Huge outdoor Tsongkapa!

Oct 26, 2015 | Views: 18,470

Lord Tsongkapa statue being built in Xiaqiong (Jakhyung) Monastery, Qinghai, Tibet, China. The only one of it’s kind in the world. Totally amazing.

Now this is a perfect place to visit and make pilgrimage. Lord Tsongkapa is so blessed for our minds to hear, see or contemplate.

The building of this huge statue of Lord Tsongkapa has been completed as of January 2016, with Lord Tsongkhapa adorned in gold. Please see the pictures below.

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A Short Biography of Tsongkhapa

Alexander Berzin, August 2003, partly based on
a discourse by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey
Dharamsala, India

The biography of a great lama is called a “namtar” (rnam-thar), a liberating biography, since it inspires the listeners to follow the example of the lama and achieve liberation and enlightenment. The biography of Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419) is indeed inspiring.

 

Prophesies and Childhood

Both Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Rinpoche prophesied Tsongkhapa’s birth and attainments. At the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, a young boy who was a previous incarnation of Tsongkhapa presented a crystal rosary to Buddha and received a conch shell in return. Buddha prophesied Manjushri would be born as a boy in Tibet, would found Ganden monastery, and would present a crown to my statue. Buddha gave the boy the future name Sumati-kirti (Blo-bzang grags-pa, Lozang-dragpa). Guru Rinpoche also prophesied a monk named Lozang-dragpa would be born near China, would be regarded as an emanation of a great bodhisattva, and would make a Buddha-statue into a Sambhogakaya representation.

Several indications before Tsongkhapa’s birth also indicated that he would be a great being. His parents, for example, had many auspicious dreams that their child would be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, and Vajrapani. His future teacher, Chojey Dondrub-rinchen (Chos-rje Don-grub rin-chen), was told by Yamantaka in a vision that he (Yamantaka) would come to Amdo (A-mdo, northeastern Tibet) in a certain year and become his disciple.

Tsongkhapa was born in Tsongkha (Tsong-kha), Amdo, in 1357, the fourth of six sons. The day after Tsongkhapa’s birth, Chojey Dondrub-rinchen sent his main disciple to the parents with gifts, a statue, and a letter. A sandalwood tree grew from the spot where his umbilical cord fell to the ground. Each leaf had a natural picture of the Buddha Sinhanada (Sangs-rgyas Seng-ge sgra), and was thus called Kumbum (sKu-‘bum), a hundred thousand body images. The Gelug monastery called Kumbum was later built on that spot.

Tsongkhapa was not like an ordinary child. He never misbehaved; he instinctively engaged in bodhisattva type actions; and he was extremely intelligent and always wanted to learn everything. At the age of three, he took lay vows from the Fourth Karmapa, Rolpay-dorjey (Kar-ma-pa Rol-pa’i rdo-rje) (1340-1383). Soon after, his father invited Chojey Dondrub-rinchen to their home. The lama offered to care for the education of the boy and the father happily agreed. The boy stayed at home until he was seven, studying with Chojey Dondrub-rinchen. Just seeing the lama read, he instinctively knew how to read without needing to be taught.

During this time, Chojey Dondrub-rinchen gave the boy the empowerments of Five-Deity Chakrasamvara (Dril-bu lha-lnga), Hevajra, Yamantaka, and Vajrapani. By the age of seven, he had already memorized their complete rituals, had completed the Chakrasamvara retreat, was already doing the self-initiation, and already had a vision of Vajrapani. He frequently dreamt of Atisha (Jo-bo rJe dPal-ldan A-ti-sha) (982-1054), which was a sign that he would correct misunderstandings of the Dharma in Tibet and restore its purity, combining sutra and tantra, as Atisha had done.

At the age of seven, Tsongkhapa received novice vows from Chojey Dondrub-rinchen and the ordination name Lozang-dragpa. He continued to study in Amdo with this lama until he was sixteen, at which time he went to U-tsang (dBus-gtsang, Central Tibet) to study further. He never returned to his homeland. Chojey Dondrub-rinchen remained in Amdo, where he founded Jakyung Monastery (Bya-khyung dGon-pa) to the south of Kumbum.

 

Early Studies in Central Tibet

In Central Tibet, Tsongkhapa first studied at a Drigung Kagyu monastery, where he learned the Drigung mahamudra tradition called “possessing five” (phyag-chen lnga-ldan), medicine, and further details about bodhichitta. By seventeen, he was a skilled doctor. He then studied Filigree of Realizations (mNgon-rtogs-rgyan, Skt. Abhisamayalamkara), the other texts of Maitreya, and prajnaparamita (phar-phyin, far-reaching discriminating awareness) at several Nyingma, Kagyu, Kadam, and Sakya monasteries, memorizing the texts in just days. By nineteen, he was already acknowledged as a great scholar.

He continued to travel to the most famous monasteries of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, studying the five major Geshe-training topics and the Indian tenet systems, debating them and sitting for debate examinations. He received the Kadam lam-rim (lam-rim, graded sutra path) teachings and also innumerable tantric empowerments and teachings, including the Sakya tradition of lamdray (lam-‘bras, the paths and the result), the Drigung Kagyu tradition of the six teachings of Naropa (Na-ro’i chos-drug, six yogas of Naropa), and Kalachakra. He also studied poetic composition, astrology, and mandala construction. In all his studies, he only had to hear an explanation once and then he understood and remembered it perfectly – as was the case with His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Tsongkhapa always had strong renunciation. He lived extremely humbly and kept his vows purely. He easily achieved shamatha (zhi-gnas, a stilled and settled state of mind) and vipashyana (lhag-mthong, an exceptionally perceptive state of mind), but was never satisfied with his learning or level of realization. He continued to travel and requested teachings over and again even on the same texts. He debated and sat exams with most of the learned masters of his day. One of his main teachers was Rendawa (Red-mda’-ba gZhon-nu blo-gros) (1349-1412), a Sakya master. Tsongkhapa wrote the Migtsema (dMigs-brtse-ma) praise to him, but this master rededicated it to Tsongkhapa. It later became the verse repeated for Tsongkhapa guru-yoga.

 

The magnificent statue of Lord Tsongkhapa in Xiaqiong (Jakhyung) Monastery, Qinghai, Tibet, China.

The magnificent statue of Lord Tsongkhapa in Xiaqiong (Jakhyung) Monastery, Qinghai, Tibet, China. Click to enlarge.

Early Teaching and Writing

Tsongkhapa began to teach while in his 20s, with his first teaching being on abhidharma (mdzod, special topics of knowledge). Everyone was astounded at his erudition. He also began to write and do more retreats. Soon, he had many disciples of his own. Although some accounts say Tsongkhapa took full monk vows at age 21, it is uncertain in which year this actually took place. It was probably later in his 20s.

At one point, he studied and analyzed the entire Kangyur (bKa’-‘gyur) and Tengyur (bsTan-‘gyur) – the translated direct teachings of Buddha and their Indian commentaries. After that, at age 32, he wrote A Golden Rosary of Excellent Explanations (Legs-bshad gser-phreng), a commentary on Filigree of Realizations and thus on prajnaparamita. He synthesized and discussed all twenty-one Indian commentaries. Whatever he wrote, he substantiated with quotes from the entire span of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist literature, comparing and critically editing even different translations. Unlike previous scholars, he never shied away from explaining the most difficult and obscure passages in any text.

Normally, Tsongkhapa could memorize each day seventeen double-side Tibetan pages of nine lines on each side. Once some scholars held a memorizing contest to see who could memorize the most pages before the sun hit the banner on the roof of the monastery. Tsongkhapa won with four pages, which he recited fluently with no mistakes. The next closest could only do two and a half, and with staggering.

Tsongkhapa soon began to give tantric empowerments and teachings, and especially the subsequent permission (rjes-snang, jenang) of Sarasvati (dByangs-can-ma) for wisdom. He also continued his study of tantra, especially Kalachakra.

One great lama was famous for teaching eleven texts at the same time. A disciple requested Tsongkhapa to do the same. Tsongkhapa taught instead seventeen major sutra texts, all from memory, one session on each every day, starting them all on the same day and finishing them all three months later, also on the same day. During the discourse, he refuted incorrect interpretations of each and established his own view. Each day during the discourse, he also did the self-initiation (bdag-‘jug) of Yamantaka and all his other tantric practices.

If we look at his life of only 62 years, and consider how much he studied, practiced (including making tsatsa clay statues), how much he wrote, taught, and did retreats, it would seem impossible that anyone could do even one of them in a lifetime.

 

Intensive Tantra Study and Practice

Soon after this, Tsongkhapa did his first major tantric retreat, on Chakrasamvara according to the Kagyu lineage. During this retreat, he meditated intensely on the six teachings of Naropa and the six teachings of Niguma (Ni-gu’i chos-drug, six yogas of Niguma). He gained great realization.

After this, at the age of 34, Tsongkhapa decided to engage in intensive study and practice of all four tantra classes. As he later wrote, one cannot truly appreciate the profundity of anuttarayoga tantra unless one has practiced and understood deeply the three lower tantras. Thus, he traveled widely again and received many empowerments and teachings on the three lower tantra classes. He also studied further the five-stage complete stage (rdzogs-rim) of Guhyasamaja and Kalachakra.

 

Study and Retreats for Gaining Nonconceptual Cognition of Voidness

Tsongkhapa also went to study the practices of the Manjushri Tantric Cycle and Madhyamaka with the Karma Kagyu Lama Umapa (Bla-ma dbu-ma-pa dPa’-bo rdo-rje). This great master had studied Madhyamaka with the Sakya tradition and, since childhood, had daily visions of Manjushri, who taught him one verse each day. Tsongkhapa and he became mutual teacher and disciple. Lama Umapa checked with Tsongkhapa to get confirmation that the teachings he received in his visions of Manjushri were correct. This is very important, since visions can be influenced by demons.

Together with Lama Umapa, Tsongkhapa did an extensive retreat on Manjushri. From this time onward, Tsongkhapa received direct instruction from Manjushri in pure visions and was able to receive from him answers to all his questions. Before this, he had to ask his questions to Manjushri through Lama Umapa.

During the retreat, Tsongkhapa felt he still did not have a proper understanding of Madhyamaka and Guhyasamaja. Manjushri advised that he do a very long retreat and then would understand the notes he had taken from his instructions. Thus, after teaching a short while, Tsongkhapa entered a four-year retreat with eight close disciples at Olka Cholung (‘Ol-kha chos-lung). They did thirty-five sets of 100,000 prostrations, one each to the thirty-five confession Buddhas, and eighteen sets of 100,000 mandala offerings, with many Yamantaka self-initiations and study of The Avatamsaka Sutra (mDo phal-cher) for bodhisattva deeds. They had a vision of Maitreya afterwards.

After the retreat, Tsongkhapa and his disciples restored a great Maitreya statue in Lhasa, which was the first of his four major deeds. They then went into retreat for five more months. After this, the Nyingma Lama Lhodrag Namka-gyeltsen (Lho-brag Nam-mkha’ rgyal-mtshan), who continually had visions of Vajrapani, invited Tsongkhapa, and they also became mutual teacher and disciple. He transmitted to him the Kadam lam-rim and oral guideline lineages.

Tsongkhapa wanted to go to India to study more, but Vajrapani advised to stay in Tibet since he would be of more benefit there. Thus, he stayed. He resolved that later he would write A Grand Presentation of the Graded Stages of the Path (Lam-rim chen-mo) on the graded sutra path and then A Grand Presentation of the Graded Stages of the Tantra Path (sNgags-rim chen-mo) on the stages of practice of the four tantra classes.

Tsongkhapa then did an extensive retreat on the Kalachakra complete stage, and after that, a one-year retreat on Madhyamaka. Although Tsongkhapa had learned much about Madhyamaka and voidness from his teachers, he had never felt satisfied with the level of explanation. Before entering this one-year retreat, Manjushri advised him to rely on the Madhyamaka commentary by Buddhapalita (Sangs-rgyas bskyangs). Tsongkhapa did so and, consequently during the retreat, gained full nonconceptual cognition of voidness.

Based on his realization, Tsongkhapa revised completely the understanding of the Prasangika-Madhyamaka teachings on voidness and related topics that the teachers and learned masters of his day had held. In this regard, he was a radical reformer with the courage to go beyond current beliefs when he found them inadequate.

 

Further Great Deeds

After teaching more, Tsongkhapa again went into retreat, this time with his teacher Rendawa, and wrote most of Lam-rim chen-mo. During the retreat, he had a vision of Atisha and the lam-rim lineage masters that lasted for a month, clarifying many questions. Next, he studied the six practices of Naropa and mahamudra further with Drigung Kagyu. During the rainy season after this, he taught vinaya (‘dul-ba, monastic rules of discipline) so clearly, it is regarded as his second great deed.

After he finished Lam-rim chen-mo, Tsongkhapa decided to teach more fully on tantra. First, however, he wrote extensive commentaries on the bodhisattva vows and Fifty Stanzas on the Guru (Bla-ma lnga-bcu-pa, Skt. Gurupanchashika) to emphasize them as the foundation for tantra practice. Then, while continuing to teach, he wrote Ngag-rim chen-mo and many commentaries on Guhyasamaja. He also wrote on Yamantaka and on Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka texts.

The Chinese Emperor invited him to become his imperial tutor, but Tsongkhapa excused himself saying he was too old and wanted to stay in retreat.

Over the next two years, Tsongkhapa taught lam-rim and tantra extensively and wrote The Essence of Excellent Explanation of Interpretable and Definitive Meanings (Drang-nges legs-bshad snying-po) on the definitive and interpretable meanings of the Mahayana tenets. Then, in 1409, at the age of 52, he inaugurated the Monlam Great Prayer Festival (sMon-lam chen-mo) at the Lhasa Jokang (Jo-khang). He offered a gold crown to the Shakyamuni statue, signifying that it was now a Sambhogakaya statue, not just Nirmanakaya. Sambhogakaya forms of Buddhas live until all beings are liberated from samsara, whereas Nirmanakaya forms live only a short time. This is considered his third great deed. After this, his disciples asked him to stop traveling so much and they founded Ganden Monastery (dGa’-ldan dGon-pa) for him.

At Ganden, Tsongkhapa continued to teach, write (especially on Chakrasamvara), and do retreats. He commissioned the building of the great Ganden hall with a huge Buddha statue and copper three-dimensional mandalas of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Yamantaka. This is considered his fourth great deed. He continued his writing and in the end, his collected works totaled eighteen volumes, with the largest amount being on Guhyasamaja.

 

Passing Away

Tsongkhapa died at Ganden in 1419, at the age of 62. He attained enlightenment after his death by achieving an illusory body (sgyu-lus) instead of bardo. This was to emphasize the need for monks to follow strict celibacy, since enlightenment in this lifetime requires practice with a consort at least once.

Before he passed away, Tsongkhapa gave his hat and robe to Gyeltsabjey (rGyal-tshab rJe Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432), who held the Ganden throne for twelve years afterwards. This began the tradition of the Ganden Throne Holder (dGa’-ldan khri-pa, Ganden Tripa) being the head of the Gelug order. The next throne holder was Kaydrubjey (mKhas-grub rJe dGe-legs dpal-bzang) (1385-1438), who later had five visions of Tsongkhapa, clarifying his doubts and answering his questions. The Gelug lineage has flourished ever since.

