Enthronement part 2: my trip to see His Holiness

The next part of my enthronement story is my trip to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Initially I requested an audience with him by email, and His Holiness’s office responded by saying that the 25thof June would be the best time, after his visit to Europe.

So my brother Geshe Wangchuk and I set off for Dharmsala on what was to be a very, very tough journey.  First of all, we spent five hours in a car, driving from Sera to Bangalore.  Then we flew to Delhi.  We arrived relatively early in the morning in Delhi.  Even so the temperature was above 41 degrees, it was really burning.  But we had a nice air-conditioned car to take us to a hotel run by Sera Mey monastery.  We rested there until  7.30 that evening.  Then we took a twelve and a half hour bus journey to Dharamsala, arriving the next day around 8 in the morning.

One of my brothers, Yamphel, was waiting for us at the bus station.  He took us to his place, which is a place from his work.  He is the director of Sambhota Tibetan Schools, so he has that official residence, a simple, bungalow type house. Geshe Wangchuk and I rested there the whole day.  The next day early morning we were asked to come to His Holiness’s residence at 8am, so we were there at 8.  There were many Indian people going to see His Holiness, and there were other Tibetans – one lama, and also one geshe who is the newly appointed abbot of Drepung Loseling monastery.  We were asked to wait until all the Indian audience had finished.  In addition there was a pre-arranged live brief talk and Q&A from Melbourne, Australia, and so His Holiness’s schedule was running quite late.  So we were told we would need to wait until 11 am, but there was no problem – we were all served with tea and so forth.

Around then, one of His Holiness’s attendants asked me to come with him.  I approached His Holiness in his official rooms, in his own chair.  It was a very nice change, because in the last few years whenever I have met him it has been mainly in a hotel – in Europe in different hotels.  But this time was in his residence.  Seeing him very relaxed and so on was very nice for me.  He gave me some good advice, and one of the pieces of advice – of course most of the advice was on how to run the monastery, particularly around the monastery’s educational programmes, but also that the monastery should have the ability to provide good teachers for the ordinary Tibetans as well as non-Tibetans – but one of the pieces of advice His Holiness gave me was very interesting and surprising.

His Holiness asked me when I’m going back to the UK, and I said, “No, I’m not going back.   I’ve resigned from Jamyang.”  He said, “Okay, you have resigned, but you should go back to the UK and continue to keep your connection with the people with whom you’ve built a connection over the last twenty-something years.  It is very important to keep that connection.”

That was a little bit surprising advice for me, because I had decided I wouldn’t visit Europe for at least two years, but His Holiness said I should go at least once a year to lead classes and keep a connection with those people I already have a connection with.  So, that was quite surprising advice.

Then His Holiness asked me to join an interview with two other people (this newly appointed Abbot of Drepung Losling, and another person, a young lama).  We were taken to a bigger room and asked to sit together, and he explained some of his visions.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama usually outlines three visions. Out of those three, one of them, from within the teachings of the Buddha, and particularly from those Nalanda masters, is to extract Buddhist psychology and epistemology, Buddhist logic and philosophy and to try and make them available to non-Buddhists in educational institutions, and to other ordinary people.  His Holiness has been working hard to do that. He asked me and this other Geshe to join a conference that was being organised by the New Delhi Chief Minister.  They had invited His Holiness for that conference.  It is called “The Launch of Happiness Curriculum”, and it is led by this New Delhi Chief Minister. There were about 5,000 educators and teachers, and some students who attended on the 2nd of July.  His Holiness asked us to join because he wanted to say to these people, “We have institutions, like Sera, Ganden and Drepung, which can provide them with good teachers to really bring genuine happiness without any religious content.” And in that context he wanted to introduce me and this other Geshe.  So, that was also quite a surprise for me.  It was very good advice, so we both accepted, of course.  But I also had to return to Sera first, so that same day in the evening, my brother Wangchuk and I took the return 12 hour bus journey back to Delhi, staying in Delhi during the day.  In the evening, we flew to Bangalore, then from Bangalore to Sera, once again we took the five hour car journey.  We arrived really early in the morning the next day.

Then I had two full days of activity at Sera Mey. The first day was for the master who wrote the commentaries on some of Sera May’s great texts – the ones we use to study -particularly the Madhyamika teachings and also Abhisamaya-alamkara teachings.  This yearly anniversary of his death was also the first day of my joining in with and participating fully with the monks.  I needed to give a brief talk about this master.  Then the next day there was a full day performing prayers for protection.

After that I needed to go back to Delhi on the first of July, do the same journey – 5 hours back and forth from Sera to Bangalore, then again fly to Delhi, and the next day join the conference.

That conference was quite interesting because His Holiness was the chief guest, and there were other education leaders who gave talks. And me and the new Drepung Loseling Abbot were asked to join the lunch for His Holiness and some of the other chief guests.  So there His Holiness talked a lot – sometimes in English so all the guests could understand.  That all finished the 2nd of July around 2pm.  Then we went back to the hotel for a shower because it was extremely hot, and then back to Delhi to fly back to Bangalore, where a Sera Mey car was waiting for me, to take me back on the 5 hour journey to Sera.

