A Brief Biography
Content from His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Official Website http://www.dalailama.com/
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.
Education in Tibet
His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. The curriculum consisted of five major and five minor subjects. The major subjects were logic, Tibetan art and culture, Sanskrit, medicine, and Buddhist philosophy which was further divided into a further five categories: Prajnaparimita, the perfection of wisdom; Madhyamika, the philosophy of the middle Way; Vinaya, the canon of monastic discipline; Abidharma, metaphysics; and Pramana, logic and epistemology. The five minor subjects were poetry, music and drama, astrology, motre and phrasing, and synonyms. At 23 he sat for his final examination in the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, during the annual Monlam (prayer) Festival in 1959. He passed with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest-level degree equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy. Leadership Responsibilities
In 1950 His Holiness was called upon to assume full political power after China's invasion of Tibet in 1949. In 1954, he went to Beijing for peace talks with Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders, including Deng Xiaoping and Chou Enlai. But finally, in 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising in Lhasa by Chinese troops, His Holiness was forced to escape into exile. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, northern India, the seat of the Tibetan political administration in exile.
Since the Chinese invasion, His Holiness has appealed to the United Nations on the question of Tibet. The General Assembly adopted three resolutions on Tibet in 1959, 1961 and 1965.
In 1963 His Holiness presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet that was followed by a number of reforms to democratise our administrative set-up. The new democratic constitution promulgated as a result of this reform was named "The Charter of Tibetans in Exile". The charter enshrines freedom of speech, belief, assembly and movement. It also provides detailed guidelines on the functioning of the Tibetan government with respect to those living in exile.
In 1992 His Holiness issued guidelines for the constitution of a future, free Tibet. He announced that when Tibet becomes free the immediate task would be to set up an interim government whose first responsibility will be to elect a constitutional assembly to frame and adopt Tibet's democratic constitution. On that day His Holiness would transfer all his historical and political authority to the Interim President and live as an ordinary citizen. His Holiness also stated that he hoped that Tibet, comprising of the three traditional provinces of U-Tsang, Amdo and Kham, would be federal and democratic.
In May 1990, the reforms called for by His Holiness saw the realisation of a truly democratic administration in exile for the Tibetan community. The Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), which till then had been appointed by His Holiness, was dissolved along with the Tenth Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (Tibetan parliament in exile). In the same year, exile Tibetans on the Indian sub-continent and in more than 33 other countries elected 46 members to the expanded Eleventh Tibetan Assembly on a one-man one-vote basis. The Assembly, in its turn, elected the new members of the cabinet. In September 2001, a further major step in democratisation was taken when the Tibetan electorate directly elected the Kalon Tripa, the senior-most minister of the Cabinet. The Kalon Tripa in turn appointed his own cabinet who had to be approved by the Tibetan Assembly. In Tibet's long history, this was the first time that the people elected the political leadership of Tibet.
In September 1987 His Holiness proposed the Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet as the first step towards a peaceful solution to the worsening situation in Tibet. He envisaged that Tibet would become a sanctuary; a zone of peace at the heart of Asia, where all sentient beings can exist in harmony and the delicate environment can be preserved. China has so far failed to respond positively to the various peace proposals put forward by His Holiness
The Five Point Peace Plan
In his address to members of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. on 21 September 1987, His Holiness proposed the following peace plan, which contains five basic components:
1.Transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace.
2.Abandonment of China's population transfer policy that threatens the very existence of the Tibetans as a people.
3.Respect for the Tibetan people's fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms.
4.Restoration and protection of Tibet's natural environment and the abandonment of China's use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste.
5.Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.
In his address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 June 1988, His Holiness made another detailed proposal elaborating on the last point of the Five Point Peace Plan. He proposed talks between the Chinese and Tibetans leading to a self-governing democratic political entity for all three provinces of Tibet. This entity would be in association with the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Government would continue to remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and defence.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.
His Holiness has travelled to more than 62 countries spanning 6 continents. He has met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many well-known scientists.
Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books.
His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk.
