. We all gossip; I gossip! We are all guilty of it but the point is not to use the gossip or use those negative points as a reason for our own personal failure.
So my teacher was the great Sera Mey abbot, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin. I remember a long time ago when I visited Sera Mey Monastery, and met Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche who was very young at that time, I also visited the khangtsen of my teacher, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche who in fact belonged to the same khangtsen as Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche.
After returning to Gaden Monastery, I heard that Sera Mey had incredible financial problems and difficulties. They couldn’t pay off their bills and were having a really difficult time. Nobody thought anything negative. They just thought and prayed that something would happen for Sera Mey because it was a great monastery with some great teachers. However being in exile caused them to have a lot of financial difficulties. Kensur Lobsang Tharchin was contacted to help and guess what? He flew in with his students from Howell, New Jersey, to Sera Mey Monastery in India and offered a lot of money that we arranged on huge trays. There were trays and trays of Indian Rupees that Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche presented to the monastery to basically pay off their bills. This amounted to millions and millions of Rupees, and it took Sera Mey out from the red and into the clear. I was there to witness this because when I heard that my teacher was coming, I took a bus to Sera Mey which is about 12 – 13 hours from Gaden, and I waited for Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche to arrive from America. I went to meet him and of course joined in the pujas. As I sat in Sera Mey’s pujas, I watched all these trays of money coming in, and Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche was on a throne and everybody was thanking him.
What is so great about that? Well, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche received donations for years in America but he never used it on himself. He saved and donated it all to the monastery to benefit the monastery. This is only one of the great deeds that Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche has done for the monastery. I always call him Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche, but of course he is an enlightened being. So Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche showed me by example the kindness of great masters like him who teach, who receive donations and use it to benefit the Dharma further. I also saw his humility as he never ever talked about what he had done. I was there to witness it, I saw it with my own eyes and it was incredible.
Due to my family issues – namely my parents not wanting me to practice Dharma – when I was 16, I couldn’t stay in Howell, New Jersey any longer. So I hitchhiked over to Los Angeles and found myself wondering around Los Angeles, looking for a place to stay. As I was searching, I met a professor at the College of Oriental Studies, who I will mention again and again in the future. His name is Dr Leo Pruden and he was very kind because I had gone to the College of Oriental Studies thinking that it’s a college for oriental studies and, therefore, they should have an altar to the Buddha. I thought I could finally sit in front of the Buddha altar and do my sadhana. I had been thirsting for a shrine and a Buddha image since I arrived at Los Angeles, because I had been on the road for so long. Dr Leo Pruden told me that he didn’t have anything there because it is a college, but he did know someone who did. So he packed me into his car and drove me to Thubten Dhargye Ling, at 135 South Saint Andrew’s Place in Los Angeles.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and myself
As I walked in, there was Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la, sitting below a Lama Tsongkhapa set of statues, with light streaming in and doing his prayers. I just went, “Fantastic!” So Dr Leo Pruden introduced me to Geshe-la and said, “Ok, I guess this is what you are looking for. I am taking off now.” I thanked him profusely and deeply appreciated his kindness. I was 16 or 17 at that time and was very young.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la asked me who I was. I introduced myself as the student of Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche and explained what happened with my family and why I was in Los Angeles. Then, I prostrated to Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and requested if I could stay there to which he responded, “Yes.” I didn’t ask to be his student but if I can be there in the center, to join in.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la told me, “You came on a very auspicious day.” He said that day was tsok and the center was going to have tsok that night. I was invited to join them. I was like, “Wow!” So I went off to the city to run a few errands, to clean up and then returned to the center and joined in the tsok. There were a lot of people there and we did our first Lama Chopa tsok together. On that day, I met all the Dharma students and to make a long story short, one of the committee members liked me very much and lowered the rental for an empty room they had in the center for me. So I moved in. I moved into a Dharma center, which was my dream come true, to live near a teacher, in a Dharma center, in a monastery – whatever you want to call it. We had our own temple inside, a gompa with thangka and statues.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la had a room upstairs, and another two students lived upstairs. I was in a small room downstairs next to the kitchen. I was very happy. This was how my life started in Thubten Dhargye Ling Center. How I got involved, it was as simple as that… and if I could say it, as miraculous as that because how do you wander around the city and find a professor who takes you to one of the greatest living masters from Tibet, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen?
