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.