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Buddhism Travels West

Although Buddhism spread throughout Asia it remained virtually unknown in the West until modern times. The early missions sent by the emperor Ashoka to the West did not bear fruit.


Kunkhyen Lodroe Rinchen Senge

Kunkhyen Lodroe Rinchen Sange was born in Tsang Province to Tantric Yogi Togden Yonten Gonpo. Following in the footsteps of Divine Master Lama Tsong Khapa, a devoted and noble disciple, Kunkhyen Lodroe Rinchen Senge, possessing profound knowledge, a master at the Drepung Monastery, who fatedly left to join Sera Monastery where he formed Sera Jey Monastery and subsequently founded Sera Jey Tsangpa Metsen.
Jetsun Choekyi Gyaltsen( 1464-1544)
One of the most distinguished learned scholar in the history of Sera Jey Monastery. During his time, He has extensively written many volumes of philosophical studies and has authored several discourses on the original works of Lama Tsong Khapa's two closest disciples. Later his works has been incorporated into the Monastic course, which form the integral part of the study curriculum, and is followed to this present day.

The Eighty-sixth Ganden Tripa, Lobzang Gyeltsen (dga' ldan khri pa 86 blo bzang rgyal mtshan) was born in Tsang in 1840, the iron-mouse year of the fourteenth sexagenary cycle. At a young age he matriculated in the Tsangpa House of Sera Je College of the Sera Monastic University (ser byes gtsang pa khang tshan) where he received his basic education and studied logic and epistemology, Prajñāpāramitā, and then Abhisamayālaṃkāra, Madhyamaka, Abhidharmakośa, Pramāṇavārttika, and Vinaya, the five major subjects of the Geluk monastic curriculum. He stood for the traditional examination of Geshe Lharampa (dge bshes lha ram pa) at the Lhasa Monlam Chenmo, the highest degree in Geluk Tradition and a necessary accomplishment for occupying the Golden Throne of Ganden.

Lobzang Gyeltsen then enrolled in Gyume College in Lhasa for studies in tantra and related rituals, including drawing and creating maṇḍala, and prayer-chanting according to Gyume's tradition, and obtained the title of Ngakrampa (sngags rams pa), Master of Tantra. He then served as chant-leader (bla ma dbu mdzad) and then abbot of Gyume, before becoming Jangtse Choje (byang rtse chos rje) at Ganden Jangtse Monastery, one of two posts from which one is elevated to the Golden Throne.

In 1900, the iron-mouse year in the fifteenth sexagenary cycle, Lobzang Gyeltsen ascended to the Golden Throne as the Eighty-sixth Ganden Tripa, and served the abbacy for seven years, until 1907. He resided at the Lamoshar (la mo shar) palace in Lhasa and so derived the title “Gyelpo Lamoshar” (rgyal po la mo shar), and is known in history as Lobzang Gyeltsen Lamoshar.

In 1904, British troops under Colonel Francis Younghusband (1864-1942) invaded Tibet to force trade concessions. The Tibetan army was crushed, with possibly thousands of Tibetans slaughtered by the much more technologically advanced and better trained British soldiers. Forced to leave a three-year retreat, on July 30, 1904 the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso(ta la'i bla ma 13 thub bstan mtsho, 1876-1933) appointed Lobzang Gyeltsen to the post of Regent, gave him his seal, and fled to Mongolia. The Tibetan historian Shakabpa writes that the Trichen was "an honest, forthright person, who could be relied upon in an emergency."

While the two legislative branches of the Tibetan government, the Kashag (bka' shag), the body of ministers, and the Tsongdu (tshogs 'du), or National Assembly, argued over how to receive Yonghusband in Lhasa, Lobzang Gyeltsen called on Younghusband and arranged for him to stay at the house of the Lhalu (lha klu) family, having refused the general's request to stay at Norbulingka.

Lobzang Gyeltsen, in his capacity as regent, signed the so-called “Treaty of Lhasa” at the Potala on September 7, 1904, together with the four ministers of the Kashag, four secretary generals of the Tsongdu, and representatives of the three main Geluk monasteries, and witnessed by the Qing representative. In addition to establishing a permanent British representative in Tibet, the treaty was also designed to settle border disputes between the British Raj in India and Tibet, and to exclude Russian influence on the Plateau.

Lobzang Gyeltsen retired from the Golden Throne in 1907 after completing the standard tenure of seven years. The Third Tsemonling, Ngawang Lobzang Tenpai Gyeltsen (tshe smon gling 03 ngag dbang blo bzang bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan, 1844-1919) was his successor. Lobzang Gyeltsen continued to serve as the Acting Regent as the Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa in 1909.

Details of Lobzang Gyeltsen's death are not known; a reliquary was built and installed in the Sera Je Monastery in his memory.



Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin

Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche Lobsang TenzinVenerable Gyudmed Jangtse Choeje Lobsang Tenzin was born in the Fire-Pig element (in Tibetan cyclic year) year 1935 in the Tibetan Tsang province of Lhatse. At the age of 10 he received initiation into monk hood at the native Lhatse Choede Monastery. And on reaching the age of 25 he moved to Lhasa to join Sera Jey Monastery to pursue higher studies, received affiliation at Tsangpa Khangtsen; and became a formal member monk of Sera Jey Monastery & its affiliate Tsangpa Khangtsen.

Upon his 25th birth year in 1959, Tibet was under the verge of total occupation by communist Chinese troops - inflicting destruction & persecution to Tibetans - lay & monks. Fled Tibet and escaped into India to take refuge in the year 1960. At the special conservation program set by His Holiness The Dalai lama & His exiled Tibetan Government in - exile in India, for preservation & promotion of Tibetan Religion, Language & Culture at Buxa in the state of West Bengal, he served as lopon - Dharma teacher & instructor.

Upon the re-establishing of The Gelug Monastic University here in exile in the South Indian State of Karnataka; he continued with his studies at the re-established great seat of learning - Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe; and successfully completed his Lopon (Master in Buddhist Philosophy) & the Lharampa Geshe (Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy). He received the prestigious & highest monastic academic title of Lharam Geshe in the year 1978.

Following then, on the recommendation of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, he offered his service at Gyudmed Tantric Monastery. And in the year 1981, he was appointed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama for the post of Lama Oze (The lead lama) of Gyudmed Tantric Monastery, and was specifically recommended to restoring the Tantric, Sutra & ritual practices of the monastery's traditional culture.

In respect to all his significant service & contribution to Gyudmed Tantric Monastery, he was formally appointed as the Monastery's Abbot in the year 1984 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. On successfully completing the service of Abbotship for three years, he returned to affiliate Sera Jey Monastery, where he rendered his teaching service of immense knowledge in Buddhist Philosophy, culture & experience in Ritual practices to thousands of pupil monks of Sera Jey Monastery. Besides, venerable Gyudmed Khensur has also given his precious time to offer his renowned Dharma service to many Buddhist Centers & Organizations in Europe, America & South East Asia in the past many years.

The overview of Venerable Gyudmed Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin's accomplishment in Dharma, its service & practice has been significant & far reaching on many aspects - respectable & memorable in the history of Tibetan Buddhism & other spheres of Buddhism.


Khensur Lobsang Tsering
Born in Phuntsok Ling in 1923. At the age of five Rinpoche became monk at the Gaden Phuntsok Ling Monastery. In 1940 when Rinpoche was 17 years old joined Sera Jey monastery for further Buddhist studies. Rinpoche under the guidance of famous Buddhist Masters Sera Jey Tsangpa Trisur Lhundup Tsondu, Sera Jey Khensur Tsangpa Geshi Lhundup Thapkhe, Geshi Ngawang Gendun has done extensive studies of Buddhist Philosophy and mastered the arts of debating.

Khunsur Rinpoche was imprisoned for about ten years by the Chinese from 1959 and has to go through inhuman tortures. In 1969 Rinpoche escaped to India and rejoined reestablished Sera Monastery. Rinpoche completed his Geshi Lharampa Degree in 1972 obtaining 1st position.

Khensur Rinpoche served Sera Jey Monastery's disciplinarian for two years and later in 1987 Rinpoche was appointed abbot of Sera Jey Monastery by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since joining Sera Jey Monastery in India Khensur Rinpoche has been giving teaching for novice monks. Khnsur Rinpoche has travels throughout the world giving Dharma discourse.


Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Donyoe (1925-2009)
Rinpoche was born in 1925 in Lhatse village in Tibet. At the age of nine Rinpoche became monk in Lhatse Chode Monastery. In 1943 at the age of 19 Rinpoche joined Sera Jey Monastery for further Buddhist Studies. Rinpoche under the guidance of famous Buddhist Masters Sera Jey Tsangpa Trisur Rinpoche Lhundup Tsondu, Sera Jey Khensur Tsangpa Geshi Lhundup Thapkhe, Geshi Ngawang Gendun has done extensive studies of Buddhist Philosophy and mastered the arts of debating.  