Anyway, so knowing the significance of Guru Devotion, I called up Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche in New Jersey and told him what happened, where I was and what I was doing. I also told him that I was with Geshe Gyeltsen and that I couldn’t return to New Jersey in the near future but want to continue studying Dharma. Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche said exactly this to me, “You are very lucky to meet Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen who is the same as I am and his knowledge is very great. You should treat him like you would treat me.” I was like, “Wow!” So, basically, I got permission from Kensur Lobsang Tharchin to study with Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen. If Kensur Lobsang Tharchin had said, “No” or showed any reservations I would not have continued. I would have left the center; I would not have stayed there. Why I called was to get his permission. It was not to blackmail him, not to manipulate him but to get his permission. You see, when you blackmail your Guru, when you manipulate your Guru or when you trick your Guru into it, you will sever the blessings for that day. That is not good for our practice and us.
So, both Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la and Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche agreed. I was sad because I wanted to be with Kensur Lobsang Tharchin but I was happy because since I couldn’t be with him, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin told me that Geshe-la was equal to him. When I heard that, I instantly grew faith in Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen. Instantly, I had no doubt. Instantly, from that day which was 26 or 27 years ago until now, I have not doubted Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen because my first Guru approved and gave me his blessings. I want to stress this – I left my first Guru not because there was something negative going on. What negative things could be going on? I left because my parents wouldn’t allow me to study Kensur Lobsang Tharchin. Now, being far away in Los Angeles, they couldn’t do anything to me. So I got Kensur Lobsang Tharchin’s permission, stayed with him and the rest is kind of my mini history.
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen had a meditation room downstairs which could fit about a hundred people if we squeezed the people in. If you didn’t squeeze in, it could comfortably sit around 70 or 80 people. He had a meditation room downstairs, a throne to the Dalai Lama, his own chair and then behind statues of Lama Tsongkhapa, Buddha, Amitayus, Vajrayogini, some thangkas of Lama Tsongkhapa, Green Tara and Naropa the Mahasiddha. There was a small library next to that and a poster size painting of Dorje Shugden that was behind the altar, which was not really visible but it was present. He had these beautiful images in the Gompa, which I never forgot. Upstairs, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la had his private room and his own private daybed where he sat on to do his meditation, practices and see people. He had an altar to the side with his images, and had thangkas hanging all around his room. He had a thangka of Yamantaka and a thangka of Dorje Shugden. I didn’t even know it was Dorje Shugden because when I met Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, I didn’t know anything about Dorje Shugden. I didn’t understand Dorje Shugden and I had never heard of him. I didn’t have any connections to him, really.
Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen La
The first time I had briefly seen the image of Dorje Shugden was back in New Jersey in Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche’s assistant’s room. Kensur Lobsang Tharchin had an assistant named Lothar and he had a small picture of Dorje Shugden, which I vaguely remember seeing just once, very briefly. I didn’t know the name; I didn’t know who it was. So when I arrived in Los Angeles, I had no connection to Dorje Shugden and no understanding, nothing. My exposure to Shugden came over 35 years ago!
So, I used to go to Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s room and just sit and talk with him. I was very lucky to hang out with him. I would also be the one serving him tea and sometimes food, and sometimes clean his room.
During that time, I was working at McDonald’s which was 2.5 hours away by public bus. I had to commute 2.5 hours a day to and back from work, which adds up to about 5 to 6 hours a day for transport alone. If you drove a car, it would take 45 minutes. It was really taxing for me so I applied for another job near the Dharma center. I submitted my application and went for the interview. I did not have a lot of qualifications or anything, and I didn’t know if I would get the job but I really wanted it because it was so much closer to the Dharma center. If I could get that new job, I could pay my bills, pay my rental at the center, as well as study and live in the Dharma center, which is what I wanted. I wanted to study with Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la, I wanted to live in the center and I wanted to work nearby. Eventually, I wanted to go to India. That was my goal, and not once did I stray from it.
