The Father teachings (Phacho) refer to the writings
of Je Tsongkhapa
and his two main disciples.
The Son teachings (Bhucho)
include authentic exegeses by their direct disciples and the later
scholars of the Geden tradition.
Transcript of First GPB Conference
First Conference on Geden Phacho Bucho on 29th June 2006
Organised by Geden Phacho Bucho Preservation Centre.
DVD English sub-titles
His Holiness’ Message
A new centre named the Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation Centre has been set up
with the following aims and objectives:
To preserve the Sutra and Mantra teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa that are intact and to
revive those that are declining. This task has been taken up by the eleventh
incarnation of Lelung Shepei Dorjee.
I wish to greet all the participants at the opening ceremony of the Geden Phacho
Bhucho Preservation Centre: His Eminence Gaden Tripa, Shartse and Jangtse
Choejes, the Prime Minister of Tibetan Exiled – government, high Lamas, Tulkus,
Geshes and scholars.
At this critical juncture in the history of Buddhism, as per the goal of the Centre, it is
important to discuss in a frank and free spirit about finding and bringing together all
the existing Empowerments, Oral Transmissions and Pith Instructions that are extant
both inside and outside of Tibet. However, it is more important to apply these
teachings within each and every individual as the old adage, “the followers of the
Buddhas should emulate his liberating life story”.
Master Gungthang Tenpae Donme says:
Disciplining externally through the moral practices of Sravakas: Inspiring self-
confidence internally through the two-phased yoga of Tantra; and unifying the noble
paths of Sutra and Tantra without contradiction: O Victorious Lobsang! May your
teaching flourish far and wide.
As such we should endeavour in promoting the teaching. In particular, with regard to
Dolgyal (Shugden), a very harmful spirit to the Geden tradition, the Great Fifth Dalai
Lama recognized him as a violator of samaya who had made evil prayers and,
therefore, subdued him; later, numerous great Masters of Gelug tradition, like Trichen
Ngawang Chokden, successively prohibited his worship. And now, this duty has
fallen upon our shoulders. Therefore, it is important for us not to lax in our effort.
With my prayers for the fulfilment of all the prayers and dedication of Lama
Tsongkhapa and his Spiritual Sons.
Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama, a Bhikshu in the tradition of Shakyamuni’s.
On 4th day of 5th month of 17th Rabjung Cycle – fire dog year
29th June 2006 (Seal affixed)
Lelung Rinpoche will give a talk about the origin and projects of the centre.
With deep prayers from the Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation Centre, I Lelung
Tulku, on behalf of the Centre, wish to extend a warm welcome to His Eminence
Gaden Tri Rinpoche; their Eminences Shartse Choeje and Jangtse Choegje; His
Holiness Kalka Jetsun Dhampa; Denma Lochoe Rinpoche; Ling Rinpoche; Kalon
Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche; Mr. Lobsang Nyima, Minister of Religion and
Culture; Ex-Kalon Tripa Mr. Kelsang Yeshi, Director of Norbu Linkha Tibetan
Cultural Centre; Geshe Thupten Phelgey and Geshe Jigme Wangyal, the Gelugpa
representatives at ATPD; the venerable abbots and ex-abbots of the four major
monastic universities – Gaden, Sera, Drepung, Tashi Lhunpo and other monasteries;
also the two Tantric Universities; and Tulkus and teachers from other great monastic
centres of learning; Geshe Lhakdor, the Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and
Archives. As the Chairman of the Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation Centre I pay
my deepest respect to you all. Tashi Delek to everyone!
Today, what I would mainly like to talk about is that the precious teachings of Buddha
Shakyamuni – scriptural and insight – which are like refined gold, contained in Sutras,
Tantras and their exegeses, have a continuous blessing of transmissions and initiations
until now. Our forebears have sacrificed themselves for the sake of the people of Tibet
to preserve and promote them by practising the Three Trainings and studying the
Three Baskets for over a thousand years. They have led countless fortunate beings
into the Dharma and fulfilled their own and others’ goals. This is something we
should take pride in our history. However, due to changes in society this Golden
Dharma flourished and declined at different times in our history.
At the present critical time, the teaching of the Buddha, and specifically the lineage of
Gelug tradition which encompasses both Sutras and Tantras, the empowerments, oral
transmission, instruction lineage and discourses, is almost like the setting sun, and the
shadow of the peaks casting over the river. This is a fact that all of us are aware of and
it is our responsibility to preserve whatever noble transmissions are still alive.
Therefore, I, Lelung Tulku, have sought advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
revered upholders of the Dharma, who are dedicated to the teachings of Je
Tsongkhapa, day and night, His Eminence Samdhong Rinpoche and others, by
discussing this matter not just once but in a series of discussions. We must find the
sacred lineages of Initiations and Transmissions wherever they are now, whether
inside or outside of Tibet, or in the eastern and western countries. The future
preservers of the teachings must receive those teachings from those who are holding
them and transmit them to higher persons who uphold the teachings in order to
prevent the lineage from declining.
We will produce a catalogue of the Gelug lineages, discussing their origin, its masters
and how it survived. Based on some of those received lineage notes and for the
preservation of the Geden tradition, I have started this small centre. Like a water from
a vase to another and a stone from one hand to other, the Geden lineage will be
preserved in its entirety and prevented from its continuity diminishing, and a new
catalogue about its history will be created.
For this reason, I am going to put in all my efforts and energies to preserve our sacred
Geden lineage. Here I wish to specifically clarify something: We have set up a centre
known as Geden Phacho and Bhucho Preservation Centre, which is our main office.
Yet, we have no intention to promote and glorify our office only. It seems difficult
and odd to work or implement a project without setting up an office or a committee.
