My Short Bio in pictures
I was born on 24th October 1965 in Taiwan. My mother, Mongolian Princess Torgut Noyen, Dewa Nimbo whose family has escaped from Mongolia to Taiwan met my father, Lobsang Gyatso, who was managing a Tibetan school for refugees in Taiwan. My mother became involved with my father not knowing that he had a wife and children in Tibet. When my mother found out that my father already had a family in Tibet, she separated from my father even before I was born. However, the shame of having an illegitimate child especially so as she was a royal princess led her to give me away for adoption as soon as I was born. It was not easy for her at the time. Many of her countrymen were criticizing her. I understand for my mother and I wish she can heal from that.
Before I was born, my mother dreamed of a baby white elephant entering her courtyard and she would tie the elephant to a tree. She dreamed this everyday for 9 months she said to me. And on the day before I was born, she dreamed of high Lamas/monks performing various pujas in her house. On the day of my birth, my mother delivered me with ease and no pain. My mother and my gurus later told me that these are all auspicious signs.
When I was seven months old, monks came and recognized me as a reincarnated Lama. They requested my mother to allow me to be taken to the monastery for my spiritual education later but my mother did not allow them. She said that if I was really a high Lama, I would eventually make my own way to the monastery. The real reason was of course the fear of embarrassment as should I be enthroned as a high Lama, the name of my birth mother and father will be made known as by tradition. When enthroning a reincarnated Tulku, the parents name will be read out to the congregation.
In Taiwan, I lived with my caretaker Shi Mama whom I later found out was paid to take care of me. I also lived with three other stepbrothers on the third floor of a shop lot where I attended a nearby neighborhood school. My foster family did not treat me well and very often I was beaten and not given food. I often ended up wandering in the streets of Taipei looking for food after school. I remember vividly.
However, amidst all the ill-treatment, there was some respite when my real grandmother, Torgut Queen Dechen, came to visit me from time to time, bringing me toys, clothes or candy. I would be allowed to enjoy these in her presence but the toys will be immediately taken from me when my grandmother left. I also fondly remember a kind lady, “Kwan Mama”, and her brother who would take me on trips to hot springs and buy me toys. I later found out that Kwan Mama or Ms Kuan was my mother’s classmate who was asked by my mother to watch over me.
Kwan Mama with me when I was in Taiwan. She and her brother (below) would often come and take me for a break away from Shi Mama’s. Kwan Mama was a very gentle and sweet lady. She took alot of compassion on me. Her family would feed me, wash me, cloth me, and buy me toys. They would never hurt me and always was kind to me I remember clearly.
Kwan Mama’s brother with me when I was small. He and his sister said I was always happy, fun loving and playful. I showed no signs of abuse. They said I was very intelligent and cooperative.
Mr Kwan would always wash me himself.
I have always remembered Kwan Mama’s kindness but I have lost touch with her after moving to USA in 1972 when I was just seven years old. It was not until 6-7 years ago that I managed to reconnect with Kwan Mama by asking one of my senior students, Irene Lim, to track Kwan Mama’s whereabouts in Taiwan, and Irene finally managed to locate Kwan Mama and I have been keeping in touch with her since.
In 2008, I met Kwan Mama again during my visit to Taiwan to do a puja for her sister before she went for a major operation. Kwan Mama is very happy to be reconnected with me. She sends offerings for me from Taiwan from time to time. I am eternally grateful to this kind lady who took pity on a child that had no parents. Kwan Mama also told me she wanted to adopt me, but it was not allowed by my grandmother.
During my trip to Taiwan in 2008, I also met up with my uncle, Torgut Prince David Minh, the brother of my birth mother. David Minh acknowledged me as his nephew. David knew about me but had no connections. We had a nice meeting that was taped and he filled me in on much information about our family. David has a wife and two daughters which I did not meet when in Taiwan.
In 1972, when I was seven years old, I left Taiwan for America. My birth mother and grandmother arranged for me to be adopted by a Mongolian couple, Boris (Burcha) and Dana Bugayeff at Howell, New Jersey. The Bugayeffs adopted me because they did not have a son. Like most Asian parents, it was their wish that their adopted son would grow up, get a good education, get married and carry on their family name.
Me with my foster father, Boris (Burcha) Bugayeff
Me with my foster mother, Dana Bugayeff
I was 7 years old and I was in 1st grade at Land O’ Pines School. Some of my good school friends like Nina Noronow, David, Butchy, Roalndo, Ray, Kim, etc are in this picture. I am in the back row centre in the blue shirt. I and the girl next to me Lily were the tallest in the class from 1st-8th grade.
Click on the map above to see the place I grew up in Howell, New Jersey, my house, my school, my friends’ houses, the temples I always went to etc. This was my world until 16 years old. Our ‘Tsem Rinpoche Bio Research Group’ is visiting each of the places I have marked now as I type. All of it will become a book and movie.
Howell, New Jersey was home to a large community of Mongolian refugees and it was here that I met my first Guru, the Abbot Emeritus of Sera Mey Monastery and an accomplished practitioner of the Vajrayogini Tantra, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche at Rashi Gempil Ling (RGL), a Mongolian Buddhist Temple ten minutes away from my foster parents’ home.
Even at a very young age, I had a very strong inclination and passion to practice Dharma. When I saw this master for the first time, I wanted to study with him. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to serve him. I was naturally attracted to monks, temples and Dharma teachings. At times I would sit on my bed and imagine that I was a high Lama sitting on a throne giving Dharma teachings to people. I would spontaneously draw pictures of Buddhist deities and pass them out to my relatives and friends for protection. I loved to read Dharma books and do meditations. Imagine I travelled around the world and arrived in 1972 and this master arrived in 1971. He is a direct disciple of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. What are the chances of that? I don’t think that is a coincidence at all. I believe in my previous life I have collected merits to be around these great masters. I was very lucky. This Master who resided at RGL was only 10 mins bike ride from my house.
