Newsletter for Winter 2009 - 2010
Khen Rinpoche gave teachings at our Center
H.E. Khen Rinpoche Jangchup Choeden, our new abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery has arrived at our center and will be giving teachings and staying with us throughout much of March and part of April. The schedule of his visit is on the calendar. Teachings begin on Friday March 5, 2010 at 7pm and will be the text "Foundations of All Good Qualities."
Rinpoche will be giving Refuge on Monday March 8 at 7pm. He will also be teaching on Fifty Stanzas on Guru Devotion, the Ganden LhaGyeMa, and Seven Point Mind Training, and commentary on Death, Intermediate State, Rebirth. Texts will be available as handouts or for sale in the bookstore. The teachings will be broadcast live.
Before his enthronement as Abbot, Rimpoche visited Thubten Dhargye Ling on several occasions, On one of those visits, he served as translator for H.E. Lati Rimpoche. (View his website and his blog.)
New Monastic Staff for Thubten Dhargye Ling
We are expecting to be able to bring our new staff monastics from India to Thubten Dhargye Ling fairly soon now. Geshe Phutso Gyentsen is seated in the middle, he will be our new teacher. Geshe Kelsang, on the left in the picture, was here at TDL not long ago as part of the last Shartse tour. He will return to be our chant master. Jampal Lobsang, on the right in the picture, will be the secretary to the teacher. Standing in the center is our ritual master. As things change here at TDL following the passing of Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, the unfolding plan is for Gaden Shartse Monastery to provide us with a new teacher and staff monks to continue the legacy of authentic Dharma instruction and Buddhist monastic service to our community that our dear Teacher started and developed over the years here. The monastery had selected these 4 monks to come to TDL quite a while ago, however, changes to immigration laws recently have made it a longer process to obtain Visas for them. Three of the four have now been accepted to receive their Visas and are only a few steps away from being able to join us here at TDL. We haven't gotten approval for our teacher Geshe Phutso Gyentsen yet, but with prayers and wishes there will be no obstacles to that resulting soon as well.
Also, a new group of Shartse monks have been selected at the monastery for the next Shartse Tour and they have all been approved to receive Visas now. Our own western monastic Ven. Janchub Chophel will be the leader of this upcoming Sacred Earth tour. He has been very busy with all the prepartions for the tour slated to begin in May. (posted 4-5-2010)
Tara Rituals for Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen
His Eminence Kabje Lati Rinpoche has requested that additional Tsog offerings and a Tara ritual be done regularly for the sake of Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen's quick return. At Thubten Dhargye Ling we will be doing this on Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm. There will be a cycle of Tsog offerings and Tara rituals, with Tsogs for 3 weeks and then a Tara ritual. All who wish for our beloved Teacher to return quickly are encouraged to attend. Check the calendar for schedule.
Enthronement of our New Abbot
Congratulations to Khen Rinpoche, Ven. Geshe Jangchup Choeden who has been chosen as the new Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery. He was enthroned at the monastery in South India on July 26, 2009. Rinpoche is a friend of TDL as he has visited here and stayed here in the past, and he was the translator for HE Kabje Lati Rinpoche when he stayed at TDL in years past. His English is excellent and we look forward to a smooth and productive relationship with Gaden Shartse Monastery with his skill and guidance. (His Blog)
First Year Anniversary Visit and Ceremonies for Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen at Gaden Monastery
On February 5-13, 2010, a group of students from Thubten Dhargye Ling traveled to Ganden Shartse Monastery in south India to observe the one-year memorial of Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen's passing. Their main aim was to sponsor auspicious prayers and rituals at Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries dedicated to both Geshela's legacy and quick return. The contingent of 20, which included new and old students alike, also toured Doeguling-Mundgod Tibetan settlement community projects that were previously supported by Geshela, and reaffirmed the continuation of that aid.
Ganden Shartse's Education Department graciously hosted the visit. Upon arrival to Ganden Shartse and all throughout the journey, the monks anticipated and catered to each of the group's needs, making sure everyone was safe and healthy during their stay. Despite being in the midst of their busy 2137 Losar (New Year) season, the monks kindly minded all the details, most important of which included leading the TDL group on all the formalities corresponding to the prayer ceremonies.
On Feb.7-8, a group of 8 TDL students ventured on the 20-hour round-trip drive to Sera Monastery in the Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement. Home to over 5,000 monks, Sera is the biggest Tibetan monastery in exile. It was here that the group checked into their guesthouse for a few hours of sleep before waking for the 5:30 a.m. prayers in the Sera joint chanting hall.