As for the centre, we don’t intend to make it rich and famous by spending so much
money. The committee is mainly set up and named to accomplish its aims and
objectives. As it is said, the teaching of the Buddha is twofold: the Scriptural and
Insight. ‘Practise it by upholding and teaching it’. Therefore, we are committed to this
Whether Lama Tsongkhapa’s philosophical insight and his ethical conduct were right
or wrong, and whether he revived the teaching or not, is not only praised by Gelug
masters, but great masters of other Buddhist schools also praised him. Here I quote
some of those praises: the translator Taktsang Lotsawa, initially objected to
Tsonkhapa, but later developed faith in him and said: ‘When the sun of your mind
shone, The lotus of Sutra and Tantra blossomed. Seeing this, the lotus of my mind
closed’. Sasang Lotsawa said: ‘When Nagarjuna and his followers are no more here,
no one is apt to teach the middle way. To crush the peak – like reification and denial,
You turned into the downpour of thunderbolt’. Karmapa Mikyoe Dorje said: ‘When
most people in Tibet just misused the teaching of the Buddha...O Tsonkhapa! You
clarified and revealed the pure teaching’. Karmapa Wangchuk Dorjee said: ‘In the
teaching of the Buddha you taught the middle free of extremes. I bow to that
Conqueror who taught that all phenomena exist in conventional terms, not ultimately’.
Dukpa Pema Karpo said: ‘The qualities of the Buddhas, can not be measured on a
scale; To you, the worthy Crown Jewel in this dark age, O Omniscient One! I
prostrate to you’. The great Nyingma master Ju Mipham said: ‘Without adulteration,
You explained the different scriptures, correctly and accurately; so, you are the
The new way of preserving Geden Phacho Bhucho lineage for the future generation is
a system for our masters to receive the complete Geden transmission from qualified
lineage holders and to pass them to Lamas, Geshes and monks of the three monastic
seats and Tantric Universities and so on. Once passed, each student would receive a
complete transmission of Geden Phacho Bhucho lineage. Henceforth, we would have
the Geden Phacho Bhucho lineage for a generation and we need not worry about
broken lineages, like in the past, nor do we have to doubt about losing it again.
Moreover, in the future even if the transmission could not be given but once within a
generation of people, it would not be a matter of concern for us.
If we do not envision and execute this kind of important project for the future, the vast
and profound teaching of Master Tsonkhapa which is flawless, complete and orderly,
as we heard earlier in the praises of Lama Tsonkhapa by the masters of Nyingma,
Sakya and Kagyu traditions, it will be hard to preserve for long the lineages of the
transmissions, as done by past masters.
In the past, the great Dharma kings, penditas and translators created catalogues for all
the translated teachings and their legacies still reverberate amongst us today in all
their glory and attraction. Likewise, today as followers of the teachings of Master
Tsonkhapa, all of you sholar–adepts gathered here will be sharing your valuable
thoughts and visions, based on which we would greatly benefit in creating a new
catalogue for all the works of great masters of Gelug tradition; and the lineages of
Sutra teachings and Tantric transmissions, wherever they are we need to search and
introduce them in the Geden Phacho Bhucho catalogue.
Most importantly, the excellent precious golden teaching of Master Tsonkhapa, the
continuation of its lineage – initiation and transmission – which is like a wish-
fulfilling gem, I pray that it doesn’t diminish but prosper and spread everywhere.
Also, may His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who commands the entire Buddhist world,
live long and his noble activities flourish; and may all his aspirations and wishes come
true soon. I make all these prayers on behalf of Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation
Centre, on this twenty-ninth day of July 2006.
Next, I request Kyabje Shartse Choeje Rinpoche to give his speech.
Lelung Rinpoche told me once that he had prepared a conference regarding the
preservation of Geden Lineage. We must appreciate and thank him from the core of
our hearts for his efforts. I have been able to personally express my appreciation to
him as well. Today he is officially executing the work of his Centre. Therefore,
Rinpoche has a great vision and accordingly has brought out an agenda for us and I
urge everyone to feel free to give your suggestions and advice on the agenda through
meaningful discussions to fulfil the aspirations and visions of Lelung Rinpoche. I
hope our discussions would bear fruit, and I wish to express my sincere support and
prayers for this project.
At the moment, Lelung Rinpoche has just started the Geden Phacho Bhucho
Preservation Centre. Today is just the beginning of the project and he still has a long
way to go. Therefore, I request al of you to offer your sincere positive thoughts for the
success of this project and please express your views frankly, during our actual
discussions regarding the matter at hand.
Now I request Kyabje Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche to give his speech.
Out of the various religious traditions of Tibet, the highly revered Master
Tongkhapa’s tradition is one to which we owe our responsibility in preserving its
lineages of initiations and transmissions. Regarding this, I don’t need to repeat what
Lelung Rinpoche has read in his speech; it was quite detailed. Generally, the teaching
of Master Tsongkhapa is one which is known to encompass the entire teaching of the
Basic and Great Vehicle systems, including Tantrayana. There is such a saying, as our
masters used to recount, although it is not called by the title ‘rime’, non-sectarianism,
this tradition seems to encapsulate all the religious traditions prevalent in Tibet. The
two late Spiritual Tutors of His Holiness the Dalai Lama often used to tell us this
story: Amdo masters have said that many religious traditions had developed in Tibet
prior to Master Tsongkhapa, all of which were like precursors to the reform
movement of Master Tsongkhapa; that Master Tsongkhapa consolidated what those
traditions had prepared. Kyabje Ling and Trijang Rinpoches, the Tutors of His
Holiness often told this saying of Amdo masters. The main point that I would like to
mention is that due to some bad circumstances and misfortune, the Buddha’s
teachings has been declining in general. Buddhism in Tibet suffered hugely under the
atrocities meted out on the land and people of Tibet.
At that time, many teachers were murdered, some died trying to flee and very few
managed to come into exile! Only a few elderly Lamas and the two Tutors of His
Holiness were able to escape to India. That is why many transmissions have become
hard to find and they are on the verge of discontinuing. Still, we should find great
elderly masters who hold rare transmissions, in exile or in Tibet, like Amdo region.