As a child, I was fascinated by Buddhist deities such as Manjushri, Vajrayogini, Heruka and Palden Lhamo. I searched for caves, lakes, forests and nearby hills to meditate in. I loved to hang out with other Dharma practitioners at RGL and going to the temple and doing prostrations. I would recite 30,000 to 40,000 of Om Mani Padme Hum mantras on days I was free without my parents knowing and did meditations from a book called Tibetan Yogas and Secret Doctrines.I loved to recite Om Mani Peme Hung and Om Ah Ra Baza Nadee of Manjushri.
I always had the thought that I would not stay where I was and would travel and meet many people who would ask for my help. Therefore, I was always learning prayers and mantras. I had a very strong feeling of not doing what everyone else was doing, for example, going to school, getting married etc. I prayed to become a monk and live in the temple. Soon, my fascination with Dharma practice met opposition from my foster parents. My foster mother would physically and verbally abuse me if I did Dharma practice of any sort. I had to hide under my blanket to do my mantras or read Dharma books. I would have to be more and more underground and secretive with my dharma study and practice. The beatings intensified as I grew older and rebelled and told them I will be a monk.
My grandmother, Torgut Queen Dechen, told me that she was my grandmother. She taught me how to recite Om Mani Padme Hum. I have fond memories of her joking and laughing. She was genuinely very nice and sweet to me. I felt she loved me very much. She brought me over from Taiwan to be adopted here hoping I would have a good life. Over the years, she would come and visit me as well as my birth mother. In front of us is my sweet dog Princey. I loved Princey so much.
My birth mother, Princess Dewa Nimbo of Xinjiang.
My birth father, Lobsang Gyatso who is an ex monk. He is from Aba, Tibet.
My mother, Princess Dewa Nimbo, would come and visit me at my foster parents’ home from time to time disguising as a relative. Sometimes, she would bring me to live with her for one or two weeks. When I was in India, she would write to me. When I entered Gaden Monastery in India, she wrote to tell me that she had separated from her husband and was struggling to put herself through a PhD and raising her kids. She told me that if I have problems, I should see her Guru, Sogpu Rinpoche in Nepal, for help and she would send me money when she finished her studies.
During my stay in Gaden, I was once invited by Sogpu Rinpoche Guru Deva to go and see him in Nepal immediately. It was a sudden request and I did not have any money to travel at that time. I conveyed the news to my Guru, Lati Rinpoche and Lati Rinpoche instructed me to go immediately and lent me the money needed for the trip. When I arrived at Sogpu Rinpoche’s Ladrang, my birth father happened to be visiting Sogpu Rinpoche at that time. I had never met my father before that time. My father had already been told by Sogpu Rinpoche of my visit. When I was finally introduced to my father by Sogpu Rinpoche, my father was shaking and crying, smoking and hiding behind a cigarette. At that time I knew in my heart that it was for real. That Tibetan man was really my father. The first thing my father said to me was, “Please forgive me, I am sorry”, and took the money he was carrying with him, about 5,000 rupees and gave it to me. I used the money given by my father to pay back the money I borrowed from my Guru when I went back to Gaden. Sogpu Rinpoche was the one that introduced me to my father for the first time in my life. He asked me to forgive my father. I did.
Upon returning to Gaden, I happily wrote a letter to my mother, explaining everything that had taken place in Sogpu Ladrang. My mother denied knowing my father. She said, “that old man in Taiwan, I don’t know who he is”, and told me that she had no relations with him. She also said that if I want a relationship with him, I would have no relationship with her. My mother severed all contact with me since. Until now I have no contact with my mom or her two sons. She cut off. She is very unhappy with my dad. I understand. But I do wish they could know that I was there child and I deserved love and care also.
This picture was taken at our family home in New Jersey. I am here pictured with my cousins. Left to right Sarah, Sonia Waskin, Susie, myself. Back row: Sonia Tatinow and Ben.
I grew up with my foster cousins. Here is Diana and Darlene. One of my cousins, Sara said that among Mongolians, they all knew I was royalty and they called me “Noyen Cuven” meaning royal son. They knew who I was and who my mother was, but all had to stay hush hush.
Eventually, the opposition to my Dharma practice became so severe to the extent that my foster mother began spreading very derogatory rumours about my Guru, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche. When I was in 4th to 5th grade, I started having thoughts of suicide and runaway attempts. I attempted suicide twice praying to Manjushri to let me take a new rebirth if I cannot practice Dharma in this life but both attempts were unsuccessful. I ran away from home three times and was successful on my third attempt where I ended up in Thubten Dhargye Ling in Los Angeles and meeting my next Guru, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen. I stayed and worked in the centre for 8 years until I left America for good for Gaden. It was in this centre that I met my root Guru, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. Zong Rinpoche is the guru of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen.
Me with my cousin Susan Carton in Howell, New Jersey. She use to babysit me as a child and take me for games, rides, amusement parks, arcades, eating, roller skating. She and I were very close. She was the sister I never had and I was so proud of her.
Click on map above to see the route I took to run away from New Jersey to Los Angeles for Dharma. I was successful on my 3rd runaway attempt. This is the route I took across the United States… From New Jersey to New York to Los Angeles, California. In Los Angeles, I worked and lived at Thubten Dhargye Ling (TDL) Dharma Centre until I went to India in 1987.
I met my root Guru, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche at Thubten Dhargye Ling (TDL) in Los Angeles, USA. During Zong Rinpoche’s six months’ stay at TDL, I was appointed to be Zong Rinpoche’s personal attendant. I cooked for Zong Rinpoche and his entourage, cleaned their dishes, cleaned and tidied Zong Rinpoche’s room, assisted Zong Rinpoche in private audiences and Dharma teachings and massaged Zong Rinpoche, above all my duties in the centre and I had a job outside the centre to support myself. We never took stipends or money from the Centre. It is unheard of… Zong Rinpoche recognised me as a incarnate Tulku and invited me to stay in Zong Ladrang in Gaden. I accepted. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche said if I was to do any work in front of the camera like acting, I would be very successful. I wanted to as I had offers to model and act a few times. But I didn’t pursue because I was going to get ordained as I promised Rinpoche. I did think from acting, I can use the money to support the centre and Gaden.
