Enlightened reality in Gaden

by Jamie Khoo, The Star, November 11, 2006

Gaden, Tibet (China) -- One of Tibet’s most prominent monasteries, Gaden, was completely destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution but has since re-established itself in India. JAMIE KHOO visits the new site. 

<< The young and the old work together to contribute to the upkeep and growth of the monastery.

Enlightenment does exist. And its temporary heaven on earth, under a scorching sun, is in a tiny village called Mundgod, in south India. 

One of 24 settlements given by the Indian government to Tibetan refugees when they escaped the Communist invasion in the 50s, Mundgod now flourishes with a profusion of maroon robes and the warm energy of monks. 

A group of 60 pilgrims from Kechara House in Malaysia recently visited the new Gaden Monastery there under the guidance of their spiritual director, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.

Having lived in Gaden himself, studying for many years under Tibetan Lamas like Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Gashar Kensur Jetsun Jampa Yeshe, Tsem Rinpoche was making his first trip back in five years to present offerings to the 3,000 monks there. 

Kechara House, his Dharma centre here in Sunway Mas, is a branch of Gaden, and Tsem Rinpoche is the only representative of the monastery in Malaysia. 

The largest of a trio of monasteries in Mungold – including Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery – Gaden traces its roots to Tibet where Lama Tsongkapa first established the original monastery in the 14th Century. 

Tsongkhapa is especially famous for a seven-year retreat, in which he completed 3½ million prostrations (as a practice to purify karma) and over one million mandala offerings. 

Taking inspiration from teachings of the three existing schools of Buddhism – Kagyu, Sakya and Nyingma – Tsongkhapa revived the Buddha’s teachings as they entered a period of degeneration, combining the best of the three schools and the teachings of Indian masters into the Gelug school. 

This school and its teachings has become increasingly widespread in recent years, touching cities all over the world, from Beijing to Los Angeles. Its particular emphasis on logic rather than mysticism, and the balance it strikes between meditation and study resonates strongly with spiritual seekers. 

Tsem Rinpoche (right) greets the incarnation of his Guru, Zong Rinpoche >>

The Buddhist way, with its emphasis on transforming the self, rather than others, does not particularly encourage people to go out and preach, and as such, Gaden’s profile continues to remain relatively low. 

When the Lamas escaped from Tibet to escape persecution during the Cultural Revolution, they left literally with just the clothes on their back. The Gaden of today was built from scratch. There is still a very long way to go in building it up to its former glory but the monks are unfazed. 

Ken Rinpoche explained, “Due to our own negative karma, we’ve lost our land. But we’ve managed to establish here – not just physically but also in essence, since the studies and learning are still the same. 

“We’re doing quite well and there’s not much to complain of. I guess in the long term, it’s kind of good we ended up here!” 

This perspective that it is “due to our own negative” karma is refreshing and almost surprising. 

How much more difficult it must be to blame ourselves than to point fingers. And yet, this is what allows the monks to cultivate such serenity in the face of adversity. 

In Gaden, you can sense this collective determination to get out of suffering, no matter how subtle. At the same time, its very walls are imbued with the stillness of being in the moment, of delighting in everything just as it is. 

Kechara House has just produced and released the first-ever documentary about Gaden Monastery – its history, lineage, and the recent pilgrimage that was made. W

# For more information, contact Kechara House at (603) 7806 4582 or e-mail kh_info@kechara.com.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv