Pabongka Rinpoche and his yogini student, the Lady Lhalu

Nov 13, 2018 | Views: 12,014
Great Vajrayogini practitioner and devotee of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, the Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering seated on chair in a garden. She is wearing a silk robe, the striped apron of a married Tibetan woman and felt boots (c. June-July 1939).

Great Vajrayogini practitioner and devotee of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, the Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering seated on chair in a garden. She is wearing a silk robe, the striped apron of a married Tibetan woman and felt boots (c. June-July 1939).

Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo is by far one of the most influential Gelug lamas of the 20th Century. He arose from almost relative obscurity to become one of the biggest and most influential lamas of his time. The advent of his teachings ushered a whole new spiritual movement centring on the tantric deity Vajrayogini and the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden, propounded to be the new main protector of the Gelug teachings.

The success of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s lineage and teachings is reflected in his numerous luminary disciples that span the breadth of the Gelug lineage, from the highest-ranking tulkus to the most ordinary lay disciples. While stories of his many great tulku disciples are numerous and legendary, not much is known about his many lay disciples. Hence in this essay below, Joona Repo recounts the life and circumstances surrounding one of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s aristocrat disciples, the Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering, who is also known as the Lady Lhalu, the Lhacham or simply Yangdzom Tsering. Joona Repo’s account details the rise and fall of one of the most renowned matriarchs of Lhasa at that time, and her spiritual success and great patronage of her beloved guru to whom she was extremely devoted.

The family into which the Lady Lhalu married was one of the highest-ranking, and therefore one of the wealthiest, of Lhasa. Joona Repo’s essay describes the history behind the family of her birth, the family she married into and the circumstances leading to the rise and subsequent decline in her family fortunes. More inspiringly, his essay shows how the Lady Lhalu remained unaffected, instead focussing more deeply on her practice and gaining attainments. In fact, by the time she passed away, she showed signs of being a great practitioner of Vajrayogini, and entered into clear light meditation with total control. So, with the background of the Lhalu family established, Joona Repo moves on to give an account of the Lady Lhalu and Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, and the relationship between student and teacher, and how her guru changed her life.

According to oral accounts, she is said to have met Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche around the time of her son’s demise and he saved her from losing faith in Buddhism. The Lady Lhalu thereafter became an ardent disciple and principal patron of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s teachings. In fact, it was due to her request and sponsorship that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche gave his famous Lamrim teachings that were recorded and later edited to become Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, a book which is studied by Gelug practitioners all over the world. She is also mentioned as one of the main disciples who requested Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, a heart disciple of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, to compose Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors. This text is Trijang Rinpoche’s complete commentary on the history, nature and activities of Dorje Shugden. The Lady Lhalu is also remembered by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as having performed elaborate rituals to Dorje Shugden at her family estate, called Lhalu Phodrang (or Lhalu Mansion). These accounts reveal her deep faith in the Protector Dorje Shugden.

The aristocratic wife of a Lhasa official in her gala attire (name unknown). The Lady Lhalu came from a wealthy background and would have had similarly intricate jewellery, and worn similarly elaborate hairstyles that the poor would have found impractical. Despite the opportunity for her to pass her entire life as a lady of leisure, the Lady Lhalu instead found her guru, the incomparable Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, and devoted herself to him and the practices he gave to her.

The aristocratic wife of a Lhasa official in her gala attire (name unknown). The Lady Lhalu came from a wealthy background and would have had similarly intricate jewellery, and worn similarly elaborate hairstyles that the poor would have found impractical. Despite the opportunity for her to pass her entire life as a lady of leisure, the Lady Lhalu instead found her guru, the incomparable Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, and devoted herself to him and the practices he gave to her.

In his autobiography, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche recounts that Lady Lhalu made sincere requests to Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche to install a thread-cross mandala dedicated to Dorje Shugden in the Dharma protector chapel at Lhalu estate. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche himself gathered the necessary items and made preparations for the ritual. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche spent three days at the Lhalu estate performing the elaborate rituals, with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as assistant and eight monks from Tashi Choling Monastery. It was at that time that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche bestowed Dorje Shugden sogtae (life-entrustment initiation) to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Lady Lhalu and her husband Lhalu Gyurme Tsewang Dorje who was the Finance Minister at the time. Sogtae is usually only granted to three persons at a time. Therefore, Lady Lhalu was granted the rare honour of receiving sogtae at the same time as a high reincarnated lama, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

The Lady Lhalu’s devotion to Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche is beautifully reflected in her deep spiritual conviction in the very deities and practices that were conferred to her along with numerous other disciples. Due to her family’s wealth and status, she was always entertaining and hosting important guests and foreign dignitaries, and although she could easily have been a lady of leisure, she took to her practice with unmatched zeal and even with changing fortunes, she was not deterred from doing her practice. Towards the later part of her life, her family wealth was totally wiped out by the political turmoil that swept through Tibet and even her home was confiscated. Imagine – she went from being one of the wealthiest women in Tibet, to living in a storeroom with just one person to help her but no matter how bad things became, she never gave up her commitments to her guru Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang. When she eventually passed away at the age of 83, she passed away with full control. She sat in an upright posture and went into meditation, and entered into clear light. This is only seen in very high beings who have achieved control of their winds and rebirth. When they found her, she was still meditating and remained that way for many days. This was confirmed by the high lamas and even Trijang Rinpoche did rituals on some of her remains as a blessing.

Her story is a prime example of the effectiveness of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s lineage and teachings which are still extremely potent to this day, and proved to have a transformative effect on even a worldly aristocratic lady such as the Lady Lhalu who lived a life of leisure and still found liberation. Her remarkable story gives confidence in the teachings, lineage and especially in the deities that are central to Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s lineage – Vajrayogini and Dorje Shugden.

Please do read about her and be inspired. Being that she lived in the 20th Century, hers can considered a relatively modern example of how it is still possible to gain attainments in our practice in just one lifetime if we commit and go all the way with the practices and instructions that our lama gives us.

Tsem Rinpoche

Disclaimer: This information is made available for strictly educational, non-commercial purposes only, to inspire others onto the path and deeper practice. No profit is being made from making this information available.

 

Phabongkha and the Yoginī: The Life, Patronage and Devotion of the Lhasa Aristocrat, The Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering

Joona Repo

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Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (pha bong kha bde chen snying po, 1878- 1941) was one of the most popular and influential Gelug religious figures in the Lhasa Valley during the first half of the twentieth-century. His students included not only lay people and monks from all of the most important religious institutions in the region, but also an impressive array of some of the highest-ranking aristocrats and government officials of the day. This article is focused on the life of one of Phabongkha’s most important aristocratic students, Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering (g.yang ‘dzom tshe ring, 1880-1963) and her relationship to her teacher and his lineage teachings. The development of her devotion to Phabongkha, and her and her family’s sponsorship of the sustenance and popularization of his lineage in general will be considered with an aim of giving us a wider understanding of Phabongkha and his “movement”. The Lhacham’s devotion to the controversial protector deity Dorje Shugden (rdo rje shugs ldan), whose practice she received from Phabongkha, will also be discussed in detail, especially with regard to a number of tragedies which befell her, and which were portrayed by the later lineage as being the results of the wrathful activity of this deity.


His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang, the guru of the Lady Lhalu Lhacham

His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang, the guru of the Lady Lhalu Lhacham

Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (Pha bong kha Bde chen snying po, 1878-1941) was one of the most popular Buddhist teachers in Lhasa during the first half of the twentieth century. Large segments of the Lhasa monastic population were students of Phabongkha or at least, eventually, students of his main disciple, Trijang Rinpoche Lobsang Ye shes Tenzin Gyatso (Khri byang rin po che Blo bzang ye shes bstan ‘dzin rgya mtsho, 1901-1981), who would also later become the tutor of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (Bstan ‘dzin rgya mtsho, b.1935). Phabongkha’s closest students in the Tibetan capital included not only members of his direct entourage and other high-ranking Gelug (Dge lugs) teachers, but also numerous aristocratic figures whose financial support was essential for the continued proliferation and upkeep of the lineage.

Out of Phabongkha’s many patrons and followers, one of the most important and interesting was the Lhalu (Lha klu) household. The Lhalus were an important aristocratic (sku drag) family in Lhasa of the highest yabzhi (yab gzhis) rank, meaning that they were relatives of a current or previously reigning Dalai Lama. The Lhalu family was, however, exceptional in that they had in fact produced not only one, but two Dalai Lamas: the eighth, Jamphel Gyatso (‘Byam dpal rgya mtsho, 1758-1804) and the twelfth, Trinley Gyatso (‘Phrin las rgya mtsho, 1856-1875). The family as it existed in the early twentieth century was in reality a product of two combined households, as the relatives of the Twelfth Dalai Lama had been amalgamated into the Lhalu household through marriage. This merging had apparently been organized through an initiative to save large amounts of government lands from being given to yabzhi families, of which, due to the untimely deaths of the three previous Dalai Lamas, there was an excess.1 The family name derives from the zimsha (gzim shag), or mansion, of Lhalu Gatsel (Lha klu dga’ tshal), their principal residence located next to the Lhalu Wetlands (Lha klu ‘dam ra) behind the Potala Palace, which they owned together with a number of other manorial estates.

Lhalu Lhacham (The Lady Lhalu), devoted student of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, standing with a one-storey building in the background against which are pitched two tents. She is wearing a beaded Lhasa headress decorated with corals and seed pearls, ear decorations and an amulet box necklace. Her robe is of brocade silk and she is wearing a striped apron, indicating that she is married (c. 1940-1941).

Lhalu Lhacham (The Lady Lhalu), devoted student of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, standing with a one-storey building in the background against which are pitched two tents. She is wearing a beaded Lhasa headress decorated with corals and seed pearls, ear decorations and an amulet box necklace. Her robe is of brocade silk and she is wearing a striped apron, indicating that she is married (c. 1940-1941).

Based on textual sources, as well as interviews, this article will focus on one member of the Lhalu family in particular―Yangdzom Tsering (G.yang ‘dzom tshe ring, 1880-1963) who, for much of the first half of the twentieth century, was the towering figure of the family and became Phabongkha’s principal aristocratic disciple. Beginning with a discussion of her life from her entry into the Lhalu family onward, the origins and development of her patronage of and devotion to Phabongkha and his lineage will be discussed. Not only was Yangdzom Tsering a devoted student of Phabongkha and a fervent Buddhist practitioner, but during her day she was also one of the most prominent women in Lhasa, as is evident even from the accounts of foreigners who knew about or met her. Sir Basil Gould, the former British Trade Agent to Gyantse who in 1936 led a British delegation to Lhasa, wrote about her, saying: “One of the events of the Lhasa season was an annual luncheon party which she [Yangdzom Tsering] gave to the Cabinet and other high officials. Her hospitality was so urgent that often the fate of at least a few of her guests was “Where I dines I sleeps”. She had a fund of jokes and stories which were reputed to be broad…”2 Fredrick Spencer Chapman (1907-1971) also described the lady as being a charming host who wore exquisite jewelry and was “more made-up than any Tibetan woman” he had ever seen.3

The Lhasa in which Yangdzom Tsering lived for most of her life had emerged with an almost exclusively Gelug sectarian landscape from the seventeenth century onward due to the establishment of the central Ganden Phodrang (Dga’ ldan pho brang) government in 1642, with the Fifth Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (Ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho, 1617-1682) at its head. Although teachers and communities of practitioners from other traditions did exist in Lhasa, all of the most important temples and monasteries in the city were owned by the Gelug establishment or staffed by Gelug monks.4 It was in this landscape that Phabongkha rose to prominence and found a large and eager audience.

His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, depicted in the accoutrements of a tantric practitioner. Pabongka Rinpoche was a master of sutra and tantra, and a great proliferator of the Dharma. Amongst his disciples was His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who later rose to prominence as the 14th Dalai Lama's junior tutor.

His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, depicted in the accoutrements of a tantric practitioner. Pabongka Rinpoche was a master of sutra and tantra, and a great proliferator of the Dharma. Amongst his disciples was His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who later rose to prominence as the 14th Dalai Lama’s junior tutor.

Phabongkha has often been seen as a sustainer and promoter of Gelug exclusivism, although I believe that the extent to which he is now portrayed as a vehemently sectarian figure is contestable.5 Phabongkha and his students, however, appear to have been apprehensive about the authenticity of certain teachings within other traditions, which in their opinions rendered the lineages of these sects, as they came to exist in the early twentieth century, corrupt, to varying extents. These views of other traditions, and the Nyingma tradition in particular, is reflected in written and oral histories related to the Lhalu family, as will be demonstrated below.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the Lhalu family was faced with numerous obstacles with regard to the succession of the family lineage, as well as associations with unfortunate political events. These problems not only helped forge links between the family and Phabongkha but also eventually became incorporated as narratives within the teachings of the lineage itself. This is specifically true for events that would become associated with the activity of the wrathful protector deity Dorje Shugden, who was said to be particularly concerned with preserving the doctrinal purity of the Gelug tradition. Thus this article will also demonstrate some of the ways in which the lineage viewed its great patrons and the ways in which the patrons, in turn, affected the lineage. Indeed, further to being incorporated into the more mystical lore of the lineage, these eminent figures and aristocrats functioned as a source of patronage, were crucial to Phabongkha’s success as the toast of Lhasa, and helped ensure the continuation of his legacy through supporting the writing and publication of his many works.

 

I. Yangdzom Tsering and the Lhalu family in the early twentieth century

Yangdzom Tsering originally entered the Lhalu household in order to produce it an heir, but was instead left to deal with the numerous misfortunes that threatened the future survival of the family.6 Yangdzom Tsering was the daughter of the prime minister Silon Paljor Dorje (srid blon Dpal ‘byor rdo rje, 1860-1919), and was thus a member of the high-ranking aristocratic Shatra (Bshad sgra) family. Oral accounts relate that in her youth she had been a boy and was a candidate for the reincarnation of the previous Twelfth Dalai Lama, although he subsequently transformed into a girl.7

The Lady Lhalu Lhacham (third from left), in the traditional garb of a Lhasa noble woman, with members of her family in the garden of Dekyi Lingka (c. 1936-1950).

The Lady Lhalu Lhacham (third from left), in the traditional garb of a Lhasa noble woman, with members of her family in the garden of Dekyi Lingka (c. 1936-1950).

According to the memoirs of her future husband, Gyurme Tsewang Dorje (‘Gyur med tshe dbang rdo rje, 1914-2011), Yangdzom Tsering had previously been a nun, disrobed and had an affair with Langdun Gung Dondrub Dorje (Glang mdun gung Don grub rdo rje, d.1909), the elder brother of the ruling Thirteenth Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso (Thub bstan rgya mtsho, 1879-1933).8 Langdun and Yangdzom Tsering also had a son, Phuntsok Rabgye (Phun tshogs rab rgyas, circa 1903-1920) not too long before the Younghusband invasion of Lhasa in 1904.9 Yangdzom Tsering was subsequently married to Lhalu Jigme Namgyal (Lha klu ‘Jigs med rnam rgyal, ?-1918), as two of her sisters, Sonam Paldzom (Bsod nams dpal ‘dzoms, d.u.) and Namgyal Wangmo (Rnam rgyal dbang mo, d.u.), had been before her. Jigme Namgyal, a relative of the Twelfth Dalai Lama, was the head of the Lhalu family. However none of the Shatra sisters, including Yangdzom Tsering, were able to produce heirs for Jigme Namgyal.10 Sonam Paldzom did bear a child, although both mother and child soon died of smallpox.11

Lhalu Mansion (March 14, 1921). Taken at a time when photography was incredibly expensive and not commonplace, the fact the Lhalu family had both the financial means and opportunity to photograph their home is reflective of their great wealth and status.

Lhalu Mansion (March 14, 1921). Taken at a time when photography was incredibly expensive and not commonplace, the fact the Lhalu family had both the financial means and opportunity to photograph their home is reflective of their great wealth and status.

With Jigme Namgyal’s death in 1918, the Lhalu family would have been left without an heir if it were not for Phuntsok Rabgye, who was around fifteen years old at the time, having been adopted into the Lhalu family.12 Unfortunately Phuntsok Rabgye died soon after, at the age of seventeen. Following this Yangdzom Tsering moved out of the Lhalu mansion, went on pilgrimage to make offerings for her deceased relatives and then upon her return to Lhasa she rented the house of the Kyitoe (Skyid stod) family where she moved into the top-floor apartment.13 During this period she had at least one affair with a government official (drung) named Chingpa (Byings pa), although she eventually moved back to the Lhalu house.14 In an attempt to continue the family line, about two years after the death of her son, a short-lived match between Phuntsok Gyalpo (Phun tshogs rgyal po, d.u.) a son of the Rampa household (gzim Ram pa) and Yangdzom Tsering followed, ending in failure as Phuntsok Gyalpo was still emotionally attached to his ex-wife.15 The couple produced no offspring.

The Lady Lhalu Lhacham (seated) and the daughter of her adopted son, Tsewang Dorje. The little girl is wearing Tibetan dress as is her grandmother, who dons a striped apron (c. 1948-1949).

The Lady Lhalu Lhacham (seated) and the daughter of her adopted son, Tsewang Dorje. The little girl is wearing Tibetan dress as is her grandmother, who dons a striped apron (c. 1948-1949).

The saviour of the Lhalu family line came in the form of Lungshar Dorje Tsegyal (Lung shar Rdo rje tshe rgyal, 1880-1939) and his son, Tsewang Dorje. Lungshar was appointed as caretaker of the Lhalu family by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, of whom he was a favorite. The nature of the relationship between Yangdzom Tsering and Lungshar is not clear, with most existing sources giving conflicting information. Melvyn Goldstein describes Yangdzom Tsering as Lungshar’s “common-law wife”, Petech states that Yangdzom Tsering was “in love” with Lungshar, whereas Tsering Yangdzom writes that although there were rumors of an affair in Lhasa between Lungshar and Lhalu Lhacham, that is the Lady Lhalu, there is no way to substantiate this.16 Indeed Tsewang Dorje’s biography makes no mention of an affair or marriage and sources close to him likewise reject any notion of a romantic or matrimonial relationship, suggesting that most likely Lungshar was no more than guardian to the Lhalu household.17 Whatever the case, it was at this point in 1926 that Tsewang Dorje, aged twelve, was adopted into the Lhalu family as well.18 From then on Yangdzom Tsering was addressed by Tsewang Dorje as “cham kushab” (lcam sku zhabs), a formal title used for the wives of high-ranking aristocrats. The lady in turn addressed Tsewang Dorje as “se kushab” (sras sku zhabs), or “honorable son”, a formal and unintimate title used for the children of nobles.19

Lungshar, who was appointed as caretaker of the Lhalu family by the 13th Dalai Lama. After the Dalai Lama's passing, he fell out of favour and eventually ended up in prison. It was through Pabongka Rinpoche and the Lady Lhalu's intervention that he was saved.

Lungshar, who was appointed as caretaker of the Lhalu family by the 13th Dalai Lama. After the Dalai Lama’s passing, he fell out of favour and eventually ended up in prison. It was through Pabongka Rinpoche and the Lady Lhalu’s intervention that he was saved.

