My Dad’s passing and thank you.

Geshe la has asked us to upload this message to you about Jamyang la’s passing.

Jamyang la surrounded by his children, with Dekkyi la behind him.  Behind Geshe la and just to the right is his late brother Phurbu la.

And below, from the Jang Chub Lam Rim teachings 2012, with Dekkyi la to the right, and the late Phurbu-la just behind.

Photo by Kirsti Kilbane

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Enthronement part 1: My Enthronement Day

Hello to all of you who are visiting my website Geshetashi.org.  I am very happy there are  people visiting the website.  I am very happy that some people are making nice comments like how happy they were when they heard I was appointed as the new abbot, and also some have offered deep prayers for its success and prayers for me to have a long life.

So I would like to say first thank you to all those people who have read, visited my website and also made some comments.  Thank you.

I’m going to write about my enthronement as Abbot in two parts.  In this first part I will explain briefly how it went with my actual enthronement.  And then in the second part I will let you know about my trip to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, and the conferences he asked me to join.

After leaving the U.K on 6thJune, I stayed for about a week at my father’s place, which is not very far from Sera Monastery, about a 10 or 15 minutes drive.  There I continued to do the memorisations I would need on my Enthronement Day.  And then on the 15th June, while I was still staying with my father, some representatives came from Sera Mey Monastery, and some representatives from Kangtsen, (my house in the monastery), and my relatives – we all had a small ceremony together.  You have seen this in some of the photos.

Then they took me to the Monastery. First I went to my own house, where my teacher, Gen Thubten Rinchen and my brother Geshe Wangchuk are living and when I arrived there I was met by all the representatives of the fourteen houses of Sera Mey and all the other representatives from the different departments from Sera Mey monastery, such as schools, health, and so forth.  Briefly I paid respect to my teacher.  Then I was taken to the room where I used to stay and there I was given the actual letter of appointment from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s office, and that was given to me by Sera Mey Monastery’s Discipline Teacher and Chanting Master, and a representative of Sera Mey’s main office.

After I was given the letter of appointment, there was a nice throne, and I sat on the throne and then they brought both tea and sweet rice, and after that different representatives offered me the mandala, the body, speech and mind and a long katak.  That was the first official ceremony appointing me Abbot of Sera Mey, which involved  taking me to my house and giving me the actual appointment letter from His Holiness.  So that was the 15thJune.  Which was quite serene as well as apprehensive, because the place where they gave me the letter of appointment was the place where I have always studied with my teacher and so forth.  But instead, this time, I was sitting on a throne receiving all these traditional ceremonial kataks, and offerings.

The next day was partly for resting, and also partly for familiarising myself with my new role, with my teacher giving me more advice and so forth

The actual Enthronement Ceremony was on the 17thJune, and that was very early.  We woke up around 3.30 and at 4am once again had a brief ceremony at my father’s house with my teacher and some other representatives and my friends, and then I was taken to my house in the monastery, which is called Kongpo Khangtsen.  And I was taken by all those representatives with the incense, and we had quite a long ceremony at Kongpo Khangsten, at my house, which the same sort of things happening again and again, offering katak’s with a mandala and with body speech and mind by all the representatives.  There were about forty people offering all this and that finished around 6.30 in the morning.

Then around 6.30 we left Kongpo Khangsten for Sera Mey Monastery.  The gathering took place at the Sera Mey Monastery main temple.  When I approached, the main door was closed.  But as soon as I arrived the door was opened with a particular recitation.  All the Sera monks were attending, there were at least three to four thousand monks there. I was taken into the main gonpa, or hall.  All the monks were chanting a particular prayer and that was again, a very nerve-wracking experience, because as soon as the doors were open, you could hear the prayers, you could see the thousands of monks staring at you.

I made three prostrations with some deep prayers and dedications on my own, and then I had some rice to throw to all the monks: to the centre row, to the right and left and so forth, moving forward.  They initially offered kataks to all the holy images in the shrine, and then they chanted a particular prayer, a prayer written by one of the two main disciples of Je Tsong khapa.  The prayer was written for the celebrations at the second anniversary of his passing away, when Je Tsongkhapa’s throne was offered to one of his two main disciples, Gyaltsab Je and Kedrup Je.  The throne (called Ganden Tri in Tibetan) was offered to Gyaltsab Je, and at that moment Kedrup Je composed this particular prayer, called Palden Yonten in Tibetan, which means ‘Glorious Qualifications’.  And there is a particular verse at the beginning of this prayer, that says a great teacher is taking that throne, and we all wish it to be a success.  And that same prayer is chanted.  So when that particular verse is reached I have to climb on the throne and sit on the throne.  So that was the main or actual enthronement ceremony.  Then there are of course again, repeated offerings, of the kataks and the mandalas, three of body, speech and mind by the monasteries discipline teacher, chanting masters and all the representative of the fourteen houses, and all the different departments from Sera Mey and also Sera Lachi, (that is the whole of Sera), and also Sera Jey representatives.