H.H. Zong Rinpoche at Thubten Dhargye Ling in L.A. This picture was taken by me just before a Lama Tsongkapa initiation.
This is my altar in Los Angeles. I didn’t have money for statues which I wanted very much. But there is a clay statue of Shakyamuni behind HH Dalai Lama’s picture in the centre. There’s an interesting story. I was walking past a second hand store and the owner had this Shakyamuni as a doorstop!! I asked how much and he said, US$5.oo.. I was like that’s it?? I grabbed it and took him home excitedly. I washed him and placed him in the centre of my altar. I’ve got pictures of Ling Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, HH Dalai Lama, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin, Dukkar, Tsongkapa, Vajra Yogini, Guru Tree, Pelden Hlamo, Heruka on my shrine. I made offerings of milk, water and incense daily. I did prostrations and my sadhana daily. Next to the altar on the right is my bed.
When Zong Rinpoche came to stay in TDL, I vacated my room to make way for Zong Rinpoche’s entourage and I stayed at the garage. One day Zong Rinpoche visited me at the garage and I was showing Zong Rinpoche some thangkas and here he is describing the 1,000 armed Avalokitesvara.
Myself with H.H. Zong Rinpoche in Yucca, Valley, California. We were there for two blissful weeks to receive empowerment of Vajra Yogini and full commentary explanations. I was also the attendant to Rinpoche so my room was just next door. Think my room was next door to Heruka himself.
Zong Rinpoche cut a piece of my hair when I promised to go to Gaden to be ordained as a monk. This was the hair cutting ceremony. Zong Rinpoche’s divination indicated that I have powerful karma to be a successful actor but if I become a monk, I would benefit many people. The choice was clear for me. I promised Rinpoche to become a monk and in 1987 I left USA for good to enter Zong Ladrang in Gaden Monastery.
I have the honor to meet HH the 14th Dalai Lama in Los Angeles here pictured above. I requested His Holiness to ordain me and he said come to India. I did. In December 1987 he ordained me in Dharamsala, North India. What a great day it was for me. I love meeting His Holiness so much.
This picture showing myself with Zong Rinpoche and entourage during a shopping trip before Zong Rinpoche left for India. During this shopping trip, Zong Rinpoche bought many toys, some of which were given to the children of his students and friends while the rest, he asked his attendant to bring back to India to be kept in Zong Ladrang. Years later, when his current incarnation was recognized and brought back to Zong Ladrang, he played with the toys that were bought during that shopping trip. He prepared for his own next life!!
This picture was taken before H.H. Zong Rinpoche left for India in 1984. I was 19 years old…. That was the last time I saw my root Guru. I cried and cried in the lap of Zong Rinpoche. I would miss him so much. I didn’t know how I would go on without him. He was in India and I was in America trying to save enough money to get to India. Then one day while working, I was told Zong Rinpoche passed away in India. I was devastated. I did not recover from it for years. Even going to India to be ordained as a monk felt empty because my Guru was no longer there. I went anyway as I was determined to fulfill my promise to my Guru. I have said that until today, not a day passes without me reciting Zong Rinpoche’s name mantra. I miss Zong Rinpoche very much. When I arrived in Zong Ladrang, the presence of Zong Rinpoche was everywhere, but Zong Rinpoche himself was not there….. It felt empty… but of course I stayed.
My Guru Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche introduced me as the reincarnation of the 72nd Abbot of Gaden Shartse to H.H. the Dalai Lama here. H.H. confirmed my recognition as a Tulku (Rinpoche) and then this picture was taken on top of Gaden Lachi Prayer Hall. I offered His Holiness a Vajrapani statue with other items pictured here.
When the newly recognised current Zong Rinpoche first met me at Gaden Monastery, he immediately waved at me, called me over to him and addressed me as his junior. He asked me to come towards him, stretched both his hands up to me and asked me to carry him. I carried and hugged him tight, knowing in my heart that my beloved root Guru has returned. I played with him and stared at me deeply as if trying to remember something.
The current Zong Rinpoche was extremely hot tempered as a young boy; he threw his food or things when he was ‘unhappy’. When his attendants saw that, they immediately folded their hands and said that this boy must be the undisputed incarnation of the previous Zong Rinpoche as the Zong Rinpoche was well known to be extremely wrathful and fierce.
I offered a Manjushri statue to the newly enthroned current Zong Rinpoche. I saved money for months to purchase this Manjushri statue. I wanted my first gift to Rinpoche to be very auspicious. I was told he kept this statue near his bed always.
I carried the current Zong Rinpoche on my lap at a Dharma teaching of H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. His Holiness Dalai Lama is just on a throne 15 feet away from us in the front where this picture was taken.
Me with the current Zong Rinpoche at Gaden Monastery. This was in 1990 when I was 25. My father took this picture of Zong and myself in Gaden.
I met the current Zong Rinpoche again in 2006, when I led a group of 63 pilgrims to make offerings of 3,000 Manjushri statues and 3,000 sets of robes to the monks in Gaden. Today, the current Zong Rinpoche is 25 years old and he is the top debater in Gaden Monastery. He is without surprise becoming a great scholar and master again. I am so happy.
At the funeral of H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche in 2010, H.H. Zong Rinpoche presided over the funeral ceremony for the entire monastery. Zong Choktrul Rinpoche is tall, very powerful in appearance and has a powerful presence. May he live very long and dharma activities grow huge.
Tsem Ladrang Gaden was built and sponsored by my birth father, Lobsang Gyatso, who is a disciple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and HH Panchen Lama. Although I had not been in contact with my birth father for long, I reconnected with him when my half-brother, Puntsok, came to visit me in Gaden. Puntsok was shocked to see my living condition in Gaden. At that time, I was living in a small leaking room in Zong Ladrang and was starving due to lack of financial support. When Puntsok went back to Taiwan, he reported my living condition to our father. Not long after that, my father flew to Gaden. After seeing for himself my condition, he offered to sponsor the building of a Ladrang for me. He built a very beautiful house for me. He sponsored that offerings I needed to do as a Tulku enthronement ceremony.