Following the death of the Dalai Lama, several factions, including one headed by Lungshar, contested for supremacy over the Tibetan government. However in 1934 Lungshar was outmanoeuvred by his principal rivals, headed by Kalon Trimon Norbu Wangyal (bka’ blon Khri smon Nor bu dbang rgyal, circa 1874-1945), resulting in his arrest. Tsewang Dorje, along with his brother and other supporters of Lungshar, hatched a plan to break their father out of the Sharchenchok Prison (Shar chen lcog) in Tse Shoel (Rtse zhol), the village at the foot of the Potala Palace. Yangdzom Tsering was understandably extremely concerned by these events, strongly objected and instead insisted that Lungshar’s freedom could be secured through petitioning the government and making abundant financial offerings, or bribes, to various officials.20 Despite following her demands, Tsewang Dorje and his brother were arrested as well. Lungshar was accused of a number of crimes, including attempting a Bolshevik take-over of the Ganden Phodrang government and was sentenced to having his eyes taken out of their sockets.21 His two sons, one of them being Tsewang Dorje, were each condemned to having an arm amputated.

At this point Phabongkha intervened, met with Kalon Trimon Norbu Wangyal, who headed the rival faction that Lungshar had hoped to displace, and insisted that the arms of the two sons not be cut off. Trimon agreed, stating that “Today due to the power of the vehement requests and insistence of Kyabje Rinpoche (skyabs rje rin po che) [i.e. Phabongkha], I have offered Kyabje Rinpoche two human arms”.22 Yangdzom Tsering had been extremely concerned, and her very close relationship with Phabongkha, who had visited the Lhalu mansion during the crisis, had undoubtedly helped to save Tsewang Dorje’s arm. Lungshar, however, still had to suffer the brutal punishment of having his eyes removed and was kept in prison, where he spent his time reciting prayers and spinning a prayer wheel.23

While he was in prison Yangdzom Tsering petitioned and wrote to various influential figures, specifically the cabinet, or kashag (bka’ shag), and its kalon (bka’ blon) ministers, for Lungshar’s release, emphasising the fact that he was old, in a poor state of health, and was blind.24 As a result he was released in 1938, after which he was allowed to move to Lhalu Gatsel.25

Despite his arm having been saved, Tsewang Dorje was barred from holding government office, although later he did manage to re-enter government, eventually rising to the rank of kalon. Due to the misfortunes that had taken place, Yangdzom Tsering told Tsewang Dorje that they must get married as this was not only the correct thing to do at this point, but that it would also help him to regain a government post in the future.26 Thus the two were married, with Yangdzom Tsering making it clear that since there was such a large age gap between her and her young new husband, after their marriage it would be fine for him to take another wife.27 Indeed this became a necessity as in 1934, Yangdzom Tsering was already 54 years of age and it would have been difficult for the newlyweds to produce an heir. Yangdzom Tsering suggested that Tsewang Dorje and her niece, Thonpa Sonam Dekyi (Thon pa Bsod nams bde skyid, 1925-?) wed, which they did in 1941.28

 

II. The devotion of Yangdzom Tsering

As is evident, Phabongkha and Yangdzom Tsering were already in good relations by the time of Lungshar’s attempted coup in 1934. Yangdzom Tsering was perhaps the most important aristocratic devotee of Phabongkha and many of those around her were either equally enchanted by the teacher, or became so. Shatra Paljor Dorje, Yangdzom Tsering’s father, as well as many of her other relatives, for example, were also students of Phabongkha as well as Phabongkha’s teacher, the Gelug mystic Tagphu Pemavajra Jamphel Tenpai Ngodrub (Stag phu Pad ma ba dzra ‘jam dpal bstan pa’i dnogs grub, 1876-1935).29

Given her family's prominence amongst Lhasa nobility, it is no surprise that the Lady Lhalu was often called upon to entertain foreign guests and dignitaries. Yet, none of this ever distracted her and what she is famously remembered for is her unwavering devotion towards her guru, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. This photograph, for example, was taken at a party at the Lady Lhalu's home beneath a traditional Tibetan appliqué tent. Standing in the centre clinking glasses raised are Dr. O'Malley and the Lady Lhalu herself. The photographer of this image is another foreign guest, Hugh Richardson. (c. June-July 1939).

Given her family’s prominence amongst Lhasa nobility, it is no surprise that the Lady Lhalu was often called upon to entertain foreign guests and dignitaries. Yet, none of this ever distracted her and what she is famously remembered for is her unwavering devotion towards her guru, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. This photograph, for example, was taken at a party at the Lady Lhalu’s home beneath a traditional Tibetan appliqué tent. Standing in the centre clinking glasses raised are Dr. O’Malley and the Lady Lhalu herself. The photographer of this image is another foreign guest, Hugh Richardson. (c. June-July 1939).

Yangdzom Tsering’s devotion to her gurus was well-known to those who knew her or of her, and oral accounts related to this are still alive today. For example she had Phabongkha’s semi-circular winter cape (sku zlam) hanging in a sack-like bundle from the ceiling over her seat in her altar room, so that it would always be above her crown during her practice sessions, and she always carried with her a rosary that had belonged to Tagphu Pemavajra.30 Even when washing her body she would not part with these beads and would instead place them upon her head. Yangdzom Tsering was in a unique position for a lay Tibetan woman. Following the death of Jigme Namgyal, she became matriarch of one of the most important aristocratic families in Tibet and thus had vast material resources at her disposal. This situation provided her the freedom to be able to immerse herself fully in religious practice, something that most lay Tibetan women did not have the luxury of doing.31

A servant wearing a expensive 'mutik thugkhok' (pearl headdress) which was so elaborate that it prevented her from walking. The precious pearl headdress belonged to the Phalha family. The Lady Lhalu belonged to a similarly renowned family and had similarly elaborate headdresses in her possession. As one visitor noted, the Lady Lhalu wore exquisite jewellery and was "more made-up than any Tibetan woman" he had ever seen. However, it was not her jewellery that was most precious to her, but her mala (rosary) which she never took off.

A servant wearing a expensive ‘mutik thugkhok’ (pearl headdress) which was so elaborate that it prevented her from walking. The precious pearl headdress belonged to the Phalha family. The Lady Lhalu belonged to a similarly renowned family and had similarly elaborate headdresses in her possession. As one visitor noted, the Lady Lhalu wore exquisite jewellery and was “more made-up than any Tibetan woman” he had ever seen. However, it was not her jewellery that was most precious to her, but her mala (rosary) which she never took off.

Yangdzom Tsering’s Shatra family were ancient sponsors and students of the Gelug tradition and had apparently been patrons of Tsongkhapa (Tsong kha pa, 1357-1419), the founder of the Gelug school, himself.32 Although we know that she hailed from this devoutly Gelug background, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact beginning of the relationship between Yangdzom Tsering and Phabongkha. The earliest mention of her in Phabongkha’s biography, The Melodious Voice of Brahma (Tshangs pa’i dbyangs snyan), is in relation to her requesting a series of lamrim (lam rim) teachings on the stages of the path to enlightenment, given in 1921 by Phabongkha at Chubzang Hermitage (Chu bzang ri khrod), near Lhasa.33 Phabongkha’s student, Trijang Rinpoche, later edited and organised a collection of notes on the teachings, together with the help of Phabongkha’s secretary, Denma Lobsang Dorje (Ldan ma Blo bzang rdo rje, 1908-1975), and published them as Liberation in Your Hand (Rnam grol lag bcangs), undoubtedly Phabongkha’s most famous teaching.34 The teachings were requested and sponsored by Yangdzom Tsering in order to accumulate sources of merit (dge rtsa) for her recently deceased husband, Jigme Namgyal, and her son by Langdun, Phuntsok Rabgye.35 For the sake of her departed family members, Yangdzom Tsering further sponsored the gilding of the sacred Jowo Shakyamuni in the Jokhang (Jo khang) and offered a jewel for the crown of the statue, along with butter lamp offerings.36 As was already mentioned, it appears that it was around this time that the Lady left the Lhalu house and also went on pilgrimage.

After the death of her husband and son, it has been said that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche consoled the Lady Lhalu, telling her that everybody must die, that she should hold on to her faith, and then he gave her practice instructions.

After the death of her husband and son, it has been said that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche consoled the Lady Lhalu, telling her that everybody must die, that she should hold on to her faith, and then he gave her practice instructions.

It may well be that it was the death of her husband and son that catapulted Yangdzom Tsering toward Phabongkha and his teachings. According to an oral account of Tenzin Dondrub (Bstan ‘dzin don grub, 1924-1990s), a member of the Sampho (Bsam pho) yabzhi family, following the deaths of the Lhacham’s loved ones, which she had tried to prevent through the performance of numerous rituals, her faith in Buddhism was shaken.37 Tenzin Dondrub says that it was at this time that the Lady Lhalu met Phabongkha. Phabongkha consoled her, telling her that everybody must die, that she should hold on to her faith, and then he gave her practice instructions. Tenzin Dondrub claims that the Lhacham thus shifted her focus from the Nyingma tradition, which her husband Jigme Namgyal had favoured, to the Gelug tradition. It is of course not impossible that the lady may have had a brief loss of faith between the death of her son and her sponsorship of Phabongkha’s teachings in Chubzang. Tenzin Dondrub’s account which tells of the Lhacham’s change in sectarian views, however, is unlikely to be accurate, as will be discussed below in more detail, as Yangdzom Tsering had always been principally devoted to the Gelug tradition. There is, however, no reason to doubt the fact that the Lhacham became close or closer to Phabongkha during this period, especially because, as has already been noted, it is also during this time that she is first mentioned in his biography.

Thus it is clear that Yangdzom Tsering already had a student/patron-teacher relationship with Phabongkha long before the Lungshar incident of 1934, a connection to which she would remain dedicated for the rest of her life. The Lungshar incident and Phabongkha’s role in saving Tsewang Dorje’s arm created an impression on the young man himself, who, according to his own words, also developed great faith in the teacher:

“One day after being freed I went before the exalted presence of Kyabje Phabongkha. I thanked him for the hardships he had undertaken for my sake and Kyabje Rinpoche replied, giving compassionate advice:

These were actions which were done in accordance with the teachings of our Dharma. In any case, as you are still young and have no other work, you must read and look into scriptures, as well as histories and sacred biographies (rnam thar). This will be of great benefit. After this, you will know what you should do and what you ought not to do’.

Due to my great faith in Kyabje Rinpoche, according to the guru’s advice, I read and looked into sacred biographies and other scriptures. In that year, in order to purify [negativities] and accumulate the preliminary practices (sngon ‘gro), I performed 100,000 prostrations, offered 100,000 bowls of water and made 100,000 tsatsa (tsha tsha) [votive tablets] – [all] in order to practice the virtue of purification”.38

Tsewang Dorje also mentions that he, together with Yangdzom Tsering, received lamrim teachings from Phabongkha at Lhasa’s Meru Monastery (rme ru dgon) in 1934, not long before hearing of his father Lungshar’s arrest.39 Despite this, it appears that Tsewang Dorje’s closeness and faith in the teacher only grew and became cemented after his own arrest and release from prison.

H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s personal Vajra Yogini statue inside his retreat cave. Click on image to enlarge.

Yangdzom Tsering’s own practice appears to have been largely based on teachings that were requested or otherwise received from Phabongkha, as well as his direct teachers and students. The focus of her practice was Vajrayoginī Naro Kechari, a solitary female meditational deity (yi dam) derived from the Cakrasaṃvara Tantra.40 Although the practice of Vajrayoginī was not one of the main tantric meditational practices emphasised in the writings of Tsongkhapa, the deity had nevertheless certainly been practiced within some influential strands of the Gelug tradition from at least the seventeenth or eighteenth century onward, after having been adopted from the Sakya (Sa skya) school. Although Phabongkha is often accused of having rearranged the central tantric deity and protector practices of the Gelug tradition to focus on Vajrayoginī and Dorje Shugden, this is unlikely.41 While Phabongkha’s many writings are a testament to the wide variety of practices on which he taught, Vajrayoginī was indeed very popular with many of his students, in particular female disciples, who perhaps identified more with this female deity. The relative simplicity of the practice of this deity was certainly appealing for many of Phabongkha’s lay disciples in general, female and male, who most likely did not often have the time or opportunity to engage in the study of the more complex and central Gelug tantric cycles of Cakrasaṃvara, Guhyasamāja and Vajrabhairava. Likewise Shugden, although important to Phabongkha, does not feature so extensively in Phabongkha’s Collected Works and was one of several protectors propitiated by the teacher.

Yangdzom Tsering’s affinity to Vajrayoginī is apparent from both the colophons of the texts she requested Phabongkha to compose, as well as several mentions of her in relation to the deity in the teacher’s biography. Indeed, one of the most restricted Vajrayoginī texts composed by Phabongkha, The Uncommon Golden Dharma: The Pith Instructions for Journeying to Kecara (Mkha’ spyod bgrod pa’i man ngag gser chos thun min zhal shes chig brgyud ma), which, according to a caveat in the text itself is only to be transmitted to select small groups of advanced practitioners, was specifically written at Yangdzom Tsering’s request for her own practice as is recounted in both Phabongkha’s biography and the colophon of the text itself.42 Yangdzom Tsering also requested Phabongkha to compose the preliminary ritual for engaging in the Vajrayoginī “enabling actions” retreat (las rung gi bsnyen pa) entitled The Messenger Invoking the Hundred Blessings of the Vajra (Rdo rje’i byin brgya ‘beb pa’i pho nya), which she also needed for her own use.43

The current form of Naro Kacho Vajra Yogini appeared to the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa after he meditated intensely on her practice inside a cave. He beheld her glorious form in a vision. This unique form became known as Naropa’s Vajra Yogini or Naro Kacho, as it had never existed before. Later, in Tibet, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche also had visions of Vajra Yogini. His vision differed slightly from the vision of her that Naropa beheld. In the original Naro Kacho form, Vajra Yogini looks towards her pure land named Kechara. However in Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s vision, she looked straight at him, symbolic of the deity empowering him to bestow her practice to many people in order to benefit them. The practice of Vajra Yogini belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification that leads to tremendous inner transformation and can even grant enlightenment within just one lifetime. Click on image to enlarge.

The current form of Naro Kachö Vajra Yogini appeared to the Indian Mahasiddha Naropa after he meditated intensely on her practice inside a cave. He beheld her glorious form in a vision. This unique form later became known as Naropa’s Vajra Yogini or Naro Kachö, as it had never existed before. Later, in Tibet, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche also had visions of Vajra Yogini. His vision differed slightly from the vision of her that Naropa beheld. In the original Naro Kachö form, Vajra Yogini looks towards her pure land named Kechara. However in Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s vision, she looked straight at him, symbolic of the deity empowering him to bestow her practice onto many people in order to benefit them. The practice of Vajra Yogini belongs to the Highest Yoga Tantra classification that leads to tremendous inner transformation and can even grant Enlightenment within just one lifetime. Click on image to enlarge.

Yangdzom Tsering also engaged in the practice of the self-generation (bdag bskyed) and/or self-initiation (bdag ‘jug) of Vajrayoginī on a daily basis, based on the works composed by Phabongkha, and had a special servant assigned specifically for the purpose of preparing all necessary daily ritual arrangements.44 The text which would have been used by Yangdzom Tsering for the practice of self-initiation was requested from Phabongkha by a Lady Dagbhrum Jetsunma Thubten Tsultrim Drolkar (Dwags b+h+ruM sku ngo rje btsun ma Thub bstan tshul khrims sgrol dkar, d.u.), another of the teacher’s female aristocrat followers.45 Yangdzom Tsering was thus certainly not the only aristocrat to have requested Phabongkha to compose texts on Vajrayoginī and other practices. Phabongkha was perhaps the most popular teacher amongst the Lhasa aristocracy during the final decades of his life. As Phabongkha’s manager (phyag mdzod), Trinley Dargye (‘Phrin las dar rgyas, d.u.) noted: “there is no place in Tibet, including Sendregasum, the government officials, various small monasteries and villages, where there is no Phabongka disciple”.46 Although this is surely a vast overstatement as the majority of Phabongkha’s students were based in the environs of Lhasa as well as other pockets of Central Tibet and Kham, Trinley Dargye, who must have known well the political and religious landscape of Lhasa itself, was perhaps imposing his observation of the large amount of students Phabongkha had in Lhasa (and Kham), on the whole of Tibet.

Lhasa aristocrats Mrs. Ringang and her daughter (c. 1938-1939). Notice the exquisite jewellery and elaborate headdresses that would have been quite impossible for ordinary people to afford, and highly impractical for them to wear. The Lhalus and Shatras belonged to this class of Lhasa aristocrats.

Lhasa aristocrats Mrs. Ringang and her daughter (c. 1938-1939). Notice the exquisite jewellery and elaborate headdresses that would have been quite impossible for ordinary people to afford, and highly impractical for them to wear. The Lhalus and Shatras belonged to this class of Lhasa aristocrats.

Apart from the Lhalus and Shatras, we also find the names of other important Lhasa aristocratic officials, both lay, such as Shenkhawa Gyurme Sonam (Shan kha ba ‘Gyur med bsod nams, 1896-1967) and monastic, such as Surkhang Khenchung Khyenrab Wangchug (Zur khang mkhan chung Mkhyen rab dbang phyug, d.u.) who are noted, amongst numerous others, as students of both Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche in the biographies of the teachers. Indeed between them, Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche were the teachers of some of the most influential figures in Lhasa society and government. Other important students included Lhasa members of the fabulously wealthy Khampa Sandutsang (Sa ‘du tshang) and Pomdatsang (Spom mda’ tshang) trading families, who also branched into politics, as well as members of the noble Lukhangwa (Klu khang ba) family, Yuthok (G.yu thog) family, Trimon (Khri smon) family and many others. Even the regent of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tagdrag Rinpoche Ngawang Sungrab Drubtob Tenpai Gyaltsen (Stag brag rin po che Ngag dbang gsung rab grub thob bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan, 1874-1952), was a student of Phabongkha and also had a close relationship with Trijang Rinpoche, to whom he gave occasional teachings. Furthermore, outside of these Lhasa nobles and their families, Phabongkha had numerous students amongst dignitaries and officials, especially in Kham.

 

III. Yangdzom Tsering, the Lhalu Family and Dorje Shugden

On top of Vajrayoginī, Yangdzom Tsering appeared to have also been especially attached to the protector deity Dorje Shugden, today an extremely controversial deity within the Gelug tradition, who was also one of the principal protectors of her teacher, Phabongkha. The Lhacham’s affinity to the protector is attested by a number of textual sources including Phabongkha’s biography, Trijang Rinpoche’s autobiography as well as the colophons of several Shugden-related works in both Phabongkha’s Collected Works, and those of Trijang Rinpoche. Out of the five texts which Phabongkha composed exclusively on the protector, one, The Victory Banner Thoroughly Victorious in All Directions: A Presentation of the Approach, Accomplishment and Activities of Shugden, Fulfilling all Needs and Wants (Shugs ldan gyi bsnyen sgrub las gsum gyi rnam gzhag dgos ‘dod yid bzhin re skong phyogs las rnam par rgyal ba’i rgyal mtshan), was especially requested by Tsewang Dorje and Yangdzom Tsering.47 The two aristocrats offered Phabongkha khatas (kha btags), a mandala and the three supports (a statue, text and stupa), asking him to compose a new volume on the collected activities (las tshogs) of the deity. Both Yangdzom Tsering and Tsewang Dorje, who had “unswerving faith in the guru [Phabongkha] and dharmapāla [Shugden]” are also both listed as having been amongst those who requested Trijang Rinpoche to compose his well-known commentary on the history, nature and activities of Shugden entitled Music Delighting an Ocean of Oath-Bound Protectors (Dam can rgya mtsho dgyes pa’i rol mo).48

His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (seated) was the heart disciple of the Lady Lhalu's teacher, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. Like Pabongka Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche was also a huge proponent of the Dorje Shugden practice. He is pictured here with two other great practitioners of Dorje Shugden, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (left) and His Eminence Zemey Rinpoche.