We should gather together whatever transmission is available. For a start, as Lelung
Rinpoche said, we should consult the teaching lists of Phabongkha and Trijang
Rinpoches and find out how many transmissions amongst them are alive and how
many broken. Of those who are alive, if His Holiness the Dalai Lama has the
transmissions, we may also have received them, except for a few we may have
As His Holiness often says, apart from his two tutors he receives transmissions from
masters of the other Tibetan traditions intending to make up for Gelug lineage.
Therefore, it is the noble wish of His Holiness and he is not very old yet, for as long
as he is alive, it falls upon us to work hard to fulfil this vision. What is more
important now is to receive those transmissions that are with out masters older than
him. Other than that, here in exile some lineages may be with masters from central
and Tsang regions. His Holiness asked me to check about Lamas in Amdo, like Tashi
Kyil, some were there, one had passed away. Lyabje Panglung Rinpoche once tried to
go there but, as we know, he could not accomplish the mission. Perhaps, there are still
a few elderly Lamas like him around.
So, we need to find and receive the transmissions from them. Particularly, I don’t
think there is much point for the older generation like us to receive those teachings.
Due to our age, except receiving them for ourselves, we would not be able to pass
them on. If the younger Lamas could receive them, it would be more effective and
enduring. As for us, even if we received them we are here only for a few years and
then we will be no more here. Therefore, all the young Lamas and Geshes should put
in more effort. Please bear this in your mind. Thank you.
Next, I request H.H. 101st Throne Holder of Gaden to deliver his speech
As said in his praise, ‘Tsongkhapa, the Trailblazer of the Snow Land’, Master
Tsongkhapa established a Buddhism that never existed in Tibet before, a system pure
as gold. In general, there can be no new-found Buddhism as such, which was not
already there, but over the centuries, Buddhism has slightly declined in terms of both
Sutra and Tantra systems. Since Master Tsongkhapa revived the dharma, he was
renowned ad the ‘Trailblazer of the Snow Lane’. There cannot be a newly created
teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha, which was not taught by him. However, the
tradition of Master Tsongkhapa is renowned as ‘the pure gold-like teaching’. Until
1959 this tradition was transmitted successively from masters to disciples and
flourished everywhere in Tibet.
The situation then was almost like only Gelugpas prevailed in Tibet. Since 1959,
when there was a drastic change in our situation, by the grace of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, we have been able to re-establish all the four great Buddhist traditions in
Tibet, including Gelug, in exile. However, as we need to do slightly better, today
Lelung Rinpoche has initiated this project.
Generally, we call the nature of the Tibetan government administration a union of
religion and politics, which I suppose means that the political policy of the
government is linked to religion. Otherwise, I don’t think this unity has anything to do
with the spiritual practice. It would be impossible to do a flawless religious practice
through a union of religion and politics. We need to differentiate between two things:
where to coordinate religion and politics and where not to. Otherwise, it is difficult to
apply the union of religion and politics everywhere. I think it would be difficult to
develop spiritual realization through the practice of such a union.
The teaching we preserve, administer and promote is of two: Scriptural and Insight.
There is no other teaching as such. Vasubandhu says: the sacred teaching of the
Teacher (Buddha) embodies the Scripture and the Realisation. ‘It is upheld through
preaching and practising it.’ This is how the teaching is preserved. As His Holiness
said the other day, the ultimate purpose is the practice of the Dharma and studying the
teaching and reflecting on it are its preliminary factors. Otherwise, you know the
saying, ‘Meditation without study is like climbing a cliff with amputated hands’.
Since we must practice the teaching, we must reflect on it, to gain conviction, and
listen to it as well. Otherwise, our primary goal is to practise the teaching. Therefore,
we should revive and nurture the Kadampa lineage well. Whether we would preserve
it well or not depends mainly on the Gelugpa monastics in exile; the abbots of the
three Seats are present here today. Likewise, the two Choejes and the others who live
here; I think the yolk of Gelugpas are gathered here.
There are many new young monks coming up in huge numbers. So, how we impress
them and what we pass to them entirely depends on the Tibetan Exile government.
Therefore, in order to preserve the pure golden teaching of Master Tsongkhapa, we
must be careful and cautious. Otherwise...If we could take pride in our own flawless
tradition, if we must honour the others for our sake then we would not know where we
would land. If we leave aside our own tradition and indulge in some trifling things,
then I wonder where we would land! I wonder if we can revive Master Tsongkhapa’s
teachings are all!
I think it is difficult to revive the teaching merely through study and reflection. The
Gelug teaching lies in the hands of Gelugpas. Who would care to uphold the Gelug
lineage if the Gelugpas don’t do it? Who else would be concerned about it? The main
responsibility lies on the shoulders of the abbots of the three monastic universities.
They should advise their monks in the methods of study and reflection on the teaching
to preserve the Dharma. We are at a time when we must really be concerned about
this issue. With hundreds of monks debating in courtyards, having great time
defeating the debate partners, if we think that we are preserving and promoting Gelug
tradition, we might be in for disillusionment someday! Mere dialectical debate cannot
preserve the Dharma.
In my view, I don’t think we can preserve it! I don’t think we can! Preservation of the
teaching can be done ‘Only through Practice’; and to practice it we must hear it, for
which we need a Spiritual Master with whom we would study the teaching. This
Spiritual master cannot be just anyone we come across. Not at all! There are many for
whom their purpose of study and contemplation have not struck the right cord in
them. Having studied the scriptures and become Geshes, they seem to mind only
about money, thinking only, “Where should I look for...? Where should I go in search
of money?” Most have become like that and we are aware of it. Are we not? There is
nothing to hide and be secretive about it. Frankly speaking, this is the truth. I also live
in the west. However, in the first place, I didn’t go there looking for money. Some
people sent me an invitation and then I was sent to the west; thus I have been there.
Yet, nowadays, when we hear that certain Geshe has gone abroad, everyone else left
here years for something from that Geshe; this is what happens with us these days.