 

Disciples

Several of Tsongkhapa’s close disciples founded monasteries to continue his lineages and spread his teachings. While Tsongkhapa was still alive, Jamyang Chojey (‘Jam-dbyangs Chos-rje bKra-shis dpal-ldan) (1379-1449) founded Drepung Monastery (‘Bras-spungs dGon-pa) in 1416 and Jamchen Chojey (Byams-chen Chos-rje Shakya ye-shes) (1354-1435) founded Sera Monastery (Se-ra dGon-pa) in 1419. After Tsongkhapa’s passing away, Gyu Sherab-senggey (rGyud Shes-rab seng-ge) (1383-1445) founded Gyumay Lower Tantric College (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) in 1433 and Gyelwa Gendun-drub (rGyal-ba Ge-’dun grub) (1391-1474), posthumously named the First Dalai Lama, founded Tashilhunpo Monastery (bKra-shis lhun-po) in 1447.

 

A Brief History of Kumbum Monastery

Alexander Berzin, 1991, expanded September 2003. Original version published in “Gelug Monasteries.” Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991).

Kumbum Jampa-ling Monastery (sKu-‘bum Byams-pa gling) was founded in 1583 by the Third Dalai Lama, Sonam-gyatso (rGyal-ba bSod-nams rgya-mtsho) (1543-1588). It was built in Amdo (A-mdo), near Lake Kokonor (mTsho-sngon), at the site where Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419), the founder of the Gelug Tradition, had been born. It was prophesied in several texts of the Kadam (bKa’-gdams) masters.

A drop of blood fell from Tsongkhapa’s umbilical cord when it was cut after his birth. From this drop grew a wondrous white sandalwood tree. It has a very broad trunk and 100,000 leaves, which it never sheds. In Tibetan, the number 100,000 merely signifies a very large number, and is not meant literally. On each leaf is an image of the Buddha Sinhanada (Seng-ge sgra). On the bark of the branches and trunk are the designs of the seed syllables and hand implements of this Buddha. In the future, Tsongkhapa will take birth as Sinhanada, the eleventh Buddha of the 1,000 who will grace the earth during this fortunate eon.

In 1379, Tsongkhapa’s mother, with the help of the local faithful, built a small temple with a stupa around this tree. It stands to this day. This was the first temple at Kumbum. In 1481, the nobility and nomads of the Kokonor region built a larger temple for making offerings at the holy tree. In 1560, the meditator Rinchen-tsondru-gyeltsen (Rin-chen brtson-‘grus rgyal-mtshan) built a small monastery there, called Gonpalung (dGon-pa lung), for intensive meditation practice. At first, it had seven monks at a time, but soon expanded to hold fifteen.

In 1576, Altan Khan (1507-1583) of the Tumed Mongols invited the future Third Dalai Lama, Sonam-gyatso, to bring Buddhism to Mongolia. At that time, Sonam-gyatso, was known as the Gyelwa Rinpoche (rGyal-ba Rin-po-che) or the Drepung Tulku (‘Bras-spungs sPrul-sku), the third incarnation in the first line of incarnate lamas in the Gelug tradition. After Altan Khan adopted Buddhism, he gave Gyelwa Sonam-gyatso the title Dalai Lama. “Dalai” is the Mongolian translation of “gyatso,” meaning “ocean.” Thus, Gyelwa Sonam-gyatso became the Third Dalai Lama.

On his way to meet Altan Khan near Kokonor, Gyelwa Sonam-gyatso stopped at the isolated retreat by the holy tree marking the spot where Tsongkhapa had been born. He requested Rinchen-tsondru-gyeltsen to construct a larger monastery at this site and appointed him as the head lama. The monastery was completed in 1583 and an annual Prayer Festival (sMon-lam) was inaugurated like that held in Lhasa.

The new monastery was called Kumbum Jampa-ling. “Kumbum” means 100,000 enlightening bodies of the Buddha. It is named after the 100,000 images of the Buddha Sinhanada on the leaves of the holy sandalwood tree. “Jampa-ling” means “Maitreya Cloister.” This refers to the Maitreya temple built by Rinchen-tsondru-gyeltsen to the right of the precious tree. Furthermore, Tsongkhapa is considered inseparable in nature from Maitreya Buddha, and whatever spiritual practices one does at this site are said to bring rebirth in Maitreya’s Pure Land.

The First Throne Holder of Kumbum was Duldzin Ozer-gyatso (‘Dul-‘dzin ‘Od-zer rgya-mtsho), born in 1557. In 1603, the Fourth Dalai Lama, Yonten-gyatso (rGyal-ba Yon-tan rgya-mtsho) (1589-1616), stopped at Kumbum on his way from his native Mongolia to Central Tibet. At that time, he proclaimed the need for a study division to be built and for Duldzin Ozer-gyatso to be appointed as the head of the entire monastery. At Kumbum’s Monlam Prayer Festival of 1612, Duldzin Ozer-gyatso first ascended to the throne of Abbot and opened the Debate College, Pelden Shaydrubling Dratsang (dPal-ldan bShad-grub gling Grva-tshang).

Kumbum has four monastic colleges. The largest is the Debate College. Most of its divisions use the textbooks of Jetsunpa Chokyi-gyeltsen (rJe-btsun-pa Chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan) (1469-1544), as at Ganden Jangtsey (dGa’-ldan Byang-rtse Grva-tshang) and Sera Jey Colleges (Se-ra Byes Grva-tshang) near Lhasa. A few of the divisons follow the textbooks of Kunkyen Jamyang-zhaypa Ngawang-tsondru (Kun-mkhyen ‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa Ngag-dbang brtson-‘grus) (1648-1722), as at Gomang College (sGo-mang Grva-tshang) of Drepung Monastery (‘Bras-spungs dGon-pa) and Labrang Monastery (Bla-brang dGon-pa). The highest degrees of Geshe Rabjampa (dGe-bshes Rab-‘byams-pa) and Geshe Shayrampa (dGe-bshes bShad-ram-pa) are awarded at the Kumbum Monlam Prayer Festival each year.

The Tantric College, Gyu (rGyud) or Sangngag Dechenling Datsang (gSang-sngags bDe-chen gling Grva-tshang), was founded by Chojey Legpa-gyatso (Chos-rje Legs-pa rgya-mtsho) in 1649. The curriculum follows that of Gyumay Lower Tantric College (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) of Lhasa. After study of the major texts and commentaries of the Guhyasamaja (gSang-‘dus), Chakrasamvara (bDe-mchog), and Vajrabhairava (rDo-rje ‘jigs-byed) systems, monks receive the Geshe Ngagrampa (dGe-bshes sNgags-ram-pa) degree.

In 1711, Chuzang Lozang-tenpay-gyeltsen (Chu-bzang Blo-bzang btsan-pa’i rgyal-mtshan) built a new Tantric College, Ngagpa Dratsang (sNgags-pa Grva-tshang). In 1723, the combined Manchu and Chinese armies severely damaged the four great monasteries of the Kokonor region – Kumbum, Gonlung (dGon-lung dGon-pa), Serkog (gSer-khog dGon-pa), and Chuzang (Chu-bzang dGon-pa) – and many monks fled. Soon afterwards, the Manchu commander asked the Twenty-first Throne Holder to convert the new Ngagpa Dratsang into a Medical College, and this was done. With the appointment of several famous doctors, the Medical College, Menpa Dratsang Sorig-dargyey-zhenpen-norbuling (sMan-pa Grva-tshang gSo-rig dar-rgyas gzhan-phen nor-bu gling), was opened in 1725. It became a separate college during the time of the Twenty-second Throne Holder. The doctors who are graduated receive the Menrampa (sMan-ram-pa) degree.

The fourth college at Kumbum is the Kalachakra College, Dukor Dratsang Rigden Losel-ling (Dus-‘khor Grva-tshang Rigs-ldan Blo-gsal gling). It was founded in 1820 by Ngawang-shaydrub-tenpay-nyima (Ngag-dbang bshad-grub bstan-pa’i nyi-ma). Monks at this college also study astrology and receive the Tsirampa (rTsis-ram-pa) degree upon completion of their education.

Before 1958, Kumbum had 3,600 monks. At present, there are 400. Of these, 300 are at the Debate College and the rest are distributed evenly among the other three colleges. Traditionally, the majority of the Kumbum monks have been Tibetans from Amdo. As at Labrang Monastery, the rest have been Outer Mongolian Mongols (phyi-sog), Inner Mongolian Mongols (smad-sog, nang-sog), Kokonor Mongols (stod-sog) from the Amdo region east of Kumbum, Mongours (hor-pa) from the Amdo region north of Kumbum, Yellow Yugurs (yu-gur) from Gansu (Kansu), Xinjiang Kalmyk Mongols, and ethnic Chinese.

 

 

A Brief History of Ganden Monastery

Alexander Berzin, 1991
expanded with Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche II, September 2003
Original version published in
“Gelug Monasteries.” Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India, 1991).

The founding of Ganden Nampar-gyelway-ling Monastery (dGa’-ldan rnam-par rgyal-ba’i gling dGon-pa) by Jey Tsongkhapa Lozang-dragpa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419) was prophesied by Buddha Shakyamuni. In The Manjushri Root Tantra (‘Jam-dpal rtsa-rgyud), Buddha said, “After I have passed away from this world, when the earth becomes desolate, you will take the form of a child and enact the deeds of a Buddha. At that time there will be a great monastery called Rabga (Rab-dga’) in the Land of Snows.” “Ga” is the first syllable of “Ganden.”

On the occasion of Tsongkhapa, as a small boy in a previous life, offering the Buddha a crystal rosary, the Buddha prophesied in The Sutra Taught to King Dam-ngag-bogpa (mDo-sde gDams-ngag ‘bog-pa’i rgyal-po’i bstan-pa), “O Ananda. This small boy who has given me a crystal rosary will restore my teachings. At a degenerate time in the future, he will found a monastery called ‘Ge’ (dGe) at the border between Dri (‘Bri) and Den (lDan). His name will be Lozang.” “Ge” is a variant of the first syllable of “Ganden.” The boy was given in return a conch shell that had been presented to the Buddha by a naga king. Buddha entrusted this shell to his disciple, Maudgalyayana, who buried it in Tibet as a treasure auspicious for the future spread of the teachings.

In 1409, Tsongkhapa instituted the Great Prayer Festival (sMon-lam chen-mo) at the Lhasa Jokang Temple (Lha-sa Jo-khang, Jokhang). Afterwards, his disciples, concerned about the effect of constant travel on their teacher’s health, offered to build him a monastery at any site of his choice. Tsongkhapa accepted and chose Drogri Mountain (‘Brog ri-bo-che), approximately 50 kilometers east of Lhasa. He personally consecrated the land and named the monastery Ganden, Tushita in Sanskrit, after the pure land realm of the future Buddha, Maitreya.

The main temple and over seventy buildings were completed that year, 1409, in strict adherence with the Indian monastic rules. The next year, on a hill behind Ganden, Tsongkhapa unearthed the treasure conch shell that Maudgalyayana had buried there. All the prophesies about Ganden Monastery were thus fulfilled. In 1416, Tsongkhapa gave the Ganden conch to his disciple, Jamyang Chojey (‘Jam-dbyangs Chos-rje bKra-shis dpal-ldan) (1379-1449), who founded Drepung Monastery (‘Bras-spungs dGon-pa) later that year. The conch has been kept at Drepung ever since. Another close disciple, Jamchen Chojey (Byams-chen Chos-rje Shakya ye-shes) (1354-1435), founded Sera Monastery (Se-ra dGon-pa) in 1419, the year Tsongkhapa passed away.

Tsongkhapa stayed frequently at Ganden until the end of his life. He passed away at this monastery and his remains were kept there. His construction of Ganden’s main temple, with its large statues and three-dimensional mandalas, is counted as the fourth great deed of Tsongkhapa’s life.

Since its founding, Ganden has been the seat of the Ganden Tripa (dGa’-ldan Khri-pa), the Holder of the Golden Throne of Ganden and head of the Gelug Tradition. This tradition, traced from Tsongkhapa, is also called the Ganden Tradition (dGa’-ldan lugs), named after Ganden Monastery. “Lug” means tradition, and “Gelug” is an abbreviation of “Ganden Lug.”

The first Ganden Tripa was Gyeltsabjey (rGyal-tshab rJe Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432), to whom Tsongkhapa gave his robe and staff before he passed away. The second was Kaydrubjey (mKhas-grub rJe dGe-legs dpal-bzang) (1385-1438). The present throne holder, Tri Rinpoche Yeshey-tubten (Khri Rin-po-che Ye-shes thub-bstan), is the ninety-ninth of this line. The term of office is seven years.

Ganden Monastery is comprised of two colleges, Jangtsey (Byang-rtse Grva-tshang) and Shartsey (Shar-rtse grva-tshang), meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. According to one tradition, they were named after their location to the north and east of Ganden’s main temple.

At the time of the Second Ganden Tripa, Kaydrubjey, Ganden Monastery was divided into four colleges. Later in his term, Pelden (dPal-ldan Grva-tshang) and Yardrog Colleges (Yar-‘brog Grva-tshang) merged to become Jangtsey; while Panchen Shakya-shri (Pan-chen Sha-kya-shri Grva-tshang) and Chodrag Colleges (Chos-grags Grva-tshang) merged to become Shartsey. Horton Namka-pelzang (Hor-ston Nam-mkha’ dpal-bzang), the author of Attitude-Training Like the Rays of the Sun (Blo-sbyong nyi-ma’i ‘od), is considered the founder of Jangtsey College. Nayten Rinchen-gyeltsen (gNas-brtan Rin-chen rgyal-mtshan) is considered the founder of Shartsey College. During the period of the Twenty-first Ganden Tripa, Sangpu Nyarong College (gSang-phu nyag-rong Grva-tshang), which had arisen later, also merged with Shartsey.

Jangtsey College, which contained Tsongkhapa’s residence, at first had thirteen divisions (khang-tshan): Lubum (Klu-‘bum Khang-tshan), Tsawa (Tsha-ba Khang-tshan), Samlo (bSam-blo Khang-tshan), Hardong (Har-gdong Khang-tshan, Hamdong Khamtsen), Serkong (gSer-skong Khang-tshan), Trehor (Tre-hor Khang-tshan), Gyelrong (rGyal-rong Khang-tshan), Bati (sBa-ti Khang-tshan), Ngari (mNga’-ri Khang-tshan), Dora (rDo-ra Khang-tshan), Dranyi (Bra-nyi Khang-tshan, Banyi Khamtsen), Gowo (Go-bo Khang-tshan), and Kongpo (Kong-po Khang-tshan) Kangtsens. Monks joined these divisions according to their places of origin. Monks from Mongolia, for example, joined Hardong. In later times, there were only twelve. Bati and Ngari Kangtsens were dissolved, and Para Kangtsen (Pha-ra Khang-tsan) was added. Each division had several houses (mi-tshan), also divided according to the places of origin of the monks living in them.

Shartsey College has eleven divisions: Dokang (rDo-khang Khang-tshan), Pukang (Phu-khang Khang-tshan), Nyag-re (Nyag-re Khang-tshan), Lhopa (Lho-pa Khang-tshan), Zungchu (Zung-chu Khang-tshan), Tepo (The-po Khang-tshan), Choni (Co-ni Khang-tshan), Ta-on (rTa-‘on Khang-tshan, rTa-dbon Khang-tshan), Ngari (mNga’-ris Khang-tshan), Sogpa (Sog-pa Khang-tshan), and Gungru (Gung-ru Khang-tshan) Kangtsens.

Both divisions of Ganden, Jangtsey and Shartsey, have a combined study program of sutra and tantra. This is in contrast with the other two main Gelug Monasteries in the Lhasa area, Sera (Se-ra dGon-pa) and Drepung. Of the four colleges at Drepung: Losel-ling (Blo-gsal gling Grva-tshang) and Gomang Colleges (sGo-mang Grva-tshang) have only sutra studies, Ngagpa College (sNgags-pa Grva-tshang) has only tantra studies, while Deyang College (bDe-dbyangs Grva-tshang) has both. Of the three colleges at Sera: Jey (Byes Grva-tshang) and May Colleges (sMad Gvra-tshang) have only sutra studies and Ngagpa College (sNgags-pa Grva-tshang) has only tantra studies. In India, Drepung Ngagpa and Sera Ngagpa Colleges have added sutra studies to their programs. Drepung Deyang College has not been reestablished.

Jangtsey College follows the sutra textbooks (yig-cha) of Jetsunpa Chokyi-gyeltsen (rJe-btsun-pa Chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan) (1469-1544), in common with Sera Jey and Sera Ngagpa Colleges. Shartsey College uses the textbooks of the Fifteenth Ganden Tripa, Panchen Sonam-dragpa (Pan-chen bSod-nams grags-pa) (1478-1554), as does Drepung Losel-ling and Drepung Ngagpa Tantric Colleges. As for the other colleges at the three major Gelug monasteries in the Lhasa area (gdan-sa gsum), Sera May College uses the sutra textbooks written by Kaydrub Tendarwa (mKhas-grub dGe-‘dun bstan-pa dar-rgyas) (1493-1568). Drepung Gomang and Drepung Deyang Colleges use the textbooks written by Kunkyen Jamyang-zheypa the First, Ngawang-tsondru (Kun-mkhyen ‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa Ngag-dbang brtson-‘grus) (1648-1721). All the colleges follow the texts written by Tsongkhapa, Gyeltsabjey, and Kaydrubjey. Their various textbooks differ merely on fine points of interpretation.

Study is by means of memorization, logic, and debate. Monks study the preliminary subjects of logic for three years. The main study of the five major texts takes eleven further years. At the end of each year of study, monks must pass an examination (rgyugs-sprod) to go on to the next class. Those who end their sutra studies at the completion of these eleven years and present a formal debate to the mixed assembly of their entire college (gling-bsre dam-bca’) receive the degree of Geshe Tsogrampa (dGe-bshes Tshogs-ram-pa). Those who study for a further five years and present a formal debate before the collected assembly of monks from all three major Gelug monasteries of the Lhasa area during the Great Prayer Festival at the Lhasa Jokang receive the title Geshe Lharampa (dGe-bshes Lha-ram-pa). Monks who merely pass examinations on memorization of the major texts, but without completing their Geshe education receive the degree Kyerimpa (bsKyed-rim-pa).

Geshe Tsogrampas and Geshe Lharampas must then pursue their tantric studies at either Gyumay Lower Tantric College (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) or Gyuto Upper Tantric College (rGyud-stod Grva-tshang). To which one they go depends on their places of origin. Upon completion of their tantra studies, also through the medium of debate, and presentation of a tantra formal debate, they receive the degree Geshe Ngagrampa (dGe-bshes sNgags-ram-pa). They may either stay on at the Tantric College or return to Ganden. If they return, they must present another tantra formal debate at their home college.

Monks with merely the Kyerimpa degree may study tantra at their own college. Those at Jangtsey follow the textbooks of Gyumay, written by rGyu Sherab-senggey (rGyud Shes-rab seng-ge) (1383-1445). Those at Shartsey follow the textbooks of Gyuto, written by Gyuchen Kunga-dondrub (rGyud-chen Kun-dga’ don-grub) (1419-1486). Those from Jangtsey who present the tantra formal debate also receive the degree Geshe Ngagrampa. Those from Shartsey receive the degree Uma-shayring (dBu-ma bshad-ring).

Jangtsey College as a whole is responsible for maintaining the annual performance of the full rituals of the Akshobhya (Mi-bskyod-pa) form of the Guhyasamaja (gSang-ba ‘dus-pa), while Shartsey for mainitaining Thirteen-Couple Vajrabhairava (rDo-rje ‘Jigs-byed Lha bcu-gsum). In addition, each division within the two colleges is responsible for the annual performance of the full rituals of specific tantric deities from the four classes of tantra. At Ganden Jangtsey, within the anuttaryoga (rnal-‘byor bla-med rgyud) class of tantra, Para, Kongpo, and Dranyi maintain the Akshobhya form of Guhyasamaja, while Hardong maintains the Mahachakra form of Vajrapani (Phyag-rdor ‘Khor-chen). Within yoga tantra (rnal-byor rgyud), Lumbum and Tsawa maintain the rituals of Vajradhatu (rDor-dbyings). Within charya (behavior) tantra (spyod-rgyud), Serkong, Dora, and Samlo maintain Vairochana Abhisambodhi (rNam-snang mngon-byang). Within kriya (action) tantra (bya-rgyud), Gowo, Trehor, and Gyelrong maintain Akshobhya (Mi-‘khrugs-pa).

At Ganden Shartsey, within the anuttaryoga class of tantra, Dokang, Ta-on, and Gungru maintain Thirteen-Couple Vajrabhairava; Tepo and Lhopa maintain the Luipa (Lu’i-pa) lineage of Chakrasamvara (bDe-mchog); and Nyag-re maintains Kalachakra (Dus-‘khor). Within the yoga class, Choni and Sogpa maintain Samvid (Kun-rig). Within the kriya class, Zungchu maintains the Nine-Deity form of Amitayus (Tshe-dpag-med lha-dgu); Ngari maintains the Eight Sugata practice of Bhaishaja (Medicine Buddha) (sMan-lha bDe-gshegs-brgyad), and Pukang maintains the Sixteen Arhats (gNas-brtan phyag-spyod).

The special protector (srung-ma) of the Common Assembly of Ganden Monastery as a whole (dGa’-ldan Bla-spyi) is Chogyel (Chos-rgyal, Dharmaraja). The special protector of Ganden Jangtsey is Pelden Lhamo (dPal-ldan Lha-mo). The Jangtsey monks perform daily, and more extensively on special occasions, the rituals of this protector for the benefit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for the Tibetan Government. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s special protectors are Pelden Lhamo and Nechung (gNas-chung), while those of the Tibetan Government are Pelden Lhamo and Jamsing (‘Jam-sing). Both pairs are called the Black and Red Pair (dMar-nag gnyis) – Pelden Lhamo is black in color, while Nechung and Jamsing are both red. The special protector of Ganden Shartsey is Setrab (Se-khrab).

On the 29th and 30th of each Tibetan month, the Jangtsey monks perform for an entire day and evening the full rituals of their protector, while Shartsey does the same on the 28th and 29th. Each kangtsen division also has its own special protector. On the 15th of each Tibetan month, each khangtsen performs for an entire day and evening the full rituals of its protector.

As for the two other main Gelug monasteries in the Lhasa area, the special protector of the Common Assembly of Drepung is Nechung, that of Drepung Losel-ling is also Nechung, and that of Drepung Gomang is Six-Armed Mahakala (dGon-po phyag-drug). The special protector of the Common Assembly of Sera is Jamsing, that of Sera Jey is also Jamsing as well as the Yangsang (Yang-gsang, Especially Hidden) form of Hayagriva (rTa-mgrin), and that of Sera May is Teu (The’u).

Since the time of the Eighth Ganden Tripa, the position of Ganden Tripa has alternated between the Jangtsey Chojey (Byang-rtse Chos-rje) and the Shartsey Chojey (Shar-rtse Chos-rje). The Jangtsey Chojey, or Dharma Master of Jangtsey, is the senior-most Retired Abbot (mKhan-zur Rin-po-che) of Gyumay Lower Tantric College (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang). His seat is at Jangtsey College. The Shartsey Chojey, Dharma Master of Shartsey, is the senior-most Retired Abbot of Gyuto Upper Tantric College (rGyud-stod Grva-tshang). He has his seat at Shartsey College.

Ganden Monastery, as well as Sera and Drepung, follows the early summer retreat (dbyar-gnas snga-ma), from the 16th of the sixth Tibetan month to the 30th of the seventh month. During the retreat, a discourse is traditionally given on Tsongkhapa’s Lam-rim chen-mo (Great Exposition on the Graded Stages of the Path). The initial scope teachings are given by the junior of the Jangtsey and Sharjey Chojeys, the intermediate scope by the senior of the two, and the advanced scope by the Ganden Tripa.

The monk population of Ganden was officially listed as 3,300, but by 1959 it was 7,500. The monastery was totally destroyed by the Chinese. At present, it is being partially reconstructed in Tibet. In India, Ganden Monastery has been relocated in Mundgod, Karnataka State.

 

 

A Brief History of Gyumay and Gyuto
Lower and Upper Tantric Colleges

Alexander Berzin, 1991
expanded September 2003
Original version published in
Gelug Monasteries.” Chö-Yang, Year of Tibet Edition (Dharamsala, India), (1991).

In one of Tsongkhapa’s (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419) previous lives, when he was a small boy, Buddha gave him a conch shell. He also presented him a mask of the Dharma protector Chogyel (Chos-rgyal) and a skull-club. Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyayana buried all of them in Tibet for the future. Many centuries later, Tsongkhapa unearthed them from a hill behind Ganden Monastery.

In 1414, after Tsongkhapa taught his Four Combined Commentaries to the Guhyasamaja Tantra (gSang-‘dus ‘brel-ba bzhi-sbrags) at Sera Choding (Se-ra Chos-sdings) retreat, he asked who among his disciples would take care of his tantric teachings. Gyu Sherab-senggey (rGyud Shes-rab seng-ge) (1383-1445) volunteered, and Tsongkhapa entrusted to him his copy of the text he had just taught, the mask of Chogyel, and the skull-club he had unearthed. He also entrusted him with his skull-cup inner offering bowl, a statue of Guhyasamaja (gSang-ba ‘dus-pa), and seven special tangka (thang-ka) scroll paintings.

Following Tsongkhapa’s wishes that he spread the tantra teachings, Sherab-senggey went to Tsang (gTsang) province in Central Tibet in 1426. There, at Yagshilung (g.Yag-shi lung), he taught Dulnagpa Pelden-zangpo (‘Dul-nag-pa dPal-ldan bzang-po). According to popular account, Dulnagpa founded at this site, in 1432, Saygyu Monastery (Srad-rgyud Grva-tshang), the Tantric College of Say District. This monastery is also known as Tsang Togyu (gTsang sTod-rgyud), the Tantric College of Tsang, Upper (Central Tibet). According to scholarly research, however, Gyu Sherab-senggey himself founded Saygyu and then entrusted its care to Dulngapa Pelden-zangpo.

In 1433, Gyu Sherab-senggey returned to Lower Central Tibet (U, dBus) and founded Gyumay (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) or Maygyu Monastery (sMad-rgyud Grva-tshang), the Tantric College of Lower Central Tibet, in the southern part of Lhasa, at Nordzin-gyeltsen (Nor-‘dzin rgyal-mtshan). At the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama, Kelzang-gyatso (rGyal-ba bdun-pa sKal-bzang rgya-mtsho, rGyal-dbang sKal-bzang) (1708-1757), Gyumay moved to Changlochen (lCang-lo-can) in the northern part of Lhasa. In the seventh century, King Songtsen-gampo (Srong-btsan sgam-po) had prophesied there would be a great tantric monastery at this site in the future.

In 1474, Gyuchen Kunga-dondrub (rGyud-chen Kun-dga’ don-grub) (1419-1486), a disciple of Gyu Sherab-senggey, left Gyumay when he was not chosen to succeed as abbot. Subsequently, he established Uto Jampel-ling Monastery (Jampel-ling Monastery of Upper U, dBus-stod ‘Jam-dpal gling Grva-tshang), better known as Gyuto (rGyud-stod Grva-tshang), the Tantric College of Upper (U). This, and not Saygyu, is the monastery usually referred to nowadays as the Upper Tantric College. A few years after its founding, Gyuto moved to Ramoche Temple (Ra-mo-che) in Lhasa, the site of the Buddha statue brought to Tibet by the Nepalese queen of King Songtsen Gampo.

The monks of Gyumay and Saygyu met together each year at Yangpachen (Yangs-pa-can), a three days trek north of Lhasa, to observe the summer retreat. Unlike other Gelug monasteries, the Tantric Colleges observe the later summer retreat (dbyar-gnas phyi-ma), from the 16 th of the seventh Tibetan month until the 30 th of the eighth month. One year during the first half of the seventeenth century, during the civil war between Tsang and U, the monks of Gyumay and Saygyu were prevented from meeting at Yangpachen. From then on, the two tantric monasteries observed their summer retreats separately, Gyumay at Chumiglung (Chu-mig lung) and Saygyu at various locations in Tsang. Gyuto held its summer retreat at Dragyerpa (Brag-g.yer-pa).

The main study at Gyumay and Gyuto is of the tantric systems of the Akshobhya form of Guhyasamaja (gSang-‘dus Mi-skyod-pa), the Luipa tradition of Chakrasamvara (bDe-mchog Lu’i-pa), and Thirteen-Couple Vajrabhairava (‘Jigs-byed lha-bcu-gsum). Tsongkhapa taught special methods for combining the practice of the three. The textbooks followed in Gyumay and Saygyu are by Gyu Sherab-senggey, while those in Gyuto are by Gyuchen Kunga-dondrub. The monks also study tantric rituals, art, and music, and do intensive meditation retreats. The main protector of Gyumay originally was Pelden Lhamo (dPal-ldan Lha-mo), but when Gyumay was unable to maintain its rituals, Ganden Jangtsey Monastery (dGa’-ldan Byang rtse Grva-tshang) assumed the responsibility. Thereafter, the main protector of Gyume became Dorje Legpa (Dorleg) (rDo-rje legs-pa). The main protector of Gyuto is Six-Armed Mahakala (dGon-po Phyag-drug).

Tsongkhapa had two styles of chanting at different times in his life, based on visions he had, in which protectors chanted to him in these ways. The two are called the mountain-cracking voice (ri-bo ral-ba’i skad) and the ocean-rolling voice (chu-gter ‘khrog-pa’i skad). Both styles are with an extremely base voice, with the former being a flat monotone and the later undulating and producing overtones. The three main Gelug monasteries (gdan-sa gsum) near Lhasa – Sera (Se-ra dGon-pa), Drepung (‘Bras-spung dGon-pa), and Ganden (dGa’- ldan dGon-pa) – all use the ocean-rolling voice. Up until the time of the Fifteenth Ganden Tripa (dGa’-ldan Khri-pa, Ganden Throne-holder), Panchen Sonam-dragpa (Pan-chen bSod-nams grags-pa) (1478-1554), both Gyumay and Gyuto used the mountain-cracking voice. Gyumay has continued this style, while Gyuto adapted the ocean-rolling voice through the influence of Panchen Sonam-dragpa.

There are several ways of entering Gyumay or Gyuto Tantric Colleges. Monks who have received one of the two higher Geshe degrees of Lharampa (dGe-bshes Lha-ram-pa) or Tsogrampa (dGe-bshes Tshogs-ram-pa) at Ganden, Drepung, or Sera Monasteries, enter either Gyumay or Gyuto as a Geshe Karampa (dGe-bshes bKa’-ram-pa). The place where monks are born, and not their monastery, determines whether they enter Gyumay or Gyuto. Mongolians and Ladakhis, for example, go to Gyumay.

Geshe Karampas engage in intense study of the tantra commentaries through the medium of logic and debate. After presenting the tantra formal debate (sngags dam-bca’) on them, they receive the title Geshe Ngagrampa (dGe-bshes sNgags-ram-pa). Afterwards, they may either stay on at the tantric college or return to their home monasteries. If they return to Ganden Monastery, for example, they must present an additional tantra formal debate. One of the reforms of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten-gyatso (rGyal-ba Thub-bstan rgya-mtsho) (1876-1933), was to make entrance into one of the two Tantric Colleges compulsory for all recipients of the two higher sutra Geshe degrees.