KHENSUR RINPOCHE GESHE LOBSANG JAMYANG
Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang, an ex-Abbot of Sera Mey Monastic University, was born in 1933 into the family of Tsewang (father) and Bhutrug (mother) in a place called Ghyongpa, a part of Lithang locality of Kham region in Tibet. Unlike most ordinary kids, even at a very young age, he expressed strong desire to be a fully ordained monk when he became older. During his reading and writing studies with a private teacher, he was able to memorize many different ritual texts. Later, he joined Lithang Jamchen Choekhorling, a monastery in Lithang.
At one time, because of strong support based on prophesy given by high lamas and deities, as well as many other external and internal signs, Gyaltsap Trulku Rigzin Ngyendag and Lophel Trulku of Nyag-me recognized Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang as the unmistaken incarnation of Chagdue Trulku of Nyagrong, a place in Kham. His parents and the relatives were highly pleased but Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang refused the offer saying that whether or not he is recognized as a Lama by others, his responsibility was to achieve spiritual progress by engaging in Dharma practice with diligence and perseverance. This is the reason why he is not recognized as Chagdue Trulku.
At sixteen, he received his novice monk ordination from Khenchen Jaza Dorjee Chang and was given the Dharma name – Lobsang Jamyang. Ạt twenty-four, he entered Sera Mey Monastic University in central Tibet. While at Sera Mey, at the feet of many great teachers, he studied several main scriptures. About a year later, 1959, both Tibetan government as well as the Tibetan people had to flee the country.
Once in India, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang joined the reestablished Sera Mey Monastic University in bucksa, India and continued with his studies. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – the embodiment of compassion – had not only laid the foundation for the seat of Tibetan government in exile, but had, almost immediately after his arrival in India in 1959, reestablished the three principal Monastic Universities in Tibet – Gaden, Drepung, and Sera. Obviously, these centers of learning were at its rudimental stages of development, but the monks fleeing from Tibet experienced a sense of revival and reunification.
At the age of thirty, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang deliberately traveled to Bodhgaya, a place of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, to receive full ordination with complete vow from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
In 1982, after Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang passed the final test for Geshe degree (equivalent to a Ph.D. degree in Buddhism) conducted by the Testing Committee of Gelugpa monastic universities, His Holiness the Dalai Lama awarded him with a volume of the abridged version of Lam Rim scripture.
In 1986, during the annual Great Prayer Festival, a tradition initiated by Lama Tsongkhapa, he demonstrated his knowledge of the major tenets of Buddhism by engaging in debates with the congregation of Geshe Lharampas. Along with others, His Holiness the Dalai Lama conferred on him the coveted degree of Geshe Lharampa.
In 1987, he returned to Tibet for a short visit. While in Tibet, he gave many teachings on Lam Rim, and bestowed various initiations and empowerments. His method of teachings were uniquely characterized by four essential skills – the ability to illustrate specific abstract points for clarity, the ability to demonstrate ways and means of achieving spiritual goals, the ability to narrate unique anecdotes, and the ability to substantiate with direct quotes from authentic sources for the purpose of helping disciples generate faith and conviction in the teachings. Hence, his teachings were easy to understand for the beginners, and appropriate for everyone – each according to his/her own interest and mental dispositions. Apart from giving extensive teachings, he was able to help many others change their lives. He helped number of people suffering from mental disorders or other forms of psychophysical imbalance. He also helped many others give up their negative ways of life – engaging in robbery and stealing – and commit to Dharma practice instead.
In 1988, he returned to India and joined the Gyudme Tantric College. At this college, he completed his studies about the Four Classes of Tantra. Next he went back to Sera Mey Monastic University and continued teaching number of young incarnate lamas and other monks.
After that, he traveled to many countries in South and North America to spread Dharma. Wherever he went, he gave extensive teachings and many became his disciples.
In 1996, he received from His Holiness the Dalai Lama the letter of appointment as the Abbot of Sera Mey Monastic University. Immediately, he left for India.
The same year, 1996, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang founded Manjushri Buddhist Center in Longueuil, Canada.
From 1997-1999, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang lead a group of monks to the United States of America and other Western countries to raise funds for New Prayer Hall at Sera Mey Monastic University.