Me with my father and two other monks in Gaden
Me with my half-brother, Puntsok, at Gaden
Tsem Ladrang in Gaden built by my father Lobsang Gyatso for me. It has a nice big yard and lots of fruit trees and flowers. Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe lives on top and I am on the bottom with our students.
At that time, I was the secretary and translator to my Guru, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, the then Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery. Kensur Rinpoche was my house monk for me when I entered Gaden Shartse Monastery. Kensur Rinpoche is well known in the monastic community to be a pure monk who holds his vows immaculately. When Tsem Ladrang was built, I invited Kensur Rinpoche to live with me in Tsem Ladrang, offering him the biggest room while I occupied a smaller room in the house. I also became the house master where I trained and disciplined the monks in Tsem Ladrang to serve my Guru well. When I left Gaden to reside in Malaysia, I offered Tsem Ladrang Gaden to Kensur Rinpoche and hence, Tsem Ladrang has since been renamed Kensur Ladrang.
Me with Kensur Rinpoche and monks of Tsem Ladrang, Gaden Shartse Monastery
Young monks of Tsem Ladrang in Gaden
In Tsem Ladrang located in Gaden Monastery, monks having their meal at the Ladrang courtyard
In my room in Tsem Ladrang Gaden where I wrote thousands of letters to sponsors, students and friends for the Monastery and Pukhang Khamtsen. I was very happy living here in my own house in Gaden. i wanted to stay forever. You can see my nice room and my work/prayer area here. Simple but very comfortable.
In 1992, an exodus of monks who left from Tibet came to Gaden Shartse Monastery in Mundgod, South India. Due to the shortage of accommodation, many monks did not have a place to stay and were sleeping on the corridors of the monastery. Many of them fell sick coming from a cold country like Tibet. Seeing the desperate situation of the newly arrived monks from Tibet, some senior monks in Gaden Shartse, such as one of my Gurus, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, requested me to go abroad to teach and raise funds to build monks’ quarters for the monks.
I was resistant to the idea of going abroad initially as I wanted to remain in Gaden. I did not leave America wanting to go elsewhere other than Gaden and Gaden was where I wanted to be.
However, I dared not go against my guru’s instruction, so I agreed to go abroad. Lati Rinpoche insisted in the meeting that I must go on a teaching tour. I told him I am not qualified. He said I was and I should go. I begged him to not send me…he insisted………. Even then, I did not know where I should go.
The only person I knew outside America and India was a nice monk called Reverend Khoon from Malaysia whom I met during my pilgrimage to Bodhgaya. I wrote to Reverend Khoon and Reverend Khoon invited me to come to Malaysia. Hence, that was the beginning of my connection with the people of Malaysia. My mission was quite a resounding success. I was very well received by the people of Malaysia. The money raised donated to me I offered back to Gaden Pukhang Khamtsen. The monks’ quarters was built from the funds raised from Malaysia, and this building is still being utilised by the monks till today. I was able to house over 100 monks. When I returned to Gaden, and offered the money to Lati Rinpoche and the sangha, Lati Rinpoche cried.
Monks’ quarters of Pukhang Kamtsen during construction from which I raised funds for. This was my first big project for the Monastery.
Monks in front of Pukhang Kamtsen monks’ quarters. Today Pukhang Kamtsen houses more than 300 monks
H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche was instrumental in my connection with Malaysia. He insisted I go and I dare not argue too much with him. I respected him too much.
In Gaden, I was very active in the social community work both within the monastery as well as in the surrounding villages and other needy areas. I have strong passion to help the less fortunate so I initiated various social community projects in India during my time in the monastery.
FEEDING THE POOR IN INDIA
As a young teenager who ran away from home so that I could have the freedom to practise Dharma, I slept in the streets and suffered severe hunger. As such, feeding the poor and homeless has always been close to my heart.
Kechara Soup Kitchen of today which was conceptualised by myself to feed the homeless and urban poor can trace its origins back to the days when I was in India.
OFFERING TEXTBOOKS TO REFUGEE MONKS FROM TIBET
Me offering textbooks to 30 newly arrived Tibetan refugee monks. I am very much for education. So I often raised funds to buy what the sangha needed to study. In this case books. I find it a great joy to provide for the Sangha.
SPONSORING A NURSERY SCHOOL IN MUNDGOD, INDIA
A nursery school at Camp No 3 in Mundgod, India that I sponsored and helped to build the community hall. They thanked me and a plaque put up behind us. The lay people of 300 asked me to confer initiation upon them in this hall and I accepted. But before I could, I had to go Malaysia/Singapore/Hong Kong again.
SPONSORING MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HOSPITALS IN MUNDGOD, INDIA
I often raised funds for the hospitals in Mundgod. Buying them furniture, equipment, supplies, salary for staff and especially medicine for those who were very poor and cannot afford. These are the two clinic/hospitals I helped.
HELPING VILLAGERS AT THE REFUGEE CAMP IN MUNDGOD, INDIA
Villagers greeting my arrival with khatas. I raised funds to refurbish a school here and the villagers were very happy.
RAISING FUNDS FOR INSTALLING A WATER PUMP AT PUKHANG KAMTSEN
This water pump at Pukhang Kamtsen was installed from the funds raised by myself. It takes 3-5 days to drill for water and then install a pump as you see here. I have installed a few to provide clean water for monks and lay people.
I first came to Malaysia in 1992 under the instruction of my Guru, the late H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche. I came to Malaysia for a teaching and gather help to build a monks’ quarters in Gaden. From 1992 to 2003, I travelled back and forth between India and Malaysia before settling down permanently in Malaysia. During this period, although Kechara House had been registered in 2000, there was no official premises for Kechara House yet, I thus conducted pujas and gave Dharma talks in the houses of students and friends.