I was very nervous and scared that I wouldn’t get the job, and went upstairs to see Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s and told him what happened. He looked at me and was quiet for a moment. He then pointed to his thangka (Tibetan painting scroll of a Buddha) on the wall that faced him, which is this thangka here on this blog post, and said to me, “If you believe in this Dharmapala, then you will get your job.” I looked at him and exclaimed, “Really?” then I immediately prostrated to the Dharmapala. ‘Dharmapala’ means Dharma Protector so Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen always referred to Dorje Shugden as Dharmapala. He didn’t talk about other Dharmapalas except Setrap, he only talked about Dorje Shugden. He worshipped Setrap and Dorje Shugden and did pujas to them monthly. I would set the offerings and make the tormas for these monthly pujas.
So, he pointed to the thangka and he said, literally, “If you have faith in the Dharmapala, then you will get this job.” I clarified with Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, “Do I pray to him?” and he said, “Yes”. So, I immediately prostrated to the thangka of Dorje Shugden, which was Dharmapala, folded my hands and said, “I really want this job.” I explained in short why I wanted the job, and all this while Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen was watching. Then I bowed and Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen smiled and said, “OK, go make me a cup of tea.” So I went downstairs to make him a cup of tea. He drinks a lot of tea, about 20 to 25 cups a day. So I would be very busy making Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s tea the way he likes it, which was a great honor, and I loved doing it. It was kind of a communion between us daily: I would bring his tea, I would put it on his table, he would smile at me and then I go down. That smile brought a lot of joy.
After making tea and offering it to Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, I went back downstairs to continue with my tasks but was still on edge about my job. Within 2 to 3 days however I got a call from a company called Fotomat telling me that I had gotten the job. I was like, “Wow!” I was so excited, I went upstairs to tell Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen-la. I was just a kid then, I was 16 years old. I ran upstairs to Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and I told him what happened. Geshe-la said, “Good”. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen never said, “See, I told you so.” He is not like me! He didn’t say, “See…” and rub it in. He just said, “Good and now, make me another cup of tea.” I ran down and made the best tea that I could make.
I was so happy. I handed in my resignation at my old job at McDonald’s. I handed my resignation letter to my manager Shelly whom I had become quite close to. She liked me. She told me I was weird and strange but entertaining, so she liked me. That’s the story of my life! I was very sad to leave her but she accepted my resignation. Then I took my 2.5 hour bus ride back to LA and started my new job.
I went for training for my new job and met this Filipino lady whose name was Liz. She trained me up and we became real friends. Whenever things went wrong, sour or weird, Liz would say to me, “That’s very tired.” I asked her, “Liz, what does ‘tired’ mean?” She explained, “It means it was very tiresome, it was very boring, it was very redundant” and she would go, “It is just very tired.” For example, if she was trying to get a movie ticket and she couldn’t get it because they were all taken, she would be like, “Oh, this is very tired.” Or if I told her something that was not funny and I thought it was, Liz would say to me, “You are tired.” So, the “lineage” kind of came from there, from Liz Laird. A wonderful, beautiful lady from the Philippines who lived in America for years, and whom I became friends with. In fact, she, her boyfriend and myself used to go out together and have dinner. We became very good friends. I lost contact with her unfortunately.
His Holiness the erudite master, yogi, mahasiddha Kyabje Zong Rinpoche in Thubten Dhargye Ling Dharma centre in Los Angeles
Anyway, I got the job and was really happy and moved into my new job. I learned it up and did very well, and got promoted to assistant manager. This is all because of Geshe-la and Dharmapala so I wanted to share this thangka here. This is Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s personal thangka and to me, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen is a living Buddha, a Mahasiddha and, I was told, an emanation of Lama Tsongkhapa. Whether that is true or not, I don’t really care. To me, he was Lama Tsongkhapa. He was instantly kind to me and took care of me for 8 years when I lived with him until I went to India. He was my father, sponsor, mentor, teacher and Guru. I was very lucky to get permission from Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche to study with him because as I said, getting permission is very important. It is because of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen that I met H.H. Zong Rinpoche who was Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s teacher.
And so I wanted to share this thangka here with everyone. I had gotten permission from Geshe-la to take a picture of this thangka and it’s here in its original form. This is the thangka that was hung in Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s room for decades, this is the thangka that Geshe-la prayed to and this is the thangka that I had my first encounter with the Protector officially. So my first official encounter with the Protector was through this thangka and I was allowed to photograph it. Many decades later, I re-produced Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s thangka meaning I had an artist produce a thangka that is exactly the same as Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s and now I have it.
To me, this thangka is very special because if it is Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s possession then it must be very holy. It is also extremely special to me as it brings back thousands of memories of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, my stay in Thubten Dhargye Ling and his influence in my life back in Los Angeles. I love Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen very much and miss him deeply till today. I reproduced the thangka because I didn’t know where the original one was, and I wanted to have a piece of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s blessing in my life in the form of a thangka. So I reproduced it here and anyone can download and keep it as it is very blessed and very holy. So I thought I would share this little story about the special thangka.
Side note: I would like to go into a little detail about the thangka.
If you’ve noticed, the Protector’s face is in a peaceful form and he has a Lama Tsongkhapa floating above him. Also, he is holding a jewel-spitting mongoose and a wish-fulfilling jewel. When we rely on Dorje Shugden, all things around us – entourage, people, friend, finances, needs, spiritual development, meeting the path to learn the teachings or grow – will increase or become better. I have been told this many times. Therefore, Dorje Shugden holding the wish-fulfilling jewel to his heart represents that he can fulfil all wishes and increase your Dharma practice, increase the circumstances for you to meet the Dharma, increase the circumstances for you to learn that Dharma and increase the circumstances for you to understand the Dharma. He can also help you with finances, resources and solve difficulties. This is what he swore to do when he first arose as a Dharma Protector.
So in the center, it is Dorje Shugden in the form of a monk because Dorje Shugden was a monk for many lifetimes before he arose as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. He was the great, unequaled master Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen who was the 5th Dalai Lama’s contemporary. Both of them lived in Drepung Monastery. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s personal house was called Zimkhang Gongma (meaning upper chamber/house) and he taught thousands upon thousands of students. He had patrons who were the emperors of Mongolia, who would come to see him and make offerings to him. So he was very famous. He was extremely well-known and erudite, and many of his writings and teachings were existing for a while but unfortunately, after that time, the Tibetan government eliminated many of his teachings. They didn’t want any rivalry.
Dorje Shugden arose from a lineage of pure monks and that is why he is depicted as a protector monk. As a monk in a protector form, he wears the full robes of a fully ordained gelong or Bhikshu. In his right hand he is holding a wisdom sword, similar to Manjushri who he is one in nature with. There is a light flame on top representing that he quells our obstacles so that we can learn Dharma, to eliminate the negative karma for wisdom to arise in our mind. Thus for wisdom to arise in one’s mind, this is represented by the sharp wisdom sword. Then, in the left crook of his arm, he is holding a staff which has a type of a blade that is hooked with a vajra representing his ability to hook in the needs of what we require such as resources, pleasant situations, long life and health to do our Dharma practice.
In his left hand, Dorje Shugden holds a precious wish-fulfilling jewel. This wish-fulfilling jewel is the same or similar to the jewel that Chenrezig (Arya Avalokiteshvara) holds. It is a jewel that fulfils all wishes that sentient beings may have and the highest wish is, of course, enlightenment. By Dorje Shugden holding this jewel, it represents that by praying to him, trusting him and meditating upon him, he can fulfil all of your wishes.
Dorje Shugden rides on a snow lion as lions are believed to be the king of animals. Him riding on the snow lion means that he is able to tame the ego of his followers, tame the anger of his followers and tame all negative qualities in one’s followers. In fact, by riding on a snow lion, it symbolizes Dorje Shugden’s immense power. As it says in his sadhana, he has the power of 10 million Dharma Protectors.