So all that was part of my enthronement as the newly appointed Sera Mey Abbot, which included going to see His Holiness to seek his advice.

Now, my first meeting with the heads of the different departments: education, health, school, and finance, and representatives from the 14 houses, is arranged for the 8th of July, which will come soon.  That will be my first time leading the actual meeting as Sera Mey’s Abbot.  There I will talk briefly about what my priorities will be as Abbot, and I will also share with them the advice His Holiness has given me.  Then I’m going to visit each department, day by day, and try to learn all about those things.

So, this is what I have been doing in my first month or so after leaving London.  I hope to share with you more of my coming activities once again in my later news.

Thank you and bye bye!

Also as I said at the beginning, people who read and also give comments, I’m very happy with that, thank you for that too.

 

Bye bye,

 

Geshe Tashi

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Enthronement part 2: my trip to see His Holiness

  1. Sam Pehrson

    Dear Geshe-la,

    Thank you for sharing your enthronement story with us. What a full schedule you’ve had! I hope that you are staying well despite all the long journeys, heat and responsibilities.

    Most of all I am grateful to His Holiness for giving you the advice to keep coming back to the UK and keep a strong connection with us. I was so happy to read this! Especially given how important your work is now to support the education at Sera and His Holiness’ projects in India, it means a great deal and it is humbling that our study and practice is also important to His Holiness and that he thinks it is also a priority for you to continue to support us. I hope this means we will meet again sooner than we thought.

    Very best wishes,
    Sam

  2. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Thank you so much for sharing another vivid account for us. It feels as though we are there with you! I echo Sam’s post. We are certainly very fortunate to be able to continue our connection with you and through you, with His Holiness. It will be wonderful if you can manage to return once a year but hope in a relaxed way. Only 34 Centigrade promised here tomorrow, but not so many air conditioned facilities around!

    The conference and HH’s plans sounded very interesting. Looking forward to Volume 2 of ‘Science & Philosophy’ when it comes out in English.

    Thank you so very much once again.

    Sending warmest good wishes!

    Jane

  3. Rosa

    Dear Geshe Tashi

    It sounds like HHDL has compassionately spoken for us in advising you to keep your connection with us, so much to our delight, now you cannot refuse! Many of your friends and students might also like to visit you in India so please do keep us updated of any activities or events that you may be planning. I hope we won’t have to ask HHDL to intervene again…

    It was very kind of you to start this website and update your blog so often despite your many commitments and time-consuming travel arrangements. I personally didn’t want to burden you with comments and posts when you were so busy. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want you to be homesick and missing us too much so I decided that maybe it’s better to stay in touch. I think you can get Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in India.

    We are busy navigating the sea of red tape to buy our new centre in Leeds. I was very sad when I heard that you were moving to India but also excited that you might be able to share your insight and experience with the geshe-las and geshe-mas of tomorrow to ensure the quality and continuity of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings in the UK and other countries.

    You won’t need to travel from Sera Mey to Leeds by bus so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need help getting here, you have family and friends to look after you here too. You can get in touch with us by email through the admin team.

    Hopefully see you soon

    Rosa

  4. Eva

    Dear Geshe La, Ken Rinpoche
    with joy I read your posts about the arduous enthronment day and the auspicious visit to His Holiness. How wonderfull His Holiness mentioned to be connected with us in Europe…!
    I wish you time for yourself to peacefully settle in, to care for keeping yourself in good health surrounded by good friends and family and a wonderfull time with all the young and senior Monks in the Monastery. How exiting!
    My heartfelt greetings at the moment from Bellingham/LOJ where I take part of Pari Rinpoches teaching.
    Eva

  5. shelleyfolland

    Dear Geshe la,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences through this blog. It is a great joy and very humbling to have this way of connecting with you. I feel really honoured to be able to read about your life as abbot and it is so interesting to hear about your enthronment and meeting with His Holiness (I echo the other comments in being delighted to hear that you may be visiting the UK). It certainly sounds like you have a busy schedule and has made me realise that the heat I have been complaining about here in the UK is perhaps not so hot after all!

    I so enjoyed listening to the podcast interview the other night but was only able to listen to half of it at the time so am just deciding whether to finish listening now or wait until the rest of the family are here. Robert has said he would really like to hear it and I’m sure the children would too (I think Oran particularly will enjoy hearing about why you decided to become a monk!).