Then I made offerings to the monks: tea and sweet rice and bread and also some money offerings.  Once those were done, the main morning ceremony at the main temple was over.

With that done, I was then taken upstairs to Sera Mey’s main office, which is like one big open-plan office. There were two thrones there, one throne for me and one throne for the former Abbot.  Once again there are all the representatives of the fourteen houses and the different departments from Sera Mey present.  And then we were sitting on the thrones, me and the former Abbot, we sat on the thrones, and then again all the representatives brought tea and sweet rice.  And then after that the former Abbot stands, and I also stand, and he gives me three big books.  One book is the name of all the Sera Mey monks who are still alive.  One book is the constitution of Sera Mey, and one book is the constitution of the Geluk institution.  And that was a formal handing over from him as former Abbot to me as present Abbot.

Once again were some katak offerings and so forth.

Then half an hour after, Sera Mey’s gong was sounded again, and that meant the debating class had started, so I was taken to the debating courtyard in order to do my recitations to the fourteen classes, one by one. The whole group of debating students, class by class, came in front of me, and I recited the debating text of that particular class that they’d been debating, mainly just about one or two pages for each class.

When that recitation for the fourteen classes was over, I was taken from the debating yard to my official residence, which is located above Sera Mey monastery.  There I was met by my teacher, Gen Thubten Rinchen, and also some official people who again presented the offerings and the kataks and so forth.

Then came what we call in Tibetan, shuk drel, which literally means all of us sitting in a row.  Then people come to make katak offerings as a genuine celebration or you can say in English, offering their congratulations.  So with all the representatives and with friends and family and so forth, altogether there were at least three to four hundred people there. There were also many abbots and ex-abbots there too, and they offered me kataks and gifts and so forth.

When that’s was over, around 12, from my side we offered nice vegetarian foods to the three or four hundred guests. And that is almost over that day except the evening.  Once again I went to the debating yard to observe all the classes while they were debating, and I spent about 45 minutes going one by one to each class.

That was the 17thJune, the main Enthronement Celebration Day.

Coming soon, Enthronement Part Two: my trip to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, and the conferences he asked me to join.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom Podcast with Geshe Tashi is now live

We’re delighted to announce that Geshe Tashi is being featured in ‘The Wisdom Podcast’, a monthly podcast by Wisdom Publications with leading thinkers from the Buddhist world.

Daniel Aitken, the podcast host, has been a great fan of Geshe-la and his Foundation of Buddhist Thought books for many years now.  We think this is reflected in the great rapport between them in this interview, which takes place in Geshe-la’s London flat, a few weeks before his move to Sera Mey Monastery.

You can find the Wisdom podcast here.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Official photos from Geshe-la’s Enthronement

Geshe-la has recently returned from Dharamsala where he had an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  The journey there and back was “a real killer”, he said.  He has had one full day after another at the monastery since, and tomorrow he is leaving for a conference with His Holiness in Delhi.  Despite his busy schedule, Geshe-la has taken the time to send us a selection of photos of his Enthronement day by Sera Mey’s official photographer.

Geshe-la’s Enthronement

Geshe-la has let us know that his Enthronement Ceremony went well.  He has sent us some photos, taken by his brother, to share with you all.  He says that he should be able to send us some more photos and videos taken by people with good cameras later.

Isn’t it wonderful to see him in his new role!

Geshe-la has been in Dharamsala since the 23rd, and will be returning to the monastery on the 28th.  He wanted to let you all know that he will be writing about his journey, his first few weeks and his Enthronement Ceremony after he gets back.

 

Becoming Abbot of Sera Mey Monastery

Soon I will be leaving London for India.

I have mixed feelings about returning to my monastery where I was educated, and where I lived for 18 years.  On the one hand this is a great honour, on the other hand it is a big duty.  On the one hand many of the great teachers and colleagues who were there when I left will not be there when I return.  On the other hand there will be many young and energetic monks at my old college, and I look forward to seeing their debates.

I will be enthroned on the 17th June.  It will be a full day of many traditional activities.  It will be a great honour to follow in the footsteps of the ninety Abbots who come before me.  I will be the ninety first.  At the same time it will be a daunting day.

There are two things in particular I will have to do.  I will have to perform by heart a ngowa, a long dedication ceremony, while all the other monks enjoy tea and cake.  This will be my first test in memorisation.

My second test will be the debate classes.  Each class has its own debate material.  For each class I need to go one by one and give a page and a half recitation by heart from their debate class material. There are fourteen debate classes.

For those who have been studying with me, one of the debate classes will be on the Essence of Eloquence, from the Chittamattra section.

I have one small thing I would like to mention, from the organiser of the enthronement ceremony.  He wants to know how many invitation cards are to be sent to my friends in the West.  I said he will need at least 300 to 400 cards, but no one will come.  Just to have tea and lunch!  So I said, don’t bother to send them.  Although you are all invited, it is practically impossible to come at this late stage.  But I apologise I didn’t send these colourful invitation cards.  I would have liked to have done so.