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.






This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sue Godden

    Dearest Geshe-La

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful description of your special day. It is a privilege for us all to be able to join in, however vicariously, with your Enthronement.

    I think, although I may be wrong, this may be the first time that such a level of detail of the ceremony has been written for a Western audience. If this is true, then once again you have our heartfelt love, admiration and gratitude for sharing this unique memoir with us all.

    With much love and respect

    Sue Godden

  2. Dear Geshe-La

    I also had the same experience of feeling proud and then thinking who is that which feels proud and subsequently realise just how ignorant I remain, despite your profound and skilful teachings!

    I am so happy to read about the enthronement ceremony. I feel like a part of me was there with you. Thank you for taking the time to share all this with us.

    I very much look forward to reading part two and to all future posts. I also felt excited receiving an email that says there’s a new post from Geshe Tashi. Thank you for establishing this connection.

    In my limited, partial and subjective experience, you and His Holiness the Dalai Lama are the most outstanding teachers I have been so fortunate to encounter in this life. Thank you for helping me to dispel the ignorance that clouds this mind and to open my heart to others.

    I pray you may have a very long and healthy life.

  3. Jane Sill

    Dear Geshe la

    Many, many congratulations on your appointment. And many thanks for kindly letting us know about the special day. Certainly not a simple ceremony! By the end of the day you must have really and truly felt that you were Abbot! I am so happy for your father and all the family to be able to share such a wonderful day.

    Looking forward very much to hearing about your visit to HH Dalai Lama.

    Sending warmest good wishes from a very hot and steamy UK! Maybe rains are on their way.

    I hope you have a chance to rest a little now.

    We miss you but are very happy for you at the same time!

    Thank you!


  4. Ruth Pinner

    Dear Geshe Tashi,
    What an honour it is to be able to read the detailed sequence of your day of enthronement, indeed an ethnographic treat, an anthropologist’s delight. More personally for us, it is also a huge honour to feel related, albeit indirectly, to the core of the current riches of the lineage, and from there stretching back across time through the constancy of such a ritual. This note is just a wee addition to the vast cloud of thanks we cumulatively offer you, past , present and future. Ruth

  5. Francoise

    Dear Geshe-la,

    I am joining your regular students to say congratulations on your appointment as the Abbot of Sera Mey, and to send you my warmest wishes in this new role. I am also very happy for you that you are reunited with your father, with your teacher in the monastery, with your house, your friends there…

    It’s really great to receive in my mail a note saying ’’There’s a new post from Geshe Tashi on the blog’’ !… Myself I heard about your enthronement last month, when I consulted Jamyang Center facebook page ! What a great news !! Yes, like so many others, I felt very proud.. of you ! Which is a very strange feeling to have: who am I to feel proud of such a great teacher as you ? Anyway, since the human mind is so full of contradictions, I just accepted it, and continued feeling very proud of you nonetheless !

    I am very grateful that you created the Foundation of Buddhist Thought course, which allowed me to dive deeply into study right from the start, – from the very moment I discovered the existence of Jamyang Center -, back in 2001. One year later, I moved to Lavaur, and was able to continue this same course, amazingly enough at the exact place where I had left it in London ! It’s also where I received my refuge name from you, in the old shrine room upstairs in Vajra Yogini Institute. I felt very proud of this name too: it felt immediately as the most beautiful name in the world ! I sincerely couldn’t have dreamed of a more beautiful name.
    Of course, I can never forget all this… Thank you so much for everything you have done for me and for others, Geshe-la !
    I was then able to continue this deep study for years in Nalanda Monastery, thanks to the kindness of my very dear teacher Geshe Jamphel-la.

    Thank you for writing about how things went for you back in Sera Mey. It’s great to read some details on the different events that took place in your father’s house, in your monastery room, it must have been so moving for you !

    Un grand merci de nous permettre d’avoir de vos nouvelles, Geshe-la !
    Oh yes : thank you too for coming to France Nalanda Monastery, – before moving to London -, and for immediately taking up French classes ! Not many people do that in France ! (Not mentioning anyone, ahah…).
    Prenez bien soin de vous (I know you will).

  6. MKlepper

    Dear Teacher, (in my ignorance I’m afraid I do not know how to correctly address you yet? Apologies for that)

    So happy to be able to hear about your adventures and daily routines. Please remain well, happy… and please always keep posting here.

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