Trijang Buddhist Institute (TBI) located at Northfield, Vermont in the United States, is where Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, the incarnation of one of the most important and prominent lamas of Tibetan Buddhism in the modern era, H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, eventually retreated to after coming under tremendous pressure for refusing to cease his practice of Dorje Shugden after a ban on the Protector practice was decreed.
Although not a monastery per se, Trijang Buddhist Institute is nevertheless an important seat within the Gelug lineage fully authorized by the 101st Ganden Tripa to preserve, represent, and transmit the Buddhist teachings of the Gelug tradition. If the previous Trijang Rinpoche was described as “a vast reservoir from which all Gelugpa practitioners of the present day received ‘waters’ of blessings and instructions” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, then it is from here that Dharma continues to set its high water mark by virtue of its principal resident-Spiritual Director.
TBI is unique in that whilst preserving the complete teachings of the Dharma in the Gelug tradition, it has as its goal to spread the principles of Tibetan Buddhism to interested people, both of religious and non-religious backgrounds, and to work for the good of all sentient beings. Today TBI offers a wide range of classes and activities ranging from the study of the Tibetan language and culture, courses on pujas and meditation, and intermediate studies of the Dharma right up to advanced Vajrayogini retreats. In this way, TBI’s draw of people to the Dharma is eclectic and diverse.
Clearly, TBI is recognized by many as an institution that correctly upholds the rudiments of Dharma and has even received His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s blessings. One of TBI’s precious objects of veneration is an autographed photo of His Holiness addressed to TBI with His good wishes and prayers for the Dharma to flourish.
Translation of dedication on photo
This object of veneration is offered to Trijang Buddhist Institute with the prayer that the Buddha’s teachings flourish, that all sentient beings may obtain the treasure of the Dharma, and that they may live in happiness and virtue. Signed: Dalai Lama, Buddhist Monk. May 9, 2007
It is noteworthy that although the Dalai Lama initiated the Dorje Shugden ban in 1996 supposedly for the reason that the Protector practice is not in accordance with the Dharma, TBI was very well received by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the then 101st Ganden Tripa Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche in 2007 and 2009 respectively, despite H.H Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s continued propitiation of Dorje Shugden.
History of Trijang Buddhist Institute
Trijang Buddhist Institute was once home to Seitz Dairy Farm. In its early days, TBI was known as the Institute for Visionary Leadership, first founded by Rae Ann Barkley in 1986. Barkley taught classes at Norwich in peace education and service leadership. She was a disciple of the Venerable Domo Geshe Rinpoche, and it was under Domo Rinpoche’s guidance that the Institute for Visionary Leadership was relocated to Northfield in 1995, where TBI now is. Over the years, the center expanded to its current 354-acre plot through progressive donations and support as TBI continued to establish itself within the local and global community.
Barkley was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist Nun, Ani Tsering Lhamo by Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche and it was her wish that TBI be offered to Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche to fulfill his mission of benefitting all sentient beings. Barkley passed away in March 2004, and 6 months later, the Institute for Visionary Leadership was formally gifted to Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche and became known as the Trijang Buddhist Institute.
The buildings on the estate have been restored and beautified, including the 1790s farm house that now serves as the home of TBI’s resident teachers. A barn circa the 1880s has been refurbished and partitioned and now serves as the Gompa, Bookstore, Office and Dining Hall complete with a commercial kitchen.
Spiritual Director of Trijang Buddhist Institute
Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche was born on 15th October 1982, as the reincarnation of the late H.H. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, one of the foremost Tibetan Buddhist Masters of our time. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang was a heart disciple of the great lama H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and amongst his many great deeds, he was also the philosophical assistant and then the junior tutor to the 14th Dalai Lama.
Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche is well known for editing Pabongka Rinpoche’s Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand – one of the most-studied Lam-Rim texts in the Gelugpa lineage. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche also authored the definitive text on Dorje Shugden, entitled Music Delighting An Ocean of Protectors.
In his present incarnation, Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche is the 18th incarnation of an eminent line of Buddhist masters. This supreme reincarnation was discovered in a Tibetan family in Northern India and was officially recognized by the 14th Dalai Lama on 23rd April 1985.
Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche studied under many esteemed gurus and his root gurus were the erudite Kyabje Lati Rinpoche and Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche. At present, Trijang Rinpoche is furthering his studies under the guidance of H.E. Dagpo Rinpoche and H.E. Yongyal Rinpoche with the assistance of a study helper, Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok.
How blessed the Buddhist world and the people of Vermont are, to have this eminent high lama, Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, return to turn the wheel of Dharma. And how fortunate that a stalwart of such an important practice as Dorje Shugden’s is beginning to teach again, both at TBI and around the world.
Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s Recent Teachings
- Trijang Rinpoche in Mongolia 2014
- Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche leads Vajra Yogini Fire Puja
- H.H. Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche accepts Tenshug from Shar Gaden
- Trijang Rinpoche Confers Oral Transmission of Dorje Shugden
- Trijang Rinpoche Confers Initiation in Europe
- Trijang Rinpoche Confers Dorje Shugden Initiation in Mongolia
Resident Teachers and Staff in Trijang Buddhist Institute
While many Dharma classes are conducted by Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche personally, he is ably supported by two qualified Geshes (holders of the equivalent to a Doctorate in Buddhism).
Geshe Lobsang Sopa
Geshe Lobsang Sopa, a contemporary of Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, is a highly accomplished Geshe who completed his studies in all aspects of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. As a young boy, Geshe Sopa received his ordination vows and studied in Ganden Shartse Mahayana University.
Throughout the years, Geshe Sopa received countless teachings from great masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, and many others.
Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok
Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok was born in 1969. He started his education in a Tibetan school for seven years before joining Ganden Shartse Mahayana University at the age of 12.
It was at Ganden that Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok was ordained as a monk by Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. Throughout Geshe Phuntsok’s monastic studies, he received guidance from illustrious teachers such as Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Sharpa Chojay Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche and Geshe Tendar.
Geshe Phuntsok completed his monastic studies and was one of the brightest Geshes in Ganden Shartse. He was later selected to assist Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche in Trijang Rinpoche’s studies of philosophy in Europe, and has continued to assist Trijang Rinpoche till today in TBI, Vermont. Besides his passion and dedication to teaching Buddhism, he is also skilled in creating sand mandalas and in Tibetan ritual arts as well as chanting.
Geshe Cheme Tsering
Geshe Cheme Tsering is a highly qualified Buddhist teacher. He studied in the Central Institute of Tibetan Higher Studies from 1972 to 1976 before joining Ganden Shartse Norling College as an ordained monk from 1976 until present.
Geshe Cheme received his “Geshe Lharampa” degree in March 1996, the highest degree awarded by a Tibetan monastic university after 15 years of intensive studies. In May 2007, Geshe Cheme Tsering was invited to TBI to take up a post as a Resident Teacher, and officially assumed this position on September 16, 2008.
Geshe Cheme has a diverse role and is a valued member of TBI. Besides being skilled in performing sacred rituals, guiding meditation classes, introducing Tibetan Buddhism to new members of TBI and chanting prayers, Geshe Cheme is highly praised in his skill to translate Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s teachings in the English language.
Venerable Tharchen Lobsang
Venerable Tharchen Lobsang studied in the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala from 1962 to 1974. At the age of 15, he was ordained by Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. Since then, he has studied Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy at Ganden Shartse University in south India, where he received many great teachings from many great Buddhist masters.
When the current incarnation of Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche was recognized by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama in 1985, Venerable Tharchen began attending to the young Trijang Rinpoche until the present. In TBI, besides attending to Trijang Rinpoche, he gives Tibetan language classes.
Mrs. Kunsang Dechen
Mrs. Kunsang Dechen was born in Leh/Ladakh India. She is the daughter of Venerable Drigung Rinpoche and Gangchen Drolma. Kunsang has two siblings, an elder brother, the recognized Kagyupa Lama Ayang Dupchen Rinpoche, and a younger sister, Dolma Lhamo.
Kunsang finished her middle school education in Leh/Ladakh and her high school education in New Delhi. Following that, she went on to the all women’s Jesus and Mary College at the University of New Delhi, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2002.
In addition to her regular education, Kunsang Dechen has received many Tibetan Buddhist teachings and initiations, has assisted in the translation of Buddhist texts to English from Tibetan.
She has also coordinated and performed meditation retreats, understands and observes monastic protocol, and performs many duties such as corresponding with other Tibetan spiritual leaders, all of which qualify her to perform official Temple duties and rituals and assist the Dharma teachers.
Venerable Tashi Jamyang
Tashi Jamyang was born in Lhasa, Tibet in 1933. At the age of five he was offered to Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang by his parents. Under the guidance of Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang he studied in Nyarong Sha school in Lhasa for eight years.
At the age of fifteen he was ordained as a Buddhist monk by Rato Chuwar Rinpoche. In 1959 he fled from Tibet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. Since then he attended to Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang and now to Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche.
Events in Trijang Buddhist Institute
TBI is a non-profit educational and religious organization and conducts events and teachings throughout the year. For detailed timing and dates on their activities, please visit the TBI website’s activity calendar.
You may also leave your contact details on their website to receive more information about TBI’s activities directly from their administrator.
May many more Dharma centers manifest in the world and share the same vision as TBI, and may everyone meet, be protected and guided by the king of Protectors, Dorje Shugden himself.
Trijang Buddhist Institute
210 Morning Star Lane|
Northfield, Vermont 05663 USA
Telephone: 802-485-4140 (8 am – 6 pm EST)