The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

Feb 16, 2016 | Views: 5,747
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Dear friends around the world,

This is a very interesting article on His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. He was the first Dalai Lama to take over complete secular rule of Tibet. There was much political intrigue, conflicts with other schools of Buddhism (Kagyu,etc) and murders of high lamas such as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen by his regents to establish his rule. The Mongols played a huge role during this period. There is so much information here and good to read. I have placed this here for strictly educational purposes.

Tsem Rinpoche

 

The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

by Samten G. Karmay

At the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s birth, Tibet was in a state of religious, social and political turmoil. Political power was shared among various factions supported by different religious schools who not only wished to propagate their teachings, but also to establish their economic power and political influence. In Tibet, religious, political and economic power have always been closely entwined. Tibetan political theory is based on the coalition of politics and religion in the form of Lamaism, finding its expression in chöyön, a “preceptor-patron” relationship in which both parties are considered equal – the preceptor giving the patron religious teachings and spiritual guidance in return for material and political protection. In addition, political protection allowed the religious schools to increase the number of their disciples and hence their wealth. The term chöyön was often used to designate, in particular, the relationship between a Tibetan lama and the leader of a foreign country, such as that between Phagpa Lodrö Gyeltsen (1235–1280), the head of the Sakya school, and Khubilai Khan, the Mongol emperor, in the 13th century. An understanding of the interdependence of politics and religion is essential for the study of Tibetan history.

The circumstances and strife surrounding the Fifth Dalai Lama’s birth are important to recall in order to understand the decisive role this exceptional man played in the reunification of Tibet.

 

A Country Torn Apart

In 1548, the aristocrat Zhingshag Tseten Dorje was appointed governor of Tsang province by the ruler of central Tibet, a Rinpung lord and a supporter of the Karma Kagyupa order. The newly appointed governor settled into the palace of Samdrubtse (also called Shigatse), situated near the Gelukpa monastery Tashilunpo. Shortly after, he rebelled against the Rinpung lords and proclaimed himself King of Tsang. Together with his nine sons he gradually expanded his kingdom and established control over both Ü and Tsang, the two main provinces of central Tibet. This was the first time since the collapse of the Tibetan empire in the 9th century that Tibet was ruled by a lay government.

The new government’s ambition was to revive the institutions of the imperial period and to bring peace and prosperity to the country by applying a five-point policy, the so-called “five great actions”. The plan was supported by various religious schools such as the Sakyapa, the Jonangpa, and, more particularly, by the great hierarchs of the Karma Kagyupa school. As the legitimate representative of authority, Zhingshag Tseten Dorje maintained equally good relations with the Gelukpa abbots of Tashilunpo who, however, remained suspicious of the new dynasty’s intentions.

The Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso (1543–1588) © Himalayan Art Resources

Moreover, during the same period the new Gelukpa school had founded a number of large monasteries in Ü province, namely Drepung, Sera and Ganden near Lhasa, the former imperial capital. The Gelukpa school, whose monasteries were supported by the laity and a number of nobles of Ü, had significant influence on the religious as well as on the political scene. In 1577–78 the conversion to Buddhism of Altan Khan, the leader of the Tumed Mongols, and all his subjects by Sonam Gyatso (1543–1588), the Abbot of Drepung (who received the title Dalai Lama from the Khan and was later recognized as the third to hold this title) was a spectacular success for the Gelukpa school. The secular government in Samdrubtse, however, viewed the event as a politico-religious alliance between the Gelukpa school and a foreign power. In fact, it was a strategic move in a struggle between two Buddhist religious schools – in this case the Gelukpa and the Karma Kagyupa – to secure the support of a patron without which neither could survive.

In 1589, the conflict was exacerbated when the Gelukpa recognized a child born that year to a Mongol family as the reincarnation of the Third Dalai Lama. The royal government took this as a clear indication of the Gelukpa school’s intentions to seek a foreign ally. After the child was installed in Ganden Phodrang at Drepung and enthroned as abbot, Mongol intervention in Gelukpa, and therefore in Tibetan, affairs increased. Moreover, the new Dalai Lama refused to bless the king of Tsang when they met. He came to be regarded as an expert in magic and was suspected of having performed a magic ritual against the king. However, he died shortly after at Drepung in 1616 at the age of twenty-eight, and the royal government forbade the search for his reincarnation.

In 1618, the Mongols and the Gelukpa monks began to attack the royal officials residing in Lhasa. This escalated into a general conflict between the government’s forces and the Gelukpa monks supported by the Mongols and several nobles of Ü. Fighting continued intermittently until 1621 and led to the establishment in the region of a great number of Mongols determined to protect Gelukpa interests. In 1621 near Lhasa, a battle that would have resulted in a great massacre on both sides was averted through the intervention of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen (1567–1662), the Abbot of Tashilunpo (who was later regarded as the First Panchen Lama).

 

The New Dalai Lama

It was against this background of turmoil that in 1617 a son was born to the noble Zahor family. From about the 14th century the family resided in the Taktse castle, the former stronghold of the Yarlung kings. The officials of Ganden Phodrang at Drepung had not renounced the search for the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation despite the ban by the Tsang king and the war between Ü and Tsang.

They had secretly discovered and selected three children whom they thought likely to be the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. The child born to the famous Zahor family seemed the most convincing candidate. The family’s status was evidently a determining factor since two other schools, the Drukpa Kagyupa and the Karma Kagyupa, sought to claim the child as the reincarnation of one of their lamas since a lama of each school had also died in 1616. The family had resisted their solicitations despite the father’s friendly relations with the Drukpa Kagyupa school. In addition, the mother was connected to the Jonangpa school through her family, which was established at the castle of Nakartse. The names of both the mother and the son, Kunga Lhadze and Kunga Minjur, betray this link. We may therefore assume that the Jonangpa school hoped just as strongly to win the child over to their cause. This, however, was not to be the case, as we shall see.

The first six years of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s life resemble a novel. In 1618, his father, Düdül Rabten, was involved in a plot against the royal government, which brought the king’s wrath upon him. Around the same period, the Gelukpa, as already mentioned, secretly chose his son as the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama after the three candidates drew lots before the holy image of Radreng monastery. In the meantime, Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen had convinced the king to lift the ban on the quest for the new incarnation.

Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen (1567–1662) © Himalayan Art Resources

Nevertheless, the king ordered the Zahor family to leave their castle at Taktse. Düdül Rabten had attempted to escape to eastern Tibet but was prevented by royal envoys and brought to court at Samdrubtse where he remained under arrest until his death in 1626, without ever seeing his son again. His wife and son (aged three) were forced to remain in Dekyiling, then in Lhazong. The king suggested they come to live at court in Samdrubtse because of the insecurity caused by the war. But the mother, suspicious of the king’s real intentions, preferred to ignore his request and return to her family at the Nakartse castle. As soon as the ban on the quest for the reincarnation was lifted, Ganden Phodrang sent envoys accompanied by Mongol delegates to the king’s court, under the pretext of a diplomatic mission sent by Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, to request official recognition of the boy now living at Nakartse as the Fourth Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

The child spent the first six years of his life in this castle and, in order to verify the authenticity of the reincarnation, he was subjected to the traditional “tests” bearing on his “memories” of his previous life. Among these “tests”, the best known is that of presenting the candidate with objects belonging to the previous incarnation along with other identical objects. If the child chooses the real objects he is proclaimed tulku, “reincarnate”. However, contrary to tradition, the boy belonging to the Zahor family had already been chosen by the drawing of lots before being submitted to the traditional tests.