Why does this happen? It indicates that they have not gained control over their mind.
Isn’t it? It is a sign of not having tamed oneself. If only they could think of is money
after having completed their studies! Actually, we should have the thought to practice,
as it is said, ‘It is only by practising...’ If people make requests and if a qualified
master envisions the importance of spreading the Dharma, then you must go.
It is doubtful how Buddhism and in particular, the Kadampa lineage will be preserved.
It depends, first of all, on how we do our studies and thinking. Thus the venerable
abbots should advise your monks. You should give advice sometimes and then ask the
teachers to instruct their students for taming their mind. Or else, if the teacher doesn’t
bother much, and neither do the students, then there will be no ‘Guru Devotion’.
Without this, then ‘Guru Devotion, the root of the path’, a topic in the voluminous
Lamrim Chenmo, to which nearly half of it is dedicated, and this is a fact about ‘Guru
Devotion’. Owing to its importance there is such a case in Lamrin Chenmo. What is
the teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa? It is thus: With pure morality and much learning.
Proficiency in the practice of bodhichitta and maintaining pure conduct and view;
May I succeed in maintaining an unadulterated teaching of Lobsang Dakpa, the
This is our prayer and it encapsulates Lama Tsongkhapa's teaching. It is in our hands.
It is up to us whether to preserve our sacred lineage or not. Therefore, everyone must
bare this in their mind.
Minister of Religion Lobsang Nyima
As the Minister of Religion of the exiled government, I have been invited and asked
to give a speech. I appreciate Lelung Rinpoche for setting up a centre to preserve the
initiations and transmission lineages of Geden tradition. Not only that, he has begun
work on the project. So, I would like to thank him for his effort. The previous
speakers, like Gaden Tri Rinpoche, expressed the dire need to preserve the sacred
lineage and the transmissions of Geden tradition. So, there is no point for me to repeat
them. Yet, today many of our sacred lineages of transmissions are almost
discontinuing. It is crucial to salvage them and I request everyone to work together in
I am glad that Lelung Rinpoche has also contacted Drak-yab Rinpoche in this
connection. Similarly, we have Kyabje Dhakpo Rinpoche and also Ratoe Kyongla
Rinpoche. I don’t know many high Lamas of Gelug school who have disrobed but
hold the sacred transmissions. However, a custom amongst Gelugpas is that once a
Lama disrobes he is not capable of serving the teaching. Personally, I think this is an
extreme view, although I do not claim I am right. I am expressing my own opinion.
In our Geden tradition, I object to one living cautiously trying to avoid any
confrontation with one another. In my case, for example, when I accompany His
Holiness wherever he goes, I too have to give speeches, during which I speak at
length about Dolgyal in those places where he is being worshipped. Yet, when I
visited Miao and Tezu settlements with His Holiness, there wasn’t any Shugden
worshipper there, so I didn’t talk about it – it was a wastage of time to do so. And
when I spoke about Shugden where I had to, people have afterwards written me
saying that I was nasty for crediting Vidyadhara Phabongkha Rinpoche and Zemey
Rinpoche’s unsuccessful missions to Shugden. They criticised me for having a big
mouth. I had encountered such allegations.
Whether I have a big mouth or not, as I have a responsibility, I wish to say that we
cannot afford to burden His Holiness with all the responsibilities. Also, in His
Holiness’ message today, he has specifically mentioned about Shugden. Wherever I
go, I request all the Shugden followers to stop his worship. I tell them that the Tibetan
government doesn’t hate them. For example, a Shugden devotee from Chatreng who
is living in Shillong, had a son in Taiwan, who rode a motorcycle and had an accident
with a car. So, unless the Home Deptt. of CTA and the Tibet office in Taipei had
authenticated in writing that the boy was Tibetan, his parents resided in Shillong and
that they were entitled to their son’s money, the family were unable to claim a single
penny. So, the government has extended its help in such cases.
As everyone (of) here knows, Aryadeve has said: “The Buddha sees the disturbing
emotions as enemies; Not the beings affected by those emotions.” Using this analogy,
I tell the Shugden devotees that the exile govt. of Tibet is not discriminating them,
that they are Tibetans in flesh and blood; they are part of our Tibetan community; we
give any help and assistance to them like we do to other fellow Tibetans. However,
we ask them to give up Shugden worship, to cut their bond with Shugden. We
appreciate and thank those who heed our request. And we continue to reiterate our
request to those who have yet to heed it.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written in his aspiration for the spread of all
Buddhist traditions, the teaching of Je Tsongkhapa is one which is an authentic
blending of Sutra and Tantra. So, we say that it is not right for it to be negatively
affected because of the Shugden issue. Frankly speaking, the Shugden followers are
running after wealth and money. They take money from China and the communist
Chinese government is using them. We must be aware of this. Why we lost Tibet is
because of disharmony within our society. There were disagreements amongst
ourselves due to which our people gave in to different outside influences. Therefore, I
plead with the concerned great masters of Gelug tradition to definitely advise the
followers of Gelug about this.
I request all concerned to extend your help to Lelung Rinpoche for the preservation of
the lineages and the transmission of Geden tradition without taking it for granted that
Lelung Rinpoche is going to do it. The Centre will surely contact the Densas – Gaden,
Sera and Drepung – in connection with this matter. Whichever monastery or
concerned authoritative masters the Centre contacts, I would like to request everyone
to extend your full support and cooperation. If my speech somehow has been a little
direct and harsh, I just want everyone to know that I wish to honour Buddhism, Je
Tsongkhapa’s tradition, in particular, and the noble vision of His Holiness. Otherwise,
I, Lobsang Nyima, have no personal expectations whatsoever. Therefore, if there is
any (anything) good in my speech, please accept it. And please forget anything which
is not good – I beg your pardon for it! Thank you and lastly, I pray for the long life of
His Holiness. May his aspirations and wishes be fulfilled. Thank you.
Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of Kashag Cabinet, CTA
His Holiness Gaden Throne Holder, the two Dharma Lords (Choejes); Ling Rinpoche,
Lochoe Rinpoche, His Holiness Kalka Jetsun Dhampa, the abbots and ex-abbots of
the respective monasteries, including the three Monastic Universities, the monk and
lay Lamas and Tulkus and other venerable monastics, Lelung Rinpoche, my
colleague, Minister of Religion of the exiled Tibetan government, Mr Kelsang Yeshi,
an ex-Minister of CTA and Director of Norbulingka Institute, as well as other
participants of this conference: scholars, both monastics and lay people.
Today, I have not attended this conference as the Chairman of Kashag Cabinet of
CTA, but I have come as an ordinary and a simple Gelug monk. Lelung Rinpoche has
asked me to cooperate with his project for quite a long time. Officially our Minister of
Religion and Culture is here to greet and support this conference on behalf of the
Tibetan exiled-government. So, whatever I speak today is going to be my personal
view. Lelung Rinpoche has just mentioned in his speech about finding out, on the one
hand, the Gelugpa lineages of initiations and transmissions and secondly, to
systematically catalogue them; and thirdly, more urgent and more important than
these two is to receive those lineages, wherever they are, which are nearly extinct and
to ensure ways to preserve their transmission from discontinuing.
This project is very important. Many people have thought about it but no-one has ever
been able to act on it. So, I have told Lelung Rinpoche, “If you are also considering it,
it’s no use to have it only in your head, but you must be practical”. I don’t recall
whether I spoke to him in a serious mood. Anyway, I usually have a serious look, not
much of a cheerful face! However, I definitely said this to him. So, upon my
suggestion Rinpoche saw the significance and has initiated this project, for which I
am very glad. I hope that the project pulls through to the end. I expect not only the
Lamas and Geshes of Geden Tradition but also monks and lay people to extend their
support and assistance as best as they can; I think they must do so.
I have nothing to add to what was spoken by the Vajradhara Gaden Tripa and other
speakers before me. Therefore, I think there is no reason to repeat it. However, I wish
to make a couple of points to supplement their speech.
In a writing of one Gelug Lama, not too long ago – I don’t recall the author clearly – I
think it was, perhaps in Thonyoe Lama’s works, where he says: Nowadays, the big
monasteries of Gelug tradition, primarily the Three Seats – Gaden, Sera and Drepung
– think the loss of lineages-initiations, oral transmissions and pith instructions – is not
as bad as missing tea at a congregation. He has said that if a monastery forgot to serve
tea at a prayer even once, whether it was sponsored by Govt. or individuals, if they
forgot to serve the tea, the monks will hold meetings, complain and quarrel with the
authorities, demanding why the tea wasn’t served. However, if an initiation or a
transmission lineage is about to be lost, they will remain oblivious and won’t notice it.
He has written thus. I feel he was right even when I was in Tibet.
The principal factor of preserving the sacred Geden Lineage is the educational system
of the Three Seats. In particular, the system of debate, which is a superb tradition,
which we can boast of to the rest of the world. If we don’t have it, I think it is almost
impossible for the deep and vast teaching to be maintained and to flourish. Despite
this sometimes we tend to exceed the limit and it seems that (the) we mainly focus on
debate but, other than that, receiving the flow of pith instructions, finger-pointed
instructions and oral transmissions seems to have been forgotten by these monastics
institutions. It doesn’t seem like it has been not spread from the beginning. When
these study centres were founded, the abbot’s Tsi-shags were given as transmissions
of the texts and their studies after which the monks engaged in debate. Later, this
practice has become a mere ritual, such that the abbots of the monasteries recite their
respective ‘Analytical Critique’ textbooks and the prefect of each class repeats the
same to the abbot.
So, in a year we finish Lamrim, in Loseling, for example, once or twice during
‘Solchoe’ and the ‘Debate of Emptiness’ sessions. I wonder if we covered the entire
Lamrim Chenmo during the tenure of an abbot! When I was in Loseling, we didn’t
finish it during the ‘Debate on Emptiness’. So, regarding the tradition as no more
than a mere ritual and giving no importance to transmission lineages is something that
has developed in the monastic universities later, not too long ago, and I believe this is
a bad custom. I don’t think it was like that at all in the past.
The Sutras and their Exegeses mention about the duration of the teaching of a Buddha
who display the deeds of a Supreme Emanation Body. Take the case of the doctrine of
Shakyamuni, the Fourth Buddha of our time. It is said that this doctrine will not live
after five thousand years, which is divided into three chapters. Why is it said that the
teaching will not survive? After Shakyamuni Buddha gave his teaching, there have
been persons who attained Arhatship, any of the four Fruitions, Buddhahood, the
Bodhisattvas Grounds. So, we should claim that their spiritual realisations are the
Realisational Dharma of Buddha Shakyamuni; and the scriptural knowledge they
embody. For example, Heart Sutra, should be accepted as Instruction Dharma of
Buddha Shakyamuni. These cannot decline or be lost.
As it is said, ‘There is no death to Buddhas, nor can the Dharma be spoilt’, they will
continue to exist. For instance, we can say the ‘Heart Sutra’ in the mind of the Buddha
Shakyamuni, is a teaching of the Shakyamuni Buddha. However, this cannot decline
at all. Then, why should the doctrine become extinct after five thousand years? This is
because after five thousand years, when the ‘Wheel of Dharma’ ceases to turn
anymore, when the Wheel of Dharma started by Shakyamuni Buddha stops rotating,
when it discontinues, it is known as the decline of the Dharma. Many a scholar of
India interprets it thus.
When the Scriptural Dharma which has successively passed uninterrupted from one
person to another, when, starting from the Teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha, someone
down the line has received it in an unbroken lineage, is unable to transmit the teaching
into another person, despite his or her effort to disseminate it, and because of which
the teaching doesn’t grow afresh in this second person, - when this happens, we say
Dharma or Doctrine has set or become extinct. So, we should set this as the criterion
for the downfall of the Dharma. Shouldn’t we?
