How Five Powerful Lamas Are Changing the World

A recent series of teachings given by Lama Jampa Ngodup Rinpoche at Rabten Choeling Monastery in Switzerland saw the powerful convergence of some of the world’s most eminent, influential Gelug lamas today.

Among the many photos of Lama Jampa Ngodup’s visit, the writers of were especially taken by this heart-warming image of five of our lineage’s holiest lamas seated together.

We would like to take this opportunity to share with our readers some information about these lamas and their wonderful contributions to the growth of Dharma in the world. May this inspire thousands of practitioners everywhere to excel in their practices and continue to bring this lineage to the ten directions.


Speaking up for Millions

We have also chosen to highlight these lamas for their firm courage in upholding the practice and lineage of Dorje Shugden, in the face of so much opposition and suppression from their own Tibetan government and community.

Lamas such as H.E. Gyumed Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche is known by every Gelug practitioner for being an erudite scholar, for writing brilliant texts and for being the abbot of one of the most powerful monastic institutions alive today, Gyumed Tantric College. But because he did not support the ban on Dorje Shugden and chose instead to continue his practice, he had to leave his monastery. He has since joined Shar Gaden Monastery and continues to maintain very close affiliations with the many lamas who are currently shunned by Tibetan Buddhists everywhere for their practice of Dorje Shugden.

How is it that we can acknowledge his incredible contributions to Dharma and revere him as a highly knowledgeable, practiced abbot, but negate every thing he has attained because of his one practice of Dorje Shugden? How is it that lamas like Gyumed Kensur were ‘approved’ by the Dalai Lama to be the abbots of the greatest monastic institutions of the Tibetan world if they were really so terrible and engaged in such ‘harmful’, ‘evil’ practices? Is the Dalai Lama – who we believe to be Chenrezig – capable of making such glaring mistakes in appointing the ‘wrong’ people to uphold the lineages and practices?

Others, like H.E. Gonsar Rinpoche, have been instrumental in bringing Dharma to people across Europe and Asia. With six centers in Europe and two in Asia, Gonsar Rinpoche has risen to great prominence within the Buddhist world and garnered a very strong following. But he too is excluded from the mainstream Tibetan Buddhist world. This incarnation of Gonsar Rinpoche was even recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Again, would His Holiness make such a terrible mistake to recognize someone who would engage in ‘harmful’ practices (as they claim Dorje Shugden to be)?

It must be noted that all these lamas are extremely well respected and loved the world over not just for their singular practice of Dorje Shugden. They have been key figures in the dissemination of the most fundamental teachings of the Gelug school of Buddhism – the Lamrim, the core practices of the lineage such as Tsongkhapa and Vajrayogini, teachings on Bodhicitta and lojong etc. The fact that the Gelug teachings and lineage are continuing to flourish in the most unlikely places – far corners of Europe, in China, even in India under the watchful eyes of the Tibetan government – is due entirely to the kindness and perseverance of these strong lamas.

If nothing else, it is enough to consider their stalwart determination, patience and loving willingness to continue teaching despite the fact that everything has been against them because of their spiritual choices. Whether someone is familiar with the intricacies and politics of the ban on Dorje Shugden, it is perhaps enough to look upon just these five great lamas and see how they are continuing to work entirely for the welfare of others in the face of opposition, hatred, discrimination and even physical threats. If anyone perfectly embodies the teachings and shows us what it means to really practice, it would be these lamas; not the ones on the other side of the fence championing the destruction of a religious practice.


Five Powerful Lamas

H.E. Lama Jampa Ngodrup Rinpoche

While much is known about the many lamas who fled Tibet in the late 1950s, much less is recorded or spoken about the many other courageous masters who remained in the Land of Snows these many decades. Now, as China begins to support the revival of Buddhism throughout the country, Lama Jampa Ngodrup is emerging as an instrumental figure in bringing back Buddhism to people of China.

Having studied under the masters Jampa Genga and Rinchen Gonpo Rinpoche at Sera Monastery in Tibet, Lama Jampa Ngodrup is particularly known for his powerful Lamrim teachings and his spread of Dorje Shugden’s practice. Today, he continues to give Lamrim teachings and transmit the Dorje Shugden sogtae to thousands, including the incarnation of the exalted master Zemey Rinpoche and other highly regarded tulkus.


Further reading:

Lama Jampa Ngodup Rinpoche’s Teaching Visit to Switzerland
Tribute to Lama Jampa Ngodup Rinpoche
Lama Jampa Ngodup Rinpoche’s Teaching, Markham, Tibet
Dorje Shugden Initiation and Tsongkhapa Long Life Initiation
Zemey Rinpoche’s Incarnation Receives Dorje Shugden initiation


H.E. Tenzin Rabgyä Rinpoche

The young Tenzin Rabgyä Rinpoche is the unmistaken incarnation of the extremely respected, incomparable Geshe Rabten, known throughout his life for being an erudite scholar and great meditation master. So profound was his practice that he would have remained in meditation if not for the Dalai Lama’s direct instruction to him to travel abroad to teach.