One of the other two candidates, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen (1619–1656), was recognized as the reincarnation of another Gelukpa hierarch of Drepung. He was installed in the Zimkhang Gongma or “Upper Chamber”, and was to become a redoubtable rival of the Fifth Dalai Lama, as we shall see.

The Fifth Dalai Lama retained bitter memories of his childhood during which the philosophical and religious precepts relative to the notion of reincarnation served political purposes. In his writings he would often recall with irony the political manipulations of his own school, which involved the Mongols in all its affairs. Thus he wrote in his autobiography, the Dukula:

Since there was a large Mongol army in the country and the Tibetan leaders were forced to yield much of their land to them, it became customary to recognize the sons of Mongol leaders as reincarnations. It was said that I too was one (even though I was not a Mongol)!¹

As for his success at passing the traditional “tests”, he is equally straightforward: “The official Tsawa Kachu of Ganden Phodrang showed me statues and rosaries (that belonged to the Fourth Dalai Lama and other people), but I was unable to distinguish between them! When he left the room I heard him tell the people outside that I had successfully passed the tests. Later, when he became my tutor, he would often admonish me and say: ‘You must work hard, since you were unable to recognize the objects!’”²

The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso (1617–1682) © Rubin Museum of Art

The child was brought to Ganden Phodrang, also known as Zimkhang Wog, the “Lower Chamber”. He was enthroned as the Fifth Dalai Lama and received the name of Lobzang Gyatso from Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, who became one of his spiritual masters. As soon as he was installed, the Mongols wanted him to go to Kokonor. His entourage considered him too young to undertake such a journey, but it soon became obvious that if they refused, the Mongols would take him by force. With the king’s permission, the officials of Ganden Phodrang therefore secretly transferred him to Rigo, in the south. This episode clearly shows that the alliance between the Gelukpa and the Mongols supported by the nobles of Ü was not without difficulties. The Fifth Dalai Lama was forced to remain in hiding in Rigo for a year. During that time he began to learn how to read and write.

From the age of six years, until he was twenty-four, his studies were devoted to traditional subjects such as Buddhist philosophy, Sanskrit and poetry. He developed a keen interest in Buddhist philosophy, the focus of study for the Gelukpa school, and was later to write a number of treatises on the subject. At the same time, he also had to perform his duty as abbot of Drepung monastery whose throne he occupied. In 1633, he met Konchok Lhundrub (1561–1637), a master of the Nyingmapa school, whose teachings were not always recognized by the Gelukpa school. This meeting was to be a turning point in his life: he received teachings and initiations into certain mystical practices and tantric rituals of which he hitherto had no knowledge. The young hierarch realized that his philosophical training at the monastery alone was not sufficient to attain spiritual enlightenment.

In the meantime, the “Upper Chamber” reincarnation, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, had won fame in both Tibet and Mongolia as a brilliant scholar and spiritually accomplished person. This aroused envy in the Dalai Lama’s entourage even though Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had always proclaimed himself a disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama. This situation was to have an unsettling effect on the harmony within the monastery.

Through the diplomacy of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen, the king and his government had ceased hostilities against the Gelukpa from the moment of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s enthronement. The Gelukpa community of Tsang, however, felt threatened by the establishment of a Karma Kagyupa monastery near Tashilunpo. Because of this, Mongol intervention on the Tibetan political scene was again to endanger the precarious balance of Tibetan politics.

 

The Mongols Intervene

Sonam Chöphel (1595–1657), the treasurer of Ganden Phodrang, was the prime architect of the Gelukpa school’s rise to political power. Later he received the title of Zhelngo, “the Leader”, which we will use hereafter when referring to him. He sought the support of the Jungar from western Mongolia and inspired them with a military stratagem that consisted of successively attacking the other Mongol tribes sympathetic to the king of Tsang, then the south-eastern Tibetans of Kham – who were also partisans of the royal government – and finally, the king and his entourage in Tsang, giving rise to Gelukpa political and religious supremacy.

Gushri Khan (1582–1655), Fresco in Jokhang temple, Tibet. Photography: Brian J. McMorrow

The Jungar had been actively supporting the Gelukpa school in their own country. In 1636, one of their leaders, Gushri Khan of the Khoshut tribe, decided to attack the Mongol tribe of Chogthur, an ally of the king of Tsang. Originally from the Khalkha tribe, Chogthur’s tribe had been expelled from central Mongolia in 1634 and had set up their main camp in the Kokonor region in Amdo, in north-eastern Tibet. In 1637, after having defeated Chogthur and his 40,000 men in Kokonor, Gushri Khan, too, chose to make his camp in this territory of Tibetan nomads and soon became the sole leader of the Mongols in the region. He and several of his men travelled to central Tibet that year disguised as pilgrims. He was received in audience and it was at this time that the Fifth Dalai Lama bestowed on him the name of Tenzin Chögyel before the holy image of the Buddha in the Jokhang temple in Lhasa for having defended Gelukpa interests in the Kokonor region. The meeting was to have far-reaching historical consequences. As soon as he returned to the Kokonor region, the Mongol chief began to prepare his campaign against Donyö, king of Beri, in the province of Kham in south-eastern Tibet. Donyö was an ally of the king of Tsang, and, moreover, a Bön practitioner, which made him a staunch enemy of the Mongols who had just recently converted to Buddhism. In 1641, after a year of fighting, Gushri Khan defeated the king of Beri. His prestige as a warrior was now unequalled as much among Tibetans as among Mongols.

During the campaign against Beri, the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Zhelngo discussed the question of whether Gushri Khan and his men should return to Kokonor. They decided to send an emissary to Kham to contact the Mongol chief. In the presence of both the Dalai Lama and the emissary, the Zhelngo pretended to agree with the Dalai Lama that Gushri Khan should return to Kokonor after his campaign in south-eastern Tibet. However, just as the emissary was about to leave, the Zhelngo ordered him to tell Gushri Khan to lead his army against Tsang.

At the beginning of 1642, during the annual festival of the Great Prayer in Lhasa, presided over by the Fifth Dalai Lama, news of Gushri Khan’s victory in south-eastern Tibet and his army’s advance against Tsang reached the city. The news greatly surprised the Dalai Lama and the Zhelngo finally told him the truth: that in fact he himself had issued this order in the Dalai Lama’s name! Shortly after, Gushri Khan’s army confronted the king’s troops. It was to be a long and bloody war. After many months of battle, the king’s troops finally withdrew behind the walls of their stronghold at Samdrubtse. The Mongol troops, who had the advantage in open battle on the plain, now had to wait for the provisions of the king’s army to run out. The Zhelngo, more and more concerned over the course the events were taking, requested the Dalai Lama to go to Tsang as mediator. The Dalai Lama then displayed his true political stature by saying:

I have told you many times that I do not like this kind of thing (i.e., war). But you never listened to me. Now all know that the partisans of Ganden Phodrang have rebelled and that our man, Tardongpa, leads the Mongol army. Can there be any hope of mediation at present? The king and his entourage, being wise, might respond favourably to my approach. But the Mongols will never leave now. For my part, I am determined not to remain under the king’s rule.³

 

The Fifth Dalai Lama: Sovereign of Tibet

Towards the end of 1642, having resisted the Mongols for almost a year, the king and his two ministers finally surrendered. The Zhelngo and Gushri Khan then invited the Dalai Lama to Samdrubtse. Gushri Khan and the Zhelngo went to greet the hierarch and his entourage in Thobgyel. The next day he was received by a long procession consisting of the local population headed by six hundred horsemen. The Dalai Lama was then enthroned as King of Tibet at Samdrubtse and Gushri Khan offered him his conquests of central and eastern Tibet as a gift. The year 1642 was a crucial year and marked a turning point in Tibetan history because, for the first time, a Dalai Lama, previously merely the abbot of a monastery and leader of one religious school among several others, became the head of the country. The consequences of his rise to power were to be tremendous.