A monk may also enter Gyumay or Gyuto without being a sutra Geshe, but then he does not engage in tantra debate. Such monks may enter Gyumay or Gyuto either directly, starting at age seventeen, or they may come from one of the other great Gelug monasteries. They are examined on memorization of tantra ritual texts and receive the degree Kyerimpa (bsKyed-rim-pa). After receiving this degree, they may enter one of the large monasteries to study for a sutra Geshe degree if they wish. At Saygyu Tantric College, monks train only for the Kyerimpa degree. There are no Geshe Karampas and no tantra debate.

Only Geshe Ngagrampas may become Geko (dGe-skos, Disciplinarians) of the Tantric Colleges. There are three each year at Gyumay. The Lama Umdzay (Bla-ma dbu-mdzad, Vice-Abbot) is chosen from among the former Gekos. He serves for three years, after which he becomes the Kenpo (mKhan-po, Abbot) for three years. The senior-most retired Abbot (mKhan-zur) of Gyumay becomes the Jangtsey Chojey (Byang-rtse Chos-rje, Dharma Master of Jangtsey), while his counterpart from Gyuto becomes the Shartsey Chojey (Shar-rtse Chos-rje, Dharma Master of Shartsey). The Jangtsey and Shartsey Chojeys alternate in becoming the Ganden Tripa (dGa’-ldan Khri-pa, Ganden Throne-holder), the head of the Gelug Tradition. A further reform of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama is that to be Abbot of one of the three great Gelug Monasteries, or one of its colleges, or to be a Tsenzhab (mTshan-zhabs, Tsenshap), a Master Debate Partner of a Dalai Lama, a monk must be a Geshe Ngagrampa.

The Gyumay and Gyuto monks make a yearly Dharma lecture round (chos-thog) to various other monasteries. The Abbot must go each year of his tenure, to deliver the lectures, while the Lama Umdzay goes only during his first year of office. Those who are training to become Kyerimpas must go on the Dharma round for six years, while Geshe Karampas are required to participate for only one year.

The Namgyel (Namgyal) Monastery (rNam-rgyal Grva-tshang) of the Dalai Lamas follows the lineages and style of Gyumay. The tantric colleges at Sera and Drepung Monasteries, namely Sera Ngagpa (Se-ra sNgags-pa Grva-tshang) and Drepung Ngagpa (‘Bras-spungs sNgags-pa Grva-tshang), also have a close historical relationship with Gyumay. At present, Gyumay Lower Tantric Monastery has relocated in India at Hunsur, Karnataka; Gyuto Upper Tantric Monastery at Bumdilla, Arunachal Pradesh; and Saygyu Tantric Monastery in Darjeeling, West Bengal.

 

 

A Brief History of Drepung Monastery

L. T. Doboom Tulku
translated by Alexander Berzin and Khamlung Rinpoche, 1974

The great monastery of Drepung (‘Bras-spungs dGon-pa) was founded by Jamyang Chojey Tashi-pelden (‘Jam-dbyangs chos-rje bKra-shis dpal-ldan), a direct disciple of Jey Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa), the founder of the Gelug Tradition. This great master had presented his disciple with a white conch, an auspicious token that he had unearthed as a hidden treasure from a hill behind Ganden Monastery (dGa’-ldan dGon-pa). At that time, Tsongkhapa had prophesied, “You shall establish a magnificent monastery and this offspring monastery shall become more extensive than its mother one.”

Neupon Namka-zangpo (sNe’u-dpon Nam-mkha’ bzang-po), the political leader of Central Tibet at that time, was requested to be the patron for the monastery. Thus, it was founded according to the Theravadin system of reckoning in the year 1960 after the Parinirvana of Buddha, or according to the Christian system in 1416 A. D. At that time, Jamyang Chojey was thirty-eight years of age.

At first, there was only one small building, which served both as a place for giving and receiving teachings and as a residence. Gradually, more extensive newer buildings were added, including an assembly hall, tantric hall, representations of Buddha’s body, speech and mind, and monks’ quarters. Neupon Namka-zangpo donated all the materials for this at the request of Tsongkhapa.

For thirty-two years, the founder himself maintained the monastery as a great institution by giving extensive discourses on the Three Baskets (sDe-snod gsum, Skt. Tripitaka) with respect to sutra studies and on the four classes of tantra with respect to tantra studies. A great assembly of monks gathered who were interested in these excellent teachings and they divided themselves into seven groups, with each having its own teacher to give discourses. Thus, were established the seven great colleges of Gomang (sGo-mang), Losel-ling (Blo-gsal gling), Deyang (bDe-dbyangs), Shagkor (Shag-skor), Gyelwa (rGyal-ba) or Tosamling (Thos-bsam gling), Dulwa (‘Dul-ba), and Ngagpa (sNgags-pa).

From time to time, Neupon Namka-zangpo made grand religious offerings and, when necessary, provided the monks with essentials such as clothing and tea. The teaching, practicing and studying there, as well as the monk population increased greatly, and thus it became one of the most famous great Gelug monasteries in the Lhasa area.

After a while, Dulwa, Shagkor, and Gyelwa Colleges amalgamated into the others. Although they no longer existed as separate colleges, abbots holding the lineages of their thrones continued to be appointed from either Gomang or Losel-ling Colleges.

Later, of the four remaining colleges, Gomang and Losel-ling came to specialize mostly in sutra studies and practice, Ngagpa mostly in tantra, and Deyang in both sutra and tantra practiced equally.

Each college has an abbot who is responsible for the teaching, studying, and practice there. There is also a general abbot or throne-holder for the entire monastery, the lineage for which has come from Jamyang Chojey. In later times, the custom has been that the eldest retired abbot of the individual colleges assumes the position of the throne-holder of the entire monastery.

The first of the line of Dalai Lamas, Gyelwa Gendun-drub (rGyal-ba Ge-’dun grub) received many sutra and tantra teachings at Drepung from Tsongkhapa. Later, [near Zhigatsey (gZhis-ka-rtse, Shigatse) in Tsang (gTsang) province,] he founded Tashilhunpo Monastery (bKra-shis lhun-po dGon-pa). It is the fourth largest monastery in Central Tibet. [The other three, including Drepung, are in U (dBus) province.] Each of the next Dalai Lamas, from the second through the fifth, not only held the position of the Throne-holder of Drepung, but also made Drepung his permanent residence.

When the Second Dalai Lama, Gyelwa Gendun-gyatso (rGyal-ba dGe-’dun rgya-mtsho), reached the age of four, he said, “Now it is time for us to go to Drepung. The messengers to invite me shall soon be coming.” Like this example of expressing memories of the past, the succeeding members of the lineage of the Dalai Lama have had a special connection with this monastery.

In those days, there were even people who referred to the Dalai Lama or Gyelwa Rinpoche (rGyal-ba Rin-po-che) as the Drepung Tulku (‘Bras-spungs sPrul-sku). [His was the first line of incarnate lamas (tulkus) in the Gelug tradition.] Even the name of the Tibetan Government, Ganden Podrang (dGa’-ldan pho-brang), derives from the name of the Dalai Lama’s residence at Drepung.

Although there had been a previous residence called Ganden Podrang, a new one was built at the time of the Third Dalai Lama. Likewise, at the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, the general assembly hall was also rebuilt at Drepung in accordance with his wishes.

From the Great Fifth Dalai Lama onward, the Dalai Lamas assumed the position of temporal and religious ruler of Tibet and thus could no longer have their permanent residence at Drepung. Nevertheless, whenever someone of the Dalai Lama lineage formally entered the monastic community or took his Geshe (dGe-bshes) examination, or whenever there was a formal function of the religious-temporal government, the Dalai Lama would customarily stay at his Ganden Podrang residence at Drepung.

Although there is the popular saying that the number of monks at Drepung is 7760, there were several thousand more than that. Most of them were involved in the teachings and practice of the Three Baskets. Many strove to practice constructive actions in accordance with their mental ability. Certain others, however, occupied themselves with menial labor for the sake of the economic welfare of the monastic community. Other learned ones, after completing their studies at the main monastery, would go to offspring monasteries to serve as their abbots. Thus, there were many such offspring centers nourished by Drepung. In this way, this community functioned as a major home for the Buddha’s teachings.

It continued to flourish as such until 1959 A. D. At that time, as Tibet as a whole suffered a terrible catastrophe, so this monastery too lost its facilities to continue existing in Tibet. Several thousand of its monks fled to India with the Tibetan refugees. No longer having conducive place, time, or conditions, they were unable to meet as a whole or to carry out only religious activities.

Several hundred monks, however, with the assistance of the ration aid program, were able to continue practice and study for nine years at Buxaduar in West Bengal. Seeing the necessity, however, of being situated closer to the Tibetan settlement camps for the sake of stability and continuity, they moved in 1970 to Mundgod, Karnataka State, in South India. Having cleared the thick jungle, made fields for growing food, and constructed makeshift buildings during the four years since they have moved there, they are now following the traditional course of study and practice as in Tibet.

They have taken the responsibility for preserving the yearly religious activities, not allowing these to decline. Not only that, but they are also administering vows to those Tibetan youths who aspire to become monks, are admitting them to the monastery, and making available the opportunities for their study and practice according to their wishes.

This information has been written and made available with the active hope that in the future this new Drepung Monastery will become a home for the Buddha’s teachings.

 

Overview of the Gelug Monastic Education System

Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche II
Translated and compiled by Alexander Berzin
September 2003

 

Major Topics in the Curriculum

The monastic education system in the Gelug monasteries covers five major topics, based on five great Indian scriptural texts studied through the medium of logic and debate – “tsennyi” (mtshan-nyid, definitions) in Tibetan. During the course of study, monastics also learn the four Indian Buddhist tenet systems (grub-mtha’ bzhi): Vaibhashika (Bye-brag smra-ba), Sautrantika (mDo-sde-pa), Chittamatra (Sems-tsam-pa), and Madhyamaka (dBu-ma).

In Tibet, this education was only for monks. Since the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in India, Gelug nuns are also beginning to follow this course of study. In Tibet, nuns mostly only memorized and performed rituals.

The five main subjects are as follows.

  • Prajnaparamita (phar-phyin), far-reaching discriminating awareness, is the study of the stages and paths of mind (sa-lam) needed for the realization of voidness, liberation, and enlightenment. It is based on Filigree of Realizations (mNgon-rtogs-rgyan, Skt. Abhisamayalamkara) by Maitreya (rGyal-ba Byams-pa). Although Maitreya’s text is written from a Prasangika-Madhyamaka (dBu-ma thal-‘gyur-pa) viewpoint, its twenty-one Indian commentaries are written from the Svatantrika-Madhyamaka (dBu-ma rang-rgyud-pa) point of view, and most prominently its Yogachara-Svatantrika (rNal-‘byor spyod-pa’i rang-rgyud-pa) division.
  • Madhyamaka (dbu-ma), the middle way, is the study of voidness according to the Prasangika-Madhyamaka view. The Svatantrika division studied in conjunction with this is Sautrantika-Svatantrika (mDo-sde spyod-pa’i rang-rgyud-pa). Madhyamaka study is based on A Supplement to (Nagarjuna’s “Root Verses on) the Middle Way” (dBu-ma-la ‘jug-pa, Skt. Madhyamakavatara) by Chandrakirti (Zla-ba grags-pa, dPal-ldan grags-pa).
  • Pramana (tshad-ma), valid cognition, is the study of the proofs for the validity of such essential points as the Three Supreme Gems, rebirth, and omniscience. It is based on A Commentary to (Dignaga’s “Compendium of) Validly Cognizing Minds” (Tshad-ma rnam-‘grel, Skt. Pramanavarttika) by Dharmakirti (Chos-kyi grags-pa). Several of its chapters are from the Sautrantika viewpoint and others the Chittamatra.
  • Abhidharma (mngon-par chos, mdzod), special topics of knowledge, covers the physical and mental constituents of limited beings, rebirth states, karma, disturbing emotions and attitudes, paths to liberation, and so on. It is based on A Treasure House of Special Topics of Knowledge (Chos mngon-pa’i mdzod, Skt. Abhidharmakosha) by Vasubandhu (dByigs-gnyen) and is from the Vaibhashika viewpoint.
  • Vinaya (‘dul-ba), rules of discipline, concerns the monastic vows. It is based on The Vinaya Sutra (‘Dul-ba’i mdo, Skt. Vinayasutra) by Gunaprabha (Yon-tan ‘od).

In addition, monastics study interpretable and definitive meanings (drang-nges) for further detail about the Chittamatra and Madhyamaka views. It is based on The Essence of Good Explanation Concerning Interpretable and Definitive Meanings (Drang-nges legs-bshad snying-po) by Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang grags-pa) (1357-1419).

All monastics must study these topics to at least some degree. They take turns, one month at a time, to care for the maintenance of the temples and other duties.

 

Textbooks

All colleges within the Gelug monasteries follow the commentaries to these texts written by Tsongkhapa and his two main disciples, Gyeltsabjey (rGyal-tshab rJe Dar-ma rin-chen) (1364-1432) and Kaydrubjey (mKhas-grub rJe dGe-legs dpal-bzang) (1385-1438). In addition, each follows one of several textbooks (yig-cha) that developed to explain the fine points. The textbooks differ in interpretation of many details.

The first set of textbooks to develop were written by Jetsunpa Chokyi-gyeltsen (rJe-btsun-pa Chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan) (1469-1544), called “the Jetsunpa textbooks” for short. Ganden Jangtsey (dGa’-ldan Byang-rtse Grva-tshang), Sera Jey (Se-ra Byes Grva-tshang), and Sera Ngagpa Colleges (Se-ra sNgags-pa Grva-tshang) follow them.

The next two sets were written by two disciples of Jetsunpa. According to popular tradition, Jetsunpa asked the two to write commentaries explaining some of the major texts slightly differently than he had, so that future disciples would be able to sharpen their intelligence by debating their discrepancies. One set was written by Kaydrub Tendarwa (mKhas-grub dGe-‘dun bstan-pa dar-rgyas) (1493-1568). They are used by Sera May College (Se-ra sMad Grva-tshang).

The other set was written by Panchen Sonam-dragpa (Pan-chen bSod-nams grags-pa) (1478-1554), called “the Panchen textbooks” for short. They are followed by Ganden Shartsey (dGa’-ldan Shar-rtse Grva-tshang), Drepung Losel-ling (‘Bras-spungs Blo-gsal gling Grva-tshang), and Drepung Ngagpa Colleges (‘Bras-spungs sNgags-pa Grva-tshang).

A fourth set was written several centuries later by Kunkyen Jamyang-zheypa (the First), Ngawang-tsondru (Kun-mkhyen ‘Jam-dbyangs bzhad-pa Ngag-dbang brtson-‘grus) (1648-1721), called “the Kunkyen textbooks” for short. They are followed by Drepung Gomang (‘Bras-spungs sGo-mang Grva-tshang) and Drepung Deyang Colleges (‘Bras-spungs bDe-dyangs Grva-tshang). Labrang Monastery (Bla-brang dGon-pa) in far-eastern Amdo (founded by Jamyang-zheypa) and most monasteries in Inner and Outer Mongolia, Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva also follow them.

Each of the textbook traditions includes several additional texts written by later scholars.

 

Main Course of Education

The main course of education covers the above subjects. Slight differences occur in each of the Gelug monastic colleges concerning, for instance, when the Chittamatra section of interpretable and definitive meanings is studied. There are also differences concerning when students must present formal debates (dam-bca’) before their assembled college to mark completion of certain portions of the study. Here, we shall present the form followed by Ganden Jangtsey College.

Since the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in exile in India, all monastics must complete eight years of primary school education in common with lay children. They need to study Tibetan, English, Hindi, mathematics, social studies, and science. Each college has its own primary school for this purpose.