This he did willingly and with great influence, which eventually led to the establishment of what we now know as Rabten Choeling, one of the leading Dharma institutions in the West. Now that his unmistaken incarnation is back, he is being raised and tutored perfectly by the closest disciple of his previous life, H.E. Gonsar Rinpoche. From a very early age, this young Tulku showed powerful signs that he was indeed the incarnation of Geshe Rabten: he spontaneously gave his first teaching when he was 10 on the subject of refuge, speaking in the same distinct manner as Geshe Rabten.

We wish him all the best and a long teaching career, as beneficial and successful as that of his predecessor.


Further reading:

Rabgyä Rinpoche Celebrates His 25th Birthday
Tenzin Rabgye Rinpoche


H.E. Gyumed Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche

As a former abbot of Gyumed Tantric College, Gyumed Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche is widely respected throughout the Buddhist world for his unsurpassable Dharma knowledge and excellent writings. He is held in exceptionally high regard within the Gelug tradition – so highly honored that he would have been a candidate for the most supreme position of Gaden Tripa. (It is only because he chose to continue his practice of Dorje Shugden and transfer to Shar Gaden Monastery that he no longer became eligible for this position).

Gyumed Kensur received his monastic training from Gaden Jangtse Monastery and studied under the greatest masters of our time, including H.H. Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Zong Rinpoche, Phara Rinpoche, Geshe Samten Kenrab and Geshe Nyima Gyaltsen. He attained first place in the Geshe Lharam examinations (the highest monastic degree) and also completed a thesis at the prestigious University of Varanasi in India. After serving as abbot of Gyumed Monastery, Kensur Rinpoche entered solitary retreat and now devotes much of his time to writing.

At the height of the controversial ban against Dorje Shugden, Gyumed Kensur courageously stepped forward and spoke on behalf of thousands to question the logic behind the ban. He wrote a clear, pointed open letter to all Gelug monasteries and Sangha that expressed clearly why the conditions of the ban made no sense and was “unacceptable” and “impossible” to abide by.


Further reading:

An open letter by Gyumed Kensur
A biography of Gyumed Kensur (French)


H.E. Gonsar Rinpoche

The current Gonsar Rinpoche is recognized as the 5th of this incarnation lineage and spent his early years studying in Sera Monastery under Geshe Rabten. He has also received teachings from the greatest lamas of the land, including H.H. the Dalai Lama and Trijang Rinpoche. He left Tibet in the late 1950s, where he began to learn English and Hindi; by this, he became instrumental in translating Geshe Rabten’s teachings to Western students.

Today, Gonsar Rinpoche is the Spiritual Director of Rabten Choeling Monastery in Switzerland, established by his guru Geshe Rabten in the late 1970s. This organisation has since also expanded to other centers in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Hungary and the Czech Republic), Nepal and Sri Lanka, all of which Gonsar Rinpoche is also the Spiritual Director. He is now one of few teachers in the West who are able to clearly transmit the teachings authentically in the students’ own languages – English, French, German or Tibetan.

After the passing of Geshe Rabten, Gonsar Rinpoche developed Rabten Choeling in Switzerland to what it is now – a flourishing hub of Dharma practice where many of the world’s most renowned Shugden lamas converge regularly for initiations and teachings. Under Gonsar Rinpoche’s directorship, Rabten Choeling has been graced by the presence of many holy lamas, including H.H. Trijang Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche and Lama Michel, Kensur Gyumed Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Geshe Thubten Trinley.


Further Reading

Inauguration of Jangchup Lamrim Temple, Lumbini
Trijang Rinpoche Visits Europe 2012


Geshe Thubten Trinley Rinpoche

As one of Geshe Rabten’s closest disciples, Geshe Thubten Trinley has risen to become a highly revered lama within the Gelug lineage, often invited by the monasteries to give teachings and preside over prominent religious festivities such as the Great Prayer Festival (Monlam Chenmo), prayer sessions and initiations. He is especially known for his powerful teachings on Buddhist philosophy, such as Lojong, Lamrim and Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara.

Geshe Thubten Trinley began his monastic education in Sera Je Monastery, studying under the most eminent teachers of our time, such as Geshe Rabten, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche. As well as excelling as a Dharma scholar, Geshe Thubten Trinley is also famed for having entered a Lamrim retreat in Dharamsala and engaging in deep practice all his life.

Today, Geshe Thubten Trinley is based in Rabten Choeling Monastery in Switzerland, teaching the current incarnation of Geshe Rabten, the Venerable Tenzin Rabgyä Rinpoche. He travels to Shar Gaden Monastery at least once a year to give teachings and initiations.


Further Reading:

Great Prayer Festival at Shar Gaden
Shar Gaden Monastery Lamrim teaching by Venerable Geshe Thubten Trinley

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2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. We are indeed blessed to have these 5 highly attained Lamas and many more who are holding steadfast to their vows and promises to continue to choose to be reborn in a form that holds the Dharma, to continue to do lots of works to spread the teachings to benefit many ! With folded hands !

  2. it is a rare gem to have so many devote and attained lamas in one picture. Individually, Just viewing their photos is already a blessing, what more when all are together in one picture.

    These are lamas of attainments and actively work to spread the dharma and are courageous in holding on to their faith and devotion to Dorje Shugden.

    May we also gain courage from viewing these great lamas and walk courageously on our path.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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