Me conducting a puja at a friend’s house
Conducting a house blessing and teaching in Melaka
Conducting a wedding ceremony in Grik, Perak State
Blessing a new shop lot for a coffee shop in Johor Bahru
Giving Manjushri initiation at a student’s house in Kuala Lumpur
Meeting people after the Manjushri initiation
Giving Ngesung Kundrol Avalokitesvara initiation at a student’s house in Kuala Lumpur
Giving a Dharma talk at a student’s house PJ
Me doing a blessing prayer at Kelana Jaya (during my skinny days..hehehe)
Me (centre) doing a trial setup for the then Kechara Paradise outlet counter with students. In order for some work I needed to keep my monk vows but be in lay clothes for a while. I recieved my teacher’s permission to be in lay clothes.
Below is a quick run down on the 13 wonderful Depts we have in Kechara. Each picture has a brief description. For more extensive description you can go to www.kechara.com or Kechara’s 13 Departments (Part 1) and Kechara’s 13 Departments (Part 2)
In 2000, I founded Kechara, a Buddhist organisation dedicated to the teachings and practices of Dharma. Today, the Kechara organisation has grown to 13 departments, each specialising in their own field of expertise. They offer a multitude of services and activities ranging from Dharma classes, pujas, publications, filming, pilgrimages, Dharma shops, a vegetarian restaurant, Himalayan arts to feeding the poor and caring for animals. All these activities aim to connect spiritual aspirants to Dharma.
Me receiving the offering of Body, Speech and Mind during my birthday celebration at Kechara House on 24th October 2009 from the then President of Kechara House, Datin Ng Wee Chin
The Kechara House main gompa is always full of students and friends during a Dharma talk. Many of them travel all the way to Malaysia from America, Australia, Singapore, England and many other places to attend events at Kechara. More and more coming. Many people find something empty in their lives and don’t find satisfaction. Dharma fills that void for sure.
Tsem Ladrang is my official residence and private office, and the headquarters of the Kechara organisation. The word Ladrang literally consists of two words, ‘la’ which means lama and ‘drang’ which means residence. While Tsem Ladrang’s main headquarters is in Malaysia; there are also Ladrangs which have been established in Kathmandu, Nepal and Gaden Monastery, India.
Traditionally, some Lamas have a Ladrang which administers the Lama’s secular work so the Lama can teach the Dharma. The Ladrang also functions to ensure the continuity of the Lama’s work after his passing and is maintained to await the Lama’s next incarnation.
Tsem Ladrang contains my personal living quarters, administrative offices for the Ladrang staff, an audience room and a central prayer hall that is dedicated especially towards Kechara’s Dharma work and growth.
The daily operations of the Ladrang are overseen and executed by the dedicated team of Ladrang staff. The Ladrang’s responsibilities include:
* Attending to my secular needs
* Preparing for teachings and Dharma events
* Arranging for private audiences and/or divinations
* Managing correspondence, gifts and offerings
* Media and Communications for myself and the Kechara organisation
* Making my Dharma teachings available via multimedia and online resources
* Overseeing and supporting the Kechara organisation in all ways necessary
The Ladrang is administered by an able team, overseen by the Ladrang Liaisons*, who consist of Datuk May Phng, JP Thong, Chuah Su Ming, Ooi Beng Kooi and Pastor Loh Seng Piow. Ultimately, the Ladrang takes care of all secular matters of the Lama and centre, to relieve the Lama of mundane duties so that he can focus solely on teaching and spreading the Dharma.
* Liaisons are personal assistants to the Lama
President: Datuk May Phng
Chief Operations Officer: Pastor Kok Yek Yee
Kechara House (KH) is a Buddhist Centre founded in 2000 by myself of Gaden Shartse Monastery. KH is situated at the SunwayMas Commercial Centre in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. The aim of the centre is to avail the ancient, universal wisdom of Buddha’s teachings with practitioners in Malaysia and the surrounding regions. Buddha’s wisdom has timeless and universal relevance, and can be practised by anyone in any culture, regardless of nationality, gender or age. In organising activities that teach people practical methods of developing inner peace, love, wisdom and happiness as taught by Buddha, KH aims to help them improve their quality of life by developing inner peace, love, wisdom and happiness through spiritual practice. Kechara House can contribute to society by giving people a peace of mind to become even better citizens. To encourage people to do social works to benefit society at large. Religious practice must foster peace, understanding, and harmony always. Kechara believes in this deeply.
KECHARA MEDIA & PUBLICATIONS
Head of Department: Phng Li Kim
Kechara Media and Publications Sdn Bhd (KMP) is the publishing arm of the Kechara organisation. First established in 2005 by a group of young and dedicated students, KMP’s vision is to bring the ancient wisdom of Buddhist teachings into the context of contemporary living. Their brand of modern spirituality encourages the pursuit of a spiritual path without having to compromise one’s lifestyle or religious and cultural background. It empowers individuals to achieve inner peace and personal development through easily applicable principles for daily practice. This is Kechara’s unique approach to bring the Buddha’s ancient wisdom to our very doorsteps. We have many books and videos published and available at major bookstores.
Head of Department: Han Siew Fong
Kechara InMotion (KIM) is headed by Han Siew Fong who is a successful and highly accomplished producer. As an independent multimedia company, KIM is actively engaged in film and video production, photography, corporate video, events coverage, editing, rebranding, and artist networking. KIM is also the media department of the Kechara organisation. Hence, Kechara InMotion’s role is to document all my Dharma teachings. We do our own videos and package it ready for the public on premises.
KECHARA SARASWATI ARTS
Head of Department: Paul Yap
Kechara Saraswati Arts (KSA) is headed by Paul Yap. This department is established to express our spirituality and bring Dharma to others through art, and it is my brainchild. I have always had a deep interest in Buddha images with the correct iconography, because they carry deeper meanings and aid higher learning. Regardless of whether it is to be worshipped or to become an ornamental art piece, I firmly believe that everyone deserves to own a stunning spiritual item that will not only beautify their homes but will also bring immense blessings to their families and environment. The KSA studio means practitioners do not need to visit Nepal, Tibet or India to personalise their Buddha statues according to their style or taste. Through years of training with craftsmen who make art their daily living practice, KSA artisans can restore statues, teach students to paint a thangka, fill their statues with holy mantras, or introduce students to the intricate art of beadwork and jewellery adornment.