As part of the curriculum of the fourth through eighth grades, the children cover the three preliminary subjects required for the formal monastic education. During the fifth grade, they study collected topics (bsdus-grva, dura), which deals with set theory and logical pervasions. They learn the fundamentals for debate. During the fifth grade, they study ways of knowing (blo-rig, lorig), which deals with valid and invalid ways of cognizing something. From the sixth through the eight grades, they study lines of reasoning (rtags-rig, tarig), which deals with valid and invalid logical syllogisms. Those who enter Jangtsey College after having completed their primary school education study these three subjects during their first three years at the monastery, one year for each subject.

Once they have completed these preliminary subjects, the monks spend the next eleven years studying the five major texts. First, they study prajnaparamita for five years. They spend the first two years on chapter one of A Filigree of Realizations, the third year on chapter two (which includes the third chapter), the fourth year on chapter four, and the fifth year on chapter eight (which includes the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters). During their sixth year, they study the Chittamatra section of interpretable and definitive meanings. They spend the next three years (the seventh through ninth) on madhyamaka, during which they also cover the madhyamaka section of interpretable and definitive meanings. The tenth year is on abhidharma, and the eleventh on vinaya. Since the students are novice monks (dge-tshul, Skt. shramanera) during most of their studies and may only take full monk (dge-slong, Skt. bhikshu) vows at the age of twenty-one, this study comes at the end. Starting with the study of lines of reasoning (tarig), up to completion of vinaya, they spend one month each year on pramana.

 

Mode of Study

The monks need to memorize the five basic texts and many other smaller works and prayers. They spend the early mornings doing that. In India, they have morning debate (dam-bca’) from 8:00 to 9:30, begun with a short set of prayers. All the classes of the college debate on the same grounds, breaking into groups of two or three, with everyone shouting at the top of his voice. The monk being questioned sits on the ground, the questioners stand. Since the groups debate right next to each other and the volume of shouting is enormous, the circumstance forces the monks to gain excellent concentration. The debates are very heated and punctuated with ritual gestures, such as clapping hands. This affords an excellent outlet for energy, since the teenage monks are celibate and do not engage in sports. The rest of the day, each class has lessons with its teachers and the students memorize and study. The monks practice reciting the texts they have memorized by shouting them aloud, usually at the top of their voices. This is also an excellent outlet of energy and keeps them awake.

In the evenings, from 6 to 8, the monks have debate ground prayers (chos-grva). During the first hour, they recite over and again Praises to the Twenty-One Taras (sGrol-ma nyi-shu rtsa-gcig), to eliminate interference for their study. During the second hour, they recite various other prayers. They then debate the rest of the evening, until at least 10:30. Many stay until the early hours of the morning.

 

Examinations

In Tibet, at the end of each year of study there were only two examinations (rgyugs-sprod). These were a memorization exam (blo-rgyugs) and a debate exam (rtsod-rgyugs). Monks needed to pass both exams in order to proceed to the next class. Since the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in India, they must also pass each year a written exam (bri-rgyugs), a poetry composition exam (rtsom-bri), and a Tibetan culture and religious history exam (rgyal-rabs chos-byung).

During the first year of prajnaparamita and during the final year of vinaya, monks need to make an assembly presentation (tshogs-langs), during which they debate one day before the general Ganden assembly (dGa’-ldan bla-spyi) of both Jangtsey and Shartsey monks and one day before only the assembled Jangtsey monks. Before the general Ganden assembly, they must debate a Shartsey monk who follows the Panchen textbooks. For tulkus (reincarnate lamas), the years in which they make their assembly presentations may vary.

Ordinary monks are not required to make food and money offerings (gtong-sgo) to each monk at their assembly presentations. Tulkus regularly make such offerings then. Some time during the eleven years of their main study, however, all monks must make one food and money offering to the mixed assembly of all Jangtsey monks (gling-bsre gtong-sgo).

Those who have not done so well in their studies or who are not interested in completing their studies may end their education by passing only a memorization exam. Although they may do this even before they begin their main education, most wait until they have finished the madhyamaka classes. They receive the Kyerimpa (bsKyed-rim-pa) degree.

Geshe Tsogrampa Degree

Those who complete the eleven years of the main education and who do not go on to higher education receive the Geshe Tsogrampa (dGe-bshes Tshogs-ram-pa) degree. They must present a formal debate before the mixed assembly of all Jangtsey monks (gling-bsre dam-bca’). They must also present a formal debate against a Shartsey Geshe before the general Ganden assembly and make a Geshe offering (dge-bshes gtong-sgo) there to all the monks. After this, they receive the title Geshe Dorampa (dGe-bshes rDo-ram-pa).

Before the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, each Gelug college awarded the Geshe Tsogrampa degree to only two candidates each year. There was a huge backlog of candidates, and many had to wait a large number of years. Most waited in the madhyamaka classes, studying further. With the new reforms, there is no limit to the number of candidates who receive this degree each year.

Higher Education and the Geshe Lharampa Degree

Since the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, those who go on to the higher Geshe degree, Geshe Lharampa (dGe-bshes Lha-ram-pa), must complete six years of Gelug Examination Level study (dGe-lugs rgyugs-sprod). At the beginning of the eleventh year of main education, the students separate into two vinaya classes according to their performance in their studies and their wishes to study further. For one group, this is their final year of study and they will receive the Geshe Tsogrampa degree at its successful conclusion. For the other group, this year of vinaya study counts as the first of the six years of their higher education.

During the six years, the monks review each of the five main subjects each year, but now in greater depth. During their main education, they studied them through the Jetsunpa textbooks. Now, they focus their study of the five subjects on the major commentaries written by Tsongkhapa, Gyeltsabjey, and Kaydrubjey. Each year they have only debate and written examinations.

At the successful completion of their higher education studies, they must present a formal debate at the annual Great Prayer Festival (sMon-lam chen-mo) before the assembled monks of the three main Gelug monasteries (gdan-sa gsum) in the Lhasa area: Ganden, Sera, and Drepung. In Tibet, this was held at the Jokang (Jo-khang, Jokhang) Temple in Lhasa. It is at this point that they also present a formal debate before the assembled Jangtsey monks (gling-bsre dam-bca’). As the Geshe Tsogrampas need to do, they must also present another formal debate before the entire Ganden assembly of Jangtsey and Shartsey and make a Geshe offering of food and money to all the monks. They too receive the further title of Geshe Dorampa.

Before the reforms of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, only two candidates from each college were awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree each year. The reforms removed these limits.

Tantra Study

With the education reforms of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, all Geshe Tsogrampas and Geshe Lharampas must continue their education at either Gyumay Lower Tantric College (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) or Gyuto Upper Tantric College (rGyud-stod Grva-tshang). Which one they joined depended on their place of origin. At the tantric colleges, they are called Geshe Karampa (dGe-bshes bKa’-ram-pa). They must study there for a minimum of one year. There are no formal classes as at Jangtsey. Monks study privately with individual teachers. Those at Gyumay study the tantra textbooks written by rGyu Sherab-senggey (rGyud Shes-rab seng-ge) (1383-1445). Those at Gyuto follow the tantra textbooks written by Gyuchen Kunga-dondrub (rGyud-chen Kun-dga’ don-grub) (1419-1486).

Only two candidates each year at each tantric college are permitted to present the tantra formal exam (sngags dam-bca’), after which they receive the degree Geshe Ngagrampa (dGe-bshes sNgags-ram-pa). Thus, many Geshe Karampas stay on at the tantric colleges for many years. Before receiving their Ngagrampa degree from the tantric college, however, they may elect to return to Jangtsey. There, they must present a tantra formal debate, after which they receive a Geshe Ngagrampa degree from Jangtsey. Even if they receive the Rabjampa degree from the tantric college before returning to Jangtsey, they must still present the tantra formal exam at Jangtsey and receive a Jangtsey Ngagrampa degree.

Although Kyerimpas have not become sutra Geshes, qualified ones may study tantra privately with individual teachers at Jangtsey. They follow the Gyumay textbooks. Upon successful completion of their studies and presentation of a tantra formal debate, they too receive the Jangtsey Geshe Ngagrampa degree.

 

The Purpose and Benefits of Debate

Tsenzhab Serkong Rinpoche II
from explanations translated and summarized
by Alexander Berzin
Mundgod, India, August 20, 2001

One of the main purposes of debate in the Buddhist training is to help you to develop decisive awareness (nges-shes). You take a position and then your debate partner challenges it from many points of view. If you can defend the position against all objections and you find that it has no logical inconsistencies and there are no contradictions, you can focus on that position or view with totally decisive awareness that cannot be shaken. We also call this state of mind firm conviction (mos-pa). You need to have this convinced awareness and firm conviction when meditating single- mindedly on any topic, such as impermanence, the equality of self and others, regarding others as more precious than oneself, bodhichitta, voidness, and so on.

Further, debating provides a situation more conducive than meditation for beginners to develop concentration. The challenge of your partner in the debate and the influence of having classmates listening force you to concentrate. When meditating alone, only willpower brings you to stop mentally wandering or falling asleep. In addition, on the monastic debate grounds many debates take place very loudly next to each other. This also forces you to concentrate. If the debates around you distract you or cause you to be annoyed, you are lost. Once you develop concentration skills on the debate ground, you can apply them to meditation, even to meditating in noisy places.

Moreover, debate helps to develop your personality. You cannot remain shy and still debate. You must speak up when your opponent challenges you. On the other hand, if you are arrogant or become angry, your mind is unclear and, inevitably, your partner defeats you. At all times, you need to maintain emotional balance. Whether you win or lose, the debate provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the “I” that is to be refuted. When you think or feel “I have won; I am so clever,” or “I have lost; I am so stupid,” you can recognize clearly the projection of a solid, self- important “me” with which you are identifying. This is the “I” that is a pure fiction and to be refuted.

Even when you prove to your debate partner that his position is illogical, you need to remember that this does not prove that you are the smarter one and that he is stupid. Your motivation must always be to help your partner to develop clear understanding and firm conviction in what can be logically proven.

 

Special Features of the Gelug Tradition

Alexander Berzin
August 2003, revised December 2003, July 2006, June 2009, November 2014

 

Introduction

Tsongkhapa (rJe Tsong-kha-pa Blo-bzang-grags-pa) (1357-1419) was a radical reformer who, through direct instruction from Manjushri in innumerable pure visions and through exhaustive study of the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist texts, impeccable logic, and intense meditation, reinterpreted many of the basic Buddhist teachings.

Thus, the Gelug tradition that follows him as its founder has many special features not shared in common with the non-Gelug Tibetan traditions: Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagyu. Here, we shall look at only some of the major points. This is not an exhaustive survey.

Moreover, within the Gelug tradition, the various monastic textbooks differ in their interpretations of many fine points. Here, we shall present mostly the major points, and occasionally offer some of the varying interpretations made by the different Gelug textbook (yig-cha) traditions.

Further, the non-Gelug positions presented here are generalizations made in order to show the contrast with Gelug in a simple fashion. They do not imply that all the non-Gelug schools share the same assertions on every point.

 

Administration

The head of the Gelug tradition, the Ganden Tripa (dGa’-ldan khri-pa, Ganden Throne Holder), is a position that any qualified monk can attain. The position alternates between the senior-most retired abbots of Gyumay (rGyud-smad Grva-tshang) and Gyuto (rGyud-stod Grva-tshang) Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges and is for seven years only. The Dalai Lamas are not the heads of the Gelug tradition.

The heads of the non-Gelug traditions are either specific tulkus (reincarnate lamas) or, in the case of Sakya, members of a specific clan, and they serve for life.

 

Cognition Theory

  1. The definition of valid cognition (tshad-ma) in the Svatantrika Madhyamaka tenet systems and below is fresh, nonfraudulent (gsar-tu mi-bslu-ba) cognition of an object. Only Prasangika Madhyamaka omits the criterion that valid cognition needs to be fresh. This is because Prasangika does not assert existence established by findable self-natures (rang-bzhin-gyis grub-pa). Thus, every moment of the continuity of an object over time is fresh. According to the non-Gelug traditions, all tenet systems assert the definition of valid cognition as merely nonfraudulent cognition of an object. This is because they do not assert commonsense objects (‘jig-rten-la grags-pa), extending over time and the sensibilia of several senses, as being validly cognizable by nonconceptual cognition. Only one moment of anything exists at a time, and therefore cognition is always fresh.

  2. Svatantrika and below assert subsequent cognition (bcad-shes) as a way of knowing an object that may apprehend its object (rtogs-pa) nonfraudulently. It is not a valid way of knowing, however, because it is not fresh. Because Prasangika does not assert existence established by findable self-natures, it does not assert subsequent cognition. According to the non-Gelug traditions, none of the tenet systems asserts subsequent cognition.

  3. Svatantrika and below define bare cognition (mngon-sum) as cognition in which the appearing object (snang-yul) is an individually characterized phenomenon (rang-mtshan, objective entity). Bare cognition is not through the medium of a generally characterized phenomenon (spyi-mtshan, metaphysical entity), such as an audio category (sgra-spyi, sound universal), a meaning/object category (don-spyi, object universal), or a concept (rtog-pa) such as space. Therefore, bare cognition is exclusively nonconceptual. Prasangika does not specify that such cognition be not through the medium of a generally characterized phenomenon. Instead, it specifies that such cognition not arise by directly depending on a line of reasoning. Consequently, such cognition may be either conceptual or nonconceptual, and therefore the technical term for it – in Tibetan, tshad-ma, and in Sanskrit, pratyaksha – is more accurately translated, in the Prasangika system, as “straightforward cognition.” Nevertheless, only mental straightforward cognition may be either conceptual or nonconceptual. Sensory and yogic straightforward cognition are only nonconceptual. The non-Gelug traditions assert that, in all tenet systems, all types of bare cognition are exclusively nonconceptual.

  4. Valid sensory nonconceptual cognition (dbang-mngon tshad-ma) cognizes not just sensibilia (sights, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations), but also commonsense objects (but without mentally labeling the commonsense objects with a name or as fitting into a meaning/object category, such as “table”). The non-Gelug traditions assert that valid sensory nonconceptual cognition cognizes only single moments of sensibilia, and not commonsense objects. Commonsense objects that extend over time and over the sensibilia of several senses are merely conceptual constructs.

  5. Valid nonconceptual cognition is a determining cognition (nges-pa) of its involved object (‘jug-yul) – it decisively determines it as “this” and “not that,” such that we can validly recollect it. The non-Gelug traditions say that since valid nonconceptual cognition does not cognize commonsense objects, it is a nondetermining cognition of what appears to it (snang-la ma-nges-pa). It does not determine it as “this” and “not that.” This is an important point in terms of their emphasis on nonconceptual meditation. For Gelug, nondetermining cognition of what appears is never a valid cognition. For non-Gelug, it may be a valid cognition.

  6. Other than in the Chittamatra and Yogachara Svatantrika systems, valid sensory nonconceptual cognition cognizes external objects (phyi-don). It does so through fully transparent mental aspects (rnam-pa) representing them (somewhat like mental holograms), which it produces in order to cognize them. The non-Gelug traditions assert that valid sensory nonconceptual cognition directly cognizes only opaque mental aspects representing external objects. Other than in the Chittamatra system, it cognizes external objects only indirectly, because the moment of the external objects that causes the sensory cognition of it no longer exists the moment the cognition of it arises. Thus, mental aspects are all opaque.