    Our very best wishes to you,

    Shelley

  6. Judy

    Dear Geshe-la,
    It’s been so very interesting to read the blog about your enthronement – particularly in Part 2 where you detail your meeting with His Holiness. How wonderful for us westerners that you’ve been advised to visit us soon ! And how marvellous for the schoolchildren in India that they have ‘happiness’ as a subject on their curriculum.
    I also heard your Wisdom podcast & Gordon has shared with us the interview that will be in Mandala magazine soon. You’re so far away but we feel a close connection with you ! Hurray for 21st century technology ! Wishing you every success with all your upcoming projects & thank you for the communication – long may it continue.
    All good wishes,
    Judy

  7. Raymond

    Dear Geshe Tashi
    Thanks for the vivid description of your new life; after all these years listening to your teachings online I have not realized how dear you are to me.
    It is wonderful you might be coming regurlaly back to see us.
    Try not to exhaust youself, all the best
    Raymond

  8. Chrissie Martindale

    I also echo everyone’s delight that his holiness has asked for you to come back West to teach classes and keep your connection at least once a year. Thank you also for taking time to write to us in such detail, it really feels as if I can hear your voice and experience it with you.

    I am intrigued as to where you are walking now that you no longer have the Beautiful London parks on your doorstep.. If it would not be too much trouble could would you send us a picture of where you like to go sometime.

    As always, wishing much joy and success for yourself and your community and of course your new project bringing happiness to others.

  9. Volker

    Dear Geshe-la,

    thank you very, very much for keeping the connection with us and for keeping us updated about you, your life in India and the Gelug tradition. I appreciate very much and enjoy reading your posts. It nourishes my heart.

    The very best wishes from Austria,
    Volker

  10. dannyyork

    Dear Geshe-la,

    I humbly just want to add a small note of thanks for your taking the time and committing the energy, at such an extremely busy time for you, to share your journey with us. It is fascinating to learn of the details of your role and engagements.
    Just as much as it is thrilling for the many of us that feared a prolonged disconnection with you, our cherished teacher and guide, to be able to remain in contact and hear of the possibility of you returning to the UK soon. I’m sure I speak for many when I wish that all of your efforts and endeavours go smoothly and very successfully and thank you for including us in them, also that I eagerly await news of your next visit to the UK.

    Best Wishes

    Danny
    York – UK

  11. Viviane Lightfoot

    Dear Geshe-la
    Thank you so much for posting your blog, with so much detail and warmth (pun not intended, but there it is…), especially since you have such a busy schedule and workload.
    I am so glad to hear that you will hopefully be returning to give classes maybe once a year, and much appreciation also to both you and His Holiness for his advice to you if this can be brought about. That news helped me resolve some uncertainty about how to move forward on my path.
    Also lighting up encouragement for me was your description of your interview with His Holiness on the subject of extracting Buddhist teachings to make them available to many others in a non-religious way, and the dialogue between Buddhism and Science.
    So my heartfelt thanks, take good care of yourself (and from me please ask the Sera Mey monks to take good care of you) and stay well

    Warmest Regards
    Viviane Lightfoot

  12. franciscab

    Thank you Geshe-la,
    This was very interesting to read and I am very appreciative of you taking the time to write about your experiences for us. Especially since you have such a full schedule. I can understand feelings of nervousness and intimidation at all the new experiences! Thank you also for describing your visit with the Dalai Lama and for the photos.
    Congratulations and wishes for peace as you enter this new transition!

  13. Sue Godden

    I just want to echo the sentiments of everyone else who has posted here. I was initially saddened to hear that we were “losing” you to Sera Mey, but at the same time overjoyed at the news that you were so well thought of by His Holiness that you were selected for a post that not only was very prestigious but would bring you so much closer to your family and loved ones. I hoped that in time there would be an opportunity to come and visit (I still hope that will happen one day) but the news that His Holiness has requested you to maintain our connection and to visit the West regularly makes my heart sing!

    That trip to Dharamsala sounds grouling, but I’m sure was worth it for you, and although it’s a lot of work, I’m sure you enjoy attending the conferences His Holiness requests you to attend. Just please, don’t forget to take care of your health.

    Looking forward to reading about the next stage in your Sera Mey adventures.

    With love and respect

    Sue Godden

  14. Francoise

    Dear Geshe-la,

    Yes indeed, thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to give us some news. This is so very kind of you.

    When we talk about teachers visiting the West, I always think of Geshe nuns whom we haven’t had the pleasure yet to receive teachings from in our centers. Is there a chance someday we could have the great joy to receive teachings from these great teachers too ? This would be so wonderful ! I think many people would be happy to witness their great qualities and wisdom through receiving teachings on the great texts from them. For us women, it would be such a great inspiration too. And to see what is available for us, should we be inclined to undertake Geshe studies.

    I am thinking for example of Geshe nuns from Jangchub Choeling Nunnery. Is their nunnery very far from Sera Mey ? Will you go and visit them some time ? I personally would have loved to go and study with them, and of course learn Tibetan intensively first… Had I been younger, with more stamina to go through the long hours of studying, debating, etc. , I would have gone to Jangchub Choeling Nunnery. Ten years ago, I thought about that a lot when I was in Nalanda. I often think of them.

    Just sharing thoughts …

    Thank you again Geshe-la,
    Françoise

Leave a Reply