Therefore, at a time like ours, when the teaching is flourishing everywhere, if the
Wheel of Dharma passed in an unbroken lineage from the former masters hasn’t
grown within oneself, it is quite certain that the doctrine within oneself will decline.
I had the opportunity to speak on the inaugural ceremony of the conference. ‘We
don’t want lip-service Dharma. We must maintain our Dharma pure and unsullied’ - I
think is a great saying. If we don’t have the Dharma within our own being, having
grand prayer halls, plenty of monks and scholars were not of much benefit. Were
they? Perhaps, some people do think that just comprehending the texts through study
and debate is enough and, there is no need for the flow of transmission and
explanation of the texts. I wonder if some people do think like that, though I don’t
know if anyone says it. In that case, we have an old saying in Tibet, which goes:
‘Drumming on scriptures’, referring to dancing while reading scriptures, yet being
unable to sing the dance song from memory. Likewise, one’s knowledge gained by
studying scriptures – should we call it realisation? – this wisdom, I wonder if it’s a
real wisdom gained through hearing. I think we can check whether this is wisdom
gained through listening or study.
When Lord Buddha was alive, with regard to the mandatory seeking of the Abbot,
Acharya and Local Guru, according to both the ‘Qualm’ and ‘response’ of Vinaya,
there is a definite need for a transmitter of the precepts. Hence, the teaching cannot be
heard from anyone just like that. Rather the transmission heard from the Buddha, must
be transmitted by the Abbot to his disciples from whom his own disciples must
receive it. Having received the transmission, when one recites it, then it is known as
recitation or chanting. So, why are the reception and recitation of the teaching by the
new monastics considered as their unique activities? It is because the continuity of
what was heard from the Founder of the Teaching – the wheel of dharma set in
motion by him – must persist on and on. Hence, the need for receiving transmissions.
As for the recitation of ‘Heart Sutra’ after having received its transmission and
without the transmission, if I say that – perhaps, I have got a big mouth – the
recitation without the transmission is not a Sutra, because it does not have the
continuity of the Buddha’s speech and, therefore, it is not a Word of the Buddha.
Some debaters might frolic and jump to ask: Is there a Heart Sutra which is something
other than the Word of the Buddha? Or, is it not the Heart Sutra? They might gleefully
jump to question me like that, but I feel like taking that position. It is my opinion that,
even if a person, without having received the unbroken transmission of Heart Sutra,
reads it in a book, we can say that that Heart Sutra is not a Sutra. I assume it is right to
say so. So, receiving the unbroken lineage of transmission is pivotal.
If I speak from the modern western point of view, there is much debate pertaining to
traditionalism and modernism in the west nowadays. The term for ‘sol-gyun’ in
English is ‘tradition’ and ‘deng-rab’ is ‘modernity’. So, they say that only modernised
people can fulfil our wishes and traditions are of no use for them; many of them say
that we can forget traditionalism. Also, there are different opinions; some support
traditionalism, yet others prefer the coordination of both. There are numerous
interpretations. I didn’t bring this matter up in order to drag us into this mess/problem.
What is meant by ‘tradition’ from the viewpoint of the westerners? One of the most
famous western scholars, who lived not very long ago, but only about fifty or sixty
years from now – he was Coomaraswamy. He was a great scholar from Sri Lanka and
a modern scholar. He has defined the term ‘Tradition’, what it means and what it
refers to. While expounding the meaning of ‘Tradition’, he defined its meaning by
three characteristics or properties. Firstly, it has to originate in a reliable or an
authoritative person coming from a source, a valid cognition. Secondly, its continuity
persisting without a break up to now. And thirdly, one which can stand analysis under
the rigours of logic. By ‘stand analysis’ – you might raise the qualm: Is there
something that can stand the rigours of logical analysis? So, in order to avoid the
argument pertaining to the strict usage of language, it means something which can be
proved through a good logical reasoning. The word in English is ‘verifiable’,
something which, when tested by reasoning, we can prove as being validly such and
such. When something qualifies these three attributes it is called a ‘Tradition’, but not
anything which we have been doing from the ancient time – things which we have
become accustomed to do are not called ‘Tradition’.
Previously, in Tibet, we didn’t take a bath, and we were not bothered by it, it was our
bad custom, and we don’t call this a Tibetan tradition. It was a bad habit of the
Tibetan people. It was just a bad habit, but not our tradition. Therefore, a tradition is
definitely something which originates in a valid source of knowledge, persists
uninterrupted in its continuity and verifiable through good logical reasoning. If these
three conditions are fulfilled, it is called a ‘tradition’. So, when this is asserted for us
also, without looking at something from a religious perspective, but from the modern
perspective of tradition, I think it is crucial to have the Wheel of Dharma, continuing
from one person to the next for an uninterrupted transmission of the teaching.
Therefore, to think that one can learn the Dharma simply by studying the texts, and
that there is no need for the transmission lineages of texts and initiations is
unacceptable because then it will not be a pure teaching of Buddhism. It will not be
the Wheel of Dharma turned by the fourth Buddha of our era, which has flowed in an
unbroken transmission through successive masters and which forms an integral part of
the scriptural and realization teaching of the Fourth Buddha. And it will be doubtful if
it will be a tradition, or a continuity of the Dharma heritage of the Buddha. So,
whether we look at it from the western or our own eastern perspective, there must
definitely be the continuity of the lineages of the transmissions and initiations.
In Tantra receiving Initiations, Guidance Instructions and Oral Transmissions are
quite strict. Isn’t it? And people will commit themselves more to them. Won’t they?