In addition, he wears a round domed hat (representing Shugden upholds Nagarjuna’s view on emptiness). In Tibet, when a lama travels from point A to point B, they always wear a round domed hat to protect them from the elements. So Dorje Shugden wearing the same hat represents that he doesn’t stay in one place, and that he is always moving, always traveling and always on-the-go to help whoever who calls upon him. He is constantly traveling. He also has one foot down and one foot up, similar to Tara’s pose, and with the same symbolism of his ever-readiness to assist you as and when you call upon him.
He is surrounded by flames, which are the flames of wisdom that pours out from the pores of his body. No being can abide within fire. A being that can abide within fire in the tantric sense represents that he has gained tummo, which is one of the highest practices of the six practices of Naropa. This means that he has already gained great compassion and burned up ignorance.
So Dorje Shugden here is in the peaceful form, gentle and youthful with light skin, and also with a pleasant demeanour, face and smiling at his disciples. He is also surrounded by his other four emanations.
On the left of the thangka, you will see an emanation on an elephant that quells diseases. On the upper left, you see an emanation that is yellow, riding on a horse that increases wealth. On the top right, you will see an emanation that is red, riding on a turquoise dragon, which helps us to control negative situations. On the bottom right, you will see an emanation riding on a garuda that dispels negative energy in a forceful, wrathful, enlightened way. These four alternative beings surrounding Dorje Shugden are his different emanations of himself, doing different types of work to help people. We call them the Shugden Ri Nga or the Five Families of Shugden.
Directly below Dorje Shugden is the ancient and old Dharma Protector who is no other than Tsiu Marpo, one of the blazing brothers in a red form. He has been propitiated by the Nyingmas, the Kagyus and all these great lineages before, including the Sakyas. He has joined Dorje Shugden’s entourage to be of assistance but in actuality, he is also the nature of Hayagriva whose current name is Kache Marpo (where originally he was referred to as Tsiu Marpo). So, Kache Marpo is the main attendant of Dorje Shugden. In an oracle, either Dorje Shugden or Kache Marpo can enter to speak, depending on who the oracle is.
So this thangka represents Dorje Shugden in his principal form surrounded by his four emanations. Together they are called the Five Families of Dorje Shugden, and directly below him is his very powerful attendant and assistant Kache Marpo.
This thangka is very special because on top of Dorje Shugden you will see a gold round disc floating. That is Lama Tsongkhapa. Lama Tsongkhapa floating above represents how Dorje Shugden was a very close and devoted disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa.
I want to make something very clear here: Dorje Shugden is very close to the Gelugpa and Sakyas but being an enlightened being, a Buddha, he has no prejudices, labels and names to and fro, i.e. to him and from him. It is impossible that he only helps the Gelugpas and Sakyas. He will help any being, anywhere and anytime without labels, and assist when they call upon him. In the future, I will produce more and more compilations for people to easily evoke the different forms of Dorje Shugden and the principal form himself.
Well, this is a little description and iconographical explanation of his holy body and his emanations. I put this here together with the thangka that belonged to Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen who is himself a fully attained being and who has been more than kind to me. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen was the one who officially introduced me to Dorje Shugden. He officially promoted Dorje Shugden and he officially encouraged all of us and me to pray to Dorje Shugden because Dorje Shugden had been a great help to him, his life and his teachers. Therefore, out of great compassion, Geshe-la thought that it would benefit all of us.
I am indebted to Geshe-la for introducing Dorje Shugden to me and to encourage his practice and prayer, and until the end of my life, I will never counter Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s instructions. Later on in my life, when H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to Los Angeles, it sealed the deal because H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche gave the entire Dharma center the full initiation (sogtae) of Dorje Shugden. I am indebted to these great masters for the practice that I find very beneficial and very helpful. Since I started praying to Dorje Shugden until now, I have received no adverse effects or negative effects, only benefits. No one will ever receive any harm from Shugden. Only benefit.