His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche (seated) was the heart disciple of the Lady Lhalu’s teacher, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. Like Pabongka Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche was also a huge proponent of the Dorje Shugden practice. He is pictured here with two other great practitioners of Dorje Shugden, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (left) and His Eminence Zemey Rinpoche.

In his autobiography Trijang Rinpoche recounts the elaborate Shugden rituals that were held in the protector chapel (mgon khang) of the Lhalu mansion. Yangdzom Tsering had requested Phabongkha to construct thread-cross structures (mdos), which together with Trijang Rinpoche and a group of monks, he then completed and consecrated.49 Detailed instructions on the method for constructing these structures were later compiled by Trijang Rinpoche and are included within his Collected Works.50 Trijang Rinpoche also notes that during this time he, along with Yangdzom Tsering and Tsewang Dorje, received the life-entrustment (srog gtad) or life-initiation (srog dbang) of Shugden, in which the deity is bound to the practitioner through ritual. Both Yangdzom Tsering and Tsewang Dorje were clearly very committed to Phabongkha, Trijang Rinpoche and the practice of the protector as the life-entrustment can only be given to a select group of two or three devoted students at a time, and they must fulfill certain prerequisites as well as uphold a number of practice commitments.51 Receiving the life-entrustment also means that the receiver must place the emphasis, if not the exclusive efforts of their religious practice, on the teachings of the Gelug tradition, one of whose most important protectors was believed to be Shugden in this specific lineage.52 Some sources within Phabongkha’s lineage state that not doing so would and has historically resulted in even well-known high-ranking religious figures experiencing the wrath of the protector, sometimes also in the case of those who did not rely on or make any commitment to the deity.

According to Zemey Rinpoche Lobsang Palden Tenzin Yargye (Dze smad rin po che Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, 1927-1996), a student of Trijang Rinpoche, several of Yangdzom Tsering’s close relations suffered grave misfortunes due to their lack of commitment or aversion to the Gelug lineage and more specifically, to the teachings practiced by the Lhacham. Zemey Rinpoche’s notorious Sacred Words of the Competent Father-Guru (Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung), an abbreviation of its actual longer title, and more commonly known as The Yellow Book (on account of the colour of its original cover), was published in 1975.53 In this now notorious book Zemey Rinpoche recounts what he says is a collection of stories told to him casually by Trijang Rinpoche. If this is indeed true, then we could perhaps assume that some also trace their origination to Phabongkha.54 Whatever the case, this continued composition of works associated with Shugden by Phabongkha, his students and his students’ students not only demonstrates the regular continuity and even expansion of lineage teachings observed in all Tibetan Buddhist lineages, but due to their recent composition, they also provide insights into the development of political and sectarian tensions amongst Tibetans in the twentieth century, and the way in which the authors of the texts saw these developments, especially in the Lhasa Valley.

Samye Monastery, the first monastery in Tibet. In ancient times, Dorje Shugden's main minister, Kache Marpo was known as Tsiu Marpo, and he was the great protector of Samye Monastery.

Samye Monastery, the first monastery in Tibet. In ancient times, Dorje Shugden’s main minister, Kache Marpo was known as Tsiu Marpo, and he was the great protector of Samye Monastery.

The accounts within this 40-folio manuscript are stories demonstrating Shugden’s extreme wrath toward those who threaten the Gelug tradition or “confusedly and haphazardly mix and pollute (bslad) the teachings [of Tsongkhapa] with those of others”.55 Indeed the majority of victims of Shugden’s wrathful annihilations (drag po’i chad) were Gelug practitioners, or rather people who appear to have been expected by the author to be (exclusively) Gelug practitioners. Although the book speaks of the corruption of the Gelug teachings with those of “other” sects, it is clear from the contents and accounts given that the principal corrupting forces are seen to be the teachings of the Nyingma tradition, as Donald Lopez notes: “One of Shugs ldan’s particular functions has been to protect the Dge lugs sect from the influence of the Rnying ma,… he is said to punish those who attempt to practice a mixture of the two sects”.56 Phabongkha himself appears to have received numerous Nyingma teachings that he later ceased to practice due to a number of wrathful signs from Shugden.57 Although Phabongkha clearly held a number of historical figures central to the Nyingma sect, such as Padmasambhava, in high regard, he appears to have believed that the Nyingma tradition as it existed in the twentieth century had become largely corrupted, particularly due the tradition of discovering hidden treasure teachings (gter ma), many of which he saw as nothing short of fabrications.58 Furthermore he was also extremely critical of the understanding of ultimate reality, or emptiness, as explained by other currents of thought in the various Tibetan Buddhist traditions apart from the Gelug, as can be deduced from a number of his teachings.

Guru Rinpoche, a main practice within the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya traditions, is the central figure of this thangka. In the bottom right is the enlightened Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden whom the Lady Lhalu Lhacham relied upon, just as her guru Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche did.

Guru Rinpoche, a main practice within the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya traditions, is the central figure of this thangka. In the bottom right is the enlightened Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden whom the Lady Lhalu Lhacham relied upon, just as her guru Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche did.

The Yellow Book is particularly interesting with regard to the life of Yangdzom Tsering, as her most tragic losses, that is the deaths of Jigme Namgyal and Lungshar, are all ascribed in it to Shugden’s wrath.59 According to the book, previous generations of the Lhalu family had firm faith in the Gelug teachings but Jigme Namgyal became close with a Khampa Nyingma lama from Derge (Sde dge) named Tretse-la (Bkras tshe lags, d.u.) who, when in Lhasa, lived near the Lhalu estate at a hermitage in Pari Rikhug (Spa ri ri khug gi ri khrod).60 According to this account, the lama did not hold his monastic vows purely. At first Jigme Namgyal only learned poetry, grammar and spelling (snyan sum) and other lesser sciences (rig gnas) from him but eventually, together with his mother, he received a number of Nyingma teachings from the lama.61 Furthermore, according to a steward of the Lhalu estate, Jigme Namgyal’s mother had also been having illicit sexual relations with the teacher.62 Jigme Namgyal’s faith in the Nyingma teaching caused conflict with his wife Yangdzom Tsering, because of her strong faith in the Gelug teachings and reliance on Dorje Shugden. Since the time of his youth, Jigme Namgyal had apparently suffered from a variety of misfortunes which The Yellow Book appears to attribute to the wrath of the protector: he suffered from lice infestations, then from a difficult and painful illness, and ultimately he died, causing the Lhalu family blood-line to be in danger of becoming extinct. At that time Ganden Serkong Dorje Chang Ngawang Tsultrim Donden (Dga’ ldan gser skong rdo rje ‘chang Ngag dbang tshul khrims don ldan, 1856-1918) revealed to Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering that these miraculous signs and events were the result of the power of a great wrathful deity―presumably Dorje Shugden.63

Lhalu Tsewang Dorje. After his imprisonment, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and the Lady Lhalu intervened and strongly petitioned for his release.

Lhalu Tsewang Dorje. After his imprisonment, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and the Lady Lhalu intervened and strongly petitioned for his release.

As Yangdzom Tsering’s husband, Jigme Namgyal, and son, Phuntsok Rabgye, both died in turn so that only the lady herself remained, her household petitioned the government for help. The Yellow Book goes on to tell us that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama appointed the Finance Minister (rtsis dpon) Lungshar as the managerial head (‘tsho ‘dzin) of the Lhalu estate. Then, according to the Dalai Lama’s instructions, Lungshar’s son, Tsewang Dorje, was also adopted into the Lhalu family. Lungshar received numerous initiations (dbang) and oral transmissions (lung) from a variety of Nyingma cycles and lamas and did not hold “pure” philosophical views and tenets.64 During his time as the managerial head of the Lhalu estate, Lungshar propitiated and relied on the protector (and popular Tibetan folk hero) Gesar Sengchen Gyalpo (Ge sar seng chen rgyal po) as his principal deity. The Yellow Book then paints a picture of conflict. We are told that Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering held the “pure views and tenets of the Gelug tradition” (dge ldan gyi lta grub gtsang) and that she relied on and made offerings to the protector Dorje Shugden of whom she also had a statue amongst her sacred objects in the protector chapel of the Lhalu mansion. As she had lost much of her authority to Lungshar, he managed to order the statue of Shugden to be moved to Tashi Choeling Hermitage (Dben gnas Bkra shis chos gling), Phabongkha’s principal residence. Lungshar, due to his great devotion to the Nyingma tradition and dislike of Shugden, furthermore forbade the usual monthly fulfilling and amending rituals (bskang gso) of the protector to be performed at the mansion and thus they also had to be performed at the hermitage.65 After a long time Lungshar became extremely ill, with a vulture landing on the roof of his house in Tse Shoel. Due to this ominous occurrence, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was consulted, and he replied, saying that “if the bird suppressed by Vajrabhairava’s first left leg [i.e. a vulture] lands on the roof of one’s house it is a sign that someone will die”.66 The Dalai Lama then instructed that a number of Gurupūjā gaṇacakra offerings (Bla mchod dang ‘brel ba’i tshogs mchod) and many great Drukchuma (Drug cu ma), or Sixty- Four Part Offerings to the protector Kālarūpa, must be done in order to avert future obstacles or misfortunes.

A view of the ruins of the Dorje Shugden temple at Tashi Choling. Below is the main temple of Tashi Choling.

The Yellow Book recounts that not long after this the Thirteenth Dalai Lama passed away and then provides details of a selection of events from the subsequent Lungshar affair, ending with a description of Lungshar’s frightful fate; he had his eyes gouged out and hot oil poured into the sockets, and was then locked up in the Tse Shoel prison.67 Although, as has already been recounted, it appears that Lungshar was later released, according to the Yellow Book he nevertheless lived the final few years of his life in fear and misery. According to a source close to Tsewang Dorje, despite being sent to the Lhalu mansion after his punishment to live out his final years, Lungshar nevertheless quickly left. Although he no longer had his eyes, he felt uncomfortable living in a mansion that had such close affiliations to Shugden.68 Believing that Shugden was intent at harming followers of his Nyingma tradition, he went to live in his house in Tse Shoel instead, where he then soon died.

An ancient mural of Dorje Shugden painted on the walls of Sakya Monastery. If Dorje Shugden practice was sectarian and it invokes a deity who only protects the Gelug tradition (as is often erroneously claimed), it is highly unlikely that he would be painted on the walls of the main Sakya temple in Tibet.

An ancient mural of Dorje Shugden painted on the walls of Sakya Monastery. If Dorje Shugden practice was sectarian and it invokes a deity who only protects the Gelug tradition (as is often erroneously claimed), it is highly unlikely that he would be painted on the walls of the main Sakya temple in Tibet.

Thus the losses of Jigme Namgyal and Lungshar are all ascribed to Shugden’s wrath as a punishment for corrupting the Gelug teachings with what are seen as “impure” Nyingma teachings, as well as for preventing Yangdzom Tsering from engaging in “pure” Gelug practices. The death of Phuntsok Rabgye soon after that of Jigme Namgyal was a further extension of the tragedy and also exacerbated the succession dilemma in the Lhalu estate, which had arisen due to the extermination of Jigme Namgyal by Shugden. The point of these stories thus is to demonstrate the grave misfortunes that arise from abandoning or defiling the “pure” Gelug lineage. These misfortunes are then interpreted as being manifestations of the enlightened activity of this particular protector. For this reason the book focusses primarily on accounts of figures who the author(s) considered (or expected) to be Gelugpas, but who nevertheless either abandon the exclusive practice of the tradition, or directly threaten it in one way or another.69 This is perhaps the reason why those who believe the accounts told in the book do not consider it sectarian; the majority of the stories of misfortune relate primarily to practitioners of the Gelug sect. Thus with regard to the Lhalu family The Yellow Book is interesting because it is the only textual source that discusses both the Lhacham’s devotion to Shugden and the Gelug lineage, while intertwining these with a narrative laden with clearly sectarian and political dimensions, that is, the threat of Nyingma-related ecclecticism to the Gelug tradition in general and especially to the Dalai Lama’s Ganden Phodrang government.

Another thangka featuring Guru Rinpoche (top left) with the great Drukpa Kagyu lama His Holiness the 4th Zhabdrung Rinpoche Jigme Norbu as the central figure. At the bottom of the thangka is Dorje Shugden, who was propitiated and relied upon by Zhabdrung Rinpoche.

Another thangka featuring Guru Rinpoche (top left) with the great Drukpa Kagyu lama His Holiness the 4th Zhabdrung Rinpoche Jigme Norbu as the central figure. At the bottom of the thangka is Dorje Shugden, who was propitiated and relied upon by Zhabdrung Rinpoche.

The Yellow Book describes Yangdzom Tsering as having been exclusively devoted to the Gelug tradition and Shugden at the time of the passing of her husband and son. This is in contrast to the account of Sampho Tenzin Dondrub, which has already been mentioned, who stated that following the deaths of her husband and son, Yangdzom Tsering abandoned her faith in the Nyingma tradition. Tenzin Dondrub specifically mentions a life-size statue of Padmasambhava being a principal object in the Lhalu shrine room and goes on to say that it was specifically due to her meeting with Phabongkha that she switched from the Nyingma to the Gelug tradition.70 However the fact that her husband Jigme Namgyal and the Lhalu family in general were Nyingma devotees does not mean that Yangdzom Tsering herself was. We know for a fact that the Shatra family from which Yangdzom Tsering originally came, was completely devoted to the Gelug tradition. Indeed the fact that following the death of Jigme Namgyal, Yangdzom Tsering managed to ground the whole household in the Gelug tradition as transmitted by Phabongkha, is an indicator of her continued adherence to the Gelug sect, which she was already following before being married into the then Nyingma Lhalu family. Whether or not she was indeed already propritiating Shugden at the time of her husband’s death is another matter, and is difficult to establish.

Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as taught by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and recorded and edited by his student, Trijang Rinpoche. Pabongka Rinpoche gave these teaching in order to create merit for both Jigme Namgyal and Phuntsok Rabgye after their passing

Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, as taught by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and recorded and edited by his student, Trijang Rinpoche. Pabongka Rinpoche gave these teaching in order to create merit for both Jigme Namgyal and Phuntsok Rabgye after their passing

Although Yangdzom Tsering was clearly described as being a devoted follower of Tsongkhapa’s teachings and Shugden in The Yellow Book, and her son, Phuntsok Rabgye, was never implicated in polluting the Gelug teachings, nevertheless both had to suffer due to the actions of Jigme Namgyal and Lungshar. From the point of view of the author(s) of The Yellow Book, their suffering could be seen as an unavoidable necessity in order to fulfill the greater purpose of protecting the Gelug teachings. However, despite these unfortunate events which befell the family being attributed to Shugden, it is clear from a variety of sources, such the biography of Phabongkha and the autobiographies of Tsewang Dorje and Trijang Rinpoche, the latter from whom these cautionary tales are claimed to originate, that the two teachers had a close and amicable relationship with the Lhalus and clearly sympathized with all three losses. As has already been recounted above, Phabongkha gave his most famous teachings on the Liberation in Your Hand in order to create merit for both Jigme Namgyal and Phuntsok Rabgye after their passing and despite the delicacy of the matter, Phabongkha attempted to save the arms of both of Lungshar’s sons from being cut off. Trijang Rinpoche also recounts in his autobiography that the Lungshar incident and the problems it resulted in caused him personal sorrow and distress to the extent that it increased his renunciation for saṃsāra.71 If Trijang Rinpoche, the purported source of the accounts written down by Zemey Rinpoche, appeared distressed with Lungshar’s fate then we must question to what extent he would have seen these events as the wrathful activity of the protector, and even if he did, then to what extent did he see them as justified? One could nevertheless argue that due to this series of events, Yangdzom Tsering, despite her personal grief, was left as the most senior member of the Lhalu household, free to continue her religious practices, including her propitiation of Shugden, in peace. She was thus also able to guide Tsewang Dorje towards these same practices and encourage him to have devotion to her own root guru.

Lhalu-20

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (second row, fourth from right) together with His Eminence Zemey Rinpoche (to the Dalai Lama’s right) and Canadian teacher Judy Pullen (to the Dalai Lama’s left). This photograph was taken in Kangra, India at the teacher training school that was established to ensure the knowledge and skills of learned lamas and monks could be shared with the next generation of Tibetans. This school was headed by Zemey Rinpoche.

Zemey Rinpoche, always a passionate defender of Tsongkhapa’s views, was himself on good relations with the Lhalu estate. Two years after completing his Geshe degree, he composed a strongly worded refutation of The Adornment of Nagarjuna’s Thought (Klu sgrub dgong rgyan), a work on Madhyamaka attributed to Gendun Choephel (Dge ‘dun chos ‘phel, 1903-1951) and which Zemey Rinpoche saw as a heretical work incompatible with Tsongkhapa’s teachings on emptiness.72 The Yellow Book was thus, in a sense, a continuation of Zemey Rinpoche’s defense of the Gelug tradition. As with The Yellow Book, which Zemey Rinpoche stated was based on oral accounts passed on from Trijang Rinpoche, Donald Lopez suggests that Zemey Rinpoche’s refutation of Gendun Choephel’s work, commonly known as A Refutation of “The Adornment of Nagarjuna’s Thought” (Dbu ma klu sgrub dgongs rgyan gyi dgag pa), was also encouraged, or at least approved of, by Trijang Rinpoche.73 It is, however, impossible to estimate with certainty the extent to which Trijang Rinpoche or his encouragement directly influenced the creation of either work. Whatever the case, the amicable relationship between Zemey Rinpoche and the Lhalu family is evident in the colophon of the original woodblocks of the refutation of The Adornment of Nagarjuna’s Thought, which notes that Tsewang Dorje, again described as “one with unswerving faith in the victorious teachings of Lobsang [i.e. Tsongkhapa] (blo bzang rgyal ba’i bstan la mi phyed dad ldan)”, ordered the carving of the new xylographs in 1958.74 Tsewang Dorje, who was clearly devoted to his father as attested by his actions during the Lungshar incident, also appears to not have harbored any evident ill feelings with regard to the story of Lungshar as later recounted in The Yellow Book.75 Tsewang Dorje was touched by these various unfortunate events, but due to his apparently strong faith in his teacher and Shugden, he appears to have viewed all of these situations as manifestation of the enlightened wrathful activity of the protector.76 It is difficult to say whether or not the Lhacham herself thought that there was any link between these events and her protector deity, especially as she had already passed away more than a decade before the publication of The Yellow Book.

 

IV. Sponsorship and Legacy

Apart from simply requesting for the composition of certain texts, both Yangdzom Tsering and Tsewang Dorje played a central and direct role in making the works of Phabongkha and his immediate students and teachers available to a wider audience. This was done by providing resources for the composition and editing of texts as well as the actual carving of woodblocks and the printing of manuscripts. Many works in Phabongkha’s Collected Works, both sūtra and tantra, end with the same stanza indicating that the Lhalu family sponsored the production of these texts. The stanza further functions as a dedication of merit for their continued closeness with Phabongkha in future lives as well as their eventual enlightenment.77 The inscription is also found in several Shugden texts, such as the life-entrustment, an associated explanatory text as well as a collection of various rituals dedicated to different wealth-deities and protectors, which also includes a libation (gser skyems), exhortation (‘phrin bskul) and gaṇacakra offering to Shugden.78

The cover page of the Collected Works of Pabongka Rinpoche, which the Lhalu family sponsored the production of. Click the image to download the entire collection.