Thus began the special routine that would be repeated at each prayer hall the group stopped in over the course the trip: making prostrations, presenting offerings of khatas (ceremonial white scarves) and symbolic donations at the main altars (including the thrones of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the giant statues of Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, Maitreya, and Tara, among others), repeating this at the shrines of each individual monastery's Dharma Protector halls, sending a few group representatives to grant individual offerings to all monks in attendance, and finally, sitting in for a brief reception at the host monastery's office.
After visiting Sera Jey and Sera Mey's individual prayer halls, students paid their respects and made offerings at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery (the official seat of the Panchen Lama) on their way out of Bylakuppe.
Back in Mundgod, on Feb.10, students attended the 5:00 a.m. prayers at Drepung Monastery's joint hall, then toured Drepung Loseling and Drepung Gomang. On Feb.11, students joined the morning prayers at Ganden Monastery's joint hall, and later toured Ganden Jangtse. In the afternoon, the group paid a visit to Jangchub Choeling Nunnery to make offerings. On Feb.12, prayers were recited at the Ganden Shartse hall. These included the Lama Chopa Tsog Offering, Medicine Buddha ritual, Geshela's Quick Return prayer, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Long Life Prayer, and the Prayer for the Flourishing of Dharma (Lama Tsong Khapa's Prayer), among others. The event was overseen by the abbot as students again offered symbolic incense, khatas, donations, and prayers. In the evening, students returned to the hall as the Shartse monks partook in a special ceremony to clear away obstacles for the New Year.
Besides engaging in the prayer ceremonies, scrubbing stupas, and circumambulating the campus, students were also deeply privileged to receive brief group audiences with His Eminence Lati Rinpoche and His Eminence Zong Rinpoche. Students too rejoiced at reuniting with other lamas and tour monks they befriended in the U.S. over the course of many years, including those from Lhopa Khangtsen, Geshe Gyeltsen's residential fraternity at Shartse.
Before leaving Mundgod, the group toured Mundgod's two elementary schools, its senior home, and an Indian school for the blind. A pair of doctors in the group led a public health assembly to roughly 200 students of the Shartse Young Monks School and hosted a free clinic day for everyone in community. The handful of students who remained at Ganden over Losar hung prayer flags at the local mount, carrying with them the spirit of all their dharma friends back home.
Altogether, it was a very auspicious, organized, and beautiful visit. It is hoped that a group of TDL students will be present at Ganden Shartse every year for this anniversary - until Geshela's reincarnation is recognized. Key Key So So Lha Gya Lo! (Victory to the Celestial Gods!)
Lama Tsong Khapa Day Celebration
On Friday, December 11, 7:30pm we celebrated Lama Tsong Khapa day at the center. This was a very special day and we had a good turnout.
At Gaden Shartse Monastery in India there were many lights and ceremonies for Lama Tsong Khapa. (Picture sent to us by our spiritual friend Ven. Geshe Norbu from Gaden Shartse Monastery)
Ven. Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen's Funeral Ceremony in India
The holy body of Ven. Geshela was successfully returned to Gaden Monastery in South India. A special funeral ceremony was held for him on the grounds of the new debate courtyard of Gaden Shartse. The ceremonies and rituals performed for our precious Guru Geshe Gyeltsen were of the same type performed for the very highest lamas and the signs and relics that Geshela has given us through this process have proven him to be a very highly realized being. Many of the lamas and monks who have conducted these rites and advised us and explained to us the significance of the cremation process and it's results have encouraged us to expect Geshela to incarnate again quickly. (Continued on Funeral Ceremony page under Newsletter)
Ven. Geshela's Holy Relics were returned to the Center
Geshela's holy relics were brought into the Gompa at the center on Sunday, March 15 with a procession by the monks as instructed by HE Kyabje Lati Rinpoche. Many students attended the event that began at 10:00am and was followed by a Tsok offering. The holy relics were taken to Geshela's room where a ritual was performed, then brought back to the Gompa and enthroned for the Tsok ritual. All in attendence were able to view the relics following the Tsok and were then returned to Geshela's room. Discussions and plans are being made regarding the making of a statue or stupa for the relics.
49th Day Ceremony
A Tsok offering open to all was held on April 2, the 49th day since our teacher Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen passed. There was a large turnout, filling the gompa, with many familiar faces, and students reuniting from distant places, and an impressive mountain of Tsok offerings.
Quick Return Prayer for Geshela by HE Lati Rinpoche
H.E. Kabje Lati Rinpoche composed a prayer for the swift return, incarnation, of Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen; and the translator, Lotsawa, Tenzin Dorjee, Phd. has kindly rendered it into English for us. It is available as a pdf file from which you can print it out.