With many good wishes, Tsem Rinpoche
Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen requests for sogtae (initiation)
In this video, you can hear clearly Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen requesting for HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche to confer Dorje Shugden initiation.
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/zong-rinpoche-advice-on-ds.flv
(Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen speaks in Los Angeles requesting for Dorje Shugden sogtae (initiation) from H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche)
My root guru His Holiness Kyabje Zong Tulku Dorje Chang Lobsang Tsundu Thubten Gyeltsen gives most emanation deity Gyalchen Dorje Shugden’s life entrustment initiation along with very pure and excellent biographies and stories, here is the voice record while giving the empowerment.
I, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen student formally requested.
His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche speaks on Dorje Shugden
(His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche begins to speak through a translator)
After receiving this Dorje Shugden initiation, you have to do puja once a month. Also, it is necessary to follow the commitment, and you have to make a commitment with the lineage and with the order.
So that means, for example you [might] receive teachings from different traditions but mainly, your practice, your focus, your energy [should be put] into this lineage, the Gelugpa lineage.
If you have to or if you wish to do some kind of Dharmic activities with other sects of Buddhism, that is okay to do some kind of activities but your main practice or the principle practice, you have to make the commitment with this lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa. That’s why I mentioned before, you have to know and told that you should not take initiation if you are not sure. So once you take this initiation, then you have to make a commitment with the Gelug lineage and this is necessary not to mix up everything.
There are sometimes rumours that people say, “Oh, Shugden initiation is not…”, people say that it is not necessary to take Shugden initiation or, some people say Shugden is even not good protector.
That is not true. People who have this Shugden initiation and people who practice Dorje Shugden, those people have very great, successful meditation and practice. Even worldly measures, like worldly activities and business and job; everything becomes very successful.
Because it says Dorje Shugden is a Gelugpa protector, so some people they think when you say ‘Gelugpa protector’, they think we are narrow-minded and they think people who practice Shugden, they think they are narrow-minded and they think people who practice Shugden, they are sectarian. Actually, not sectarian…maybe because they are sectarian so they think that the people who practice Shugden are sectarian. People make up all kinds of stories and rumours, you should know that beforehand.
Some people, after taking the Shugden initiation and teachings, when they hear these rumours, they think…ignorant people, narrow-minded people make those rumours, and some people think that it is true and so maybe they give up the practice or they even don’t want to have this protector which is very bad, and that is not good for the person.
Actually it is up to you, whatever you want to do is up to you; your own life, everything is your own choice and your freedom and your own enlightenment, and what you want to do or not is up to you but I’m talking about what is good for you. You have to be very careful about what you do and you should not become gullible; you should not just follow someone saying “this is no good” and listen to all these stories from people. You should not change your mind, and you should always be aware and you have to make sure.
In Tibet, it doesn’t matter what people say and actually in Tibet, there’s many people who follow this and do this practice and actually, always there’s more and more people who do this kind of meditation.
So you have to know this, you have to be very sure or otherwise, later on, if people say to you “Oh, this practice is no good” and they make all kinds of stories and rumours…then if you give up, then it’s not good for you and then it will be a big mistake for you. Therefore you have to make sure that you keep this commitment and follow this commitment.
Because this is your own choice, and no one says you should do or you must do this and your own…like you choose to do this so you have to think about this very carefully. No one says you must do this without your own choice, and it’s like if you don’t want to and no one can say “you should do this or shouldn’t do this.”
(repeated from Part 1) Because it says Dorje Shugden is a Gelugpa protector, so some people they think when you say ‘Gelugpa protector’, they think we are narrow-minded and they think people who practice Shugden, they think they are narrow-minded and they think people who practice Shugden, they are sectarian. Actually, not sectarian…maybe because they are sectarian so they think that the people who practice Shugden are sectarian. People make up all kinds of stories and rumours, you should know that beforehand.
This is a very special protector and very precious, so therefore you have to do puja monthly.