The cover page of the Collected Works of Pabongka Rinpoche, which the Lhalu family sponsored the production of. Click the image to download the entire collection.

Another photo of Lhalu Mansion (January 8, 1937). Such was the prominence of the Lhalu family that even their home was the subject of photography over the years. And in spite of their immense wealth, this never distracted the great Lady Lhalu Lhacham from her practice. The writer of Pabongka Rinpoche's commentary on the generation and completion stages of Vajrayogini, which was composed after Pabongka Rinpoche's passing, stayed here in Lhalu mansion. He was fully sponsored by the Lady Lhalu, who provided him with accommodation, food and funds for the publication in 1954.

Another photo of Lhalu Mansion
(January 8, 1937). Such was the prominence of the Lhalu family that even their home was the subject of photography over the years. And in spite of their immense wealth, this never distracted the great Lady Lhalu Lhacham from her practice. The writer of Pabongka Rinpoche’s commentary on the generation and completion stages of Vajrayogini, which was composed after Pabongka Rinpoche’s passing, stayed here in Lhalu mansion. He was fully sponsored by the Lady Lhalu, who provided him with accommodation, food and funds for the publication in 1954.

It was not just individual texts in the Collected Works that received the sponsorship of the Lhalus, but the editing and publishing of the whole set of works after Phabongkha’s death also, to a large part, depended on their generosity.79 In his introduction to Phabongkha’s set of works, Trijang Rinpoche makes special note of Tsewang Dorje and Yangdzom Tsering, describing them as “great sponsors” (rgyu sbyor yon kyi bdag po chen po) who not only provided money for the carving of the blocks together with many other donors when the Collected Works as a whole was being created, but who also supported previous efforts in publishing Phabongkha’s works and provided money for extra expenses such as paper, payment for carvers, food and other necessities.80 This type of generosity is also noted in specific texts within the Collected Works, such as the colophon to Phabongkha’s commentary on the generation and completion stages of Vajrayoginī, The Heart Essence of the Dakinis of the Three Places (Gnas gsum mkha’ ‘gro’i snying bcud). This commentary, which was composed after Phabongkha’s passing based on his previous oral instructions, states specifically that it was sponsored by the “female sponsor” (yon gyi bdag mo), Yangdzom Tsering, who provided accommodation for the writer at the Lhalu mansion, as well as food and funds for the publication in 1954.81 An example of an earlier publication which was published before Phabongka’s death is an initiation manual that the teacher composed for the Thirteen Pure Visions of Tagphu (Stag phu’i dag snang bcu gsum), a cycle of teachings associated with the incarnation lineage of his teacher Tagphu Pemavajra. The manual was published by the Lhalu mansion in 1935 following which the blocks were kept at the estate― probably together with the woodblocks of other texts, showing how the sponsorship of the publication of this lineage’s works by the Lhalu household lasted for several decades.82

Yangdzom Tsering’s generosity was certainly not restricted to donations made to Phabongkha and his direct students, but also included other teachers, especially in the Lhasa Valley.83 According to several sources, at Trijang Rinpoche’s urging, she was the principal sponsor of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso’s conferral of the Kālacakra initiation at the Norbulingka Palace in the spring of 1954.84 Through her sponsorship of these many religious figures, her dedication to her own teachers and practice, and even the stories of her youth (i.e. being a candidate for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama) she developed a reputation for being someone of great merit (bsod nams chen po), and is still remembered as such today both inside and outside of Tibet by every subject interviewed for this article, to the extent that some described her or even describe her today as having been like a “ḍākinī”.85 In one of several praises composed about her by her lover Chingpa, not only are Yangdzom Tsering’s physical characteristics praised, but even in these she is described as a ḍākinī, and as possessing the mind of bodhichitta, perhaps hinting at her religious devotion or a perceived spiritual accomplishment:

“Black shiny hair, with a forehead the shape of a jewel,
Eyes far apart, with fine eyelashes,
Your mouth emits the scent of sandalwood and lotus―
[You are] a ḍākinī with a mind of bodhicitta.86

The Lhalu family as a whole is still seen today by a number of older practitioners of Phabongkha’s lineage to be special in this regard and many note how the Lhalu lineage from the Lhacham and Tsewang Dorje onward has produced several reincarnate lamas, who today live both inside and outside of Tibet.87

 

V. Later Life

Despite Yangdzom Tsering’s importance in Lhasa society and the high regard in which she was held by many, after the final integration of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959, the Lhacham’s life became extremely difficult. During the final years before her death in 1963, the Lhalu mansion had been confiscated by the government and Tsewang Dorje had been imprisoned. Yangdzom Tsering was allowed to keep one of the storerooms of the mansion to live in and only had her former close lady’s maid to care for her. By this time the Lhacham’s health had declined drastically and she could no longer cook or take care of herself. However even having the assistance of her helper was risky as it was dangerous for anyone to maintain good relations with former aristocrats.

Lhalu Mansion in its later years. It was confiscated from the Lhalu family some time after 1959 and sold to a private owner in the 1990s. The property was used as a private residence until it was finally demolished. After losing her family's wealth, the Lady Lhalu had just one servant to look after her in her later years. Instead of becoming despondent however, she became even more devoted to her Vajrayogini practice, passing away upright and in full meditation posture. She remained in tugdam (clear light meditation) for many days before her consciousness finally left her body.

Lhalu Mansion in its later years. It was confiscated from the Lhalu family some time after 1959 and sold to a private owner in the 1990s. The property was used as a private residence until it was finally demolished. After losing her family’s wealth, the Lady Lhalu had just one servant to look after her in her later years. Instead of becoming despondent however, she became even more devoted to her Vajrayogini practice, passing away upright and in full meditation posture. She remained in tugdam (clear light meditation) for many days before her consciousness finally left her body.

Despite her difficult situation, Yangdzom Tsering maintained her religious practice until she passed away at the age of 83. According to several oral accounts her death appears to have been extraordinary. She was discovered sitting upright in the meditation posture, with her hands resting on her lap. Tritrul Rinpoche (Khri sprul rin po che, d.u.), a high Gelug lama known by the family, was contacted and he confirmed that although it appeared that the Lhacham had passed away, she was in fact engaged in thugdam (thugs dam), a tantric meditative practice which uses the subtle states of consciousness that manifest at the time of death in order to reach the state of enlightenment.88 Yangdzom Tsering’s death meditation lasted for several days. This type of phenomenon, however, is usually only observed following the clinical deaths of spiritually highly attained yogis, suggesting to many that knew her that the Lhacham was herself a highly realized yoginī. Following her death, Trijang Rinpoche recounts that some of her remains were sent to him in India where he performed the blessing of her bones (rus chog), and then used the remains for making images of various deities in Dharamsala in 1965.89

 

Conclusion

A wall painting of the Kingdom of Shambala in Lhalu mansion. Though the Lady Lhalu's later years were difficult, she never lost her faith in her guru Pabongka Rinpoche, yidam Vajrayogini and Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.

A wall painting of the Kingdom of Shambala in Lhalu mansion. Though the Lady Lhalu’s later years were difficult, she never lost her faith in her guru Pabongka Rinpoche, yidam Vajrayogini and Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.

Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering’s devotion to Phabongkha and her position in the sustenance of his legacy and teachings through her sponsorship of the lineage and its publications is clear. Her importance to the lineage in the minds of Phabongkha’s own students is also evident and continues to this day. As an example of this, some years following the Lhacham’s death, and the death of Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s subsequent reincarnation (1941-1967), Trijang Rinpoche recounts that he had an auspicious dream of the Lhacham during the time of recognizing the current incarnation, Lobsang Thubten Trinley Kunkhyab (Blo bzang thub bstan ‘phrin las kun khyab, b.1969), in the early 1970s.90 In the dream Yangdzom Tsering, dressed in elaborate clothes and jewels, presented Phabongkha, who was sitting on a high throne, with a white scarf (mjal dar), during a celebration.91

As has been demonstrated, the Lhacham’s life story, specifically the tragedies, were woven into the lineage’s Shugden lore. In the Yellow Book Yangdzom Tsering was represented as an ideal Gelug practitioner, most likely due to her being a close student of Phabongkha. The loss of her loved ones and the catastrophes that the Lhalu estate was flung into were blamed on the “pollution” of the family’s allegiance to the Gelug sect. Lhalu Lhacham survived unscathed, as did eventually her young husband, whom she steered towards Phabongkha as well. It also appears that the initial series of unfortunate events that took place were an important causal factor in her finding faith in Phabongkha. Whatever the case, the view of the lineage, according to Zemey Rinpoche, was that Yangdzom Tsering was devoted to Shugden and the Gelug tradition throughout her life. The protector was simply performing his function, that is protecting the Gelug teachings and creating the causes for the Lhalu household to exclusively follow the same. Although we do not know when she began to propitiate Shugden, it does indeed appear that the Lhacham was a Gelug follower from a young age.

The Potala Palace from the north northeast, as seen from the Lhalu household. There are tall trees in the foreground and the boundary wall of the Lhalu mansion in front of them.

The Potala Palace from the north northeast, as seen from the Lhalu household. There are tall trees in the foreground and the boundary wall of the Lhalu mansion in front of them.

What drew the Lhacham to Phabongkha in the first place? Several reasons have been suggested for the growth of Phabongkha’s popularity in general and the apparent Shugden-related sectarianism amongst him and his students, including the Lhasa aristocracy. In the early twentieth century the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (r.1879-1933) was engaged in a number of modernisation attempts, including setting up English language schools and a re-organisation of the army. These changes were perceived as a threat by conservative elements in the Tibetan government, especially the Gelug monastic authorities, who eventually helped to ensure the failure of these efforts. 92 Donald Lopez suggests that as a response to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s programs, Phabongkha and his teachings gave birth to a “charismatic movement… among Lhasa aristocrats and in the three major Geluk monasteries in the vicinity of Lhasa” which instilled “a strong sense of communal identity at a time when that identity appeared under threat, both by a modernising government and by external forces”.93

Unwelcome changes had also started to take root in Kham under the teachers of the non-sectarian Rime (ris med) movement, which encouraged practitioners of all schools to take up a more eclectic approach to the study and practice of Tibet’s varied Buddhist lineages. The movement was an apparent response to the supremacy of the Gelug tradition, as is also suggested by the fact that the principal founders of this movement, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (‘Jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang po, 1820-1892) and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (‘Jam mgon kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas, 1813-1899), promoted primarily Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya teachings. Although the Gelug lineages were not excluded per se, their views were challenged by Rime masters such as Ju Mipham (‘Ju Mi pham, 1846-1912), who was highly critical of current Gelug presentations of Prāsaṅgika philosophy.94 Georges Dreyfus suggests that the increased popularity that Dorje Shugden enjoyed during this period as a wrathful protector of the Gelug tradition was a reaction to the rise of the Rime movement.95 This is easily extendable to the rise of Phabongkha’s brand of Buddhism in general which sought to preserve the Gelug tradition as a distinctive lineage, separate from the eclectic style of the Rime movement which may well have been seen as a threat. This type of caution may have translated into a direct aversion amongst his students on the ground in Kham, where the Rime movement was taking hold. For instance, several accounts of Tsewang Dorje’s bias against the Nyingma tradition during his posting as Governor of Chamdo in the late 1940s have been recorded.96

No matter what was happening in her life, the Lady Lhalu Lhacham remained devoted to her guru, the great Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang.

No matter what was happening in her life, the Lady Lhalu Lhacham remained devoted to her guru, the great Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang.

Whether or not Phabongkha’s was a “charismatic movement” motivated by fear of change in both political and sectarian landscapes or not, it was certainly a continuation of sectarian rivalry that had existed in Tibet throughout most of its Buddhist history, which may now look out of place from the perspective of all-embracing twenty-first century Tibetan Buddhism. This is especially true if the enigma that was Phabongkha and his teachings is contrasted to the contemporary, popular and inclusive Rime movement in eastern Tibet. As far as the sources examined here demonstrate, Yangdzom Tsering’s motivation for becoming an ardent follower of Phabongkha does not appear to have been explicitly due to concern of extra-Tibetan political forces or of the Rime movement, but rather through being propelled to the teacher because of personal reasons and tragedies. Whether she blamed the Nyingma teachings for the loss of her husband, son and Lungshar, and whether this made her lean even more toward Phabongkha, we will probably never know. According to sources close to Tsewang Dorje, the Lhacham maintained great respect for the Nyingma tradition and kept the Lhalus’ large statue of Padmasambhava in her altar room throughout her life.97 On the other hand it may well be that the gradual breaking of sectarian boundaries and vast changes that took place in Tibet in the first half of the twentieth century contributed to the types of interpretations espoused by Zemey Rinpoche and the later lineage. This was certainly true in India, where the Yellow Book was composed. By this time the Gelug political establishment was in exile and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was leaning gradually towards an inclusive and ecumenical approach to the various Tibetan religious traditions, in a manner that was perhaps reminiscient of the Khampa Rime masters.

An example of an altar or shrine room belonging to a Tibetan noble family. This particular example belongs to the Tsarong family, who were one of the wealthiest families in Tibet. Decorated with elaborate carvings, thangkas, Buddha statues and religious objects, the 108 offering bowls had their water changed every day. It was the finest room in the House. The Lady Lhalu Lhacham would have had a shrine room just as elaborate in her home, in which she kept their family's large statue of Padmasambhava on her altar throughout her life. (Photo taken September 2, 1936).

An example of an altar or shrine room belonging to a Tibetan noble family. This particular example belongs to the Tsarong family, who were one of the wealthiest families in Tibet. Decorated with elaborate carvings, thangkas, Buddha statues and religious objects, the 108 offering bowls had their water changed every day. It was the finest room in the House. The Lady Lhalu Lhacham would have had a shrine room just as elaborate in her home, in which she kept their family’s large statue of Padmasambhava on her altar throughout her life. (Photo taken September 2, 1936).

Despite the controversial aura that today surrounds Phabongkha and the analysis of the popularity of Phabongkha’s teachings being a reaction to both changing political and sectarian landscapes, the simple spiritual draw of the teacher to followers like the Lhacham cannot be dismissed. Virtually every account given by his students describes the way in which Phabongkha had a humble, humorous and extremely patient personality, and how he was a positively charismatic speaker.98 He had a strong voice that could be heard by large assemblies and was able to relate to his audience, making complex topics accessible even to those with little education. Perhaps most importantly, as Geshe Lobsang Tharchin (dge bshes Blo bzang mthar phyin, 1921-2004) notes in relation to Phabongkha’s public teachings, “The effects on his audience were striking and immediate”.99 Rilbur Rinpoche (Ril ‘bur rin po che, 1923-2006) similarly states that, “Whenever he taught, I would feel inspired to become a real yogi by retreating to a cave, covering myself with ashes and meditating”.100 Although we can only speculate, it is probable that Yangdzom Tsering was likewise taken by Phabongkha’s charming personality and the immediacy of his teachings, in which she searched for solace due to the turmoil that had taken place in her family. She then eagerly began to undertake a variety of practices including tantric retreats of deities such as Vajrayoginī and Vajrabhairava and undertook an extensive daily practice schedule for the rest of her life.101 Thus in the case of Yangdzom Tsering and many others, the reason for their lifelong devotion to Phabongkha may not have been anything more than an actual attraction to him and a genuine feeling of benefit, which they felt they derived from his teachings.

Click here to download the PDF.

 


 

Footnotes

*The research for this article was supported by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

1 See Luciano Petech, Aristocracy and Government in Tibet, 1728-1959, p.44 and Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, pp.20-21.
2 Basil J. Gould, The Jewel in the Lotus, p.236.
3 Fredrick Spencer Chapman, Lhasa: The Holy City, p.319.

4 An example of a small temple owned and run by non-Gelugpas was the Shitro Lhakhang (Zhi khro lha khang) in Lhasa, which was used by a lay Nyingma (Rnying ma) association (André Alexander, Temples of Lhasa: Tibetan Buddhist Architecture from the 7th to the 21st Centuries, p.271).

5 Joona Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo: His Collected Works and the Guru-Deity- Protector Triad”, pp.6-7.

6 Bshad sgra Dga’ ldan dpal ‘byor, “Sger dga’ ldan bshad sgra ba’i khyim tshang mi rabs kyi lo rgyus rags tsam bkod pa”, p.422.

7 Gender transformation at birth or at a young age, colloquially known as lunglog (slung log) or trunglog (krung log) is well-known throughout Tibet. This specific account is according to a student of Phabongkha, interviewed in 2014. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the topics dicussed in this article, the names of informants have been kept anonymous. Interviews took place in Tibet, various European countries, Nepal and the US.

8 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Yab gzhis lha klu’i khyim tshang gi lo rgyus skor”, p.10. The title gung refers to a high-ranking official and is often rendered in English as “duke”.

9 Tshe dbang rdo rje, ” Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, p.21.

10 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Yab gzhis lha klu’i khyim tshang gi lo rgyus skor”, pp.9-11.

11 Bshad sgra Dga’ ldan dpal ‘byor, “Sger dga’ ldan bshad sgra ba’i khyim tshang mi rabs kyi lo rgyus rags tsam bkod pa”, p.422-423.

12 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Yab gzhis lha klu’i khyim tshang gi lo rgyus skor”, p.11.

13 Bshad sgra Dga’ ldan dpal ‘byor, “Sger dga’ ldan bshad sgra ba’i khyim tshang mi rabs kyi lo rgyus rags tsam bkod pa”, p.424.

14 Ibid. Furthermore, Jamyang Norbu in “The Lhasa Ripper: A preliminary investigation into the “dark Underbelly” of social life in the holy city”, p.233-234, recounts that apart from Chingpa, the Lhacham later (in the late 1920s) had at least one other lover.

15 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Yab gzhis lha klu’i khyim tshang gi lo rgyus skor”, p.12.

16 Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State, p. 211, Petech, Aristocracy and Government in Tibet, 1728-1959, p.48, Tsering Yangdzom, The Aristocratic Families in Tibetan History 1900-1951, p.172. Furthermore Rinchen Drolma Taring, Daughter of Tibet: The Autobiography of Rinchen Dolma Taring, p.142, also states that Yangdzom Tsering was “Lungshar’s junior wife”.

17 Close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interview, 2015.

18 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, p.21.

19 Tsering Yangdzom, The Aristocratic Families in Tibetan History 1900-1951, p.172.

20 Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, pp.62-63.

21 Ibid., pp.66-67.

22 Ibid., p.67.

23 Ibid., p.96.

24 Close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interview, 2015. Jamyang Norbu also notes that his mother remembers Yangdzom Tsering visiting Gyurme Gyatso (‘Gyur med rgya mtsho, 1890-1938), then a minister of the kashag, in order to petition for Lungshar’s release. He also suggests that she visited the other ministers in the cabinet as well (Jamyang Norbu, “The Lhasa Ripper”, p.245).

25 Tshe dbang rdo rje, ” Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, p.91.

26 Ibid., p.70.

27 Ibid., pp.70, 101.

28 Ibid., pp.101-102. At this time, Tsewang Dorje was 27 and Thonpa Sonam Dekyi was 16.

29 According to several close relations of the Lhalu family and Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2013 and 2015.

30 Ibid.

31 According a close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2015.

32 Khri byang rin po che, “Dga’ ldan khri chen byang chub chos ‘phel gyi skye gral du rlom pa’i gyi na pa zhig gis rang gi ngag tshul ma bcos lhug par bkod pa ‘khrul snang sgyu ma’i zlos gar”, pp.41-42. This was also confirmed by a close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2015.

