A Tribute to Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

Geshe Rabten Rinpoche was born in January 1920 in the district of Kham, Tibet. A true Dorje Shugden Lama showing every sign of being a highly accomplished master in both Sutra and Tantra, his root-master was none other than the great Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

An extract from Geshe Rabten’s Biography – “Life of a Tibetan Monk”

“From the time I was a small child, I met monks in their maroon robes returning from the great monastic universities near Lhasa. I admired them very much. I also occasionally visited the large monastery in our region; and when I watched the monks debating, I was again filled with admiration. When I was about fifteen years old I began to notice how simple, pure and efficient their lives were. I also saw how my own home life, in comparison, was so complicated and demanding of tasks that were never finished. In order to be counted as a qualified monk in the nearby Dhargye Monastery, one had to spend at least three to four years studying and training one’s mind in the Buddha Dharma in one of the three monastic universities near Lhasa. With the thought of becoming such a monk in Dhargye Monastery, I decided at the age of seventeen to go to one of these monastic universities, although at that time I had no desire to become greatly learned in the Dharma.”

When he was eighteen Geshe Rabten went on a three month journey from his birthplace in Kham in the Eastern province of Tibet to Lhasa in central Tibet where he became a monk in the monastic university of Sera. Very soon teachers and fellow students became aware of his magnificent character traits.

While studying and meditating he went through unbelievable hardship. Hence teachers and fellow students gave him the name ‘Milarepa’. Due to his clear and precise way of logical debate, people compared him to Dharmakirti, the great Buddhist logical thinker.

After having studied for about twenty years, he passed the Geshe exam in front of monks from the three great monasteries. He was given the title of the highest rank, ‘Geshe Lharampa’. This is the greatest honor, which is given by the examiners and by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He also spent many years in solitary retreat, and wrote the book “Song of the Profound View” about his meditation experiences.

In 1964 Geshe Rabten was chosen to be the philosophical assistant of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, whose task is to assist His Holiness when taking teachings from his two tutors as well as to engage in debate with His Holiness on philosophical subjects.

In 1969 the Dalai Lama sent the first Western students to Geshe Rabten and then later, due to the amount of Western students that had accumulated he asked Geshe to move to the Tibetan monastery in Rikon, Switzerland to become the Abbot of that monastery and propagate Dharma.

Geshe Rabten was the first Tibetan Buddhist master to introduce the complete Vinaya-tradition and the study of the five major topics of Buddhism to the West. Hence Geshe became the ‘path breaker’ of the complete and complex teachings of Buddhism in the West. Many masters, who are famous in the West today, were Geshe’s students, namely: Gonsar Rinpoche, Sherpa Rinpoche, Tomthog Rinpoche, Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe, Geshe Penpa, Geshe Tenzin Gonpo, Geshe Thupten Ngawang, Geshe Thubten Trinley and many more.

Geshe Rinpoche was able to bring the essence of the thoughts of Buddha close to the listeners. No matter if the listener was from the West or the East, whoever followed his words felt all the unclearness disappear and in its place a clearness and calmness started to spread in one’s mind. His examples encouraged people to practise sincerely.

Geshe founded the center for higher Tibetan studies, Rabten Choeling at the lake of Geneva (originally Tharpa Choeling), the Tibetan center in Hamburg, Tashi Rabten at the Letzehof, Puntsog Rabten in Munich and Gephel Ling in Milan.

The Passing of Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

This manifestation of the Buddha has no equal. If you are really determined to tame your mind, he will even give you his heart.
Geshe Rabten on Gyalchen Dorje Shugden

The extraordinary signs that occurred when Geshe Rabten passed away in 1986 made his pupils realise that they were witnessing not only the passing of a great teacher but that of a truly enlightened master. During the months after his death, many students experienced an unusual closeness of Geshe during their meditations.

Rabten Rinpoche, the current incarnation of Geshe Rabten Rinpoche

Three years later, Gonsar Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten’s dearest and closest disciple discovered Geshe’s incarnation, and by a thorough series of consultations with various authorative sources including H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, Kelsang Tsering, the son of Mr. Tenzin Dargye and Mrs. Pasang Gyalmo, was confirmed as the true incarnation of Geshe Rabten Rinpoche out of 180 potential candidates.

Kelsang Tsering was given the name Ven. Tenzin Rabgyä Rinpoche and now lives at Rabten Choeling under the tutelage and care of H.E. Gonsar Rinpoche.

In spring of 1998 the ten year old Ven. Tenzin Rabten Rinpoche gave his first teaching in front of a group of two hundred people in the monastery Rabten Choeling at the lake of Geneva. Unexpectedly and unprepared, the young Rinpoche gave people advice on taking refuge. He spoke in the clear manner of Geshe Rabten’s own special way. The listeners were deeply moved and many of Geshe Rabten’s former students had tears in their eyes.

The current Rabten Rinpoche

All of us at DorjeShugden.com make this virtual offering of a butterlamp to the incomparable master His Holiness Rabten Rinpoche, requesting him to remain for another 1,000 years to continue turning the wheel of Dharma and benefiting countless beings.

For more information about this great master, check out these links

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3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Geshe Rabten is another pioneer of Dharma in the West.

    To be called Dharmakirti or Milarepa is not an easy feat to do.

    This is a good article on the perfection of concentration http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Authors/Geshe%20Rabten/The%20Perfection%20of%20Concentration/The%20Perfection%20of%20Concentration%20by%20Geshe%20Rabten%20Rinpoche.htm

    He also held on to this Dorje Shugden practice till his last breath.

  2. It never fails to awe me how much these great masters do to benefit others. They can overcome all difficulties for what they believe to be true and worthwhile.

    Although they don’t need my prayers, I sincerely hope that the work of the current Rabten Rinpoche will flourish and he will continue to benefit Dharma practitioners like his predecessor.

  3. I respect Geshe Rabten a lot. Other than being a pioneer to Tibetan Buddhism in the west, the Dharma centre that he founded Rabten Choeling also helped to protect and preserve the Dorje Shugden lineage until today.

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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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