  7. Valid conceptual cognition cognizes semitransparent generally characterized phenomena (such as the category table) and, through them, another type of generally characterized phenomenon – fully transparent conceptual representations (snang-ba, ideas). The conceptual representations are conceptually isolated items (ldog-pa, isolates), which are the type of “nothing-other-than” (ma-yin-pa-las log-pa) that arises in conceptual cognition and which represents the actual involved objects (‘jug-yul) of the conceptual cognition. For example, in a conceptual cognition of a table, “ nothing-other-than a table” arises, representing the form of a specific external table, and we label on it the category table. The category is the appearing object (snang-yul) of the cognition. Through the filter of this semitransparent static (permanent) category and a fully transparent static conceptual representation, the conceptual cognition cognizes the form of a specific nonstatic (impermanent) external table that is its involved object, even if that table is not present. The non-Gelug traditions assert that valid conceptual cognition cognizes semitransparent static categories (such as the category table and the commonsense object table) and that these categories partially veil opaque nonstatic mental aspects representing a specific table. The nonstatic mental aspects are the appearing objects of the conceptual cognition; while the categories are the conceptual representations (such as of a commonsense table) and thus the conceptually isolated items. The conceptual cognition does not cognize any external object (for instance, colored shapes).

[See: Fine Analysis of Objects of Cognition: Gelug and Non-Gelug Presentations in Alternating Order.]

  1. Apprehension (rtogs-pa) of an object is a valid cognition of an involved object that cognitively takes the object both correctly and with decisive determination of it as “this” and “not that.” Valid cognition, both conceptual and nonconceptual, can explicitly apprehend (dngos-su rtogs-pa) its involved object by giving rise to a mental aspect representing it, and, simultaneously, implicitly apprehend (shugs-la rtogs-pa) another involved object, without producing a mental aspect representing it. The non-Gelug traditions assert apprehension of an object to be merely a correct cognition of it. Thus, valid nonconceptual cognition, for example, apprehends its involved object, but does so without decisively determining it as “this” and “not that.” Apprehension is only explicit; there is no such thing as implicit apprehension of an object.

  2. Among negation phenomena (dgag-pa, negatingly known phenomena), individually characterized object exclusions of something else (don rang-mtshan-gyi gzhan-sel, object exclusions) are nonstatic phenomena. Examples are “ not that” and “nothing other than this,” implicitly apprehended when a valid nonconceptual or valid conceptual cognition explicitly apprehends its involved object as “this.” The non-Gelug traditions assert that all negation phenomena are static and that individually characterized object exclusions are merely static facts about phenomena, validly knowable only conceptually.

  3. Cognition of an object may be either manifest (mngon-gyur-ba) or subliminal (bag-la-nyal). With manifest cognition, the consciousness of the manifest cognition gives rise to a mental aspect representing an object and both the manifest consciousness and the person (gang-zag) cognizes it. With subliminal cognition, the consciousness of the subliminal cognition gives rise to a mental aspect representing an object, but only the subliminal consciousness cognizes it, not the person. The non-Gelug traditions do not assert subliminal cognition of objects.

[See: Dormant Grasping for True Existence.]

 

Chittamatra

  1. Of the three types of characterized phenomena (mtshan-nyid gsum), totally conceptional phenomena (kun-brtags, totally imaginary phenomena) include existent ones (namely, all static phenomena other than voidnesses) and nonexistent ones (such as unicorns and external phenomena). The non-Gelug traditions, such as Karma Kagyu, assert that totally conceptional phenomena include both generally characterized phenomena, such as categories and space, and conceptual ways of being aware of them.

  2. Dependent phenomena (gzhan-dbang, other-powered phenomena) include all nonstatic phenomena. The non-Gelug traditions assert that dependent phenomena include both nonstatic cognitive objects, which are imagined as being external phenomena, as well as all nonconceptual ways of being aware of them.

  3. Thoroughly established phenomena (yongs-grub) include all voidnesses (emptiness). The non-Gelug traditions assert that thoroughly established phenomena refer to alayavijnana, which is devoid of totally conceptional and dependent phenomena.

  4. Both thoroughly established phenomena and dependent phenomena have truly established existence (bden-par grub-pa) and existence established as ultimate phenomena (don-dam-par grub-pa); totally conceptional phenomena lack both modes of existence. The non-Gelug traditions assert that only thoroughly established phenomena have truly established existence and existence established as ultimate phenomena; both totally conceptional and dependent phenomena lack both modes of existence.

 

Svatantrika Madhyamaka

  1. Svatantrika Madhyamaka has two distinct divisions, Yogachara Svatantrika (propounded by such masters as Kamalashila, Shantarakshita, Haribhadra, and Vimuktisena) and Sautrantika Svatantrika (propounded by such masters as Bhavaviveka). Except for Karma Kagyu, the non-Gelug traditions do not make this clear distinction. They divide Madhyamaka in various other ways.

  2. Only Sautrantika Svatantrika accepts external phenomena; Yogachara Svatantrika does not. The non-Gelug traditions say that Svatantrika accepts external phenomena.

  3. Only Yogachara Svatantrika accepts reflexive awareness (rang-rig); Sautrantika Svatantrika does not. The non-Gelug traditions say that Svatantrika accepts reflexive awareness.

  4. Neither Yogachara Svatantrika nor Sautrantika Svatantrika accepts alayavijnana (kun-gzhi rnam-shes, all-encompassing foundation consciousness, storehouse consciousness), even as a conventionally existent phenomenon. The non-Gelug traditions say that Svatantrika accepts alayavijnana as a conventionally existent phenomenon; but unlike Chittamatra, it does not assert it as being truly existent.

 

Prasangika Madhyamaka Concerning Conventional Existence and Voidness

  1. Prasangika asserts that the two truths (bden-gnyis) – superficial truths (kun-rdzob bden-pa, Skt. samvrtisatya; relative truths, conventional truths) and deepest truths (don-dam bden-pa, Skt. paramarthasatya; ultimate truths) – share the same essential nature (ngo-bo gcig), but are different conceptually isolated items (ldog-pa tha-dad). In reference to any validly knowable phenomenon, they refer, respectively, to its mode of appearance (snang-tshul) and its mode of existence (gnas-tshul), namely its voidness. Thus, the two truths are different objects of cognition, cognized with respect to any validly knowable phenomenon. In general, the non-Gelug traditions assert that Madhyamaka differentiates the two truths on the basis of the minds that cognize them: they are two different modes of perceiving (mthong-tshul). Superficial truth is the mode of perceiving of a mind under the influence of murky-mindedness (rmongs-pa, dumbfounded), in other words a mind that is obscured regarding deepest truth. Deepest truth is the mode of perceiving of the deep awareness (ye-shes) of an arya – namely, the deep awareness that nonconceptually cognizes nonduality: inseparable voidness and appearance (snang-stong dbyer-med) and inseparable awareness and voidness (rig-stong dbyer-med). Gelug agrees that the superficial truth of a phenomenon is how it appears to unawareness (ma-rig-pa, ignorance) and deepest truth is how the phenomenon appears to the deep awareness of an arya; but, nevertheles, neither truth invalidates the conventional existence (tha-snyad-du yod-pa) of phenomena, which are merely like an illusion. The non-Gelug traditions assert conventional existence to literally be an illusion.

  2. Prasangika asserts that neither valid sensory cognition nor reasoning invalidates the conventional existence of validly knowable phenomena. The conventional existence of validly knowable phenomena is as the dependently arisen as referent objects (btags-chos) of the names and concepts for them. Because such phenomena are merely what imputed names refer to (ming btags-tsam), validly knowable phenomena are merely imputedly existent. Thus, dependent arising (rten-‘brel) describes the conventional existence of validly knowable phenomena. The non-Gelug traditions say that Prasangika makes no assertions of its own, especially not concerning the conventional existence of phenomena. According to them. Prasangika merely negates (dgag, refutes, nullifies) impossible ways of existing, so as to help practitioners go beyond words and concepts.

  3. All Tibetan traditions agree that Svatantrika asserts a logic that can prove statements through syllogisms using lines of reasoning that have existence established by findable self-natures, while Prasangika rejects such logic and argues through absurd conclusions (thal-‘ gyur). Gelug accepts this as only one among many differences between Prasangika and Svatantrika. The non-Gelug traditions assert this as the major difference between the two divisions of Madhyamaka.

  4. All Tibetan traditions agree that Prasangika negates impossible modes of existence through absurd conclusions. According to Gelug, Prasangika uses absurd conclusions to bring one to nonconceptual cognition of the voidness of existence established by findable self-natures, which is a total absence of this impossible mode of existence. The non-Gelug traditions assert that Prasangika uses absurd conclusions to go beyond all impossible modes of existence – not only true existence, but also the true absence of true existence (in other words, non-true existence), both, and neither. Thus absurd conclusions invalidate conventional existence.

  5. Findable individual defining characteristic marks (rang-gi mtshan-nyid) do not exist at all, not even as conventionally existent phenomena, although merely mentally labeled individual defining characteristic marks do conventionally exist. The non-Gelug traditions accept findable individual defining characteristic marks that establish the conventional existence of phenomena from the viewpoint of superficial truth (kun-rdzob bden-pa, conventional truth, relative truth), although they refute them as findable from the viewpoint of deepest truth (don-dam bden-pa, ultimate truth).

  6. Existence established by findable self-natures, existence established by individual defining characteristic marks (rang-gi mtshan-nyid-kyis grub-pa), existence established from its own side (rang-gi ngos-nas grub-pa), and truly established existence (bden-par grub-pa, true existence), as equivalent impossible modes of existence, pertain to both superficial truths and deepest truths. The non-Gelug traditions assert that these equivalent impossible modes of existence pertain only to superficial true phenomena. Deepest true phenomena and their mode of existence are beyond these conceptual categories.

  7. The object of negation (dgag-bya, object to be refuted, object of nullification) for the voidness (the lack of an impossible “soul”) of a person and of all phenomena is the same – truly established existence. The non-Gelug traditions follow the Gelug presentation of Svatantrika and below on this point. The object of negation for the lack of an impossible “soul” of a person (gang-zag-gi bdag-med, identitylessness of a person, selflessness of a person), which we need to realize for gaining liberation, is different from the object of negation for the lack of impossible “soul” of all phenomena (chos-kyi bdag-med, identitylessness of all phenomena, selflessness of all phenomena), which one needs to realize for gaining enlightenment. The object of negation for the coarse lack of an impossible soul of a person is existence established as a static, monolithic entity independent of its aggregates (rtag gcig rang-dbang-can). On the subtle level, the object of negation is existence established as something self-sufficiently knowable (rang-rkya thub-pa’i rdzas-yod). The object of negation for the lack of an impossible soul of all phenomena is the four extreme modes of impossible existence: true existence, the true absence of true existence, both, and neither. The voidness of all phenomena is beyond all words and concepts of these four impossible modes of existence.

  8. Denumerable ultimate phenomena (rnam-grangs-pa’i don-dam) – namely, voidnesses that are conceptually validly cognizable – and nondenumerable ultimate phenomena (rnam-grangs ma-yin-pa’i don-dam) – namely, voidnesses that are nonconceptually validly cognizable – are the same voidnesses. Both are the voidnesses of true existence, and this includes the voidness of all four extremes of true existence, true nonexistence, both, and neither. According to the non-Gelug traditions, the two types of ultimate phenomena are different. Voidnesses that are conceptually validly cognizable are just voidnesses of true existence. Voidnesses that are nonconceptually validly cognizable are voidnesses beyond all conceptual categories of true existence, the true absence of true existence, both, or neither.

[See: Affirmations, Negations, and Denumerable and Nondenumerable Ultimate Phenomena. ]

  1. The voidness of phenomena cognized nonconceptually by shravaka and pratyekabuddha aryas is the same as that cognized nonconceptually by bodhisattva aryas. It is the voidness of true existence and it is with respect to all phenomena. Karma Kagyu agrees that the voidness of all phenomena cognized by all three types of aryas is the same voidness, but assert it to be the voidness that is beyond words and concepts. The other non-Gelug traditions assert that, within Madhyamaka, the voidness of phenomena that each of the three types of aryas cognize is different. According to Nyingma, arya shravakas nonconceptually cognize the voidness of their five aggregates being a monolith lacking temporal and component parts. Arya pratyekabuddhas, in addition, cognize the voidness of the true existence of objects of cognition, but not of cognizing minds. According to Sakya, arya shravakas nonconceptually cognize the voidness of true existence of their own aggregates. Arya bodhisattvas, in addition, cognize the voidness of the external existence of forms of physical phenomena. None of these so-called “nonconceptual” cognitions, however, are fully nonconceptual, since only cognition of what is beyond words and concepts is fully nonconceptual.

[See: Nonconceptual Cognition of Voidness by Shravaka, Pratyekabuddha, and Bodhisattva Aryas According to the Four Tibetan Traditions .]

  1. The voidness of true existence nonconceptually cognized is a conventionally existent phenomenon; it has merely imputed existence in terms of mental labeling. In other words, voidness lacks existence established by its own findable self-nature. Thus, although voidness does not correspond to the truly findably existent category voidness, which the name voidness conceptualizes, nevertheless the name voidness conventionally refers to voidness. The non-Gelug traditions assert that the voidness nonconceptually cognized by aryas is beyond all words and concepts.

  2. To gain nonconceptual cognition of voidness, we need to realize the voidness of voidness – the lack of the true existence of voidness. Since the voidness of true existence is a nonimplicative negation phenomenon (med-dgag, nonimplicative nullification, nonaffirming negation), the realization of the voidness of voidness is also a nonimplicative negation. The non-Gelug traditions assert that nonconceptual cognition of voidness requires going beyond all words and concepts, including negations, which are also concepts: the nonimplicative negation voidness is merely a concept of the absence of true existence.

  3. Gaining valid cognition of voidness requires correctly identifying (distinguishing) the object of negation, namely true existence. According to the non-Gelug traditions, all four impossible extreme modes of existence, such as true existence, do not exist at all. Therefore, it is absurd to try to identify a mode of existence that does not exist.

  4. Reflexive awareness and alayavijnana do not exist at all, not even as conventionally existent phenomena. The non-Gelug traditions follow their interpretation of Svatantrika on these points and accept the conventional existence of both.

  5. Recollection (dran-pa, remembering, memory) occurs based on nontruly, nonfindably existent valid cognitions having implicit apprehension of themselves. The non-Gelug traditions say that recollection occurs because of the reflexive awareness that accompanies nontruly existent, yet conventionally findable valid cognitions.

[See: The Validity and Accuracy of Cognition of the Two Truths in Gelug Prasangika .]

 

What Is To Be Gotten Rid Of (Abandoned) According to Prasangika

  1. Unawareness (ma-rig-pa, ignorance) of the voidness of all phenomena is a disturbing emotion (nyon-mongs, afflictive emotion). Thus, it is included among the emotional obscurations (nyon-sgrib) – the obscurations that are disturbing emotions and which prevent liberation. Except for Karma Kagyu after the Eighth Karmapa, the non-Gelug traditions follow the Svatantrika position that unawareness of the voidness of all phenomena is not a disturbing emotion. Thus, it is not included among the emotional obscurations. Only unawareness of the voidness of persons is a disturbing emotion and included among the emotional obscurations.

  2. The cognitive obscurations (shes-sgrib) – the obscurations regarding all knowables and which prevent omniscience – include only the habits of grasping for the true existence of all phenomena (the habits of unawareness of the voidness of all phenomena) and the factor that prevents simultaneous cognition of the two truths. The non-Gelug traditions, except for Karma Kagyu after the Eighth Karmapa, follow Svatantrika and include among the cognitive obscurations unawareness of the voidness of all phenomena.

  3. Bodhisattva aryas start to rid themselves of the cognitive obscurations only with an eighth-level bhumi mind, after ridding themselves completely of the emotional obscurations. The other non-Gelug traditions, except for Karma Kagyu after the Eighth Karmapa, follow Svatantrika and say that bodhisattvas of definite lineage begin to rid themselves of the cognitive obscurations with a seeing pathway mind, at the same time as they begin to rid themselves of the emotional obscurations. They finish ridding themselves of both sets of obscuration simultaneously with the attainment of enlightenment.