33 Ldan ma Blo bzang rdo rje, Rigs daṅ dkyil ‘khor rgya mtsho’i khyab bdag he ru kah dpal ṅur smrig gar rol skyabs gcig pha boṅ kha pa bde chen sñiṅ po dpal bzaṅ po’i rnam par thar pa don ldan tshaṅs pa’i dbyaṅs sñan: The detailed biography of Rje Pha-boṅ-kha-pa Byams-pa-bstan- ‘dzin-‘phrin-las-rgya-mtsho (Vol.1), p.482.

34 Khri byang rin po che, “‘Khrul snang sgyu ma’i zlos gar”, pp.95-96. Although the work is mainly based on these teachings given at Chubzang, material was also drawn by Trijang Rinpoche from other lamrim teachings given by Phabongkha on other occasions and thus the book could also be viewed as a compilation of his philosophical views and lamrim teachings given throughout his life (Pha bong kha Bde chen snying po, Lam rim rnam grol lag bcangs, pp.528-529).

35 Pha bong kha, Lam rim rnam grol lag bcangs, p.528.

36 Bshad sgra Dga’ ldan dpal ‘byor, “Sger dga’ ldan bshad sgra ba’i khyim tshang mi rabs kyi lo rgyus rags tsam bkod pa”, p.426.

37 Tibetan Oral History Archive Project, “Interview H0205 : with Sambo, Tenzin Thondrub [tib. bsam pho, bstan ‘dzin don grub, (India, 1981)”.

38 Tshe dbang rdo rje, ” Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, p.68.

39 Ibid., p.60.

40 According a close relations of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2013 and 2015.

41 This idea of a rearrangment of Gelug practice is suggested, for example, in Georges Dreyfus, “The Shuk-Den Affair: History and Nature of a Quarrel”, pp.246. For a discussion of this issue see Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”.

42 See Ldan ma Blo bzang rdo rje, Tshaṅs pa’i dbyaṅs sñan: The detailed biography of Rje Pha- boṅ-kha-pa Byams-pa-bstan-‘dzin-‘phrin-las-rgya-mtsho (Vol.1), p.580 and Pha bong kha, “Mkha’ spyod bgrod pa’i man ngag gser chos thun min zhal shes chig brgyud ma/”, p.277.

43 Ldan ma Blo bzang rdo rje, Tshaṅs pa’i dbyaṅs sñan: The detailed biography of Rje Pha-boṅ- kha-pa Byams-pa-bstan-‘dzin-‘phrin-las-rgya-mtsho (Vol.1), p.580.

44 According to sources closely related to Tsewang Dorje and the Lhalu family interviewed in 2013 and 2015.

45 Pha bong kha, “Rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma nA ro mkha’ spyod dbang mo’i dkyil ‘khor gyi cho ga bde chen dga’ ston/”, pp.128-129. I have not been able to locate any further information about this lady or her family.

46 Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet 1913-195, p.362. “Sendregasum” refers to the three main Gelug monasteries of Sera (Se ra), Ganden (Dga’ ldan) and Drepung (‘Bras spungs).

47 Pha bong kha, “Shugs ldan gyi bsnyen sgrub las gsum gyi rnam gzhag dgos ‘dod yid bzhin re skong phyogs las rnam par rgyal ba’i rgyal mtshan”, p.609.

48 Khri byang rin po che, “Dge ldan bstan pa bsrung ba’i lha mchog sprul pa’i chos rgyal chen po rdo rje shugs ldan rtsal gyi gsang gsum rmad du byung ba’i rtogs pa brjod pa’i gtam du bya ba dam can rgya mtsho dgyes pa’i rol mo”, p.157.

49 Khri byang rin po che, “‘Khrul snang sgyu ma’i zlos gar “, pp.216-217.

50 Several texts on the subject can be found, all in Vol. 5 of Khri byang rin po che, Yongs rdzogs bstan pa’i mnga’ bdag skyabs rje yongs ‘dzin khri byang rdo rje ‘chang chen po’i gsung ‘bum.

51 Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”, pp.33-34.

52 According to a Gelug practicioner interviewed in Lhasa, 2015.

53 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, “Mthu dang stobs kyis che ba’i bstan srung chen po rdo rje shugs ldan rtsal gyi byung ba brjod pa pha rgod bla ma’i zhal gyi bdud rtsi’i chu gur brtsegs shing ‘jigs rung glog zhags ‘gyu ba’i sprin nag ‘khrugs pa’i nga ro zhes bya ba bzhugs so”.

54 Ibid., p.577.

55 Ibid., p.576-577.

56 Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Madman’s Middleway: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel, p.238.

57 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, “Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung”, pp.625-627.

58 Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”, pp.7-8. In Liberation in Your Hand, for example, Phabongkha notes that both Śāntarakṣita and Padmasambhava are manifestations (skur bstan) of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Pha bong kha, Lam rim rnam grol lag bcangs, p.135).

59 A brief but incomplete summary of these and other select accounts drawn from The Yellow Book was made available by the Tibetan Youth Congress in late 1996 and subsequently circulated on the internet (Tibetan Youth Congress, “Statement on Shugden by TYC, Dharamsala”, 1997). The publication and translations were directly intended to turn opinion against Shugden, as is evident from the strongly worded introduction to the accounts. Here, as I have done throughout this article, I have chosen to refer to the complete original Tibetan primary sources instead.

60 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, “Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung “, p.638. It should be noted that according to one oral source (interviewed 2015), the Lhalu family already adhered to Nyingma teachings before Jigme Namgyal.

61 According to a close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2015, this lama had several students among the Lhasa aristocracy.

62 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, “Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung”, p.639.

63 Ibid., p.640.

64 Ibid., pp.640-641. Lungshar’s devotion to the Nyingma teachings is corroborated by his son (Tshe dbang rdo rje, ” Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa”, p.20). Tsewang Dorje notes that his father’s root guru was Lama Dza Rongphu (Bla ma Rdza rong phu, 1867-1940/42), a Nyingma teacher from Dza Rongphu Monastery (Rdza rong phu dgon) in the Everest region, who is more commonly known as Ngawang Tenzin Norbu (Ngag dbang bstan ‘dzin nor bu).

65 The creation of a new extensive Shugden fulfillment ritual was commenced by Phabongkha in 1925 and continued for several years. The fully complete work, Melodious Drum Victorious in All Directions (Rnam par rgyal ba’i rnga dbyangs), including its colophon and auspicious verses, was completed in 1927, not 1929 as noted in Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”, p.25 (Pha bong kha, “Dge ldan bstan srung dgra lha’i rgyal po srid gsum skye dgu’i srog bdag dam ldan bu bzhin skyong ba’i lha mchog sprul pa’i rgyal chen rdo rje shugs ldan rigs lnga rtsal gyi sger bskang rgyas pa phyogs las rnam par rgyal ba’i rnga dbyangs”, pp. 665-666). It is almost certain that this is the text that was used for the fulfillment rituals in the Lhalu household and at Tashi Choeling.

66 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, “Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung”, p.642.

67 Ibid. pp.643-644.

68 This account was told by a close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2015. Indeed, as can be seen from numerous textual sources, the Lhalu household under the Lhacham and Lungshar’s son, Tsewang Dorje, enthusiastically continued relying on the protector.

69 While Lungshar was a Nyingma devotee, he was also a Ganden Phodrang official who explicily expressed his dislike for Shugden.

70 Tibetan Oral History Archive Project, “Interview H0205 : with Sambo, Tenzin Thondrub [tib. bsam pho, bstan ‘dzin don grub, (India, 1981)”. Tenzin Dondrub also interestingly notes that despite becoming a follower of the Gelug teachings, the Lhacham nevertheless kept the Nyingma statues in her house.

71 Khri byang rin po che, “‘Khrul snang sgyu ma’i zlos gar”, p.178.

72 The actual full title of Zemey Rinpoche’s work is The Emanated Wheel of Cutting Swords Grinding to Dust the Evil Adversary with a Discourse to Delight Mañjuśrī (Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, ‘Jam dpal dgyes pa’i gtam gyis rgol ngan phye mar ‘thag pa reg gcod ral gri’i ‘phrul ‘khor), and is discussed in more depth in Lopez, The Madman’s Middle Way, pp.230-244. Lopez also presents the questions surrounding the authorship of “The Adornment of Nagarjuna’s Thought” (Ibid. pp.220-229).

73 Ibid., p.239.

74 Blo bzang dpal ldan bstan ‘dzin yar rgyas, ‘jam dpal dgyes pa’i gtam gyis rgol ngan phye mar ‘thag pa reg gcod ral gri’i ‘phrul ‘khor, p.203.

75 According to a close relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed 2015.

76 Ibid.

77 “/dad dam mtshungs med lha klu dga’ tshal bas/ /yon sbyar mthun rkyen ‘brel tshad bla ma yis/ /tshe rabs ‘bral med mnyes bzhin rjes ‘dzin cing/ /zung ‘jug rdo rje ‘chang dbang myur thob shog/” (See, for example, Pha bong kha, “Lam rim chen mo mchan bu bzhi sbrags kyi skor dran gso’i bsnyel byang mgo smos tsam du mdzad pa”, p.191).

78 Pha bong kha, “‘Jam mgon bstan srung yongs kyi thu bo mchog/ rdo rje shugs ldan srog dbang zab mo’i tshul/ byin rlabs rin chen phung po ‘dren ba yi/ /yid ches nor bu’i shing rta/”, p.523, Pha bong kha, “Rgyal chen srog gtad kyi sngon ‘gro’i bshad pa’i mtshams sbyor kha skong”, p.540 and Pha bong kha, “Mthu ldan bstan srung khag gi ‘phrin bskul gser skyems tshogs mchod sogs dang/ gnod sbyin nor lha’i skor ‘ga’ zhig phyogs gcig tu bkod pa”, pp.457-503. The latter of these three works thus contains several short yet important Shugden-related practices, not just a “brief libation” (see Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”, p.15).

79 Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”, p.18.

80 Khri byang rin po che, “Khyab bdag rdo rje ‘chang pha bong kha pa dpal bzang po’i gsung ‘bum pod ka pa’i dkar chag”, pp.4-5. The work of producing the set of collected works took many years to complete. It began soon after Phabongkha’s death in 1941, and appears to have continued for almost two decades. The final work of Phabongkha’s Collected Works, the famous Liberation in Your Hand, which takes up the whole of the final volume of the eleven-volume Lhasa edition, was completed by Trijang Rinpoche in 1957 (Pha bong kha, Lam rim rnam grol lag bcangs, p.529). This suggests that the set as a whole was only completed and published around a year or two before Trijang Rinpoche’s escape from Tibet in 1959. For more on Phabongkha’s Collected Works see Repo, “Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo”.

81 Pha bong kha, “Dpal nA ro mkha’ spyod dbang mo’i lam rim pa gnyis kyi zab khrid ji ltar nos pa’i zin bris shin tu gsang ba gnas gsum mkha’ ‘gro ‘i snying bcud”, p.724-725.

82 Pha-boṅ-kha-pa Byams-pa-bstan-‘dzin-phrin-las-rgya-mtsho, dpal stag phu’i gsaṅ chos rgya can bcu gsum gyi dbaṅ chog chu ‘babs su bkod pa don gñis ‘bras bus brjid pa’i yoṅs ‘du’i dbaṅ po: Initiation texts for the practice of the visionary teachings received by the Second Stag-phu Sprul-sku Blo bzaṅ-chos-kyi-dbaṅ-phyug (gar-dbaṅ-padma-śwara). New Delhi: Ngawang Sopa, 1979, p.439.

83 According to a student of Phabongkha interviewed in 2014.

84 According to several close family relations of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2013 and 2015 and a student of Trijang Rinpoche interviewed in 2014.

85 For example, according to a Gelug practicioner in Lhasa, 2015.

86 “dbu skra gnag snum dpral ba nor bu’i gzugs/ spyan dkyus ring la rdzi ma phra ba dang/ zhal nas tsan dan pad ma’i dri bro ba/ thugs rgyud byang sems ldan pa’i Da ki ma [sic]” (Bshad sgra Dga’ ldan dpal ‘byor, “Sger dga’ ldan bshad sgra ba’i khyim tshang mi rabs kyi lo rgyus rags tsam bkod pa”, p.424).

87 According to two practitioners of Phabongkha’s lineage in Lhasa, 2014.

88 According to several sources close to the Lhalu family and Tsewang Dorje, interviewed 2013 and 2015.

89 Khri byang rin po che, “‘Khrul snang sgyu ma’i zlos gar”, p.396.

90 Phabongkha Dechen Nyinpo was officially recognized as the reincarnation of an abbot of Phabongkha Monastery and was thus the second incarnation of this line. Counted like this, Lobsang Thubten Trinley Kunkhyab would be the fourth incarnation. However if Dechen Nyingpo were counted as the first incarnation, then Lobsang Thubten in turn, would be the third.

91 Ibid., pp.512.

92 Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet, pp. 419-426.

93 Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-la: Tibetan Buddhism and the West, p.190. Lopez also states that this “movement” was focused on a trinity of Phabongkha as guru, Vajrayoginī as yidam and Shugden as protector. As already mentioned above, although Vajrayoginī and Shugden were certainly important to Phabongkha, and popular amongst his students, I do not believe Phabongkha aimed at re-inventing the tantric practices of the Gelug tradition with a focus on these three elements.

94 Padmakara Translation Group, “Translator’s Introduction”, pp.48-50.

95 Georges Dreyfus, “The Shuk-Den Affair: History and Nature of a Quarrel”, p.252. Donald Lopez mentions the Rime movement in relation to Shugden’s function in opposing the pollution of the Gelug lineage with the teachings of other traditions, however he does not explicitly discuss Shugden and Phabongkha’s teachings in general as being a reaction to the movement (Lopez, Prisoners of Shangri-la, p.190).

96 See, for example, Raimondo Bultrini, The Dalai Lama and the Kind Demon: Tracking a Triple Murder Mystery Through the Mists of Time, p. 397- 398. These accounts of Tsewang Dorje’s sectarianism originating from Chamdo, of which there are more than one, were doubted by a close family relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed in 2015. The interviewee noted that Tsewang Dorje would often commission Gelug monks to perform Gelug prayers, Nyingma monks to perform Nyingma prayers, and so forth. He further noted that Tsewang Dorje’s own father and brother were devout Nyingma practitioners and harbored no disdain toward the tradition.

97 According to a close relation of Tsewang Dorje who reports having seen the statue himself numerous times, interviewed 2015.

98 Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, “Foreword”, pp.6-7 and Rilbur Rinpoche, “Pabongka Rinpoche: A Memoir by Rilbur Rinpoche”, pp.13-14.

99 Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, “Foreword”, p.7.

100 Rilbur Rinpoche, “Pabongka Rinpoche: A Memoir by Rilbur Rinpoche”, p.13.

101 Relation of Tsewang Dorje, interviewed 2013.

 


 

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  • __________. “Rgyal chen srog gtad kyi sngon ‘gro bshad pa’i mtshams sbyor kha skong”, in Vol.7 of Khyab bdag rdo rje ‘chang pha bong kha pa dpal bzang po’i gsung ‘bum (11 vols.). Lhasa: s..n., 199-, pp.525-540. [TBRC W3834]
  • __________. “Shugs ldan gyi bsnyen sgrub las gsum gyi rnam gzhag dgos ‘dod yid bzhin re skong phyogs las rnam par rgyal ba’i rgyal mtshan”, in Vol.7 of Khyab bdag rdo rje ‘chang pha bong kha pa dpal bzang po’i gsung ‘bum (11 vols.). Lhasa: s..n., 199-, pp.541-609 [TBRC W3834]
  • Pha-boṅ-kha-pa Byams-pa-bstan-‘dzin-phrin-las-rgya-mtsho. dpal stag phu’i gsaṅ chos rgya can bcu gsum gyi dbaṅ chog chu ‘babs su bkod pa don gñis ‘bras bus brjid pa’i yoṅs ‘du’i dbaṅ po: Initiation texts for the practice of the visionary teachings received by the Second Stag-phu Sprul-sku Blo bzaṅ-chos-kyi-dbaṅ- phyug (gar-dbaṅ-padma-śwara). New Delhi: Ngawang Sopa, 1979. [TBRC W3838]
  • Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Phran tshe dbang rdo rje rang nyid kyi byung ba rags rim brjod pa” in Vol. 6 of Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi’i rgyu cha bdams bsgrigs (10 vols.). Chengdu: Si khron dpe skrun tshogs pa/ Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp.14-277. [TBRC W1PD96945]
  • Tshe dbang rdo rje, “Yab gzhis lha klu’i khyim tshang gi lo rgyus  skor” in Vol.  6  of Bod kyi lo rgyus rig gnas dpyad gzhi’i rgyu cha bdams bsgrigs (10 vols.). Chengdu: Si khron dpe skrun tshogs pa/ Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, pp.1-13. [TBRC W1PD96945]

 

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33 Responses to Pabongka Rinpoche and his yogini student, the Lady Lhalu

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  1. Wai Meng Wan on Dec 10, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Such an inspiring practitioner, who received the teachings and practiced devotedly , fervently and loyally. She is an inspiration to all who wishes to take on Vajrayana practices.

  2. Cc on Dec 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    🙏🙏🙏🙏
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.
    Very inspiring.
    Lady Lhalu went through alot.
    Despite the ups and down, she has strong devotion toward Kabje Pabongka Rinpoche.

    With her request ,Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche gave his Lamrim teachings and were edited to Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand which we are indeed fortunate to beable to. Without her request, we wouldnt beable to understand.

    She also requested Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, a heart disciple of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, to compose Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors.

    Her deeds were full of compassion. Without her request, we would not beable to even hear about LAMRIM.

    🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  3. P Lanse on Dec 3, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Life story of lady Lhalu of how she went through all the glorious up and down, until her final renounced of the worldly concerns and achieved some spiritual attainment at the end of her life no doubt is very impressive. However what is most inspiring among all her good qualities is her unwavering devotion towards her guru, His Holiness Pabongka Rinpoche. I believe it is through her devotion to her guru that she managed to endure all the hardships and losses in life. Worldly gains and losses could have affected a person’s life tremendously, but what really make us strong or weak is not related to the material aspects, it’s all depending on our will power. By believing whole-heartedly in her guru, hence the holy Dharma, she was able to achieve renunciation and being persistent in her spiritual practice. Also, it’s through her sincerity and pure guru devotion that she’s able to request Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche to give his famous Lamrim teachings that were recorded and later edited to become Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, and also requested Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to compose text for Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors. As followers of Pabongka’s lineage, we are all greatly indebted to her for all she had contributed to the holy lineage.

  4. Edward Ooi on Dec 3, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I have learnt so much from the daily reading session that the writers in KFR have organised and I’d love to continue learning so much more.

    In my opinion, Lady Lhalu is just such a spectacular example of how important pure Guru Devotion is in the path of us practicing the Dharma. It is like the fuel and foundation for us to go all the way in our Dharma practice. Lady Lhalu showed me how much a normal person like myself could actually contribute to the Dharma and the many ways to do so. This article was a very good read because it is still very relatable to our currently lives. She was one of the wealthiest of Tibet meaning that she had a world fulled of desires, exactly just like our lives nowadays. The world was such a materialistic place for her and us but she wasn’t affected by it. She continued to follow the path that her guru Pabongkha Rinpoche laid for her and eventually passed into the clear light through highly realised death meditation. This teaches us that it is something attainable if we have 100% faith in our Guru and go all the way with our practices.

    Thank you writers for writing this blog post, it has really taught me a lot.