In 2002, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang and the monks at Sera Mey Monastic University welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Prayer Hall inauguration. The new Prayer Hall is not only big and spacious but represents the unique Tibetan architecture in all aspects.
In September 2003, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang inaugurateđ Geden Shoeling Buddhist Center in Westminster, California for the Buddhists to study and practice Buddha Dharma.
In 2004, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe was appointed as the senior most Abbot of the six monasteries of the Gelugpa order.
In 2008, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang transferred the title Abbot of Sera Mey Monastic University to Geshe Lobsang Rabga.
VENERABLE GESHE NORBU CHOPHOL
Venerable Geshe Norbu Chophol entered the monkhood at the tender age of nine at Sera Mey Monastic University in Mysore, Karnataka State, South India. Geshe Norbu Chophol’s father, Mr. Tamdrin and mother, Mrs. Tashi Drolma, from Lithang, Kham, East Tibet, fled Tibet and came to settle as refugees in India where he was born as the second of four sons.
He first took the vows of a novice monk from the late Venerable Ling Rinpoche, the senior tutor to H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama. Later, he took the Bikshu vows of a fully ordained monk from H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama.
While at Sera Mey, Geshe Norbu Chophol followed the footstep of several great teachers to study Buddhist Philosophy. His first teacher was Venerable Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok. Due to the grace of his great teacher, Geshe Norbu Chophol was transformed into a stainless vessel appropriate to receive and assimilate Buddha’s profound teachings which he, later, was to receive from his root Guru Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang.
In addition to Buddhist Philosophy, Geshe Norbu Chophol also studied classical Tibetan at the University from Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang and Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Jampa Dhonyon. He is, therefore, fluent in Tibetan, both speaking and writing.
Geshe Norbu Chophol has studied and successfully completed the extensive canon of Buddhist teachings, many Great Textbooks of which include Paramita (Perfections,) The Root of Madhyamika (Middle View,) Pramana (Logic,) Abhidharma, and Vinaya (Moral Discipline). At Sera Mey, he soon became one of the principal disciples of Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang and as such, he has received quintessential teachings and special transmissions which was especially only bestowed upon him. At completion in 1994, after having studied for more than 25 years, he successfully passed the examination and was awarded with the degree of Geshe Tsokram (Ph.D. degree in Buddhist Philosophy) with the blessings from all of his teachers.
Thence, Geshe Norbu Chophol further pursued and completed in May 1996 the post-doctoral studies in Tantric Buddhist Philosophy at Gyudme Tantric University in Hunsur, Karnataka state, South India. During his tenure there, he studied Tantrayana aspect of Buddha’s teachings as well as construction of different sand mandalas specific to the practices of Highest Yoga Tantra, such as Peace Mandala and Power Mandala, and also taught Collected Topics and Logic to resident students.
In 1996 at Sera Mey, Geshe Norbu Chophol was elected and served for three years as the General Secretary of Sera La-Chi of Sera Monastic University making significant contributions and becoming very well respected as well as very popular amongst his peers. (Sera Monastic University consists of two major colleges: Sera Mey and Sera Jey, and the highest central office of the two colleges combined is known as Sera La-Chi).
Outside of India, Geshe Norbu Chophol has traveled to many countries, such as Singapore, Canada, United States of America, Switzerland, West Germany and Vietnam to conduct many praying sessions at many Buddhist centers and to teach Dharma and meditation practices to countless Buddhist practitioners worldwide.
Specifically of the North American centers founded by Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang, he has been resident teacher at the Tibetan Manjushri Buddhist Center in Toronto, Canada, in June 2001, and since September 2003, the Geden Shoeling Tibetan Manjushri Buddhist Center in Westminster, California, USA. Up until recently, he has traveled between these two sister centers and endeavors at the instruction of his teacher and mentor, Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Jamyang, to fulfill the wishes of the local Buddhist students and practitioners. Venerable Geshe Norbu Chophol is also delegated by his teacher with the main responsibility of securing means to support the sustenance of all 1,420
(one-thousand four-hundred and twenty) monks in Sera Mey Monastery.