Although he had firmly established his power in central Tibet, the Dalai Lama still had to face various military conflicts in other regions, especially in Kongpo and the south, to which the leader of the Karma Kagyupa school had escaped and where the population, who for the most part belonged to this school, was determined to resist. In the following years, the Fifth Dalai Lama travelled extensively in order to ease the situation. During the same period, the Zhelngo took on the function of Desi, “regent”, and became responsible for governmental affairs, while Gushri Khan, who never claimed a political position, retained his role as the defender of the new government, always ready to intervene with his army if the need arose. The Fifth Dalai Lama continued to address him as “king” since he was the king of the Mongols of Kokonor (though he resided at Gongkar, about one hundred kilometres from Lhasa) and not “King of Tibet” as has often been falsely claimed.

The political structure of the new state began to take shape. The Dalai Lama was head of state. He was therefore placed above the chöyön structure, the “patron-preceptor” relationship. The Desi assumed the role of preceptor and Gushri Khan that of patron even though he was not really considered a foreigner since he had established himself in the Tibetan region of Kokonor and had placed himself entirely at the service of the Dalai Lama.

Ganden Phodrang, situated as it was within the monastic complex of Drepung, no longer befitted the purposes of the new state, since Drepung could not be considered the political capital of Tibet. This was equally true of Gonkar castle, Gushri Khan’s residence. Since the political situation in Kongpo – and even more so in southern Tibet – remained tense, the construction of a reliable stronghold that would also serve as the new seat of government was deemed necessary. Konchok Chöphel (d. 1646), who was a tutor of the Fifth Dalai Lama and, at the time, occupied the throne of Tsongkhapa (founder of the Gelukpa school), suggested Marpori, the Red Hill, as an ideal site, as it was situated between the monasteries of Drepung and Sera and the city of Lhasa. The construction of the Potala began in 1645 and its eastern section, Phodrang Karpo, the “White Palace”, was completed in 1649. That same year, the Fifth Dalai Lama and his government were installed there.

Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, Potala (1938) Photographer: Krause, Ernst / Licence CC-BY-SA 3.0 © Bundesarchiv: Bild 135-KA-07-002

Shortly after moving to the Potala, the Fifth Dalai Lama had to deal with political issues beyond Tibet, especially concerning relations with the Manchu empire, relations that were to have great consequence on the future of Tibet.

 

The Journey to Beijing

The Manchus had recently emerged as a new power in the east. They had conquered China and established their capital in Beijing. Mongolia represented a serious threat for the new empire. Fearing Mongol attacks, the Manchus desperately needed peace to be maintained, and here the Dalai Lama played an essential role. He had considerable religious and political influence in Mongolia, whose population had for the most part converted to the Gelukpa school of Buddhism, and in the Kokonor region.

After having received several invitations from the Manchu Emperor Shunzi to make a state visit to Beijing, the Dalai Lama finally accepted in 1652. He set out with an entourage of three thousand men, and the journey took nine months. When the Dalai Lama reached the Sino-Tibetan border in Amdo, he sent a message asking the Emperor to meet him at the border. This request provoked divergent reactions between the Manchu and Chinese officials of the imperial court. While the Manchus were willing to comply, the Chinese officials were not. Finally, the Tibetan and imperial officials reached a compromise to solve this problem of protocol. Since the Dalai Lama was a guest he would travel into Chinese territory, to Kirutaka where the Manchu government had erected a residence to accommodate him. Because of the poor harvest and an epidemic in China that year, it was agreed that the Dalai Lama would proceed from there with only three hundred men. The Emperor would await the Dalai Lama at Ridak Khoto, a place where he often went hunting.

As soon as the Dalai Lama entered Chinese territory, the Emperor sent emissaries, mostly members of the imperial family, to greet him all along his way. The Fifth Dalai Lama himself recounts in his writings his meeting with the Emperor and all the intricacies of protocol surrounding it:

The 16th of the twelfth month, I met the king. We entered a place surrounded by walls, and the seven royal emblems, symbols of the Universal King, unravelled before us. They were all impressive and comparable to the glory of Indra. When the throne became visible, those near me dismounted and continued on foot. I proceeded some forty metres further and then dismounted, while the king also descended from his throne and walked approximately ten metres towards me. He took my hands and welcomed me with interpreters. He then returned to his throne whose height reached a man’s hip. On the throne stood a low stool on which he sat. A metre away another throne had been erected for me. It was slightly lower (due to the small stool on the other). When tea was served, the king asked me to drink first. I replied that this would not be proper. So he suggested we drink at the same time. He showed much respect (to his guest).⁴

During his sojourn in Beijing, the Dalai Lama resided in the Yellow Palace specially built near Beijing for the state visit. His stay there lasted two months and was marked by two grand imperial receptions given in his honour and by various other official receptions that the two heads of state gave one another. He left Beijing at the beginning of 1653 for Kirutaka where he remained three months to prepare his return journey to Lhasa.

Just a few days before his departure for Tibet, a gold seal and a gold plaque engraved with a decree were hastily sent to him from Beijing. The imperial functionaries had not dared present the seal to the Dalai Lama in front of the Emperor while the Dalai Lama was officially visiting Beijing as head of state of a foreign country. Since the seal was given to the Dalai Lama with no particular form of protocol, he attached little importance to it. He simply remarks in his autobiography that the Tibetan translation of the title engraved on the seal was very poor.⁵ The seal, however, is currently exploited by the Chinese authorities for propaganda purposes to justify their policy towards Tibet.

 

Politics and Intrigues

For having successfully achieved this long and hazardous journey, the Dalai Lama was welcomed with great pomp by the whole population of Lhasa and representatives of all the other regions of Tibet, who organized a triumphant march in his honour. The number of gifts he received from the Amdo Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus and Chinese for the Buddhist teachings he had dispensed throughout his journey was impressive: thousands of horses, camels and precious objects.

Upon his return, the Dalai Lama was again faced with internal political problems that put his abilities as a negotiator to the test. He took the opportunity while visiting Samdrubtse in 1654 to resolve a politico-religious problem that had been hindering his rule for a long time. In 1621, the king of Tsang entrusted the organization of the annual festival of the Great Prayer in Lhasa to Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen and his monastery, Tashilunpo, in order to thank him for his mediation between the royal forces and the Gelukpa monks of Lhasa, supported by the Mongols. The Desi, always primarily concerned with the interests of Drepung, reclaimed the duty of organizing the yearly festival for his own monastery, as had always been the case prior to 1621. In 1632, Tashilunpo was forced to return this function to Drepung, but relations between Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen and the Desi remained strained. They were finally reconciled by the Dalai Lama when he visited Samdrubtse in 1654.