A Thank You to Everyone Who Donated to Ven. Geshela's Funeral Ceremonies
Thank you very much for your kind contributions towards the cremation ceremony and fire offering rituals performed for the Very Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen at Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. His Eminence Lati Rinpoche, His Eminence Zong Rinpoche and the Venerable Abbot presided over the entire proceedings as the assembly of Gaden Shartse Monastery welcomed back Geshela’s holy form. Elaborate traditional rituals and prayers befitting his kindness were offered over the course of many weeks. We have directed your donations toward both individual and collective offerings to the sangha as an expression of our profound gratitude for their prayers and incredible support. Our precious guru Geshela manifested many auspicious signs. He stayed in clear light meditation for three days and during the hour he concluded his clear light state, vibrant double rainbows appeared above our center in Long Beach. On March 1, 2009, when the monks opened his cremation hearth and stupa, they discovered that Geshela left many important parts of his holy body, such as heart, tongue and eyes, as relics for our faith and devotion. He also left a small right footprint on the ash in the northwest direction. According to an expert monk, these signs indicate that he will be back soon to guide us again on the path to enlightenment. His Eminence Lati Rinpoche, Geshela’s teacher and former abbot of the monastery, composed a special prayer for Geshela’s quick return so that he may teach again. We have published a booklet of this prayer in Tibetan with English and Vietnamese translations. We will continue to recite this prayer until we have the fortune to see the new face of our precious guru and listen to his teachings. We certainly appreciate your prayers, kind donations, and support. May we continue to strengthen our commitment to the Dharma and dedicate all our merits towards the fulfillment of Geshela’s wishes. Sincerely Yours, Office of Thubten Dhargye Ling
A Successful Nyung Ne Retreat
A very successful Nyung Ne fasting retreat was held on Memorial Day weekend at the center. The retreat was led by Ven. Geshe Norbu who provided his able guidance throughout, even though Tenzin Dorjee could help with translation on Saturday only. There were three sessions of Sadhana recitation per day on Saturday and Sunday, and one in the morning on Monday. Each day began at 5:00am.
The Nyung Ne is a rigorous retreat but the students who participated were glad to have the opportunity to once again do this purification practice while remembering the many times we had done it with our late teacher Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen. It was one of his traditions to do this retreat on Memorial Day and it was all the more fitting that this time it marked the 100th day since his passing. A Tsog offering was held following the end of the retreat.
Saga Dawa Events at Thubten Dhargye Ling
On Saturday June 6 there was a special teaching offered by Ven. Geshe Norbu on "Mind in Tibetan Buddhism". There were two sessions, morning from 10:00am to Noon and afternoon from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Tenzin Dorjee translated. Geshela covered the topics of western scientists current interest in Buddhist concepts of the mind, the teachings on mind and mental factors, and the teachings on valid perception and ways of knowing. The next day, Sunday, was Saga Dawa. Geshe Norbu gave a talk on the qualities of the Buddha, and then a Tsog offering was held, open to all.
Statue of our late teacher Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen
Progress is being made to create a reliquary statue of Ven. Geshela for the center. The artist who will sculpt Geshela's face has been consulted and retained and so the creation of the head for the statue has begun. Once the artist has sculpted the head a committee of TDL students will decide whether to approve it and then the casting process can begin. One large statue will be made for the front altar of the Gompa at the center and an undetermined number of small statues will be produced. If you are interested in knowing more please contact Annie at the center.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday
His Holiness's birthday was July 6th and to celebrate that we had a special program for Sunday class on July 5th. There was a short teaching about His Holiness's life, then long life prayers for him as well as quick return prayer for our late teacher Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen, and then tea and cake were served.
A Mountaintop Ceremony
A large number of Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen's students fulfilled one of H.E. Kabje Lati Rinpoche's instructions by having a special ceremony for Geshela on top of a high mountain. Sixty or more of Geshela's students met at the top of the Aerial Tramway in the San Jacinto mountains that overlook Palm Springs around noon on Saturday, June 20. From there we hiked as a group along beautiful trails through the forest and found a spectacular site that overlooked the valley far below and was quite secluded. Here we all, with the leadership of the Shartse monks, recited several texts and did mantras. At a critical point of the ceremony a strong gust of wind howled through the pines that seemed to carry a blessing from Geshela over us and out into the open sky.
Everyone who participated in this sacred event felt that it had been an extraordinary experience. Following this, Tibetan prayer flags were strung in an auspicious spot. Hopefully, these flags will be waving out blessings as a marker of this newly made sacred site for many years to come.