  5. Choi Sheem on Dec 3, 2018 at 11:32 am

    The story of Lady Lhalu is very inspiring. Her devotion towards her teacher remained strong regardless of all the events and tragedies that took place in her life. When Lady Lhalu had wealth and status in the society, she requested for teachings from Pabongkha Rinpoche and because of that and her sponsorship, many people benefitted from the teaching. The Lamrim teachings that were recorded and later edited to become Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, is studied by Gelug practitioners all over the world till today. She is also mentioned as one of the main disciples who requested Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, a heart disciple of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, to compose Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors.
    During the times when she lost all her wealth, status and properties, she did not give up but continued on with her practice. At the time of her death, she passed away sitting up in meditation, like a highly attained being. This shows that it is possible for a lay person to be able to gain control at the time of their death.

  6. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 3, 2018 at 2:58 am

    What I like about Lady Lhalu is that she is real, she’s not a fictional character and therefore her story is relatable to us as it happened not too long ago (approx. less than 150 years). Though she displayed some remarkable signs during her young age which led some people to believe that she was special, she lived a quite decent and mundane life, which makes it even easier for us to relate to her, to learn about her and be inspired by her.

    Her guru devotion and tenacity towards her spiritual practice are some qualities of her’s that stood out to me very much. At the beginning of her life, she had pretty much everything to live what people call a “happy” life – money, fame, power, friends and relationship. Then things started to change subsequently following the deaths of her closed ones and it was during this crucial period of her life, she had the fortune to cross paths with H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche whom literally became her life saviour.

    Towards the later part of her life, following a series of unfortunate events, her wealth, status, freedom and even her home was taken away from her, all that’s left for her was a tiny little storeroom and a servant to assist her. Even though everything was taken away, she was still very persistent with her spiritual practice, she did not allow these series of downfalls to stop her from her practice. What particularly attracted me the most was the account of her hanging H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s cape on the ceiling over her head. Though this may be a small gesture to some but this shows how much respect she had for her guru and the extent of her guru devotion. It is even more inspiring to know that some of the texts we study today exist due to her kindness. I think it’s appropriate to say that if it wasn’t for her, all these wonderful texts and teachings would not have been so easily available/ accessible for people. I enjoyed very much reading about her.

  7. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 3, 2018 at 2:14 am

    Lady Lhalu showed very clearly that she was a very high level practitioner because she has abandoned the eight worldly concerns – she had experienced extreme gain and loss, extreme fame and shame, yet nothing deterred her faith in her guru and the Dharma. For most people, most like they would have lost faith in the Dharma when they lost their fortune and went from fame to shame like Lady Lhalu. Not only that, the results of her sponsorship/requests to her guru were very precious core teachings of the lineage, be it the “Liberation in Your Hand” or “Music Delighting Ocean of Protectors”, among many others. Thousands and thousands of Gelug practitioners are benefited today as a result of that. For these two qualities, I concluded that she is not a normal person, but a realized being manifested as a worldly person to show us how we should treat our gurus, how to spread the guru’s teachings, how to treat worldly gains and losses, how to really practise the Dharma.

  8. JP on Dec 2, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    This article on Lady Lhalu shows that a seemingly ordinary person can have an extra-ordinary existence like her. Many people can be super wealthy, but very few are as spiritually evolved as her.

    Her guru devotion is unshakeable. Regardless of her personal circumstances such as losing her loved ones and all her wealth, she continued her practice as advised by her guru, Pabongkha Rinpoche, till her death.

    She requested and sponsored her guru and Trijang Rinpoche and many other esteemed lamas to give important teachings and write books in order to preserve the lineage such as Liberation in Your Hands (Lam Rim), preliminary ritual for Vajrayogini’s “enabling actions” retreat, and Music Delighting an Ocean of Oath-Bound Protectors by Trijang Rinpoche. She was an exemplary dharma sponsor whose works that she sponsored continue to bring benefit to many till today.

  9. Lew on Dec 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    It has been years that I have know about Lamrim (Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand), but this is the first time I know the origin of this great teaching, and this is all have to do with Lady Lhalu.

    Reading her story shows that she has used her wealth (in the early stages of her life) to good use. She didn’t just use the wealth for samsaric pleasure, but instead, she sponsor teachings as well as mandalas.

    Reading her story also give a lot of encouragements to me because as a lay person like her, she is able to gain attainments from practicing Vajrayogini. As Rinpoche has shared before, Vajrayogini tantra is very powerful especially for this generation. I am seeing more and more examples of people of this era who practice Vajrayogini and gain attainments. It is encouraging because we are not reading tales from ancient Buddha’s time.

    I pray that I can have a life similar to her, where I can get to practice intensely in this life. 🙏🙏

  10. Martin Chow on Dec 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    We often read of high lamas and extraordinary beings performing tremendously beneficial deeds and we think they can do what they did because they are somehow endowed with extraordinary ability whereas we are not. For some, that is an excuse for not attempting to excel in one’s Dharma practice or to do more for the preservation of the Dharma.

    1. Lady Lhalu story is that of a perfect lay practitioner and one who seems to have been able to live a complete secular life – husband, children, family, fame, power, wealth, parties, not to mention a fling. She suffered the usual afflictions of loss, pain, worry, betrayal and eventually poverty and so she is ‘everybody’. And yet it is not her affluence that we remember, that makes us want to know her today but her contribution to Dharma.

    We see that Lady Lhalu is no simpleton and she is adept at navigating her way around the tricky Tibetan aristocratic circles where fortunes wax and wane with equal ease. So we know she is clever and had access to the top teachers of the the time – Nyingma and Gelug. And yet she chose Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo which is a reflection of how well regarded Pabongka Rinpoche was.

    Interestingly we see that Pabongka Rinpoche had to get involved in the problems of his students/patrons and this itself reminds me of how much Tsem Rinpoche has had to intervene in the lives of students to help them and make sure they avoid a grievous decisions etc.

    2. Whilst Lady Lhalu was a lay practitioner she must have understood the value of the Dharma well and must have been a good student. We see her sponsoring some of the most influential Gelugpa texts – Pabongka Rinpoche’s Liberation In the Palm Of The Hand (Lamrim), Trijang Rinpoche’s Music Delighting The Ocean Of Protectors, and a couple of Vajrayogini texts. This is not to mention sponsoring Pabongka Rinpoche and probably a number of other lamas. We have these because of her. To me, this is an ordinary person deciding to do extraordinary needs, not the actions of an extraordinary person, meaning to say that anyone can do this if they decide its important enough.

    How many times have we sat in teachings, benefited from the Dharma and thought that we must invest some resources or use our time to raise funds if we are not personally wealthy, so that our teacher’s teachings can be translated into other languages or turned into books. That’s what makes Lady Lhalu a special lay practitioner and without a doubt, those deeds generated tremendous merits for her to reach a high level of practice.

    3. In Lady Lhalu’s story we also see how jealousies were rife and how Dorje Shugden was disparaged even then because there were those who saw Pabongka Rinpoche as a threat. Pabongka Rinpoche was not sectarian but did treasure the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa and wanted to keep it untainted. We see in the reaction to Lungshar that by then, the name of Shugden lamas was already being poisoned. Lungshar refused to have anything to do with Dorje Shugden even though it was Shugden Gelugpas who came to his help all the time. Interestingly Lady Lhalu was a Shugden practitioner and a Gelugpa and yet it was said that she respected the Nyingma tradition and kept a statue of Guru Rinpoche in her house and she was not “punished by the protector per accusations of Shugden detractors who say the deity is sectarian. This would indicate the falsity of the charge that Dorje Shugden punished those who worship anything other than Gelugpa deities.

    4. Lady Lhalu went into tukdam before passing away indicating that she attained a high level of realisations in her practice. And yet she was a devout follower of a Dorje Shugden lama and was a worshipper herself. Again this disproves the accusation that Dorje Shugden practitioners go to the lower realms.

    5. I would say that by the time Lady Lhalu lost everything she was already a seasoned practitioner of Dharma with excellent faith in her Guru. Hence she was able to accept the losses which did not deter her spiritual development. Hence we see the perfect insulation from samsara’s suffering – an understanding in the Dharma and keeping our eyes on the Guru and his instructions. Today we remember Lady Lhalu’s Dharma deeds and Guru devotion not her wealth and flings and sufferings. These have passed but her merits continue to be generated each time someone picks up one of the the precious Dharma texts she sponsored. Even her life is an inspiration and this itself is merit-generating.

  11. Wei on Dec 2, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    There is always something to be learned from someone who keeps their promises and guru devotion no matter what situation arises in their lives. Things that may seem good or bad can in reality be the opposite. Losing all her wealth, Lady Lhalu still kept her guru devotion and practiced strongly. This is taking responsibility for the things that happened in her life, and not blaming it on other people or other things. People who blame external causes for the things that happen to them are not fully understanding how karma works, or they don’t want to take responsibility for their previous actions. Guru devotion is so because the positive results will conquer all situations, good or bad. Lady Lhalu demonstrates this very well.

  12. Sofi on Dec 2, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    What an incredible story of Lady Lhalu and her steadfast devotion to her Guru, her practice of lady Vajrayogini and protector Dorje Shugden. It would seem that she must have some attainments if she was a possible candidate for the seat of 12th Dalai Lama. Strange how after not being chosen, he became a female and had an adventurous life as a wife of the high aristocrat, the Lhalu family. Throughout her difficulties in the arrest of her husband and sons, the devotion to her Guru and protector had brought help to her situation. She was very lucky to have had the wealth and time to be able to practice and sponsor such meritorious works of her Guru, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. She had such a close Guru/student relationship and had brought benefit to us all with her sponsorships, especially the Lamrim which until today are used as the main “Bible” of Gelugpas. She really serves as an inspiration in which her practise lead her to attain the state of thugdam meditation and she used her wealth to sponsor the growth of the Dharma. Her thugdam meditation shows the control and the level of spiritual attainment she had achieved and it is encouraging to know that it is possible for Lady Lhalu, a female to gain that state of mind if we practice sincerely with Guru devotion and full reliance on the protector Dorje Shugden.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing her beautiful story of strength and courage that eventually led to her attainments. Hope that we too may one day have the merits to achieve the same.

  13. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 2, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Lady Lhalu’s life was extraordinary and fascinating. She was a candidate for the reincarnation of the previous 12th Dalai Lama, and became a nun before returning to lay life to go through much trials and tribulations to become one of the most significant patron of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, despite many worldly engagement or commitment of being one of the most renowned matriarchs of Lhasa at that time.

    She has many admirable qualities. The loss of her husband and son did not break her. and it made her went on a pilgrimage to dedicate merits for her deceased relatives. A courageous woman, she petitioned and wrote to various people for Lungshar’s release. Later in life, losing wealth and her status did not make her bitter, but she continued her practice till she passed away.

    Her great patronage benefits many until today. Kyabje Pabongka’s most famous Lamrim teaching was sponsored by her, and the book that recorded the teachings are studied by many till this day. She was also the one who requested an extensive commentary to be written by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, which is a definitive text for practitioners of Dorje Shugden. Most of all, she was a devoted practitioner, whom through her devotion to her Lama and practice, entered clear light, a testimony of the potency and efficacy of the practice, as well as the purity and blessings of the masters and lineage. All these are lessons for us that there are many things we can do that will have lasting impact and legacy that will benefit many, even as lay practitioners.

    Women’s position in Buddhism is unique where the Buddha gave full freedom for women to participate in a religious life. However, it’s quite rare we come across such inspiring women practitioners, especially a lay one in our contemporary times. Thank you, Rinpoche for sharing about Lady Lhalu of Lhasa, whose devotion to her practice and lama is something we can emulate and relate to. We need more stories like this!

  14. Pastor David Lai on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I think Lady Lhalu’s story was one of incredible because it tells the tale of an ordinary lady of leisure, an aristocrat of the highest order in Tibetan society and she met Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and her life was transformed by it. She sponsored important texts on lamrim and Dorje Shugden by Kyabje Pabongka and her name is thus forever immortalised for it.

    Furthermore, her subsequent devotion to her practice of Vajrayogini and Dorje Shugden that became the bedrock of her practice for the rest of her life. Her life is inspirational because she was not just a great sponsor but a devoted practitioner. This can be seen with her estate shrine and with the Dorje Shugden Tendo threadcross abode she had monks erect there.

    Finally, it is also her undying devotion that she studied and practiced when she was wealthy and even when her family fortunes was taken away, she still continue to practice. Her resolution to practice culminated in her fantastic death of an attained being, which is one with total control. She must have mastered Vajrayogini’s two stages and attained Kechara Paradise in the lifetime itself. How fortunate to hear her story that such practitioners still exists.

  15. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Dear Rinpoche

    Thank you for sharing the story about Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering, a wealthy aristocratic lady of Tibet. I found her story fascinating because there were not many stories of female practitioners that survived to this day. I could only name a few such as Samding Dorje Pagmo, Lochen Rinpoche, and Alexandra David Neel.

    I am also surprised to know that this great lady requested and sponsored Pabongka Rinpoche’s Lamrim teachings which were recorded to become “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand”. In addition, she requested Trijang Rinpoche to write a definitive guide on Dorje Shugden, “Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors”. Both important texts remain popular to this day.

    The followings are what I learned from the article:

    1. Attainments are for everyone – Lady Lhalu is yet another proof that everyone including lay practitioners and persons of leisure can get attainments as long as they have guru devotion and persevere in their practice. She proved the result of her practice by having a practice

    2. Having an understanding of Dharma helped to Lady Lhalu to keep a stable mind regardless of the change in her fortune – Because Lady Lhalu was not focusing on her wealth and family, she remained steady regardless of whether she has them or not.

    3. Having a sincere teacher was essential in helping Lady Lhalu with her practice – Pabongka Rinpoche did not only convey the Dharma to Lady Lhalu, but he also used his position help saved Lady Lhalu’s relatives from heavy punishments.

    Thank you
    Valentina

  16. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Lady Lhalu’s story as recounted in this paper is a stunning inspiration for modern day practitioners. What’s more is that Lady Lhalu was not an example of a sincere and dedicated practitioner as I first imagined before reading this essay. At first, I thought her story would be the sort of story that we usually read and hear of. But she is definitely one of a kind.

    Her position as an aristocrat is one thing, but being a female aristocrat of such fame, wealth and position is something else entirely. While most of Tibetan society, both secular and religious, was male-dominated she was an absolute force of power as a woman. But more than even that was he total devotion to her Guru Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and her sponsorship of the Dharma.

    Although patronage of the Dharma and high lamas is common, stories of patrons practising the Dharma to the extent where they can enter Death Meditation at the time of death is not. Lady Lhalu was special in that regards and perhaps that is one of the reasons that people consider her to have been a dakini.

    A point that the author tries to investigate is the fact that Pabongka Rinpoche was by some considered to be sectarian. He tries examining this through the life of Lady Lhalu but is unsuccessful in confirm if these rumours are true. Instead, the true meaning behind the essay is Lady Lhalu’s immense and incredible devotion to her Guru.

  17. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 2, 2018 at 6:44 am

    There are many aspects of Lady Lhalu’s life that I find especially extraordinary, for example:

    (1) so many of us look for the slightest reasons to give up on our practice. How many of us would be able to handle the scale of the downfall that Lady Lhalu experienced, and emerge from it even MORE committed to the Dharma? For example, there are people who say “I can’t come to Kechara Forest Retreat because it’s too far” when it’s just 45mins away from KL… Those are the same people will spend 45mins sitting in traffic to go down to KL on a Friday night to party. It just goes to show you how priorities differ and in Lady Lhalu’s case, if she said practice and her Guru were her priorities, she really showed it by example and action.

    (2) without Lady Lhalu, many of the texts that millions of Gelug rely on today would not exist. We would not have Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, we would not have Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors because those arose from requests SHE made for teachings. Not only that, but she requested for all kinds of Vajrayogini texts and commentaries. Sure, she might’ve said she was requesting it for herself but in reality, she would’ve known that other people would one day read those texts and practise it too, and gain results. So she actually understood the purpose of student and teacher. That is, it’s the student’s “job” to request for and practise the teachings, and it’s the teacher’s “job” to give those teachings.

    (3) she turned adversity into a cause for making merits. When her relatives were imprisoned or were going to have their limbs chopped off, Lady Lhalu reacted by requesting her guru to give teachings in dedication to her loved ones. That greatly differs from other people who, when faced with adversity, turn it into a cause for wallowing in self-pity.

    (4) regardless of the obstacles in her life, she never lost her faith in her guru. In fact, it was due to her faith in Pabongka Rinpoche that she was able to weather the trials and tribulations she experienced in life. Pabongka Rinpoche was the one who saved her son’s arm. Pabongka Rinpoche was also the one who saved her faith in the Buddhadharma.

    (5) her wealth had absolutely no impact on her practice. When she had it, she used it to sponsor the lamas AND practised. She didn’t exempt herself from practice just because she had the financial means to fund her teacher’s activities. And when she didn’t have money, she just focused on practicing instead of using her situation as an excuse to try and rebuild her wealth.

    (6) it is possible that a lay person, or an ordinary being who isn’t a high lama or anything like that, to gain attainments in this lifetime alone if they focus on and commit to their practice.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing about Lady Lhalu’s inspiring life and example with us.

  18. Pastor Adeline on Dec 2, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Lady Lhalu comes across fearless, generous and full of wisdom. While most aristocrats enjoy their wealth, power and leisure, Lady Lhalu spent her time to sponsor/request for various meritorious dharma activities to take place and continue to benefit many today. The most notable meritorious activities she has done were to request for a 24-day Lamrim teaching by Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche which later published and known as the “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand”, to request Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to write about the history and enlightened qualities of Dorje Shugden called the “Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors – A Definitive Guide to Dorje Shugden”, to request Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche to compose “The Uncommon Golden Dharma: The Pith Instructions for Journeying to Kecara” and “The Messenger Invoking the Hundred Blessings of the Vajra”.

    Her generosity is not an ordinary one. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche made a special note of Lady Lhalu that described her as “great sponsors” who apart from providing monetary support for the carving of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche’s Collected Works, also supported previous efforts in publishing Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche’s works and extra expenses for paper, payment for carvers, food and other necessities. Her generosity was also noted on specific texts within the Collected Works, including the colophon to Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche’s commentary on “The Heart Essence of the Dakinis of the Three Places” who provided accommodation for the writer at the Lhalu mansion, as well as food and funds for the publication in 1954. The way she sponsors exceeded the ordinary and are often made in a complete manner from the beginning to the end that covers all aspects of a project.

    As a lay practitioner, she had the opportunity to share a special closeness with prominent great masters like Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, receiving various important practices and initiations rarely given to others. The Dorje Shugden sogtae was given to her alongside Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and her family due to her merits had Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche intercede on behalf and to be relieved from misfortunate. Circumstances like this are rarely easily come by.

    Lady Lhalu didn’t sway from practising dharma with the overwhelming wealth she possesses and the influence she had. She made use of her wealth for the most meritorious and beneficial deeds to ensure dharma is preserved, proliferated and widely spread to benefit many minds. When her wealth was taken away from her, she remained steadfast with her practice without relaxing until she reached higher spiritual attainments. She is a great example of guru devotion. Because she devoted to Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche and the teachings bestowed onto her, she achieved what was intended for her. Guru devotion is necessary for spiritual attainments to take place.

    Tibet is known to produce many highly attained beings due to the preservation of the precious and effective dharma practices. These effective methods were traditionally shared among the monastics. Being a lay person, Lady Lhalu was granted many rare and precious teachings from Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche so that says a lot about her potential and her unmoving devotion to her guru and the dharma. She is ordinary, yet extraordinary and that makes her an inspiration and example to look up to.