Rinpoche came into exile in the year 1961 and joined fellow Sera monks in Buxa to continue study. From 1967 Rinpoche remain in Varanasi Tibetan University. From 1971 as guided by Tibetan Government in Exile Religious Department joined Gumed Trantric College for further studies on Tantrayana remain there till 1979. From 1980 Rinpoche as asked by Geshi Sopa visited USA to give teaching. In 1999 Rinpoche was appointed Abbot of the Sera Jey Monastery by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Rinpoche has served as abbot for five years. Rinpoche contribution as abbot is immense through drafting new discipline for the Monastery that it is very much appreciated by the monks. It has enhanced the monks for studying more profoundly on the Buddhist Philosophy. Rinpoche has been traveling extensively throughout the world giving teaching and spreading messages of Peace.


Geshe Sopa
Geshe Sopa Recognized worldwide as one of the great living spiritual masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is particularly renowned for maintaining the high standards of scholarly learning while personally embodying the qualities of humility, tolerance and compassion. Though trained in his youth in one of the most rigorous Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, Geshe Sopa’s life work has been centered in the heartland of America. Here, Geshe Sopa has spent forty years inspiring all those he meets—as a Buddhist monk, a university professor, a committed peacemaker, a consummate teacher and as an extraordinary human being.


• Geshe Sopa’s abilities were apparent from a very early age in Tibet, leading him to be selected as one of the scholars to personally test His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his final examinations – even before Geshe Sopa had completed his own examinations.
• Just two years after many Tibetans were forced into exile by the communist Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked Geshe Sopa to travel to the United States, giving him his lifelong mission of bridging cultures and sharing the Dalai Lama’s vision of global human values and ethics.
• Geshe Sopa was the first Tibetan to be tenured in an American university, and went on to teach Buddhist philosophy, language and culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 30 years. During that time, Geshe Sopa trained many of this country’s first generation of respected Buddhist scholars and translators, including Jeffrey Hopkins, José Cabezón and John Makransky.
• Geshe Sopa founded Deer Park Buddhist Center in 1975, after students began requesting instruction outside the formal academic setting. Deer Park today remains a full-scale monastic and teaching center upholding the Dalai Lama’s tradition in the Midwest, attracting students from around the world to its annual programs.
• Geshe Sopa has facilitated an ongoing relationship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which His Holiness has visited five times, and from which he has received an honorary doctoral degree.
• As a trustee on the international committee for the Peace Council, Geshe Sopa has traveled to Belfast, Jerusalem and Chiapas in Mexico as part of Peace Council projects to work toward ending the violence in those troubled areas, reflecting Geshe Sopa’s heartfelt commitment both to public service and to non-violence.

For generations of students, Geshe Sopa has been a shining example of the human capacity for developing kindness and wisdom. With his international support, a solid tradition behind him and his own personal qualities, Geshe Sopa has been the guiding force behind the Deer Park Buddhist Center and Monastery, and has been instrumental in planting the roots of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States.


Geshe Lobsang Tengye
Born in 1921 and entered Lhatse Monastery at the age of six.
Following the Chinese invasion and after two years of forced labor , he went into exile in India where he obtained the highest diploma in monastic studies, that of geshe Lharampa.

He was the official representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Thailand for seven years.

At the request of Lama Yeshe, Geshe Lobsang Tengye accepted to come and teach at Vajra Yogini Institute in 1980.

After having been the resident teacher for more than twenty years, he continues to reside at the Institute. He accepts to teach at least one week-end a year.


Yangsi Rinpoche
Yangsi Rinpoche Born in Katmandu, Nepal, in 1968, Yangsi Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnation of the Geshe Ngawang Gendum, a scholar from western Tibet, at the age of six. He trained in the monastic system for 25 years, starting his studies at age ten, and graduating in 1995 from Sera Je Monastery in South India. After completing more studies, in 1998 he came to the West.

Yangsi Rinpoche (whose name means "precious reincarnation") had the desire to teach and benefit Western students of the Buddha dharma, and since then he has traveled extensively in America and Europe. For five years he was the resident teacher at Deer Park Buddhist Center in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Yangsi Rinpoche was also the Spiritual Director for Ganden Shedrup Ling Buddhist Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Recently at that center, the first group of students completed the initial phase of a two-year program of study and practice. This program is based on traditional Tibetan curriculum, but it is tailored to modern students of the Buddha dharma.

Yangsi Rinpoche is President of and on the faculty at the Maitripa Institute, a new Buddhist University in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches regularly. Yangsi Rinpoche teaches in English, and has found a ready Western audience for his unique blend of the Dharma and of Western culture. His embodiment of the compassion and wisdom of the Buddhist path is obvious to all who he comes into contact with.

Rinpoche has a deep understanding of the traditional teachings and a gift for explaining them in contemporary language. He also has a good understanding of Western metaphors and the Western mind.