[See: Ridding Oneself of the Two Sets of Obscurations in Sutra and Anuttarayoga Tantra According to Nyingma and Sakya.]

 

Svabhavakaya and the Total Absorption of an Arya

  1. Svabhavakaya (a Corpus of Essential Nature) has two aspects: the voidness of the omniscient mind of a Buddha and the partings (bral-ba) from the two sets of obscurations on the omniscient mind of a Buddha. The non-Gelug traditions assert Svabhavakaya as the inseparability of the other three Corpuses of a Buddha (Buddha-Bodies): Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Jnana-dharmakaya. This is equivalent to the inseparability of the two truths.

  2. Only voidness, the deepest truth, arises and appears to the face of an arya’s total absorption cognition of voidness (mnyam-bzhag, meditative equipoise). The total absorption cognition does not cognize the superficial truth (the appearance of the phenomenon) that is the basis for the voidness (stong-gzhi), not even implicitly. The other traditions assert that both voidness and appearances arise, inseparably, and are cognized by an arya’s total absorption cognition of voidness. With total absorption cognition, voidness is more prominent, while with subsequent attainment cognition (rjes-thob, post-meditation), appearance is more prominent.

[See: The Union of Method and Wisdom in Sutra and Tantra: Gelug and Non-Gelug Presentations.]

 

Definitive and Interpretable Meanings and the Three Rounds of Transmission of the Dharma According to Prasangika

  1. The distinction between words of definitive meaning (nges-don) and words of interpretable meaning (drang-don) refers to specific passages in sutras and not to whole sutras or entire rounds of transmission of the Dharma (chos-skor, turnings of the wheel of Dharma). The non-Gelug traditions follow Svatantrika that the distinction regards whole sutras and entire rounds of transmission of Dharma.

  2. Definitive-meaning passages speak about deepest truth, the voidness of true existence. Interpretable-meaning passages refer to superficial truths. The non-Gelug traditions follow Svatantrika that definitive-meaning sutras may be taken literally, while interpretable-meaning sutras may not be taken literally, but require interpretation.

  3. The distinction among the three rounds of transmission of the Dharma regard subject matter – specifically, the assertions of how things exist. The non-Gelug traditions make the distinction according to when Buddha delivered the sutras.

  4. The third round of transmission concerns the Chittamatra position that some phenomena have true existence and other lack true existence. The non-Gelug traditions assert that the third round primarily concerns Buddha-nature.

  5. The second round of transmission is of definitive meaning; the third is of interpretable meaning. Because the non-Gelug traditions define the contents of the third round differently from the way that Gelug does, for them the third round is of definitive meaning. Some non-Gelug authors, for instance within the Nyingma school, assert the second round also to be of definitive meaning. When others, such as within the Karma Kagyu school, assert the second round to be of interpretable meaning, this is because they take the second round to teach only self-voidness (rang-stong). They consider self-voidness as equivalent to denumerable voidness. Only the third round teaches other-voidness (gzhan-stong), which they take to be the mind that nonconceptually cognizes nondenumerable voidness.

 

Karma and Vows According to Prasangika

  1. Prasangika, like Vaibhashika, asserts that physical and verbal karmas are forms of physical phenomena. These forms include the revealing forms (rnam-par rig-byed-kyi gzugs) of the physical actions or the sounds of the words, which end when the actions end. They also include the nonrevealing forms (rnam-par rig-byed ma-yin-pa’i gzugs) of the subtle impulses of energy that accompany the actions and which continue afterward, so long as the intention to repeat the action continues. The non-Gelug traditions say that only Vaibhashika asserts karma like this. All other tenet systems assert that physical and verbal karmas are like mental karmas, in that all three types of karma are only the mental urges (sems-pa) that bring on the actions. Gelug accepts that this is the case only for Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika.

  1. Prasangika, like Vaibhashika, asserts that vows are also nonrevealing forms. The non-Gelug traditions assert that only Vaibhashika asserts vows like that. All other tenet systems assert that they are ways of being aware of something. They are aspects of ethical self-discipline. Gelug accepts that this is the case only for Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika.

  1. Prasangika asserts that karmic tendencies (sa-bon, seeds, legacies) and constant habits (bag-chags) are imputed on the mere “I” as their basis, and are carried from one lifetime to the next, imputedly existent on that basis. The non-Gelug traditions follow their version of Svatantrika, according to which they are imputed on the alayavijnana and are carried from one lifetime to the next, imputedly existent on that basis.

 

No-Longer-Happenings, Not-Yet-Happenings, and the “Previously-Having-Perished” of Phenomena

(1) All Tibetan traditions accept that the past and future of functional phenomena are not affirmation phenomena (sgrub-pa). Although they are existent phenomena (yod-pa), they are invalid phenomena (mi-srid-pa). An existent invalid phenomenon is one that is not presently happening anywhere and thus cannot be validly cognized now, but can be validly cognized at another time. The past and future of a phenomenon are negation phenomena, absences – namely, the “no-longer-happening” (‘ das-pa) and the “not-yet-happening” (ma-‘ong-pa) of a phenomenon. In other words, the no-longer-happening of a karmic action and the not-yet-happening of its result are negation phenomena that imputedly exist on whatever a particular tenet system asserts as providing continuity into future lives. But, not-yet-happenings and no-longer-happenings are not “present happenings” (da-lta-ba), which are affirmation phenomena. Prasangika asserts no-longer-happenings and not-yet-happenings of phenomena to be implicative negation phenomena (ma-yin dgag, affirming negations), which are nonstatic phenomena. The former has a beginning and the latter has an end, both of which occur due to the affect of causes and conditions. The non-Gelug traditions follow Svatantrika and assert not-yet-happenings and no-longer-happenings as nonaffirming negation phenomena (med-dgag, nonaffirming negation), which are static unaffected phenomena.

(2) All Tibetan traditions accept that with the perishing (‘jig-pa, disintegration) of a nonstatic phenomenon, such as a karmic action, a negation phenomenon called a “previously-having-perished” (zhig-pa) of the nonstatic phenomenon ensues. Prasangika asserts the “ previously-having-perished” of karmic actions to be implicative negation phenomena, which are nonstatic phenomena. They are equivalent to the “no-longer-happening” (‘ das-pa, past) of the karmic actions and arise from causes and conditions, namely the perishing of the karmic action, and produce effects. For example, the “previously-having-perished one moment ago” of a karmic action gives rise to the “previously-having-perished two moments ago” of that action. The stream of continuity of the “previously-having-perished” of a karmic action does not degenerate (nyams) as it continues; moreover, it has no end. The non-Gelug traditions follow Svatantrika and assert that a “previously-having-perished” is a nonimplicative negation phenomenon, which is a static unaffected phenomena. It is the total absence of the karmic action.

[See: What Does a Buddha Know in Knowing the Past, Present, and Future?, Part One.]

 

True Stoppings (True Cessations)

All Tibetan traditions assert that true stoppings (‘gog-bden) are nonimplicative negation phenomena imputed on the mental continuum of an arya. They are static phenomena that do not arise from causes and conditions. Their acquirement (thob-pa) arises dependently on causes and conditions, but the true stoppings themselves are merely states of being parted forever (bral-ba).

Prasangika asserts that true stoppings are deepest truths. The Jetsunpa (rJe-btsun Chos-kyi rgyal-mtshan) textbook tradition asserts them also to be equivalent to voidnesses of true existence on an arya’s mental continuum; while the Panchen (Pan-chen bSod-nams grags-pa) textbook tradition asserts true stoppings not to be equivalent to voidnesses of true existence on the mental continuum of aryas. The non-Gelug traditions follow Svatantrika in asserting true stoppings as superficial truths and not equivalent to voidness.

 

Mind as a Buddha-Nature Trait

  1. Mind (mental activity) is a nonstatic phenomenon, in the sense that it changes from moment to moment because it takes a different object from moment to moment. According to the non-Gelug traditions, mind is a static phenomenon, in the sense that its conventional nature, as clarity and awareness, has no beginning or end, does not arise anew each moment, never changes, and is unaffected by anything. No matter what object mind cognizes, the conventional nature of mind remains the same.

  2. The conventional nature of mind (mere clarity and awareness) is an evolving family trait (rgyas-‘gyur-gyi rigs, evolving Buddha-nature trait), not a naturally abiding family trait (rang-bzhin gnas-rigs, naturally abiding Buddha-nature trait). It evolves to become a Jnana-dharmakaya, an omniscient mind of a Buddha. The deepest nature of mind (its voidness of true existence) is a naturally abiding family trait. “Naturally abiding” means that it does not change; it does not evolve or develop through stages into the Corpus of a Buddha (Buddha-Body). It merely accounts for a Corpus of a Buddha – specifically, the voidness of the mental continuum accounts for the Svabhavakaya (the voidness of the omniscient mind) of a Buddha. The non-Gelug traditions assert that mere clarity and awareness is a naturally abiding Buddha-nature trait. It accounts for a Jnana-dharmakaya (the omniscient mind of a Buddha).

[See: Buddha-Nature According to Gelug-Chittamatra, Svatantrika, and Prasangika.]

 

The Eight Great Difficult Points

One of Tsongkhapa’s disciples, Gyeltsabjey (rGyal-tshab rJe Dar-ma rin-chen) summarized his master’s new interpretations of some of the most important features of the Prasangika view as the “eight great difficult points” (dka’-ba’i gnad chen-po brgyad):

  1. Negation (refutation) of the conventional existence of alayavijnana.

  2. Negation of existence established by individual defining characteristic marks.

  3. Acceptance of external phenomena.

  4. Negation of the Svatantrika use of lines of reasoning, supposedly having existence established by their self-natures, to prove assertions.

  5. Negation of reflexive awareness.

  6. Assertion that shravakas and pratyekabuddhas have the full realization of the lack of impossible “souls” (the voidness) of both persons and all phenomena.

  7. Assertion that grasping for the true existence of all phenomena, as well as its tendencies (seeds), are emotional obscurations; while the constant habits of the deception of dualistic appearance-making (gnyis-snang ‘khrul-pa) – in other words, the constant habits of grasping for true existence – are cognitive obscurations.

  8. Assertion that Buddhas are aware of the mistaken cognitions on the mental continuums of limited beings, and yet do not have mistaken cognitions themselves.

 

Styles of Tantra and Ritual Practice

Certain aspects in the style of practice in Gelug differ from those of the non-Gelug traditions, but these are only superficial differences. Moreover, they do not occur exclusively in Gelug and never in the other traditions.

  1. Practitioners do the extraordinary preliminaries (sngon-‘gro, “ngondro”) of 100,000 repetitions of various practices one by one, whenever they fit into their training. In the non-Gelug traditions, practitioners usually do them all together as an event early in their training.

  2. Practitioners do mantra retreats of various Buddha-figures (yi-dam) one by one, whenever they fit into their training. If they are studying for a Geshe degree, they usually do them only after receiving the degree. Moreover, a three-year retreat is only on one specific Buddha-figure practice. In the non-Gelug traditions, practitioners do the mantra retreats of the major Buddha-figures of their tradition all together, one after the other, as a three-year retreat. They do three-year retreats on one Buddha-figure only afterward.

  3. Monks chant with extremely deep bass voices, capable of producing chords. The non-Gelug traditions usually chant in normal voices.

 

Anuttarayoga Tantra

  1. Tsongkhapa practiced six main anuttarayoga Buddha-figure systems: the Akshobhya form of Guhyasamaja (gSang-‘dus Mi-bskyod-pa), the Luipa lineage of Chakrasamvara (bDe-mchog Lu’i-pa), Thirteen-Couple Vajrabhairava (‘Jigs-byed Lha-bcu-gsum), Single-Figure Vajrabhairava (‘Jigs-byed dPa’-bo gcig-pa), Kalachakra (Dus-‘khor), and Mahachakra Vajrapani (Phyag-rdor ‘khor-chen).

  2. Tsongkhapa taught eight discourse traditions for complete stage (rdzogs-rim) practice: the Luipa lineage of Chakrasamvara, the Ghantapada (Dril-bu-pa) Body-Mandala lineage of Chakrasamvara (bDe-mchog Lus-dkyil), the Six Practices (“Yogas”) of Naropa (Na-ro’i chos-drug), Kalachakra, the Arya lineage of Guhyasamaja (gSang-‘dus ‘Phags-lugs), the Jnanapada lineage of Guhyasamaja (gSang-‘dus Ye-shes zhabs-lugs), Vajrabhairava, and Mahachakra Vajrapani.

  3. Tsongkhapa taught a method of practice that combines the Akshobhya form of Guhyasamaja, Thirteen-Couple Vajrabhairava, and the Luipa lineage of Chakrasamvara. This is the main practice of the three tantric colleges (Lower, Upper, and Say) (rGyud-smad, rGyud-stod, Srad-rgyud).

  4. The distinction between father (pha-rgyud) and mother (ma-rgyud) anuttarayoga tantra is that father tantra presents more detail and emphasis on illusory body (sgyu-lus), while mother tantra presents more on clear light (‘od-gsal). Guhyasamaja, Vajrabhairava, and Mahachakra Vajrapani are father tantras; Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, Vajrayogini, and Kalachakra are mother tantras. Among the non-Gelug traditions, only Sakya and Kagyu use the category anuttarayoga tantra. They draw the distinction between father and mother anuttarayoga tantra based on other criteria, such as the gender of the secondary figures immediately surrounding the central figure or couple of the mandala.

  5. Nondual tantra (gnyis-med rgyud) is not a separate category of anuttarayoga. All anuttarayoga tantras are nondual in that all teach inseparable voidness and blissful awareness (bde-stong dbyer-med). When some masters in other Tibetan traditions use the category nondual anuttarayoga tantra for Kalachakra, Hevajra, or both, it is a separate category of anuttarayoga. The nondual tantras have features of both father and mother tantra.

  6. In the practice of taking death as a pathway mind for (attaining) a Dharmakaya (‘chi-ba chos-sku lam-‘khyer), practitioners approach the clear-light realization of voidness through imagining that their consciousness gets increasingly more subtle through eight or ten stages. Although the non-Gelug traditions have similar visualizations elsewhere in sadhanas, practitioners approach the clear-light realization of voidness using other methods.

 

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This is the foot print of Lord Tsongkapa. He imprinted his foot in stone as a sign of his tantric achievements.

This is the foot print of Lord Tsongkapa. He imprinted his foot in stone as a sign of his tantric achievements.

 

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2 Responses to Huge outdoor Tsongkapa!

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  1. Tsa Tsa Ong on Dec 31, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Very interesting background of Lord Tsongkhapa. And this outdoor statue lord Tsongkhapa looks very beautiful and majestic. Reading and learning from the biography of Lama Tsongkhapa was very inspiring. Thank you Rinpoche and blog team for sharing this wonderful write up of Lord Tsongkhapa.🙏😍🌈

  2. Paul Yap on Dec 18, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Reading and learning from the biography of Lama Tsongkhapa was very inspiring and motivated. The great scholar, saint and bodhisattva with great compassion has taken rebirth in human form benefitting countless of beings.

    Among the great work he has accomplished, there are 4 great deeds which has influenced and benefited many peoples :-

    1st Great Deed – Restored a great Maitreya statue in Lhasa after a retreat

    2nd great deed – Teaching of the Vinaya

    3rd Great Deed – During the Monlam festival, he offered a gold crown to the Shakyamuni statue inside Jokhang, signifying that it was now a Sambhogakaya statue, not just Nirmanakaya

    4th Great Deed – commissioned the building of the great Ganden hall with a huge Buddha statue and copper three-dimensional mandalas of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Yamantaka.