  19. CindyH on Dec 2, 2018 at 4:27 am

    What truly resonated with me was the manner in which Lady Lhalu dealt with the trials and tribulations in her life. She had her ups and downs but after, for lack of a better description, “Seeing the light” through the teachings of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, her faith in the Dharma became unwavering and she went all the way with her practice and Guru’s instructions until the end. This can easily be seen in her life story, from the unconventional manner of her applying the Dharmic solution while dealing with problems like during the incarceration of her husband and sons (instead of focusing in and wallowing in anguish), to her steadfastly keeping her commitments to her Guru despite losing all her great wealth and reduced to living in storeroom for the last years of her life. The manner of Lady Lhalu’s passing is also undoubtedly a testament to her spiritual attainments.

    On a separate note, from this account of Lady Lhalu’s life, we can also see the ugly tentacles of politics and secular concerns leading to false allegations about Dorje Shugden and Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. However, such false allegations are not only contradictory, but falls apart upon examination. Take for example claims that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche actually “stopped some Nyingma practices due to wrathful signs from protector Dorje Shugden”. It is illogical to, on one hand sing praises about Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and acknowledge his high attainments and yet at the same time insinuate that he is powerless against a protector. Worse still if one is claiming that Dorje Shugden is unenlightened protector as that is truly an insult to the attainments of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, one of the greatest masters of the 20th century and one the most influential teachers in Tibet. It really is quite unfortunate that such distorted claims are still prevalent now. However, the exemplary practice and inspirational life stories of many genuine Dorje Shugden practitioners will further serve to expose the falsity of such distorted allegations.

    Thank you Rinpoche and team for sharing the life story of such an amazing lay Dharma practitioner.

  20. Choong on Dec 2, 2018 at 4:14 am

    There are 2 things that struck me with this comprehensive piece of research.
    Thank you Joona.

    First, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche Vajradhara must have been such a charismatic, penetrating and effective vessel of the Dharma to have had thousands and thousands and thousands of Tibetans, both laypeople and members of the Sangha, devour his teachings. With regards to Lady Lhalu and many others, Kyabje Pabongkha must have offered more than just a sip of the Dharma, for Lady Lhalu developed such faith both in Kyabje Pabongkha her teacher and the Dharma, to be able to sustain her practice to a very high level indeed, showing much development in the 3 principal aspects of the path, and right till the end of her life then.

    This means to me that Kyabje Pabongkha is indeed a Bodhisattva and tantric mahaguru whose teachings penetrated many, many sentient beings. It also means to me who is ever worldly, that Pabongkha Rinpoche’s success would have attracted many actions that stem from jealousy and envy.

    This is I believe what is truly the root cause of the many accusations, labels and things hurled at him and his students right up to this day. Success attracts jealousy like bees to honey. Kyabje Pabongkha’s success was the root of all the delusional actions by many.

    Secondly, Lady Lhalu and her successful practices are testament to Kyabje Pabongkha’s clairvoyance with regards to what practices are suitable for people of this age. This includes his well thought out decision to popularize the practices of Narokacho Vajrayogini and Dorje Shugden. Her path was obviously swift which is what tantra is all about but I must say this with a note of caution because I am really not qualified to comment. But facts and facts and the facts stand bare for all to see.

    Thank you Rinpoche for this eye-opening and inspiring jewel of a find.

    18566_ud-Edit

  21. Kenneth Chan on Dec 2, 2018 at 3:52 am

    Lady Lhalu’s story is quite amazing. Her devotion to Kyabje Phabongka Dorje Chang and sustaining the practices her guru gave her right till her passing is an incredible achievement. To me, that is the most inspiring aspect of the many great things Lady Lhalu did in her life as told in the story.

    Joona Repo’s exposing the accusations of Kyabje Phabongka Dorje Chang and Dorje Shugden practitioners of being sectarian to other Tibetan Buddhist schools as being untrue is what stands out for me here.

    When this article is combined with the accounts in the autobiographies of both Kyabe Trijang Dorje Chang and Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, the evidence is undisputable that prior to the ban of the Dorje Shugden practice, there was no animosity between these great Gelug masters who practiced Shugden and their peers from the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya schools.

    Surely, if Kyabje Phabonkha Dorje Chang was really as sectarian as his accusers allege, then this would be reflected in the actions of his students. And the proof in the pudding here is that “Lhacham maintained great respect for the Nyingma tradition and kept the Lhalus’ large statue of Padmasambhava in her altar room throughout her life.”

    Lady Lhalu, whose trust in the practices prescribed to her, namely Vajrayogini and Dorje Shugden, resulted in her gaining supreme attainments, all in only one lifetime. This is counter to all the propaganda of the Central Tibetan Administration charging the Dorje Shugden practice as being demon worship and that its practice will only cause practitioners to take rebirth in the lower realms.

    Reading this article has given me more faith in the practices in the lineage of Kyabje Phabongkha Dorje Chang, especially of the Shugden protector practice.

    Many thanks to Lama Vajradhara Tsem Rinpoche and the entire team at tsemrinpoche.com for bringing this wonderful story to everyone.

  22. Joy Kam on Dec 2, 2018 at 3:19 am

    Thank you, Rinpoche for asking us to read this inspiring story of Lady Lhalu.

    There were a few things that stood out from this article…
    It was interesting to have read that in her youth she had been a boy and was a candidate for the reincarnation of the previous Twelfth Dalai Lama, although he subsequently transformed into a girl. I have never heard of this phenomena before. It goes to show that she was no ordinary being and at the bottom part of the article, there her lover Chingpa praised and described to be a dakini possessing the mind of bodhichitta.

    Perhaps she is a dakini, perhaps she is not but whatever it is, her extraordinariness in my humble opinion comes from the fact that as a lay practitioner and although she is of an aristocratic background and super wealthy, she did not allow those things to distract her practice and indulge in her wealth as most would do. Instead, she used her wealth to support her Guru, the great Pabongkha Rinpoche’s works, being his major sponsor, supporting the Dharma, such as sponsoring the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso’s conferral of the Kālacakra initiation at the Norbulingka Palace.

    It is because of her, requesting for Pabongkha Rinpoche to teach the Lamrim that we have the Lamrim – Liberation in the Palm of Your Hands today. She was also the one who requested Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, heart disciple of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, to compose Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors. It was as though she manifested to request for such precious teachings to benefit the sentient beings (us)!

    From the article, the intrigues and stories about Dorje Shugden showing his wrath towards those who mixed their practices, is not because Dorje Shugden or Pabongkha Rinpoche was sectarian but it was more to protect the teachings from being perverted and polluted like Lungshar who created many obstacles for Lady Lhalu, removing her Shugden statues and banning the monthly Dorje Shugden puja held at the mansion. It is no wonder Dorje Shugden showed and took wrathful actions towards Lungshar.

    It makes sense why Dorje Shugden would show wrath to those who mix and pollute the teachings. When we mix practices, we may, in the end, end up with nothing, no attainments, no realisations and in fact, some of us can even get more confused. On top of that, the Yellow Book showed that those who suffered due to Dorje Shugden’s wrath were mainly Gelug lamas. Therefore, the twisted story and view about the Yellow book and that Pabongka Rinpoche forcefully convert people to Gelug and for Dorje Shugden was merely lies because Pabongkha Rinpoche’s fame was uncomparable and massive. His teachings really moved people, so much so they convert to Gelug naturally. Hence, the Lamas from the other sects were losing out and were probably very jealous and angry of this as their sponsors and people are all abandoning them and becoming Gelugpas.

    However, what is most impressive was that she was very devoted to her Guru and due to this devotion, it manifested in her practice, and hence her ability to firmly do her practice even when she lost everything overnight, it did not deter her from her practice. Her faith in her Guru was unwavering. I believe it is from her great Guru devotion that she gained attainments. Therefore, when she passed away she could control her death and stayed in thugdam meditation practice for several days! This was something that really stood out in the article was that at her eventual death, she was in control. Signs of a great practitioner. This goes to show if you are serious in your Dharma practice and your Guru devotion is strong and in tack, you can achieve great result, just like lady Lhalu.

  23. Sharon Ong on Dec 2, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Lady Lhalu is such an inspiration to me because:
    Lady Lhalu is such an inspiration to me because:
    1. In the era and place where women did not have the luxury of religious practice, she not only managed to engage in higher practices successfully, she went to to become a patron of one of the greatest Buddhist masters of our time, Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche. (In those days, patrons were usually men.)
    2. She had many adversities in life but it did not stop her from continuing her practices. In fact, she practised well into a ripe old age till the time she passed on.
    3. She received Sogtae together with the incomparable Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This alone shows that she was not an ordinary lay practitioner. More so a woman given the era she lived in.
    4. She is the reason why we have Liberation in Your Hand, Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche’s most famous teaching today.
    5. She, a lay practitioner, was able to engage in thugdam at the time when she passed on, gives lay practitioners hope that with consistent effort, commitment and Guru devotion, enlightenment is indeed in our own hands.

    Thank you, Rinpoche and blog team for this inspiring post.

  24. bk on Nov 30, 2018 at 6:52 am

    The Lady Lhalu strikes me as an extraordinary being. Notwithstanding what others have said about her being an emanation of a dakini, we can tell that she is special by looking at the result of her life.

    – She was a candidate for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama

    – She took rebirth in an influential family that produced not one but two Dalai Lamas

    – She enjoyed a special closeness with so many great masters of that era including Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche. Imagine receiving sogtae alongside Trijang Rinpoche and having Pabongka Rinpoche intercede on behalf of your family. That type of circumstance is not easy to come by.

    – She was behind some of the most seminal works in the Gelugpa school: the Lamrim, Trijang Rinpoche’s Music Delighting and two texts on Vajrayogini’s practice. We owe so much to her whether we realise it or not.

    – Dorje Shugden saw it appropriate to enact wrathful enlightened activities on members of her family. It has been previously said that Dorje Shugden only takes such actions when the lineage is at serious risk of being corrupted. That’s why the Yellow Book is mostly filled with cautionary tales of high lamas and lineage holders receiving warning signs from Shugden. In the case of Lady Lhalu, it must be that she took rebirth to achieve some higher purpose in this life. That’s why when members of her family threatened to destroy that purpose, the Protector had no choice but to intervene.

    – Her wealth and influence did not corrupt her but instead spread the dharma far and wide. How many of us can say we have done the same with whatever wealth we have?

    – Her practice of the Dharma was rock steady even in the face of disaster and annihilation. Her attainments can clearly be seen in the manner of her passing.

    Thank you to Rinpoche and team for an amazing read. Lady Lhalu’s story is truly inspirational.

  25. Chris on Nov 24, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Pabongkha Rinpoche is a high attained master and he is very renowned during his time. When he gives teachings, people from all over Tibet will travel to attend his teachings. It was said that there are all lamas who are around his time received teachings from this great lama. That is why he is known as the Guru or gurus.

    One of the most famous teachings that Pabongkha Rinpoche gave is the 24 days of Lamrim discourse. This discourse eventually was recorded by down Pabongkha Rinpoche’s heart disciple Trijang Rinpoche. Later the notes were published in the book that we known as LamRim today. This book is still being used a the main book that we refer to in dharma teachings around the world.

    The sponsor of Pabongkha Rinpoche that made this 24 days discourse happened will be Lady Lhalu. She is one of the aristocrat ladies from Lhasa. She is very wealthy and she has a vast amount of material wealth at her dispose of. However, she chose to follow the path of Dharma and practised intensely. Eventually, she passed away with the signs of a high practitioner. This is such an inspiring story.

  26. Yee Yin on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this beautiful story of Lady Lhalu. Her devotions to Pabongkha Rinpoche and her sponsorship to the teachings have given us the opportunity to continue to learn the pure Dharma. The signs she exhibited after she died demonstrated to us that even if we are a layperson, it is still possible for us to gain attainment.

    One of the interesting things about Lady Lhalu is that she used to be a boy and was a candidate for the reincarnation of the previous 12th Dalai Lama. However, she was later transformed into a girl. Even though born in a wealthy family, her life was not that easy or smooth. After she met Pabongka Rinpoche, she became his sponsor and was very devoted to him.

    She has requested Pabongka Rinpoche to compose some prayer texts for Dorje Shugden and also sponsored Pabongka Rinpoche’s Lamrim teaching in Lhasa which later edited to become Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, a book which is studied by Gelug practitioners all over the world.

    She could have used her wealth on herself but she used it for something of a higher purpose. If it was not because of her, Pabongka Rinpoche’s precious teachings will not be passed down to us until today. She has some very bad experience in life and she could have given up hope but she did not. I think her attainment is largely due to her devotion to Pabongka Rinpoche and her generosity in preserving and spreading the Dharma.

  27. JOY KAM on Nov 20, 2018 at 3:03 am

    All enlightened beings are worthy of homage and worship. They are the best beings to take refuge in and we should offer them our prayers as we can put our full confidence in them. Of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I personally find that Manjushri is extremely important. This is because what keeps us in samsara (cyclic rebirth) is our total ignorance and misunderstanding of the reality of existence. What is necessary to penetrate this deep ignorance that keeps us bound in a perpetual state of reincarnation is wisdom. We need many types of wisdom which can be acquired by relying on Manjushri as our yidam (meditational deity). By focusing on his meditation, practice, mantra and path we can gain wisdom in order to have the tool to penetrate the reality of existence. Therefore, Manjushri is an extremely important Buddha for us to focus on and take refuge in.

    Tsem Rinpoche

    (Photograph: this is the beautiful outdoor Manjushri statue who is in a teaching pose. He is floating above a koi fish pond nestled among lush greenery in Kechara Forest Retreat, Malaysia)

    每一位觉者都能成为我们朝拜、膜拜的对象。他们是我们至高、至好的皈依,我们应该向他们做祈请,并且对他们生起全然的信念。在众佛菩萨之中,我个人认为文殊菩萨极为重要。这是因为使我们身陷娑婆(轮回)的是我们自身的无明,以及对实相的曲解。智慧是一种必要,它能穿透我们深不见底的无明,那个使我们受困于无止境投生的无明。我们需要多种智慧,而依止文殊菩萨作为我们的本尊,即能使我们成就多种智慧。透过文殊菩萨的观想、修持法门、心咒及修行道路,我们能成就智慧,拥有了知实相的“器具”。故此,专注于文殊菩萨的修持法门、皈依他,对我们而言都极为重要。

    詹杜固仁波切

    (相片:这尊户外文殊菩萨像呈转法轮姿。他被茂密的草木环绕,安坐在马来西亚克切拉禅修林的鱼池之上。)

  28. Stella Cheang on Nov 18, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    This is an interesting read. It depicted the fairly complicated domestic arrangement and affairs in the not-so-ancient Tibetan aristocrat household. It also outlined the Tibetan traditions between sponsors and their spiritual guide/Guru, which is the key point about Lady Lhalu. Lady Lhalu or Yangdzom Tsering had a legendary-like life; she was believed to have been a boy in her youth despite without written record, had been a nun, disrobed, and had affairs. Her family background and her position provided her a comfortable condition to pursuit spirituality all the way. She was the main reason for Pabongka Rinpoche’s teaching of Lam Rim, in 1921. Lady Lhalu is the epitome of how Guru Devotions obliterate everything else that one have done in their life on the path of spiritual enlightenment. Thank you, Rinpoche, for this sharing.

  29. Samfoonheei on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Interesting biography of a great and influential Gelug religious lady……the Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering, who was one of the most popular and also an important aristocratic students of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. She was one of the influential Gelug religious figures in the Lhasa at that time. The Lhacham’s devotion to the controversial protector deity Dorje Shugden whose practice she received from Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche is beautifully reflected in her deep spiritual conviction in the very deities and practices. Interesting read of a GREAT spiritual lady of how she struggles in life and never gave up her commitments to her guru Kyabje Pabongka Dorjechang. Her dertermination, motivation and inspiration are indeed incredible .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and his yogini student, the Lady Lhalu.

  30. Tsa Tsa Ong on Nov 14, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Wow!!! This is really a super interesting and also surper long story. Very touching and inspiring too! Despite all the ups and downs and obstacles throughout the life of Lady Lhalu, she can still have strong Guru Devotion to Pabongka Rinpoche and determination in her spiritual practice in Vajrayogini and Dorje Shugden to achieve spiritual attainments. Thank you Rinpoche blog team for this great and inspiring write up of Pabongka Rinpoche and his yogini student, the Lady Lhalu 👍🙏👏😍🌈

  31. Chris on Nov 14, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you, Rinpoche for sharing about this incredible lady with us. She is very inspiring and she showed us that with her unwavering guru devotion towards Kyabe Pabongkha Rinpoche bears fruit when she attained high attainments and stayed in Tukdam for 3 days when she passes away.

    Lady Lhalu is incredible because being an aristocrat, she enjoyed a life of leisure. However, that did not deter her from a life of spirituality. She was one of Pabongkha Rinpoche’s main sponsor that time and she was the one who requested the teachings of the famous 24 days Lamrim teachings which proven to be very beneficial when Trijang Rinpoche compiled notes on the teachings and published them later as a book called Lamrim.

    Until today, this book is still being used by Buddhist centres all over the world. Here in Kechara, we too used this book as the main reference in our Dharma classes and the profound teaching has benefited alot of people.

  32. Jacinta Goh on Nov 13, 2018 at 10:18 am

    The main lesson that I’ve learnt from this is : It’s not enough just to sponsor, to request teachings or becoming a patron. The essence of Buddha’s teachings is for us is to be liberated and hence, we (be it a patron or even as a lay devotee) should walk the path and to practice. Take the practice seriously and have Guru Devotion. Once you’ve committed yourself to a Guru, follow whatever is given. This is indeed a very very good example on how we should behave and be a great patron of a Lama (be it past, present and in future).

    Her life stories is like against all odds. Even during her own difficult times, during the political turmoils and also the issues surrounding Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and specifically the Gelug lineage and the practice of Dorje Shugden, she upheld what’s most important for her. It’s like a victory against all evils.

    Also in this article, I’ve found that living in Tibet is almost like living in hell where you can be executed without proper proceedings. To me, taking the eyes out of the sockets and also chopping the arms are brutal and barbaric. Also, you can be an important person today or maybe even as a high-ranking officer but all of a sudden you might found yourself imprisoned next. This reminds me of Methar, from Tengyeling Monastery. https://bit.ly/2OMw8F1 where He was disembowelled, skinned alive and tortured to death. Really thank Buddha for what I have today ☘️ especially right now at this moment, where I can exercise some freedom of speech and also to practice Dharma.

    Last but not least, although these are what I’ve gathered from her life story, however I do want to know more about the “wrathful signs from Dorje Shugden” which link to the death of her loved ones and also Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche Himself was said ceased to practice some practices believed to be tainted. I’m not at the level to debate, nonetheless I would like know more. I found this statement to be useful and I will keep this in my mind at the moment : “The loss of her loved ones and the catastrophes that the Lhalu estate was flung into were blamed on the “pollution” of the family’s allegiance to the Gelug sect. Lhalu Lhacham survived unscathed, as did eventually her young husband, whom she steered towards Phabongkha as well. It also appears that the initial series of unfortunate events that took place were an important causal factor in her finding faith in Phabongkha. Whatever the case, the view of the lineage, according to Zemey Rinpoche, was that Yangdzom Tsering was devoted to Shugden and the Gelug tradition throughout her life. The protector was simply performing his function, that is protecting the Gelug teachings and creating the causes for the Lhalu household to exclusively follow the same.”

    And just to add in, all these circumstances have eventually led her to practice Dharma intensely and showed signs of being a great practitioner at the end of her life. It’s like a “real deal” for us all.