Furthermore, in 1674, the Dalai Lama received the Karmapa hierarch at the Potala with all the respect due to his rank, a reconciliation welcomed by both parties after the many conflicts and misunderstandings that had lasted from 1612 to 1642. But he was not so lenient towards the other schools. For instance, the Jonangpa school, which had hoped to obtain him, when he was a child, as one of their own reincarnations, did not survive in Central Tibet.* As for the Bönpo monasteries, several were forced to convert to the Gelukpa tradition.** The new government’s attitude, however, was in fact determined by political rather than religious considerations.

Two other incidents during the rule of the Fifth Dalai Lama provide an interesting insight into the court intrigues at the time, and more specifically into the relations between religion and politics and their effects, which can still be felt today.

In 1656, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, the reincarnation who was installed in the “Upper Chamber” at Drepung, died. It should be recalled that he had been one of the candidates for the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama. As a result, he was always seen as a rival of the Fifth Dalai Lama even though he invariably proclaimed himself a disciple of the latter. He came to be despised by a number of officials and especially the Desi. The circumstances of his death, whether natural or not, were contested and part of the Gelukpa school believed that the official Norbu, acting under the Desi’s orders, had assassinated him. Whatever the truth, the search for his reincarnation was banned, which suggests that the affair must have been quite serious indeed. In 1658, the actual building of the “Upper Chamber” was destroyed and the stupa containing the remains of the Lama was supposedly thrown into the Kyichu river. It was then believed that the spirit of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen had returned and he was subsequently deified as a sort of “protector of the Buddhist religion”. This marked the beginning of his cult as a protective deity, later named Dorje Shukden by the fundamentalist faction of the Gelukpa. This cult however has always been a controversial issue and was recently banned by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in India. The mystery surrounding Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s death thus remains one of the most enigmatic aspects of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s rule. Indeed, in 1659, the official Norbu, who had settled at Gekha Sapa, a residence belonging to Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen’s family, fomented a rebellion against the Fifth Dalai Lama’s government. He was suspected of conspiring with the Drukpa Kagyupa power in Bhutan, a great enemy of the Gelukpa. The conflict was resolved through the intervention of Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen.

In 1662, Panchen Lama Lobzang Chögyen died at the age of 93. The Fifth Dalai Lama immediately decided to establish the system of his reincarnation. He ordered the monks of the great monasteries to recite a prayer he composed himself, requesting the master “to return”. The reincarnation was discovered in 1667 in the Dru family, one of the five great lineages of the Bön tradition, probably in a gesture of reconciliation with this particular religious tradition, which, in a 1679 edict, the Fifth Dalai Lama recognized as one of the official religions in Tibet. The consequences of the official establishment of this system of reincarnation have not always been favourable to the political unity of the Gelukpa, and therefore to Tibetan unity as a whole. The lamas of this series of reincarnation later became known as the Panchen Lama and were often considered spiritually eminent, but on the political level their relations with the Dalai Lamas were often difficult despite the spiritual master-disciple relationship they were supposed to maintain with one another. The Panchen Lama was often the object of manipulation against the Dalai Lama, first by the Manchus, then the British in India, and finally, by both the Kuomintang and communist Chinese.

 

Head of a Powerful State

The Fifth Dalai Lama’s ever increasing diplomatic activities, often dictated by the circumstances of the day, covered not only the whole of the Tibetan world – Mongolia, Ladakh and Bhutan – but also extended as far as China. The danger of conflicts breaking out was ever present, and the Dalai Lama not only had to ensure the survival of his own government but also act as a mediator between the various rising political powers that were always threatening to disrupt the established order.

The 5th Dalai Lama Ngagwang Lobzang Gyatso © Himalayan Art Resources

Under the Fifth Dalai Lama’s rule, as under the ancient Tibetan empire, Kokonor in Amdo became one of the most strategically important regions. The hierarch was quick to realize this as he travelled through the region, first in 1652 and then in 1653. Eight of Gushri Khan’s ten sons with their respective tribes had settled there in 1638 after their arrival from western Mongolia. The brothers were constantly engaged in territorial quarrels. In 1656 and in 1659, the Dalai Lama sent a number of governors to Kokonor. One of them divided the local populations in accordance with different territories and called them the right and left “horns” following the example of central Tibet at the time of the imperial period. The Mongols of this region were later completely Tibetanized but continued to enjoy considerable prestige among the Tibetans as descendants of Gushri Khan. They clearly played a significant role in the expansion of the Gelukpa school in Amdo. On several occasions in 1667, 1674 and 1675, at the request of the Manchu Emperor, the Dalai Lama played an important diplomatic role as a mediator in the military conflicts between Manchus and Mongols, and between the Manchu Emperor and a minister of his predecessor. These mediations clearly show the importance of the Dalai Lama’s political and religious influence over the Mongol, Manchu, Chinese and Tibetan populations.

Two other important diplomatic events also marked his reign. Under the rule of the king of Tsang, relations between Tibet and Bhutan, then simply designated as Mön or Lho Mön, entered a difficult phase. Again the issue concerned a reincarnation. There were two candidates for the reincarnation of Pema Karpo (1527–1592), the great scholar of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. Around 1615, the candidacy of Ngawang Namgyel (1594–1651) for the reincarnation was supported by his own family of Ralung, the seat of the school, while the other candidate, Pagsam Wangpo (1593–1641), a cousin of the Fifth Dalai Lama, was supported by the king of Tsang. Ngawang Namgyel had defied the king’s order to bring to the court the holy bone image of Khasarpani, obtained from the cremation of Tsangpa Gyare (1161–1211), founder of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. It was kept by the family of Ralung. Indeed, this would have meant that Ngawang Namgyel renounced his claim as the reincarnation of Pema Karpo. His refusal angered the king and he was finally forced to flee to Mön taking the relic with him. There he established his own politico-religious power and administration over a great part of the local population, thus unifying what has become known as Bhutan. The constitution of a Drukpa Kagyupa state headed by a religious and political enemy did not greatly appeal to the Lhasa government. Following territorial skirmishes, in 1647 the Desi decided to launch a military campaign against Bhutan; however, this ended in a humiliating defeat for the Gelukpa and their Mongol allies.

On the other hand, the campaign against Ladakh in 1679 was crowned with success and the regions of Ngari in Western Tibet, which the kings of Ladakh had annexed, were taken back. Thus, under the Fifth Dalai Lama, Tibet, from Ngari in the west to Dartsedo, Kham, in the south-east and to Kokonor in Amdo in the north-east was reunified for the first time since the collapse of the Tibetan empire in the 9th century A.D.