However, in the case of Sutra, we have a tendency of not regarding its explanations
and oral transmissions as important as the tantric transmissions. We somehow have
developed such a habit from the recent past, which I think we must change. For this
reason, as envisioned by the Geden Phach Bhucho Preservation Centre, who have also
organised this conference, this is an indispensable project for us. Yet it has started
rather belatedly. This we should be able to clearly recognise and without losing the
sense of urgency regarding this matter, I think we must continue to work for it in
future and we should be able to do so.
There are works such as making catalogues and recording the history and others in
this project. I am not saying they are unimportant. Of course, they are very important.
However, I don’t think there is much difference whether we write them now or ten or
fifteen years later. Now, those transmissions of initiations and others whose lineages
are with only a few people who are already sixty and above in their age, such that if
we cannot receive the transmissions from them today we will be late to do so
tomorrow. And so this is a grave situation. For this we require a recipient, a teacher
and, of course, benefactors who provide facilities. Therefore, the most urgent case in
the project is that while searching for the lineages of initiations and oral transmissions
and pith instructions, if you learn about someone holding a transmission lineage
which is on the verge of discontinuing, then, in order to receive it from that person,
we should provide whatever facilities are necessary to ensure privilege to your
Lamas, Geshes and monastics to receive the sacred transmission while he is alive,
before he is dead. This has become of grave concern and utmost urgency.
Therefore, please give greater emphasis to this matter – this is what I wanted to
request at this grand conference today. Perhaps, it is difficult to get people who want
to receive the transmission. However, I think so long as they are concerned about the
teaching of the Buddha, it will be okay. In the past, masters of the Kadam tradition
even listened to teachings given by ordinary priests on the roadsides. And they said,
‘Today I didn’t learn anything I did not know, but I did hear something new from this
person.’ Therefore, in order to prevent the initiations and so on from discontinuing
their lineages, as mentioned by the Minister for Religion and Culture, even if we have
to receive the transmissions from a lay person who knows nothing whatsoever, I don’t
think we should hesitate about it.
In respect of perceiving someone as a Buddha, depends on the faith of the student and
not on whether the master is himself a Buddha, I think. Togden Rinpoche, a Master of
Lamrim, says in his Lamrin text, concerning the topic ‘The reason for perceiving
Lamas as Buddhas’. ‘Lamas must be regarded Buddhas because one desires profits
and not a loss.’ This is the reasoning he gives. As a young boy when I saw this
reasoning I burst into laughter. I thought, ‘How strange! The reason he put forth is
quite strange’. Of course, if we argue, ‘Is there logical pervasion in it?’ It is difficult
to say, ‘Yes’. Isn’t it? But when you think it over, it is really a marvellous wise
statement. It’s saying, ‘If one desires gains but not loss, then one must see one’s
Lamas as Buddhas; it is okay to do so.’
When I was in Tibet I heard stories, but I don’t know how true they are. It was said
that in one place, the transmission of the Kagyur – the Words of the Buddha – was
almost losing its continuity. The people there didn’t find anyone to give the
transmission. And then there was a blind old woman who had a lineage of the
transmission. Therefore, a literate person sat beside her read the Kagyur word by word
and let her repeat them. Hence, they prevented the transmission from breaking. There
is no need to check its authenticity. It’s a nice story. Isn’t it?
So, in order to preserve the transmission, our past masters made an old blind woman
repeat the words. Hence this tale of preserving the lineage certainly has some moral
lesson for us to take. Therefore, in spite of the stature of the Lama, we must preserve
the transmissions, especially those that are nearly broken.
Similarly.... There are many qualified Lamas, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
who are alive now. I think it is essential for us to supplicate them in order to request
teachings from them. There are exceptions to give teachings to some extraordinary
beings without being requested by them. But in Vinaya, it is said ‘Do not give
teaching if you are not entreated.’ So, unless people have requested it, you are not
allowed to give teachings to them. Anyway, in Tibet it’s all ritualistic practice. Once
people have gathered for a Tantric initiation, the Lama reads the lines of request to the
disciples and they repeat after him. Don’t they? It’s almost like forcing them to
supplicate. So here, we might as well let the Geden Phacho Bucho Preservation
Centre request as an organisation. I really think it is very important to make our
When we recite the seven-limbed prayer in Sutra, it is said that requesting to turn the
Wheel of Dharma and requesting not to pass away, must be done for very important
reasons. If you read the Indian commentaries on the Aspirations of Samanta Bhadra
making request and doing so before time runs out, for ‘seeking ordination for women’
and ‘not requesting the Buddha to remain alive’ Ananda was punished. So, not
making the request to the Buddha was one of the criticisms against him. Without
bothering whether the Lamas have the lineage of sacred transmissions or not, or
whether they get the time to give them or not, I think it is essential that we always
pray and request them and accordingly receive the transmissions from them.
Long time ago, when Kyabjes Ling Rinpoche and Trinjang Rinpoche were alive, the
Gelug society had set its primary goal to receiving teachings. There were talks about
it, discussions and resolutions on it which were never put into practice. After that.
organisations like Drepung Losel Ling Gulku Association, were formed. Also, other
monasteries have similar association. Their objective was solely to seek and receive
teachings and sacred transmissions. They were able to receive a few transmissions,
but after a few years they have gradually disappeared.
In the case of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as Jangtse Choeje has just mentioned, he
received transmissions of many classic texts which had almost lost their continuity.
He obtained them with great enthusiasm and perseverance. Now, he holds
transmissions of all Five Classic Texts, the Indian texts and such as the Five Levels by
Asanga, and so on, Texts which we normally more or less neglect.
So, His Holiness has obtained the transmission lineages of many such texts. Now
then, he has very little time to pass them on to us. There are many who request His
Holiness to grant the Kalachakra empowerment. Besides, some request him to teach
‘The stages of Meditation’, ‘Bodhisattva Way or Life’ and the like. Other than that,
requests for the explanatory guidance on ‘Bodhisattva Grounds’ and ‘Compendium of
Logic and Epistemology’ are very rare and seldom. Therefore, if Geden Phacho
Bhucho Centre could consider it and do something about it, I think it would be good.