Head of Department: Paul Yap
Kechara Discovery (KD) was officially established in 2007 with Paul Yap at the helm. KD aims to bring spirituality and a journey of self-discovery to all who come through our doors. KD also has a business-to-business division, which focuses on designing and creating the best quality Buddha images such as beautiful statues, intricate tsa tsas and Dharma-inspired jewellery, thus providing a reliable and affordable supply of Buddhist images to local and international spiritual seekers alike.
KECHARA SOUP KITCHEN
Head of Department: Henry Ooi
Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) is conceptualised by me. As a young child, I was often hungry and after years of physical and emotional abuse, I ran away from home when I was 16 years old. I made a harrowing journey across the United States, from New Jersey to Los Angeles. Since this experience, I have always donated food to the poor and encouraged others to do the same. In 2006, a group of my students began to distribute food in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. Being mindful and respectful of others’ beliefs, KSK is strictly non-religious and does not discriminate in terms of race or culture. For this reason, KSK food is always halal. As this group grew under the motto of “Hunger Knows No Barriers”, the team began to realise that they had to be more structured in order to be more efficient. Therefore, a working core committee of volunteers was formed to organise the allocation of volunteers for KSK’s routes, the raising of sponsorship and packing of food, amongst other duties.
Head of Department: Ho Guat Hee
Established in 2009, Kechara Oasis Jaya One, nestled in the busy uptown hub of Petaling Jaya, is our first vegetarian restaurant. This flagship restaurant comfortably seats up to 210 guests in the main dining area.
Kechara Oasis was conceptualised by me because I wish to promotea greater awareness of a vegetarian lifestyle.
Kechara Oasis makes vegetarian cuisine healthy, delicious, exciting and available to everyone. It also serves a greater purpose which is to provide a beautiful place where people of different walks of life can come together to enjoy a truly unbelievable culinary experience in every sense of the word. We must promote vegetarianism so no animals get harmed in anyway.
Head of Department: Leong Chee Keong
Kechara Paradise started as one small store in SS2, Petaling Jaya in 2000. It began as a resource learning centre for the Himalayan arts and crafts, as well as fulfilling the spiritual needs of our own Kechara members. Today there are five beautifully appointed outlets situated in convenient locations across the Klang Valley and in Penang. Each provides a different retail experience, yet retains the signature Kechara Paradise essence. The profits go to supporting Kechara.
* Kechara Paradise SS2 – relocated from a previous lot in 1st Jan 2000
* Kechara Paradise 1 Utama – Opened 28th December 2005
* Kechara Paradise Penang – Opened 22nd August 2009
* Kechara Paradise Sunway Pyramid – Opened 1st September 2009
* Kechara Paradise Viva Mall – Opening soon
Head of Department: Chuah Su Ming
Kechara Lounge was founded in early 2009 to serve as Kechara’s international visitors’ centre in Nepal. Located at the heart of the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage sites, the Lounge was conceptualised by a few of my closest students and myself during a pilgrimage trip to Kathmandu in November 2008, and an ideal location manifested within a stone’s throw away from the holy Boudhanath stupa. After months of renovation spearheaded by Ladrang Liaison Chuah Su Ming, the Lounge opened its doors to the public on 15th February 2009. It was a historic moment for the Kechara organisation, heralding the beginning of our expansion to foreign shores. It is, literally, Kechara’s window to the world. If you are in Nepal, do visit.
KECHARA WORLD PEACE CENTRE
Exco: Datin Ng Wee Chin, Datuk May Phng, JP Thong, Henry Ooi
The latest venture by the Kechara Group and the most ambitious to date, is the establishment of the Kechara World Peace Centre (KWPC); Kechara’s vision for the future. Through the combined hard work, devotion and generosity of sponsors, members and friends, a 30-acre piece of land in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur has been acquired and ear-marked for the construction of what will be an icon of World Peace.
KWPC will not only be an international spiritual retreat centre drawing thousands of spiritual tourists from all over the world but will endeavour to address social issues, animal welfare and provide care for the underprivileged and the infirm. Situated amongst verdant green forests in the cool mountain environment, the eco-friendly spiritual landmark will feature the unique aesthetics of Himalayan architecture infused with Malaysian cultural elements. KWPC will establish itself as a new tourist hub and the foremost spiritual destination of the region.
Head of Department: Chuah Su Ming
As with all the other departments within the Kechara organisation, Kechara Care was formed in July 2009.
From a small group of volunteers who were present at every event to welcome guests and participants, Kechara Care has evolved into a team of dedicated full-time staff who are at your service.
In June 2010, Kechara Care established a permanent visitors’ centre in the SunwayMas area, with a host of facilities including a museum-cum-gallery, counselling rooms, multi-function space for parties and events as well as a non-alcoholic bar. Kechara Care’s mission is to ensure that newcomers to Kechara and Buddhism are well looked after.
With more and more people attracted by the Dharma teachings and Kechara’s Dharma works and activities, Kechara Care serves as a one-stop destination for the welfare of all newcomers and students alike. Whether it is to satisfy a personal curiosity or to participate in its many charitable works; a quest in search of spirituality or simply to learn more about the organisation, Kechara Care is the place to visit!
Kechara Care organises introductory activities to provide newcomers with accurate, reliable information about Kechara and Buddhism, and guide newcomers as they take their first step onto the spiritual path. Warm and friendly representatives of Kechara Care will be on hand to welcome you with a host of opportunities to enhance your understanding and to enrich your spiritual journey.
Through cultivating a strong culture of care and responsibility within all of Kechara’s departments, Kechara Care also teaches those new to Kechara the same nurturing roles so that eventually every single Kechara member is a Kechara Care Friend. If you wish to know more of Kechara or wish to go on tour of our various depts, contact Kechara Care with their friendly team.