 

Writer and Mystic

Over and above his political achievements, the Fifth Dalai Lama was far more concerned with spiritual matters. Writing was his favourite occupation and he never interrupted it whatever the circumstances, whether he was travelling or in retreat. His works fill twenty-seven volumes. Besides writing a number of treatises on various subjects, he also related his visionary experiences, which he kept secret because of his own religious school’s disapproval of such matters. He wrote in a very free and personal style that allowed him to express his own feelings, which were at once both frank and ironic. His autobiography is characterized by his spontaneity, his sarcasm and his humorous remarks concerning his own status as a reincarnation and the fundamentalist attitude of his own school, the Gelukpa. Very often, unlike other traditional Gelukpa authors, he gives his own independent interpretation, which he never attempts to impose. Concerning two of his treatises, he writes: “When I finished the Jampel Zhelung, I had to leave the ranks of the Gelukpa. Today, having completed the Rigzin Zhelung, I think I will probably have to leave the Nyingmapa ranks as well!”⁶ In fact, both texts later came to be considered masterpieces and works of reference by all the Tibetan Buddhist schools. His approach to the various religious and philosophical traditions was indeed universal, which helped his rule, which in turn was marked by great tolerance towards the other schools. The Bönpo, followers of the Bön religion, the only non-Buddhist religion of Tibet, were, after certain difficulties at the beginning of his rule, respected both at the doctrinal and political levels.

The Fifth Dalai Lama continued to write until a few months before his death in 1682, at the age of 65. His exceptional personality, both complex and engaging, made him undeniably one of the most important figures in Tibetan history. His legacy was to have a profound effect on almost every aspect of the country’s culture, notably architecture, poetry, historiography, civil administration, painting and, of course, philosophy and Buddhist meditation. He was both a remarkable statesman and Buddhist monk, thus embodying the Buddhist ideal of a “great being”. Tibetan tradition still venerates him as the “Great Fifth”. His strict monastic discipline concealed yet another facet of his spiritual life: his great interest for tantric, more or less magical rituals, and, above all, his inclination for mystic meditation, which provided him with a series of visionary experiences throughout his life. These he revealed only in his writings, which remained little known in his time and which show his never ceasing concern for the welfare of his country and people. ■

 


 

Bibliographical sources

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

rJe btsun thams cad mkhyen pa bsod nams rgya mtsho’i rnam thar dngos grub rgya mtsho’i shing rta, The Collected Works of the Vth Dalai Lama, Gangtok: Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, 1991, Vol. 8 (Nya), 31-245.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

’Jig rten dbang phyug thams cad mkhyen pa yon tan rgya mtsho dpal bzang po’i rnam par thar pa nor bu’i ’pheng ba, ditto, 247-349.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

Khyab bdag ’khor lo’i dbang phyug dpal ’byor lhub grub kyi rnam thar skal bzang dad pa’i shing rta, ditto, 610-696.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama Byang bdag rig ’dzin ngag gi dbang po’i rnam thar ngo mtshar bkod pa rgya mtsho, ditto, 687-823.

Ngag-dbang blo-bzang rgya-mtsho, the Fifth Dalai Lama

Dukula, Za hor gyi ban de ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho’i ’di snang ’khrul ba’i rol rtsed rtogs brjod kyi tshul du bkod pa dukula’i gos bzang, (Lhasa): Bod-ljongs midmangs dpe-skrun khang, Vols. I-III, 1989.

 


 

Footnotes

¹ Dukula, Vol I, 48.

² Dukula, Vol I, 55.

³ Dukula, Vol I, 204.

⁴ Dukula, Vol I, 393.

⁵ Dukula, Vol I, 415–16.

⁶ Dukula, Vol II, 380.

* This sentence is revised by me, the author Samten Karmay. (Feb. 24, 2016)

** The conversion of the monasteries was actually carried out by Desi Sangye Gyatso (1658-1705) in 1686 in Khyungpo, Kham, cf. Samten Karmay, The Arrow and the Spindle, Vol.II, 2005, p.164. (Feb. 24, 2016)

 

Source: http://www.info-buddhism.com/The_Great_5th-Dalai_Lama-Ngagwang_Lobzang_Gyatso_Samten_Karmay.html

 

The renowned and spiritually attained Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen who was a great Drepung hierarch. His Ladrang (residence) was called Zimkhang Gongma. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen's only 'crime' was to be highly learned, an erudite scholar and be spiritually achieved. Because of this, he was seen as a threat to the 5th Dalai Lama in gaining more students and support. For this he was murdered by Desi Sangye Gyatso, the regent and main assistant to the 5th Dalai Lama. After his murder, his residence Zimkhang Gongma was destroyed and banned. His voluminous writings were burned, the remains of his body were thrown into the Kyichu River and all of his future incarnations were banned. Having said that, his future incarnations still returned because on a government level they were able to 'ban' his recinarnation to cover their crime. On a spiritual level however, he continued to reincarnate to benefit others, as is believed within the Gelugpa school.

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3 Responses to The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet

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  1. Stella Cheang on Sep 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    It is fascinating to read about the story of Dalai Lama especially His Holiness’ 5th reincarnation. 1642 marked a significant year for the 5th Dalai Lama was installed as the king of Tibet and it changed history forever. 1649 is the year when the famous Potala palace was completed and it is still standing tall today. It is notable that the 5th Dalai Lama visited Beijing in the year 1652 at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. During the early years that the 5th Dalai Lama was in power, his attendants were jealous of the renowned Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen and assassinated him in the year 1656. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as the Dharma Protector in the form of Dorje Shugden. Some years later, in 1662, Panchen Lama entered clear light.

  2. Wan Wai Meng on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, 5th Dalai Lama wrote a praise to Dorje Shugden, when he realized the true nature of the Dharmapala.

    This is a insightful look into the workings of the 5th Dalai Lama and also 4th Panchen Lama. It is clearly seen that Sonam Gyatso’s works to bring buddhism to the Mongols was no mere coincidence and that perhaps it was to lay the foundation of later events.

    I felt the 5th Dalai Lama, was many a times forced to act, based on situations to make things less explosive than it already is. He was sometimes put into such situations by his regent Desi Sangye. The 5th Dalai Lama was not just a simple monk and scholar, having survived so many conflicts and difficult situations, with Tibetans, Manchus and Mongolian factions. He wrote profusely through his career and his writings were very insightful. He wasn’t a man who would be easily manipulated to do just about anyone’s bidding and when he needed to act he would take action, if needed to reconcile he would also do that. His actions towards the suppression of Bon and Jonangpas are clear indication of his ability to take decisive action. His reconciliationary gestures towards the Karmapa hiearchy due to much misunderstandings and miscommunications from 1612-1642.

    The Panchen Lama who are the reincarnations of Amitabha, always brought warring and conflicting factions together. Something I have did really come across before. Refreshing outlook on the Panchen Lama’s role. The Panchen Lama besides being a defender of the Tibetans was also very much a scholar and writer.

  3. Pema Thinley on Feb 20, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Dear Rinpoche,

    This is very very informative. I am surprised to know that the fleeing of Ngawang Namgyel to Bhutan and the assassination of Tulku Dragpa Gyeltshen happened during the reign of same conflicts in Tibet. I could clearly relate to the part of History I read during my school days about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The protector arose from such conflicts. These make whole lot of sense that Dharmapala have the strong and true lineage who stemmed from Tulku dragpa Gyeltshen _()_. How auspicious to read such authentic history and the stories presented here made me trust more as the piece of history I read in Bhutan are fitting in it so well. _()_ thank you so much Rinpoche

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  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 06:10 PM
    OMG! This is very touching. To see a doggie who never left go of his owner in spite of death. Way more powerful than many who proclaimed “till death do us part.” Just like the human, not all doggies are as loyal as this tear-jerking pet, but I truly believe almost all doggies offer unconditional love to the person who feeds and cares for them. Even when they are stray animals. There was a stray dog who will run two streets from the entrance of the “Taman” until the car stops in front of the house, just to greet me. You can imagine the warm and conviction in my heart that these beings are more than capable of loving than many of us, human! Thank you for this lovely sharing. I miss my doggie, Sherab.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 06:00 PM
    Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow, for this amazing sharing. There is no doubt about the ability of our Guru, His Eminence the 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. His incarnations have been compassionate and taken rebirth to return and spread the dharma so that sentient beings can benefit and learn some dharma in our short life.