You have to do the puja once a month, the prayer, long sadhana or long prayer, once a month but if, for example, if next month, if you know you’re going to be very very busy, if you know that you can’t do this, it’s impossible – then you can do the puja for next month, this month. The month before, you can do two [pujas] within two days.
If you don’t know how to read the sadhana, the prayers; if you cannot do the sadhana or you’re unable to do [the sadhana], then you also can ask the Lama, or monks or teachers to do this for you.
It is very important to know that you really want to take this initiation, and it is not just to come here and take this initiation because other people are taking this initiation. If you feel “I should do this and if I don’t do, then maybe I’m going to miss something”, that is the wrong idea. If you really want to make the commitment, then you should take. Otherwise you shouldn’t.
As I mentioned before, if you don’t know how to say the prayer and if you’re unable to do the puja once a month, then you can ask a Lama or your friend who knows this prayer and this monthly puja – you can invite them to your place, and ask them to do the puja.
Or if you can’t do [the puja] at your home, then even if it’s long-distance, like at some kind of monastery or where the Lama or the friend is – you can ask them, or him or her, to do this puja.
The reason I’m saying this again and again is because if you don’t follow just any kind of people, and if you’re not gullible, then it’s okay.
But it is possible sometimes that even a Lama or monk or some kind of teacher says “this is not right, and it’s wrong, and you shouldn’t do this kind of practice” – then it’s possible that you can change your mind. You think, “Because a Lama or some kind of teacher is saying this to me, maybe it’s true” – so people are very easily influenced and they can change their minds.
And one of the reasons [I am saying this again and again is] because many Westerners don’t know the Dharma deeply, and all the significance and symbolism and the meanings. They also don’t know who is the right teacher and who is not the right teacher; they just go wherever there is a teacher or some sort of Lama, and they go and listen to all these teachings and that’s why. Westerners are generally very honest people, very direct, and very…they’re good people, they have a good heart.
Like in India or in Tibet, sometimes they…some people, they don’t practice Shugden but they say they are practicing Shugden. And some people, they do practice and they say something else. What people say and what they do is different, and so there’s kind of a corruption.
In India, some people mislead other people, other Tibetans. When some Tibetans ask them to do the Shugden puja, they will say, “Yes, I will do puja for you.” But after they go, they will do something else, and not the Shugden puja – they do another different puja. The people who asked them to do puja, they don’t know – if they can’t read, they can’t read and write – that these people say they are doing Shugden puja, but they don’t do it. They do something else and they just do what they want to do, and it’s very bad.
The reason why they do that is because in India and Tibet, householders will invite laypeople or monks to do this puja. It is a long puja and long day, so the household makes offerings like dana. These people are lying, saying they’re doing the Shugden puja but they don’t do. And they actually don’t like to do Shugden puja but in order to get some kind of benefit or money or some other reason, they say they do the pujas and it’s very very bad and very samsaric motivation.
Eventually those people, the householders who request for the Shugden puja will know or realise; they know that these people are not doing the right puja because they feel that it is not helping. It is not working because they are not doing the real puja. Eventually, they can feel intuitively because it is not helping, it doesn’t feel right. They will say they don’t want those people to do the puja, and will ask someone and make sure that the people who do the Shugden puja, are also practicing Shugden.
Here, we don’t have that kind of problems and there is no doubt. I’m just talking about general stories so that you have some type of understanding and everything.
This is the Dorje Shugden statue that is in Kechara located in Malaysia. The holy image of Dorje Shugden is made of alloy metal and is fully consecrated by precious relics and also Dorje Shugden took trance himself and blessed the image. This image is in peaceful form and I decided to do so because of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s thangka. We don’t simply change the form, color or iconography as it should have some lineage behind it. Since Geshe Tsultrim’s thangka (which is the first one I’ve ever seen) is in peaceful form and very blessed, I decided to have our Kechara statue in peaceful form also based on the thangka. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen always had this thangka hanging in his room where he spent most of his time.
For more related articles of interest and importance: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/category/dorje-shugden
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