According to our traditional Tibetan calendar, His Holiness is turning seventy-one.
He aspires, and has even agreed, to live long. Yet, due to his physical condition and
age, we should receive as many teachings from him in the next fifteen or sixteen
years, or else, when he is in his nineties, we will be very hesitant, on our part, to
request many teachings from him, and on his part, it will be difficult then. Therefore,
in the next ten – fifteen years, if we wish to receive teachings from His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, we should do so with systematic planning, year after year. It would be
good. That is what I feel.
Projects like this cannot be fully done by the government or its agencies. They must
be done by religious institutions and other non-governmental organisations. This
particular centre is also turning out to be a good non-governmental organisation which
is separate from the monasteries. The very name of Geden Phacho Bhucho
Preservation Centre, I think, the Centre distinguishes itself, and it will be very easy for
you to work. I think the Tibetan exiled-government will gladly provide full
cooperation and assistance to this cause. As a symbol of that support, today the
Minister for Religion and Culture has come to this conference representing the exile
government and gave his speech. That is the reason. Otherwise, as a government, it
has not obligation to interfere with religious affairs as such.
The Dolgyal issue is of great concern, particularly, amongst the followers of Geden
tradition. It is something Gelukpas should think about. His Holiness has clearly
mentioned it in his message today. Even if His Holiness had not expressed it today,
over the years, until now, he has clearly advised us regarding this issue, like a father
to his son. So now if we are not resolute and clear about this issue, but remain
cautious, avoid confrontation, and fearing segregation of some from our society, be
apprehensive about troubles ensuing from them and, therefore, staying idle – I think
this is wrong.
I don’t need to go into detail about this matter. The Minister of Religious Deptt. Has
spoken in great details. Yet, if we are unable to consider this mater crucial, but are left
in doubt and fear of apprehension and, hence, without the courage to face up to it, if
we remain incapable of our due support to Gyalwa Rinpoche, then I think we would
regret it dearly. I have no doubt that all of you will not keep this in mind, but I still
request you to hold it in your mind.
His Holiness is pleased with this project, and he wishes and hopes for its success.
From amongst the younger generation of our Lamas, Lelung Rinpoche, is one in
whom His Holiness has great hope and expectation. Also, considering his own status,
in general, in Tibetan tradition, he is one of the ‘Three Tulkus’ of Tibet. During
Tibetan government ceremonies we say ‘they had the privilege of sitting on triple-
piled soft cushions’. He sat on a pile of three soft cushions on his throne. But these
days as we all sit on chairs, there is no difference of double – or triple-stacked
cushions. Is there? Otherwise, in Tibet, we say ‘they were privileged with triple-piled
soft cushions’ on their thrones.
When I joined Drepung Loseling, it had not been long since the former Lelung
completed his Geshe degree. There were many Tulkus who were beginning their
debate in the courtyard, who knew Lelung at that time. Therefore, not much time had
gone by. The current Lelung Rinpoche was able to flee Tibet on his own and came to
India with great hardships. Now, having reached here after so much struggle, he
should fulfil certain purpose/goal. So, if he could accomplish that goal through this
particular project, there is nothing greater than this.
I am determined to give my moral support to this cause. On my part, for instance, it is
easy for me to talk here. Yet, I will have very little time to work with Lelung
Rinpoche – giving help and assistance on a regular basis. Therefore, it is difficult for
me to make much promise. Even if I didn’t get time to help, I will be there in spirit; I
am determined to give what in English is called ‘moral support’. It is easy to do. This
is something anybody can afford and I wish to say you have my full moral support. I
pray for the success of the Centre with its projects and I thank you for giving me this
opportunity to express my opinion here.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to Gaden Tri Rinpoche and all participants at
this conference, organised by Geden Phacho Bhucho Preservation Centre.
During this second session of the conference, the topic of our discussion is ‘How to
Search for Geden Transmissions and Initiations’. As the moderator for this discussion,
I must apologise for being unprepared on my part. Generally speaking, I am keen on
this kind of project. Regarding this matter, we find in our history books, other
writings and teachings of numerous Lamas, that transmissions of texts and pith
instructions are essential. However great a scholar you may be, if you didn’t have the
transmission lineage, you are deprived of the right to give transmission of texts in
your teaching and, in practice, you will lack the foundation of bearing the victory
banner of realisation. We read in the Prajnaparamita textbooks, ‘Do you have pith
instructions from the previous masters? If not, you cannot compose a treatise.’ From
this we can infer, no matter how well you teach, compose or debate, it is essential to
rely on transmissions and pith instructions, in both Sutra and Tantra as clarified by
Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.
Now, the topic of our discussion is ‘How to Search the Important Initiations,
Transmissions and Pith Instructions’. I wish to say a few words regarding the
procedure of the discussion. In the teachings of our masters of Lamrim, they say the
Dharma must be traced back to the Buddha, like rivers to snow and not earth or rock.
This is frequently mentioned. As said by Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche we should base
on the unbroken transmission of the Dharma, passed on from the Buddha down to our
masters. Whoever gives pith instructions, he must account for its lineage and source in
the former masters up to the Lord Buddha. He should make sure that historically we
can (to) prove its genuineness and clarify its root.
The students should be able to tell their lineage of teachings. Even if Prof. S.
Rinpoche had not mentioned it, I think it is important and we must pay attention to it.
I think there are three principal points for our discussion: The Lamas holding the
transmissions, where they reside and what methods we will use to receive the
transmissions. So, on these three points, I request everyone to discuss. Thank you.
Ratoe Monastery Abbot
When we search for the sacred Geden lineages, we should first look into its
authenticity and the root. I am not sure if we should give every transmission and
initiation on account of their rarity. We should have the lineage Lamas of initiations,
oral transmissions and guidance instructions. As it was said by others, we must check
their authentic sources. If such a worthwhile continuity is found, we should preserve