    We shall never doubt our Guru; but must see that He is one with our Yidam and Protector, an attained being. Even if our Guru does not demonstrate clairvoyance abilities, we must never contest our Guru, for he holds the key (dharma) that can liberate us from eternal suffering in samsara.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-1-2.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 05:50 PM
    Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow, for the illustrated miracle story on how Rinpoche guided Cynthia and Marici away from danger through protector’s practice. The unseen exist, whether we like it or not. Some of them are malicious and have the affinity or karma with some of us. Hence they can cause harm and disturbance. By engaging in Protectors’ practice like Dorje Shugden and Setrap that have been practiced by the high lamas of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, we are protected and guarded against harm.

    Rinpoche is compassionate and only want the best for us. His teachings are not meant to show off the power of the divines but offer us a way out from our desperate samsara conundrum that binds us from engaging in deeper spiritual practice. Rinpoche always teaches us to focus on mind transformation and Tsongkhapa practice. How fortunate we are to have met Rinpoche in this lifetime. We must not let this rare and precious opportunity go to waste.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-12.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 04:30 PM
    Miracles do happen,when we have faith and trust in our Guru.What is important is to follow Rinpoche’s advice and do as instructed by our Guru to clear the osbtacles all the way.Angie and Herry were so fortunate to have meet Rinpoche.Its because of Rinpoche ‘s compassion and caring for his student Angie’s life was saved.Infact Rinpoche has helped many people through his intervention, advice and instructions.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing miracles stories which i enjoyed reading.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-2.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 02:45 PM
    WOW….interesting a miracles true story. Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.Reciting mantras by family members and doing 20 pujas done at the monastery to help the baby. These proved that pujas, which have been done for hundreds of years in the monasteries are very powerful methods for us to overcome difficulties, create huge amounts of merit and for protection, good health and long life.This show us how powerful pujas can help us when we have trust and faith in our Guru.And with Rinpoche divination,the baby was born and now a healthy boy.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-1-2.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 12:47 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these powerful teachings.Its a privilege
    to do Dharma work to benefits other,do it with motivation and a good attitude when engaging ourselves It will be guide line for me.When we serve others to do Dharma work together at Kechara Forest Retreat ,we will improve ourself , purify our negative karma and to benefit others too.I will be sponsoring to the healings bricks soon and i will cherish every moment in supporting KFR.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/dharma-work-attitude-tdl.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 11:06 AM
    Bigfoot is just another beings living in this world although not commonly seen and live in the deep jungle in high mountains. There were many evidences that people from many parts of the world sighted this beings. Whatever shape they are I think importantly we are all sharing this world and therefore need to have mutual respect and not intervene each others.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/its-in-the-scriptures-they-exist.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 04:26 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline sharing this interesting post about Bodhidharma, a great master favoured meditation and introduced the Lankavatara Sutra to Chinese Buddhism.

    Here are a few points I have learned from this post:
    1. Bodhidharma had strong imprints of Dharma from the past and therefore he is interested in Buddha’s teachings and show his great wisdom. at a very young age.
    2. His strong guru devotion and determination in learning and spreading the dharma based on meditation though he confronted with difficulties such as Emperor Wu Di was not impressed by his teachings, being ostracized and rejected and lived as a beggar for many months. Notwithstanding, he continued and never give up to practice meditation in complete silence for nine years in cave wall when he was not accepted by Shaolin Monastery at the beginning .
    3. When Bodhidharma was allowed enter to the monastery, he had put a lot of efforts to help the monks in improving their physical body as well as their mind through the meditation. Then, Bodhidharma continued to develop a system of 18 dynamic tension exercises which were printed as Yi Gin Ching (Changing Muscle/Tendon Classic) in 550 CE. It is known as the Luohan (arhat) 18 Hand Movements today which serves as the basis of both Chinese Temple Boxing and the Shaolin Martial Arts.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/bodhidharma-the-founder-of-gongfu.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 04:10 PM
    Thank you, Grace, for sharing with us the many tips on how to care for and maintain our hair. Personal grooming is important because when we care for our appearance, we are respecting the people who have to deal with us. Caring for our hair, making sure that it is neat and clean should be something we need to take care of since young as it is part of personal grooming. The key is not to be attached to our body and outer-images, that results in spending much time and resources just to make ourselves look good.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/how-much-do-you-know-about-hair.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 03:00 PM
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful and significant photos showed that Kechara Pastors’ tireless efforts to bring dharma to many others and do the blessings whenever is necessary.

    Basically, the pastorship role was conceptualized by our precious guru, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, to preserve the Dharma and to give laypeople an opportunity to commit to benefiting others. Kechara Pastors are fully dedicated and selflessly serving others especially in spiritual growth and therefore this is good for us to support the Pastors so that they can focus and spend more of their time and effort to serve others and most importantly Buddhist teachings can be spread and shared to many others. The supports to Pastors including food, lodging, transportation, items necessary for their work, such as ritual items or spiritual gifts for those in need and many others. (If you are interested to know more about Kechara Pastors, please have a good read at http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/support-the-kechara-pastors.html)

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/10-amazing-house-blessings-by-kechara-pastors.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 02:13 PM
    Its such a great blessing for all of us to hear the holy voice recordings of H.H Kyabje Zong Rinpoche a great master..His profound teachings ,got to take seroiusly,more as an important advice on Dorje Shugden’s practice.H.H Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s explaination was very clear before any of the practitioner’s commitment and receive sogtae.They must keep the lineage practice and teachings no matter what ever happen.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing with us on the important advice by a great master.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/kyabje-zong-rinpoches-advice-on-dorje-shugdens-practice.html
  • Lin Mun
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 11:50 AM
    Thank you Pastor Han Nee for your sharing your thoughts and review about the book “Be Happy” written by Rinpoche. It is indeed not easy to be happy as we all have various expectation in every situation and people.

    We may think having a big house, lots of cash and good career is happiness but this is the wrong perception. Being happy is not about material and everything about ourselves. It is only when we can do more for others and focus out that we gain happiness. I never realised this until I joined Kechara. I think we have such a fixed mindset of what happiness is and when our expectation is not met, we are unhappy.