KECHARA ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Head of Department: JP Thong
Kechara Animal Sanctuary is a vision that is very close to my heart. I have often shared with others that kindness and compassion to animals is among the highest practices of unconditional love because animals, being weaker, cannot repay our kindness in ways we may expect.
The KAS team are committed to help and care for animals in any way they can. Especially the sick and diseased; abandoned and abused; the weakest of the weak with no one to turn to for help and survival. I need a large tract of land either in Kuala Lumpur or not too far away to house these animals particularly dogs. Please help in this.
Every living being, no matter how small or insignificant, deserves the chance to live. Please join us in realising this vision of Kechara Animal Sanctuary. We are now looking for land. If anyone can help to acquire land, do let us know. Animals are very important to me.
GRAND SETRAP PUJA
WESAK DAY CELEBRATIONS IN KECHARA HOUSE
CREATING A LEGACY – KECHARA WORLD PEACE CENTRE
PUJAS – LEARNING ANCIENT RITUALS
Me giving wedding blessings
LEGEND OF THE CONCH SHELL
An award-winning theatre and dance production of Lama Tsongkhapa’s life.
NEW GOMPA RENOVATION Which seats 700
NEW GOMPA RENOVATION
ARTIST’S IMPRESSION OF THE NEW GOMPA
In 2004, 49 people went on a pilgrimage with me to Bodhgaya, India, the place where Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.
Myself conferring refuge vows on the pilgrims at Bodhgaya. We had a group of over 60 following me there.
Making offering of robes to the Buddha statue at the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya. This Buddha statue was carved 60 years after the Buddha passed away by one of his female disciples who actually saw what He looked like. So she had this statue carved to Lord Buddha’s actual likeness. This image is very holy.
Giving a Dharma talk to the pilgrims at the guest house at Bodhgaya
Mahabodhi Temple. This was built by Ashoka to mark the very spot where Lord Buddha became Enlightened. The Bodhi Tree Buddha sat under is right next to this incredible stupa. All Buddhists must make a pilgrimage to this place once before your life passes by. You should make strong aspirations there, purify wrong deeds and generate a mind of Bodhicitta at this spot. Very powerful. Maitreya Buddha in the future will appear here also. So it is very important to visit.
The Bodhi Tree under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment.. Yes it is still alive and protected by the Govt of India. Hundreds of thousands visit yearly. I have went many times.
Me and pilgrims escorting Lama Tsongkhapa statue to be offered to Root Institute in Bodhgaya
Placing the newly arrived Lama Tsongkhapa statue on the altar at Root Institute. I saw their altar and decided to sponsor this set of Lama Tsongkapa and disciples.
Me and pilgrims making a khata offering to Lama Tsongkhapa
Me with pilgrims at Root Institute, a semi-monastic institute founded by Lama Yeshe
GADEN LACHI MAIN PRAYER HALL
In April 2006, I led a group of 63 pilgrims to Gaden Monastery, my very own monastery to make offerings of 3,000 Manjushri statues and 3,000 sets robes to the Sangha of Gaden. This trip took almost a year to prepare, involving sourcing for 3,000 Manjushri statues, getting the faces of the statues painted, inserting mantras, sewing the clothes for each of the 3,000 Manjushri statues and sourcing and cutting of maroon cloth for 3,000 sets of robes for the monks.
Me (representing Kechara House as the sponsor of the offerings), inviting H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama (represented by H.H.’s picture) to the throne of H.H. at Gaden Lachi, the main prayer hall. A Lama Chopa puja sponsored by Kechara House was held prior to presenting the offerings of statues, robes, kuyong and food to the monks.
Offering of food to the Sangha performing a Lama Chopa puja sponsored by Kechara House
Me entering and making prostrations to the Sangha of Gaden
Making a mandala offering to H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama at Gaden Lachi main prayer hall
Offering a Manjushri statue to H.E. Sharpa Choeje Rinpoche
Making offering of a Manjushri statue to H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche
Offering a Manjushri statue to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche
Gaden monks with a Manjushri statue and robes offered by Kechara House
Representative of the monastery’s education department receiving offerings from me
Explaining to the pilgrims the various sections of the monastery and its function
Leading the pilgrims to Gaden Shartse section of the monastery where I come from. I am an incumbent of Gaden Shartse.
Making offerings of Body, Speech and Mind to the current incarnation of my Root Guru, H.H. Kyabje Zong Choktrul Rinpoche at Gaden Shartse Prayer Hall
Giving a Dharma talk at Gaden Shartse’s audience room
Lay people in Mundgod who heard that I was visiting Gaden came to greet me
During this trip, I led the pilgrims to have audience with the young incarnation of H.H. Zong Rinpoche at his Ladrang. I made extensive offerings to Zong Rinpoche and every pilgrim had an opportunity to receive a blessing from H.H.
Making prostration to my root guru’s incarnation, H.H. Kyabje Zong Choktrul Rinpoche at Zong Ladrang
Making offerings to H.H. Zong Rinpoche
Showing H.H. Zong Rinpoche pictures of the various departments of Kechara House. Rinpoche was very interested in what I explained to him.
Myself and pilgrims with H.H. Zong Rinpoche at Zong Ladrang
Visiting my old room at Zong Ladrang. Although I had very little to eat at the time and was almost starving, I was very happy as I was in Gaden with my Gurus and the High Lamas. I would never exchange anything for that. It was nice to visit the room I use to live in. All the students who came along visited also.
Head of Pukhang Kamtsen, the fraternity house in the monastery that I belong to, presenting a pandit’s hat to me and requesting me to live long and turn the wheel of Dharma.
Me with the pilgrims at Pukhang Kamtsen
Wearing the pandit’s hat presented to me by the 300 monks of Pukhang Kamtsen, Gaden Shartse Monastery. It was auspicious to do so just after they offered to me.