    I wish there are more huge outdoor Lama Tsongkhapa statue will be erected. The Sangha and people lives in Xiaqiong monastery has the great merit to be able see the huge Lama Tsongkhapa statue daily. Rejoice!

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  • nicholas
    Monday, May 27. 2019 01:56 AM
    Xiangshui (Perfume) Nunnery | 龙口南山香水庵

    Located in China’s Shandong Province, the Xiangshui (Perfume) Nunnery was originally built during the Ming Dynasty from 1621-1627 A.D. It was badly damaged towards the end of the Qing Dynasty at the beginning of the 1900s. The nunnery was rebuilt in 1999 as part of the Longkou Nanshan Scenic Area development project.

    Initially, it was called the Xiangshui (Water Burble) Nunnery (响水庵). It got its name from the sound of the steady burble of water flowing from the mouth of a carved dragon on a big stone wall that used to be next to the nunnery.

    Learn more about this place at: https://bit.ly/2JeziCP
  • nicholas
    Monday, May 27. 2019 01:28 AM
    May 26, we had the honour of being informed by a Kecharian member, James Won, that he’s inviting over some Sangha from Sri Lanka. Kecharians of course, were very happy about that and I advised to make good offerings to the Sangha to generate merits. Today due to some Dharma works in the city, many Kecharians were not here in Kechara Forest Retreat but those who were came to receive the monks.

    The four eminent monks arrived and were taken on a tour as they wanted to see our activities.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
  • Sofi
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 11:30 AM
    Methar of Tengyeling Monastery

    A gruelsome read of the cruelty that exist within the holiest office in Tibet. Ministers of the Dalai Lama are very much into the power and money game, without any other authority to stop their heinous actions. A sad fact of the power wielded by the office of the Dalai Lama.

    Learn more here of the sufferings of Methar: http://bit.ly/Metharhttp://bit.ly/Methar
  • Sofi
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 11:20 AM
    Ku Shulan, Goddess of Paper Cut

    An amazing lady who expertly cuts into paper to form collages of picture to tell stories of life. As a treasure of China, she left her legacy with her disciples to continue the art of paper cutting into new generations to come.

    Read more of this fascinating lady who had a tough life: http://bit.ly/KuShulan
  • nicholas
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 09:46 AM
    The Trode Khangsar is an important chapel dedicated to Dorje Shugden in Lhasa, Tibet. It was built by His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama towards the end of the 17th Century. Dorje Shugden is an uncommon Dharma protector within Tibetan Buddhism, who is said to protect the Buddhist teachings in general and Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika (Middle Way) Philosophy as taught by Lama Tsongkhapa specifically. Lama Tsongkhapa was the founder of the great Gelug lineage. Dorje Shugden, in his previous incarnation as Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen, was a great scholar, meditator, teacher and contemporary of His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama. After being murdered, Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen arose as Dorje Shugden in order to benefit countless sentient beings.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2zBTd8M
  • nicholas
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 09:42 AM
    Tibetan ‘government-in-exile’ known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was called to session and Tenpa Yarphel, a notable Member of the Tibetan Parliament (MP) spoke up about the need for Tibetans to be united. Specifically, Tenpa Yarphel bravely addressed a very thorny issue that most Tibetan policy makers have sidestepped for over 20 years, and that is the Dorje Shugden unethical ban that, by now, everyone knows has been very damaging to the fragile Tibetan unity. It is really refreshing to see a Tibetan MP speaking confidently about the realities faced by the Tibetans in exile, with the intention of moving forward to a better future instead of being stuck in myriad divisive policies that have really harmed the Tibetan polity and harmony.

    Tenpa Yarphel is one of the heroes that will bring a different for Tibetan. More Tibetan like Tenpa Yarphel should participate and speak up. Tibetan need a change in their government and no longer to follow the old way as it’s proven it doesn’t work.
  • nicholas
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 09:25 AM
    “I suppose now what I’m interested in is Nirvana, the Buddhist heaven. I don’t know much about it, or really understand it enough to explain it. George knows more.

    Studying religion has made me try to improve relationships, not to be unpleasant. It’s not a conscious move to change my personality. Perhaps it is. I don’t know. I’m just trying to be how I want to be, and how I’d like others to be.

    Drugs probably helped the understanding of myself better, but not much. Not pot. That just used to be a harmless giggle.”

    ~ John Lennon

    Read more about John Lenon at : https://bit.ly/2VG03Ww
  • Pastor Lanse
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 07:39 AM
    这篇文章介绍主奔堪仁波切在非洲弘扬佛陀教诲的事业。文章内附有许多精彩照片和视频,让我们有机会欣赏和随喜在另一个大洲上正在发展的佛法事业。看到这些黑人同胞们大声唱诵《二十一度母赞》,看到他们以传统的非洲舞蹈来对上师表示欢迎,尤其是看到他们把丝巾一件件地铺在地上给上师行走的画,场面着实令人感动。

    https://bit.ly/2JEulDM
  • Sofi
    Saturday, May 25. 2019 06:58 AM
    Dorje Shugden – The Protector of Our Time

    The power of enlightened Dharma protectors comes from their enlightened nature, which is compassionate and wisdom-filled. On the deepest level, they represent our blissful awareness of emptiness in strong energetic forms – the best protection against obstacles. The Dharma protectors protect sincere spiritual practitioners who seek their higher selves, see the downfalls of materialism and other problems created by the human mind.

    Read more here: http://bit.ly/ProtectorDorjeShugden
  • sarassitham
    Friday, May 24. 2019 10:51 PM
    I personally have experienced the powers of Dorje Shugden much to my amazement for each request I make even of the minute ask is fulfilled sometimes immediately within the day of asking or several days to weeks depending on my extend of my life request.

    His compassionate nature and swift powers are to be witnessed only by those who are willing to give the divine being a chance for him to connect with you and render help. Ask DS and you shall receive. I have!
  • sarassitham
    Friday, May 24. 2019 03:17 PM
    If one single person can make such an immense positive contribution,imagine how the world could change for the better if only its population derives inspiration from this one man’s effort regardless of race, colour, creed, or belief.

    Greed destroys, selflessness sustains both our existence and other living existence on this planet.
  • R.Ummamageswari
    Friday, May 24. 2019 10:33 AM
    Ku Shulan is a inspiring women as i know and i realized this after reading this article. She doesn’t have a good marriage life but she has a very good talent in paper cutting. Even though she doesn’t have a good backbone, she still cuts vegetables for her family.

    She is very creative and her creativity is known worldwide but her life didn’t change by that. She didn’t waste her life by worrying about her family situation but she get up by using her creativity. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2WSgeh3
  • R.Ummamageswari
    Friday, May 24. 2019 10:10 AM
    This story is very inspiring. By reading this article, i can understand that nothing is impossible in this universe. Youngsters should take this man as a role model not only for planting trees but for the confidence in him. Not only confidence, but even loaded of courage in him.

    Plants are very important nowadays as we, humans, require oxygen to live. The confidence level in the man has influenced him to change the barren land to a place filled with thousand of various plants. Youngsters can take this inspiring story as their guidance for them to improve their live from nothing to become a topper.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2HtAJeA
  • nicholas
    Friday, May 24. 2019 07:47 AM
    Watch enlightening documentaries online! Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking – The Story Of Everything (2010) In two mind-blowing hours, Hawking reveals the wonders of the cosmos to a new generation. Delve into the mind of the worlds most famous living scientist and reveal the splendor and majesty of the universe as never seen before.

    Read more:https://bit.ly/2Hz9i1D
    [no sender]
  • Pastor Lanse
    Friday, May 24. 2019 07:21 AM
    这些视频包含一些珍贵和不曾公开的内容,显示神谕在詹杜固仁波切面前突如其来降神的经过。2009年,仁波切在没有预先安排的情况下到访一间西藏的寺院。当时,尼木杰吉寺中没有一个人知道仁波切的身份。然而,当仁波切在护法殿做哈达供养的时候,多杰雄登却自发性降神于在场的其中一位僧人,并以亲切和激动的方式向仁波切致敬。

    https://bit.ly/2MpY1WG

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

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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?
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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
10 hours 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!!!
15 hours 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 days 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
5 days 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
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1 week ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
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2 weeks ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
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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
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3 weeks ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
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3 weeks ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
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4 weeks ago
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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
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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
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Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
Tsem Rinpoche\'s personal shrine.
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Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
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4 weeks ago
In Kechara Forest Retreat- Bentong, Malaysia, we have a beautiful outdoor offering grotto dedicated to Lord Dorje Shugden who fulfills the wishes of many visitors- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
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My way of sharing....
1 month ago
My way of sharing....
Peace
1 month ago
Peace
Please contemplate deeply what this message is sharing. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Please contemplate deeply what this message is sharing. Tsem Rinpoche
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Japanese Buddha statues. Beautiful program- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIfNibljnoI
Japanese Buddhist altars. Beautiful- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4uqb3jPpCs
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Japanese Buddhist altars. Beautiful- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4uqb3jPpCs
Beautiful Lord Buddha carving which is so elegant. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Beautiful Lord Buddha carving which is so elegant. Tsem Rinpoche
We can love others as we heal ourselves inside...~Tsem Rinpoche
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We can love others as we heal ourselves inside...~Tsem Rinpoche
Beautiful short and powerful teaching by Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche
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Beautiful short and powerful teaching by Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche
China\'s huge Buddha statues. Amazingly beautiful- https://bit.ly/2DgSXxT
1 month ago
China's huge Buddha statues. Amazingly beautiful- https://bit.ly/2DgSXxT
Such a powerful imagery of Lord Buddha\'s determination. Fasting Buddha\'s meaning- HTTP://bit.ly/2VCfKLa
1 month ago
Such a powerful imagery of Lord Buddha's determination. Fasting Buddha's meaning- http://bit.ly/2VCfKLa
This poor boy is being forced to leave his friend to be sold for slaughter. Children have a natural connection with animals, and they know it is wrong to hurt and kill them. Children lose this connection by being indoctrinated (brainwashed) by their parents/peers into believing animals are here to be exploited, killed, and eaten.- from Lucinda Smyth FB page
1 month ago
This poor boy is being forced to leave his friend to be sold for slaughter. Children have a natural connection with animals, and they know it is wrong to hurt and kill them. Children lose this connection by being indoctrinated (brainwashed) by their parents/peers into believing animals are here to be exploited, killed, and eaten.- from Lucinda Smyth FB page
Some people really struggle and put in so much effort in their lives. Amazing. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Some people really struggle and put in so much effort in their lives. Amazing. Tsem Rinpoche
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Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • 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 weeks 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 weeks 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
    1 month ago
    Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    1 month 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
    1 month 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
    2 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
    2 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.
    2 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.
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
    3 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
    3 months ago
    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    4 months ago
    SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    Tsem Rinpoche's dog Oser girl enjoying her snack in her play pen.
  • Cute!
    5 months ago
    Cute!
    Oser girl loves the balcony so much. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTcoWpKJm2c
  • Uncle Wong
    5 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!
    5 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
  • Cute baby owl found and rescued
    5 months ago
    Cute baby owl found and rescued
    We rescued a lost baby owl in Kechara Forest Retreat.
  • Nice cups from Kechara!!
    5 months ago
    Nice cups from Kechara!!
    Dorje Shugden people's lives matter!
  • Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    5 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.
    5 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.
  • Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
    5 months ago
    This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
  • His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
    6 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
  • Tsem Rinpoche’s dog, Oser girl always sits on Rinpoche’s chair. When Rinpoche’s other dog, Dharma tries to get into the chair, he is chased away. Oser is the boss. She is possessive. Cute.
    6 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s dog, Oser girl always sits on Rinpoche’s chair. When Rinpoche’s other dog, Dharma tries to get into the chair, he is chased away. Oser is the boss. She is possessive. Cute.
  • Lama Yeshe talks about how to practice at the beginning and at the end of each day during teachings given in London during the Lamas’ first European teaching tour in 1975. Lama Yeshe was a brilliant teacher and I wanted to share this with everyone so his teachings can reach more people. Tsem Rinpoche
    6 months ago
    Lama Yeshe talks about how to practice at the beginning and at the end of each day during teachings given in London during the Lamas’ first European teaching tour in 1975. Lama Yeshe was a brilliant teacher and I wanted to share this with everyone so his teachings can reach more people. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Our beautiful Dorje Shugden shop in the busiest part of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many tourists visit our store and this area.
    6 months ago
    Our beautiful Dorje Shugden shop in the busiest part of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many tourists visit our store and this area.
  • Living off the grid in Australia
    6 months ago
    Living off the grid in Australia
    A Jill Redwood is a jack of all trades, Jill built her own house on her property and lives entirely off the grid with no mains power or town water, mobile reception or television. Living on around $80 a week, Jill has over sixty animals to keep her company and an abundant garden that out serves as an organic supermarket right at her doorstep. Her main expenses are animal feed and the rates on her property. Watch this incredible three minute video and be inspired to live differently.
  • Kyabje Dagom Choktrul Rinpoche offering gold on a 350 year-old Dorje Shugden statue in his chapel in Lhasa. This is how Tibetans show homage and pay respect to a holy image. This chapel and statue of Dorje Shugden in Lhasa dedicated to Dorje Shugden was built by the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Tsem Rinpoche
    6 months ago
    Kyabje Dagom Choktrul Rinpoche offering gold on a 350 year-old Dorje Shugden statue in his chapel in Lhasa. This is how Tibetans show homage and pay respect to a holy image. This chapel and statue of Dorje Shugden in Lhasa dedicated to Dorje Shugden was built by the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Tsem Rinpoche
  • My sweet little Oser girl is so photogenic and adorable. Tsem Rinpoche
    6 months ago
    My sweet little Oser girl is so photogenic and adorable. Tsem Rinpoche
  • 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.

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Ask the Pastors

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

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

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CHAT PICTURES

We would like to thank Phui Shan, Win Kei, Morine, Yi Ting and their 2 other teammates who were not in the picture for assisting us from surplus food rescue to surplus food distribution and also foodbank dry provisions delivery. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
16 hours ago
We would like to thank Phui Shan, Win Kei, Morine, Yi Ting and their 2 other teammates who were not in the picture for assisting us from surplus food rescue to surplus food distribution and also foodbank dry provisions delivery. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Students making soap by themselves during WOAH Camp. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Students making soap by themselves during WOAH Camp. Lin Mun KSDS
So happy that young children can engage in dharma practise at the very young age. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
So happy that young children can engage in dharma practise at the very young age. Lin Mun KSDS
Students reciting dedication verse before ending the Sunday dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Students reciting dedication verse before ending the Sunday dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
The happy faces of children during dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
The happy faces of children during dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
Many people made incense offering on the holy Wesak Day. Lin Mun KSDS
2 days ago
Many people made incense offering on the holy Wesak Day. Lin Mun KSDS
Join us this weekend for Spiritual Saturday in Kechara Forest Retreat! Saturday, 25 May 9.00 am - 10.45 am: Flower Power (grow flowers from seeds) 11.00 am - 12.30 pm: Book Club (Peace - Eng/Chi) 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm: Lunch @ MGH Interested? To RSVP your place (and your meal!) +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com More info: bit.ly/2Df2JA1
4 days ago
Join us this weekend for Spiritual Saturday in Kechara Forest Retreat! Saturday, 25 May 9.00 am - 10.45 am: Flower Power (grow flowers from seeds) 11.00 am - 12.30 pm: Book Club (Peace - Eng/Chi) 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm: Lunch @ MGH Interested? To RSVP your place (and your meal!) +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com More info: bit.ly/2Df2JA1
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
4 days ago
Glimpses of Wesak Day celebration at Kechara Forest Retreat
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Dorje Shugden
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