    Rinpoche has pointed out many ways for us to rectify our thoughts and methods to be happy. Now it is for us to take initiative to change and transform our mind if we want to be happy.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Han Nee for this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/be-happy.html
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Apr 24. 2017 12:30 PM
    Many people do not believe in reincarnation and only relates it to certain religion such as Hinduism and Buddhism. However, there were many instances and signs that proven reincarnation exist. As Buddhist we will believe in reincarnation and karma. It is by understanding that everything has its cause and effect that we should learn to live life in the correct attitude and mindset. Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this interesting articles to remind us of karma and the importance of doing dharma practise.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/interesting-signs-of-reincarnation.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 08:29 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for your teachings.
    Always be generous and kind in what ever we could do even its little help.It’s the little things in life that bring the greatest happiness. Its between us and our Buddha ,so we would not bother what the receipient thinks and say of us. What ever was said ,should not deter our motivation to do Dharma work.
    (It will change people’s lives in one way or another. It will change your life for the better.)….well said by Rinpoche.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/its-not-between-you-and-the-recipient.html
  • Lin Mun
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 07:16 PM
    Thank you Grace for this interesting articles about hair. There are just so much info which we do not know previously. Most of the time we may neglect the details, thinking as long as we clean our hair everyday it is sufficient. But there are so many things we need to know for example types of hair, scalp condition, our environment and our physical condition which may affect our hair. Great tips.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/how-much-do-you-know-about-hair.html