GESHE PUNTSOK’S HOUSE AT GADEN JANGTSE
A senior monk, Geshe Yeshe, making offering of Body, Speech and Mind to me in his Ladrang
In October 2008, I led a group of 61 pilgrims to Nepal to visit the holy power places in Kathmandu valley. Going on the Nepal pilgrimage was an extremely rewarding experience and for some people, it changed their lives. During the pilgrimage, I gave many Dharma talks to help everyone set a correct motivation. I also gave many explanations on the significance of the various holy places which had made our pilgrimage so much more meaningful and powerful.
KATHMANDU GUEST HOUSE, THAMEL
At Kathmandu Guest House where we stayed during the pilgrimage. I gave a Dharma talk in the morning before we embarked on our visits to the holy places
On our way to the Chenrezig Temple, known as Jal Bahal in Nepali, behind the busy main streets of Kathmandu
Me making a prayer at the entrance of the Chenrezig temple
Chenrezig statue in the temple. This statue is one of the very famous set of three statues known as the “Self-Arisen Three Brothers”. One statue is with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama at Dharamsala and another one is at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Offering a butterlamp at the Chenrezig temple
Dedication prayers led by me at the Chenrezig temple
BUYING FLOWER GARLANDS IN THE STREETS OF KATHMANDU
Buying flower garlands for pilgrims to make offering
TARA CHAPEL AT THAHITY CHOWK
Making offerings at the Tara Chapel behind the alleyways of Thahity Chowk in the middle of Kathmandu City
H.H. Trijang Rinpoche has recommended praying to the White Tara statue (the centre statue in the picture above) within this chapel. I explained that this White Tara statue had “flown” in from Tibet and since Trijang Rinpoche had made this recommendation, it must be a very special and blessed statue. The White Tara statue is flanked by Green Tara on its right and Yellow Tara on its left.
BOUDANATH STUPA AT BOUDHA
Pilgrims at Boudanath Stupa, one of the largest and holiest stupas in Nepal built in the 14th century. Tibetans believe that this stupa enshrines the precious bone relic of the Buddha. The area around the stupa houses a community of 16,000 Tibetans. Tibetans and pilgrims from around the world gather and circumambulate around the base of the stupa every single day. We are so happy to be here.
Explaining the significance of the Boudanath Stupa to the pilgrims
SELF-ARISING TARA CHAPEL AT PHARPING
Me with pilgrims at the base of the Self-Arising Tara Chapel at Pharping, 19km south of Kathmandu
Giving an explanation of the Self-Arising Tara outside the chapel
Inside the Self-Arising Tara Chapel
A Tara image has spontaneously arisen from the surface of a rock. After being discovered by a meditator, pilgrims flocked there to make offerings and donations. Eventually a chapel was bulit to enshrine the image on the rock. The image has miraculously became clearer over time.
GURU RINPOCHE’S CAVE ABOVE THE TARA CHAPEL
Here I gave an explanation on Guru Rinpoche’s cave. Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambava, who was renowned for the spread of Buddhism in Tibet, perfected his tantric meditation in this cave before entering Tibet. To indicate his presence, Padmasambava left a miraculous hand print on a solid rock at the entrance of the cave.
Touching the handprint of Padmasambava with my forehead
An old monk greeting me outside Guru Rinpoche’s cave
Walking down from Guru Rinpoche’s cave with our large group of 60 people.
VAJRAYOGINI CHAPEL AT PHARPING
I gave a Dharma talk in front of the Vajrayogini Chapel at Pharping. This chapel lies within a short distance from Guru Rinpoche’s cave. The Tibetans believe that this chapel is associated with the Pamtingpa brothers, who were some of the earliest Vajrayogini lineage holders who were initiated by their Guru, the Great Naropa himself into this practice. So this Chapel to Vajra Yogini is very significant and important to visit.
Feeding a stray dog outside the Vajrayogini Chapel
MAHABOUDHA STUPA AT PATAN
Pilgrims gathering around me in front of the Mahaboudha Stupa to listen to an explanation on the origins of the stupa. Located at Mahaboudha Temple or “Temple of a Thousand Buddhas”, this stupa is covered with hundreds of little Buddha plaques and has a statue of Shakyamuni enshrined at the bottom. It is a replica of the Mahabodhi Stupa at Bodhgaya built to commemorate Lord Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya Devi. Nearby is also another Chapel to Vajra Yogini.
BIJASWARI VAJRAYOGINI CHAPEL
Leading the prayers to Vajrayogini at the first Vajrayogini Chapel in Nepal, the Bijaswari Vajrayogini Temple, a short distance away from Swayambhunath Hill. This chapel started as a family’s personal place of worship and was later opened to public and became an important centre for worship. Today, the chapel is still cared for by the descendants of the family who built it. This chapel I have visited many times to offer tsok, prayers and bring students/friends here. This chapel contains 4 sacred forms of Vajra Yogini. Very rare to see in one place.
The Swayambhunath Stupa
Explaining the significance of the Swayambhunath Stupa
MANJUSHRI’S TEACHING SITE
Leading a prayer to Manjushri at Manjushri’s teaching site, a courtyard a short distance away from Swayambhunath Stupa. It is believed that Manjushri gives profound teachings to celestial beings at this very spot once a year. I offered a oral transmission of Manjushri prayers to the students here.
NAROPA’S CAVE AT PASHUPATINATH
Performing a Vajrayogini puja in Naropa’s cave at Pashupatinath. Pashupatinath is regarded as one of the holiest sites of the Hindu world and is included within the 24 holy places of the Tantric Buddha Heruka Chakrasamvara. Naropa practiced intently the Vajra Yogini tantra in this cave and became enlightened. He had visions of Vajra Yogini. It is a very important site for us to visit and make aspirational prayers. There is a beautiful statue of Naropa inside the cave. Next to this cave is the cave of his guru, Tilopa. Fantastic!
Pilgrims doing their own prayers outside the Naropa cave where I was engaging in the Vajrayogini puja
This is just a brief bio account in pictures of my life till now…a more extensive book will be coming out on my life as instructed by my teacher.
Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
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