    Thank you Rinpoche.

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  • Sofi
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 11:04 PM
    Venerable Geshe Rabten Rinpoche known as Milarepa

    As is clearly seen in Helmut Gassner’s account, two of the most influential and trailblazing Tibetan lamas who taught in the West both practised Dorje Shugden and held him in high regard. His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, was not only once the Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery but was a well-known meditator, debator, tantric adept and teacher of thousands of monks and laypeople all over the world.

    Find out more of this great monk: http://bit.ly/2SRJrHB
  • Sofi
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 10:52 PM
    Growing up with Rinpoche: You’ve got mail

    Rinpoche, if people take the time to write and express their thoughts and feelings, that is something that should be appreciated and respected. And if people confide in Rinpoche, that information is always treated as sacred because it is not always easy for people to trust someone else enough to open up to them.

    Read more of Rinpoche’s kindness and care: http://bit.ly/2SNcf3O
  • Chris
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 05:21 PM
    China is one of the most powerful countries in the world nowadays and many countries had chosen to be in China’s good books. It is only a matter of time where all the Tibetan government’s supporter will stop supporting them and be on China’s side.

    Let’s face it. The struggle for Tibet’s independence has been on-going for 60 years but there is no progress at all. Now, even His Holiness the Dalai Lama is telling the Tibetans to go for Umaylam instead of Rangzen. However, Umaylam requires their cooperation with the Chinese government.

    It is good for Tibetans or Tibetan government to befriend China because they will need their mercy to get back to Tibet because China has all the reasons for not letting the Tibetans go back to Tibet. They certainly do not need Tibetans.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/the-importance-of-tibet-befriending-china.html
  • Yee Yin
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 05:15 PM
    This is something I don’t understand. In the beginning, the 14th Dalai Lama was practising Dorje Shugden and he did not say anything about Dorje Shugden. Suddenly in 1996, he banned everyone from practising Dorje Shugden saying Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit.

    Dorje Shugden is a practice given to the Dalai Lama by his teacher, Trijang Rinpoche. Trijang Rinpoche would never harm the Dalai Lama by giving the Dalai Lama the practice of an evil spirit. This does not make sense at all. Is the Dalai Lama implying his teacher was not good and wanted to harm him when he said Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit?

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/the-14th-dalai-lamas-prayer-to-dorje-shugden.html
  • Sofi
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 01:49 PM
    Voyage to the Colossus of Rhodes

    In school, I remember we had a competition to make anything we wanted with the sole condition that it had to use LED lights. It was around the time that out of all the various figures of ancient Greek mythology, my fascination with Medusa was at its highest. Her story is an interesting one. She was once a beautiful maiden who, cursed by the goddess Athena, was made to look so terrible that the mere sight of her would turn anyone to stone. Over time her anger overtook her and she became a scourge, plaguing mankind. The demi-god Perseus slayed her and used her dreadful head to turn to stone monsters, beasts and other men alike in his self-serving yet glorified journey which ended with the founding of the ancient city-state Mycenae.

    Journey with Pastor Niral as he travel the the country rich in mythology: http://bit.ly/2LMkhJA
  • Sofi
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 01:42 PM
    Growing up with Rinpoche: Putting down roots

    Rinpoche is never interested in secular activities just for the sake of it, but always uses his knowledge, interest and experience to see how he can improve the lives of those around him and how he can bring Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) to the next level in terms of serving others. So for Rinpoche, a vegetable farm is not just a vegetable farm, but an activity that can bring Dharma to others.

    Find out what exciting plans that Rinpoche has: http://bit.ly/32NjBsV
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 01:29 PM
    Over the years reading Rinpoche blog’s post , I have come across many true stories of how Rinpoche has helped countless of students and people in their career, sickness, business and so forth. Reading this post story is really amazing how relying on Setrap Protector and having trust and faith in our Guru has help Dato Eric Tan in his business . Dato’ Eric Tan’s achievements today is truly amazing all due his trust and never give up what ever happened.
    Thank you Pastor Loh Seng Piow for this sharing. May more people read this post and be inspired.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/behind-the-scenes/miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-6.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 18. 2019 01:28 PM
    Heartfelt watching the beginning of the video. Could imagine the fear the furry Edie encountered, so much so hiding at the corner. Edie was so scared and just needed is a hug and pad from some kind soul . Bronwyne Mirkovich is so compassionate , kind for saving Edie’s life. Thank you too Edie Gobbie from the American Maltese Association for helping with this wonderful project to rescue animals. Life is so precious nor matter what it is , it is still a life……human or doggie. Dogs are our best friends, never harm, abuse or hurt them.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/all-she-needed-was-a-hug.html
  • Chris
    Saturday, Aug 17. 2019 07:47 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche and blog team for sharing this auspicious post with us. It is amazing that Kechara has the chance to make such offerings to the high lamas and monks in the monastery. This is a clear example of the generosity of Rinpoche that wishes each and every one of us to adopt.

    Making offerings to the sangha is very meritorious and we can collect a lot of merit with such actions because we are directly supporting the growth of Dharma and those high lamas are Buddhas. Seeing such pictures warms my heart and I rejoice to see those happy faces of those monks who received those very much needed offerings.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/students-friends/making-offerings-to-the-monastery.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Aug 17. 2019 07:29 PM
    Wow ….. there have been so many UFO sightings in so many different countries. There are altogether eight UFO sightings within 10 days witnessed by people across the globe. They saw shiny unidentified flying objects flying past in the sky as reported. Very interesting….. strange object sparked theories of possible extra terrestrial sightings and they do definitely exist after all. Many UFO sightings have been reported in the last decades yet scientist or researchers yet to confirm the details or evidence to proof it. But the strange sightings in different countries at the same month could not be wrong as we know “they’ have been watching at the earth from some where up there.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing …..simple amazing caught on camera by those eye witness.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/ufo-ufo-everywhere.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Aug 17. 2019 07:27 PM
    There may have been a chance for a civilization to start billions of years before life began on Earth as discovered by scientists. Several discoveries and theories from some of the greatest minds in science point to the likelihood that there is something beyond out there in the universe. I do believe that we are not alone in the universe. Well, there many on going research that has taken place to look for signs of extra terrestrial life such as aliens. Scientist have been using telescope and specimen data to radios to detect and send communication signals. Currently, scientist do not have any evidence to support that aliens exist but the research work still going on with the discovery of a varieties of beings in the universal . Stories of the sighting of aliens and other species by eye witnesses yet to proof their existence. Researcher and scientists have not given up hope to research for evidence. Interesting read .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/mysteries-surrounding-ancient-aliens.html
  • Yee Yin
    Saturday, Aug 17. 2019 04:32 PM
    Buddha Manjushri is very compassionate. He will manifest in the forms that can benefit us. In this case, he manifested as an enlightened Dharma protector to help us remove our obstacles so we can practise and have realiation on Buddha’s teachings.

    I have read many stories about how Dorje Shugden has helped people including Tsem Rinpoche. Kechara is growing and flourishing because of the assistance from Dorje Shugden. As long as our motivation is right, Dorje Shugden will provide a conducive environment to fulfil our wishes.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/dorje-shugden.html
  • Sofi
    Friday, Aug 16. 2019 10:47 PM
    A Personal Account of Events with My Teacher – Honouring the Potential in All Sentient Beings

    Rinpoche’s bond with animals is even more palpable. Abandoned dogs find not only shelter but a loving home wherever Rinpoche is. Injured and unwanted birds find healing and a safe haven created to resemble their natural habitat. Fish are given clean, pure water and plenty of food. Even insects are not forgotten. Most important of all, their surroundings are designed to leave positive Dharma imprints in their mind streams and help them gain good rebirths.

    Read more here: http://bit.ly/2y5PyP1
  • Sofi
    Friday, Aug 16. 2019 10:41 PM
    My mother’s White Tara

    The previous Telo Rinpoche had lived in Mongolia and during the Communist upheaval in his country, he was imprisoned along with many other monks and religious figures. Telo Rinpoche prayed to this image of White Tara, which he had with him and in the middle of the night, his cell doors miraculously swung open and he was able to just walk out. Later, with the help of some American scientists, he escaped and travelled to the United States where he connected with the Mongolian-Kalmyk community there, which included my parents.

    Read here: http://bit.ly/2Me6Sd3
  • Sofi
    Friday, Aug 16. 2019 10:35 PM
    Stories from a Chela – Real Transformation

    “Rinpoche’s drive to create a lasting mental change in a person’s life is nothing but pure compassion. Rinpoche certainly doesn’t get anything out of the person changing to become a better person, in fact, it often takes an emotional and physical toll on Rinpoche himself. Yet, Rinpoche goes out of his way to help his students and others to the best of his ability. Rinpoche does this in a number of ways, I’ll only touch on a few” ~ Pastor Niral Patel

    Learn more from Pastor Niral why he said that: http://bit.ly/2K3DmUj

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Messages from Rinpoche

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Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
Design: Justin Ripley, Cynthia Lee
Content: Tsem Rinpoche, Justin Ripley, Pastor Shin Tan, Sarah Yap
Admin: Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Beng Kooi

I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

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  Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch

The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
4 weeks ago
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
4 weeks ago
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
4 weeks ago
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
1 month ago
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
1 month ago
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
1 month ago
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
2 months ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
2 months ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
2 months ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
2 months ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
2 months ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
2 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
2 months ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
Sacred Vajra Yogini
3 months ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
3 months ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
3 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
3 months ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
3 months ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
3 months ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
3 months ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
3 months ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
3 months ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
3 months ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 months ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 months ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
3 months ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
3 months ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
3 months ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
3 months ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
3 months ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
3 months ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
3 months ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
3 months ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
3 months ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
3 months ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
4 months ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
4 months ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
4 months ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
4 months ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
4 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
4 months ago
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
4 months ago
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden\'s grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
4 months ago
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden's grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
4 months ago
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche 

www.tsemrinpoche.com
4 months ago
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • Always be kind to animals-They deserve to live just like us.
    1 month ago
    Always be kind to animals-They deserve to live just like us.
    Whales and dolphins playing with each other in the Pacific sea. Nature is truly incredible!
  • Bodha stupa July 2019-
    1 month ago
    Bodha stupa July 2019-
    Rainy period
  • Cute Tara girl having a snack. She is one of Kechara Forest Retreat’s resident doggies.
    2 months ago
    Cute Tara girl having a snack. She is one of Kechara Forest Retreat’s resident doggies.
  • Your Next Meal!
    2 months ago
    Your Next Meal!
    Yummy? Tasty? Behind the scenes of the meat on your plates. Meat is a killing industry.
  • This is Daw
    2 months ago
    This is Daw
    This is what they do to get meat on tables, and to produce belts and jackets. Think twice before your next purchase.
  • Don’t Take My Mummy Away!
    2 months ago
    Don’t Take My Mummy Away!
    Look at the poor baby chasing after the mother. Why do we do that to them? It's time to seriously think about our choices in life and how they affect others. Be kind. Don't break up families.
  • They do this every day!
    2 months ago
    They do this every day!
    This is how they are being treated every day of their lives. Please do something to stop the brutality. Listen to their cries for help!
  • What happened at Fair Oaks Farm?
    2 months ago
    What happened at Fair Oaks Farm?
    The largest undercover dairy investigation of all time. See what they found out at Fair Oaks Farm.
  • She’s going to spend her whole life here without being able to move correctly. Like a machine. They are the slaves of the people and are viewed as a product. It’s immoral. Billions of terrestrial animals die annually. Billions. You can’t even imagine it. And all that because people don’t want to give up meat, even though there are so many alternatives. ~ Gabriel Azimov
    2 months ago
    She’s going to spend her whole life here without being able to move correctly. Like a machine. They are the slaves of the people and are viewed as a product. It’s immoral. Billions of terrestrial animals die annually. Billions. You can’t even imagine it. And all that because people don’t want to give up meat, even though there are so many alternatives. ~ Gabriel Azimov
  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    4 months ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
  • Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
    4 months ago
    Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    4 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
  • These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    5 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    5 months ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
  • Beautiful
    5 months ago
    Beautiful
    Beautiful sacred Severed Head Vajra Yogini from Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
  • My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
  • Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
    6 months ago
    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    7 months ago
    SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    Tsem Rinpoche's dog Oser girl enjoying her snack in her play pen.
  • Cute!
    7 months ago
    Cute!
    Oser girl loves the balcony so much. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTcoWpKJm2c
  • Uncle Wong
    7 months ago
    Uncle Wong
    We were told by Uncle Wong he is very faithful toward Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden has extended help to him on several occasions and now Uncle Wong comes daily to make incense offerings to Dorje Shugden. He is grateful towards the help he was given.
  • Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
    7 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
  • Cute baby owl found and rescued
    8 months ago
    Cute baby owl found and rescued
    We rescued a lost baby owl in Kechara Forest Retreat.
  • Nice cups from Kechara!!
    8 months ago
    Nice cups from Kechara!!
    Dorje Shugden people's lives matter!
  • Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    8 months ago
    Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    Chirping birds and other forest animals create a joyful melody at the Vajrayogini stupa in Kechara Forest Retreat (Bentong, Malaysia).
  • His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    8 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    Trijang Rinpoche never gave up his devotion to Dorje Shugden no matter how much Tibetan government in exile pressured him to give up. He stayed loyal inspiring so many of us.
  • This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    2 yearss ago
    This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    This video is thought-provoking and very interesting. Watch! Thanks so much to our friends at LIVEKINDLY.
  • Chiropractic CHANGES LIFE for teenager with acute PAIN & DEAD LEG.
    2 yearss ago
    Chiropractic CHANGES LIFE for teenager with acute PAIN & DEAD LEG.
  • BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN NEW YORK STATE-AMAZING.
    2 yearss ago
    BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN NEW YORK STATE-AMAZING.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the meat Industry with real action.
    2 yearss ago
    Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the meat Industry with real action.
  • Do psychic mediums have messages from beyond?
    2 yearss ago
    Do psychic mediums have messages from beyond?
  • Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    2 yearss ago
    This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    she received “one last visit from an old friend” 💔💔
  • Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
    2 yearss ago
    Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
  • Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
    2 yearss ago
    Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
  • Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant  Mongolia's Ancient Hidden Gem
    2 yearss ago
    Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant Mongolia's Ancient Hidden Gem
  • Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
    2 yearss ago
    Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
  • Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
  • What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    2 yearss ago
    What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    Sick animals are more profitable... farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them. That's the business model. How quickly they can be made to grow, how tightly they can be packed, how much or how little can they eat, how sick they can get without dying... We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a block of wood. ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
    2 yearss ago
    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
  • SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    2 yearss ago
    SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    This happens daily in slaughterhouse so you can get your pork and Bak ku teh. Stop eating meat.

ASK A PASTOR


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CHAT PICTURES

Children recite Migtsema and Manjushri mantra before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Children recite Migtsema and Manjushri mantra before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
Student do full prostration before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Student do full prostration before the start of dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
Wen Yue led students to do key chain as part of art and craft activity. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Wen Yue led students to do key chain as part of art and craft activity. Lin Mun KSDS
Teacher Kien shared some photos of sangha members. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Teacher Kien shared some photos of sangha members. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- close bonding during WOAH camp. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Throwback- close bonding during WOAH camp. Lin Mun KSDS
Teenage dharma class in Kechara House . Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Teenage dharma class in Kechara House . Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback- Chinese New Year activity, calligraphy with best wishes words. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Throwback- Chinese New Year activity, calligraphy with best wishes words. Lin Mun KSDS
KISG has been performing White Tara and Dorje Shugden puja for 4 consecutive nights. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
3 days ago
KISG has been performing White Tara and Dorje Shugden puja for 4 consecutive nights. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
KISG members travelled to KFR for Ullambana today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
1 week ago
KISG members travelled to KFR for Ullambana today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
After the Bird Liberation, we proceeded with Dorje Shugden puja. Just before we started our puja, Pastor Patsy gave us a short Dharma Sharing. Pastor spoke about Dharma practice in these days and reminded us to always keep our samaya with Guru intact. To honour our promises, reduce our worldly activities and practice Dharma strongly. Thank you Pastor for the valuable advice~Jacinta, KPSG
1 week ago
After the Bird Liberation, we proceeded with Dorje Shugden puja. Just before we started our puja, Pastor Patsy gave us a short Dharma Sharing. Pastor spoke about Dharma practice in these days and reminded us to always keep our samaya with Guru intact. To honour our promises, reduce our worldly activities and practice Dharma strongly. Thank you Pastor for the valuable advice~Jacinta, KPSG
We chanted Medicine Buddha's mantra before we blessed them. May they be connected with Buddha always. ~Jacinta , monthly Bird Liberation Kechara Penang Study Group
1 week ago
We chanted Medicine Buddha's mantra before we blessed them. May they be connected with Buddha always. ~Jacinta , monthly Bird Liberation Kechara Penang Study Group
Special thanks to Linny Neoh and her friend for joining our Kechara Penang Study Group Bird Liberation. ~Jacinta, KPSG
1 week ago
Special thanks to Linny Neoh and her friend for joining our Kechara Penang Study Group Bird Liberation. ~Jacinta, KPSG
Birds were blessed before their departure to freedom. They deserved love & freedom too ~Jacinta,KPSG
1 week ago
Birds were blessed before their departure to freedom. They deserved love & freedom too ~Jacinta,KPSG
Pastor Patsy giving explanation during Bird Liberation event. Kechara Penang Study Group's monthly bird liberation - Jacinta
1 week ago
Pastor Patsy giving explanation during Bird Liberation event. Kechara Penang Study Group's monthly bird liberation - Jacinta
Re: Kechara Sunday Dharma Class every Sunday morning, Teachers and students start dharma learning at this blissful morning ~By KSDS Jayce Goh
2 weeks ago
Re: Kechara Sunday Dharma Class every Sunday morning, Teachers and students start dharma learning at this blissful morning ~By KSDS Jayce Goh
Kechara Sunday Dharma Class every Sunday morning, Teacher Lin Mun start class with Manjusri prayers after prostration ~By KSDS Jayce Goh
2 weeks ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma Class every Sunday morning, Teacher Lin Mun start class with Manjusri prayers after prostration ~By KSDS Jayce Goh
Mdm Glian Sim offered Serkym on behalf of KISG today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
2 weeks ago
Mdm Glian Sim offered Serkym on behalf of KISG today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Janice So offered water to Lama Tsongkhapa, Mother Tara, Dorje Shugden and all Buddhas. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
2 weeks ago
Janice So offered water to Lama Tsongkhapa, Mother Tara, Dorje Shugden and all Buddhas. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Ms. Leow offered lights and incense prior to the prayer session in Ipoh today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
2 weeks ago
Ms. Leow offered lights and incense prior to the prayer session in Ipoh today. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
KISG has carried out a session of 21 Praises to Taras prayer recitations today in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
2 weeks ago
KISG has carried out a session of 21 Praises to Taras prayer recitations today in Ipoh. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Children were very excited to participate in the quiz. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Children were very excited to participate in the quiz. Lin Mun KSDS
We will do dedication before we end the dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
We will do dedication before we end the dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
It’s wonderful for parents and children to attend animal liberation together and recite mantra before releasing the birds. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
It’s wonderful for parents and children to attend animal liberation together and recite mantra before releasing the birds. Lin Mun KSDS
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong. Lin Mun KSDS
Rejoice ! Children getting blessing from pastor on Wesak Day. Lin Mun KSDS
2 weeks ago
Rejoice ! Children getting blessing from pastor on Wesak Day. Lin Mun KSDS
The Promise
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