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The Known and unknown are both feared,
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2 weeks ago
Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini's blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves. ~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
2 weeks ago
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
2 weeks ago
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one\'s death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one's death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin\'s dog Snowy!
2 weeks ago
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin's dog Snowy!
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
3 weeks ago
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
 Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
3 weeks ago
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
3 weeks ago
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
 Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
3 weeks ago
Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
Tsem Rinpoche\'s Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
 It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and \'defeat\' the ones that hurt us because we don\'t become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and 'defeat' the ones that hurt us because we don't become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche\'s heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin  Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
3 weeks ago
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
 (left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
3 weeks ago
(left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s good to be with kind and sincere people.
4 weeks ago
It's good to be with kind and sincere people.
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
My Mumu boy didn\'t want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
My Mumu boy didn't want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
4 weeks ago
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
1 month ago
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn\'t move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn't move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
1 month ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 month ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 month ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
2 months ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
2 months ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
3 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
3 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
3 months ago
This is a good one to read
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • April 20, 2017 10:45
    Ronnie asked: Dear Rinpoche and Pastors, I'm studying abroad and very far away from home, seeking guidance and advice as I have no one else I can talk to about this. Please read with an open mind, I don't know where else to go for help. I'm pregnant and it's an unplanned pregnancy. I'm stuck between keeping it or letting it go. I'm young and having a child at my age in the society we live in now would be considered taboo. The father of the child thinks I should let it go because it may cause a setback to both our careers and cause major family issues. He thinks we aren't ready to raise a child especially since we're both still in university and his parents think badly of me even though they've never met me or tried to get to know me. I'm sure no one would ever have the heart to take away a heartbeat but it seems like it isn't the right time to have a child now and if we did go through with it, the child probably won't be able to have the best things life can offer looking at where we are now in terms of finance and maturity. I'm lost, confused and unsure what the right thing to do is now. Any advice at all would be helpful right now. Thank you so very much for taking time to read my story.
    pastor answered: Dear Ronnie, I’m sorry to read that you are going through this situation. I can understand that this situation is tough to go through. You are always more than welcome to come here to ask questions. May I suggest that you talk to either someone in your family or your friends to help you come to an appropriate solution? This is because, what you feel, what you are going through, will change from time to time and you would need someone to talk to, someone that you can lean on through this situation you are facing. Depending on where you are in the world, professional help can also be sought to help you make a decision, which will be the best option for you seeking help. From a Buddhist perspective, the taking of a life is not considered a positive act, therefore those on the Buddhist path, would normally abstain taking a life if possible. However, that being said, one must always weigh the decision oneself. Everything we do in life, necessarily involves karma both positive and negative. That is why Buddhists try to overcome samsara in general. Your situation is complicated because you are abroad, but if possible you should really open up to someone you are close to in order to help you through making this decision on a personal basis. When you talk to someone, whom you are able to express yourself more, you may able to come to better decision that is right for you. There may be other options open to you if you seek help. I personally know women who have been in similar situations. One of these women, let the child go and the other went through the pregnancy and then gave the child up for adoption. You may or may not have thought of this option, but it is one that could be open to you, depending on where in the world you are. Any decision we make in life, however big or small it may seem, has far reaching consequences whether in this life, or in future lives. This is just a part and parcel of life within samsara. However, we should weigh the decisions we make clearly given the situation we are in. We cannot always do this weighing ourselves, but need to talk about our options with others we can rely on such a friends, family or professionals. You should consider doing this, which will help you greatly emotionally, and may give you the grounding you need to make the correct decision for you. I hope this helps.
  • April 19, 2017 04:57
    Dongho asked: What is a nyung ne practice? According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, it's a purification sadhana. However, what are the instructions for this? I'm guessing it's to Chenrezig, but how does it work? Also, from what I have read, Vajrasattva practice is only for broken vows while Akshobhya is for regular misdeeds. Does that mean one has to take the Akshobhya practice to purify bad karma from this life and previous instead of Vajrasattva? As for the purification practices, are some like Vajrasattva and Chenrezig only to purify the bad karma and let it come quickly or is it to prevent it from coming? I am confused in it. As for signs, I recited a mantra of White Yangchenma that a Sakya lama, Lama Kunga Thartse Rinpoche, gave me with the Sakya visualizations I read on, and after one mala, I heard some lady call my Korean name even though no one in my neighborhood knows of my name and my family members weren't in the area. What does this mean?
    pastor answered: Dear Dongho, Thank you for your questions, it’s nice to see you back here again. Nyung Ne practice is a purification practice that centres around Chenrezig. It is a very beneficial practice that stems from a holy nun named Gelong-ma Palmo. It is a two and a half day practice that can be repeated many times over and over again to intensify the purification and build a closer relationship with Chenrezig. As well as its purification aspect, the practice is known to generate vast amount of merit, and also compassion, as the practice centres around Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion. The practice involves taking the eight Mahayana precepts for the duration, fasting, meditating, prostrating and praying. The practice usually entails empowerment into the practice of Chenrezig, therefore the exact meditations, prayers can only be explained to those who have the empowerment. Vajrasattva practice is not necessarily only for repairing broken vows, etc. That’s why it is advised that you engage in the practice at the end of the day, to repair any vows that you may have broken during that day, as well as stopping any negative karma you created that day from multiplying. This would entail reciting the mantra 21 times, together with the four opponent powers. However, if you engage in this practice more intensely, it definitely has the capability to purify all sorts of karma. That is the reason why in Ngondro, or preliminary practices one engages in before tantra, the practice of 100,000 Vajrasattva mantra recitation is an integral part. You can read more about Vajrasattva and his practice here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/an-important-purification-practice.html. Within purification practices, some of the karma will be purified completely, so you do not feel its effects at all, but when purifying other karma you will need to feel its effects somehow. For example if you have the karma to be in a car accident and get seriously injured, and you are engaging in any practice, but especially the purification practice, since you have purified most of the karma, you will only experience being in a very minor car accident, with only very superficial injuries. Therefore, in this case, the karma has been purified to the extent that it does not affect you as much, but you still need to feel part of its effect. In regards to any signs that you receive which engaging in the practices given to you by one of your specific gurus, you should report the happenings to that particular guru. He will be able to give you more of an accurate answer, as it may be related to the particular practice that he gave to you. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • April 17, 2017 07:06
    Thomas asked: Dear Pastors, When a serkyem set has been used so much and one is ready to get rid of it and replace it with a new one. What is a respecful mode of disposal?
    pastor answered: Dear Thomas, Thank you for your question. Your question shows that you have a lot of respect for offering items, which is very good. If possible, you should try to repair the item if within your means, and doing so make embellishments to make it a better offering item, which can still be used. If this is not possible, then you should dispose of the item with a good motivation. You should think that this item has been used to make offerings to the enlightened beings, but now that it is broken or unusable, you are going to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. Since it itself is not a receptacle of energies of the enlightened beings, such as a statue, tsa tsa or thangka, it does not require a special dissolution before being disposed of. However since it was used to make offerings, it still requires some form of respect when disposing, and this comes from one’s motivation and the way in which you dispose of it. Usually, when disposing of items in this way, make the motivation that you have used it and that it is now time to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. When you do this you can dispose of it in a respectful manner. For example, if you are going to throw it away, you do not simply open the trash can and throw it in. You wrap it up in something, like a bag or newspaper and dispose of it respectfully. Another method you can dispose of it is to recycle the object, if the material it is made from can be recycled. That way you are more conscious of the environment as well. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 16, 2017 22:38
    Curious asked: Dear pastors In a recent youtube video something like paying respect to deceased ones, pastor Nirel Patel explained that merits are like the interest and good karma is like the principal sum. So merits always regenerate themselves and hence do not get used up but good karma is like the principal sum so it gets used up. So my question is what are practices that generate merit? And can we turn a mundane daily activity into a meritorious one? Maybe can you provide an example?
    pastor answered: Dear Curious, Thank you for your question. First, to clarify a point, in regards to good karma, you are right, it is like a principal sum in a bank account, but you take away from it when you experience something good in your life, and you add to it when you do good deeds. Merit on the other hand, once accrued never diminishes, therefore when something is based on merit, it is based on the energies of this never diminishing sum, which you could say is like interest. In short, the principal sum when talking about karma is always added to and subtracted from. However, when talking about merit, once you have it, there is no way to destroy it, you will always benefit from it. There are various ways to explain how to generate merit. I will explain a way that I find easiest to understand. In normal life, when we go about performing any sort of activity, be it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we do so out of ignorance of the true nature of existence, and it is usually self-motivated. For example, we work our entire lives to generate monetary income, so that we have enough money, resources, and materials goods to be comfortable. This is self-motivated, but it is the accepted way the world works these days, and is part and parcel of being bound to samsaric life. On the other hand, the act of merit making can be categorised into three parts: i) motivation, ii) the act itself, and iii) dedication. Let’s start with motivation, when engaging in various virtuous acts, we should have the motivation that by engaging in the act, we have the motivation to alleviate the suffering of someone else, and that may we gain enlightenment so that we can benefit them in the future. The second is the act itself. The third is to dedicate the energy of the virtuous act to gaining enlightenment. These three are what make merit. This may be a little confusing, so let me give an example: giving help to a homeless person. Whereas in ordinary life, this is something praised as a very good deed, it does not create merit without motivation and dedication. In order for this to become merit, one must set the motivation that one is giving help to the homeless free of the eight worldly concerns, to alleviate their suffering and also making the motivation that you will achieve enlightenment for the sake of the person or people you are helping. Then after you have helped them, you dedicate the energy created to the spiritual journey towards full enlightenment to help all sentient beings, while at the same time benefiting as many sentient beings as possible on the way there. This transforms the act into not only a virtuous action but also one that generates merit. On the other hand, if you were to help the homeless without these, you are creating good karma, which although beneficial, keeps you bound to existence within samsara. As it is the goal of Buddhist practice to overcome the cycle of samsara, a Buddhist would want to generate merit instead of good karma. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 13, 2017 11:38
    D.A. asked: If Begtse Chan is not from Mongolia, what are his real origins or story exactly? And which lamas offer his empowerment? As for Manjushri Nagarakshasa, which lamas specifically offer his empowerment and practice?
    pastor answered: Dear D.A. Thank you for your question. Begtse, is also known as Chamsing, or Jamsaran in Mongolian. As mentioned in an earlier sharing with someone who also asked a question about Begtse, the practiced was introduced to Tibet from India by the translator Nyen Lotsawa, and is considered one of the main protectors of the Hayagriva cycle of tantras. According to the scriptures that derive from the Sakya tradition, who incorporated the practice from the translators, and in which tradition Begtse became a very important protector, Begtse in a previous life was born many eons ago. In that particular life, he was born as the younger prince in a royal family. His name was Drag Gye, and his older brother’s name was Drag Den. Over time both princes developed differing religious beliefs, to the point where they could not get along with each as they both held their own religious views strongly. As was the custom during that time, they decided to settle their differences through logical debate, with the loser having to convert to the winner’s religion. This custom was also prevalent in ancient India, and there are many stories of such debates occurring between the great masters of the past and those of other faiths. Drag Gye lost the various debates, but ran away instead of converting to his older brother’s religion. Drag Den caught him, and tried to punish him for breaking the rules of debate and going back on his promise. Drag Gye told his brother that even if he was killed he would not give up his religion, however if Drag Den let him go, that in the future when Drag Den became enlightened, he would protect his teachings. With that Drag Den let him go, and gave him a set of copper armour, a stick, and a bow and arrow. Drag Den also gave Drag Gye a new name: Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po. After this incident the two brothers never saw each other again in that lifetime. Many lives after that Drag Den was reborn as Prince Siddharta, who eventually became enlightened and is now known as Buddha Shakyamuni. Drag Gye, or Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po, was reborn in a cemetery in the North West direction. His parents gave birth to two eggs, one was a coral-like colour and the other was an agate-like colour. These two eggs flew high into the sky and reached the heavenly realms, there they subdued the gods. Then flying back down to earth, they subdued many nagas. Eventually they even came to threaten their own parents. The parents petitioned the Dharma protector Ekajati for her help, who threw her own staff (khatvanga) at the eggs, and broke them apart. From the coral-like coloured egg came a ferocious man with yellow hair, he proclaimed that his name was ‘Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po’. When he emerged he was wearing a set of copper armour, wielding a stick, copper sword, and a bow and arrow. From the agate-like coloured egg came a female who was blue in colour, her teeth were like shells, she had turquoise eyebrows, and her hair was made of fire. She emerged wielding a copper knife, ritual dagger (phurba), rode a terrifying bear and wore an intricate necklace made of agate and lapis lazuli. It was then that Ekajati once again took action, and subdued them, after which they became Dharma protectors. The male figure became known as Begtse, and the female as his sister. When you propitiate Begtse, his sister is automatically included and aids practitioners as well. As for which lama offer his practice and empowerment, most lamas do not advertise which teachings or practice they hold. Therefore you should respectfully approach lamas and ask them if they have the practice and can bestow it, or if they know of any lamas that have the practice, depending on how much you want to practice Begtse. Similarly, this applies to those lamas who have the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. However, this practice is included in the Rinjung Gyatsa series of empowerments. This unique cycle of teachings, includes all 4 classes of tantric practices, and includes the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. Therefore those lamas who have received the complete transmission, and have kept their commitments for this practice, are qualified to pass this on to others. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
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