El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Welcoming Geshe Sopa-la and Tomtom

April 12, 2016 0

Whew! We’ve been having a busy few days showing Geshe Sopa-la and Kelsang Tsultrim (aka Tomtom) around Kechara. It is a long overdue visit, the history of which goes back to our first meeting in 2014!

Geshe-la and Tomtom are the types of people you read about, whose guru devotion and ability to sacrifice inspires people to practise. They respond to logic and reason, not magic and superstition, and they are proud of who they are and will stand up for what they believe in.

Since 1996, because of their loyalty to Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang and our lineage, they have been fighting against the ban on Dorje Shugden. If ever you think that you have it difficult, wait until you find out how much they have given up. What you and I have been through is nothing compared to what they have ‘lost’ in fight to keep their religious practices, protect the lineage and uphold their commitments, in defiance of the ban imposed by the Tibetan leadership.

Geshe-la has been a monk since the 1970s, receiving his novice ordination vows from Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang and his full monk vows from Kyabje Ling Rinpoche. In 1987, he received his Geshe degree and in 1989, began his works in constructing Gaden Shartse where he was in charge of and oversaw many projects. To this day, he continues to serve the reincarnation of his teacher Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche with utmost devotion.

Tomtom is a member of the North America Gelug Buddhist Association and a good friend. For him, rank holds no attraction – he doesn’t care what name or position you have, as long as you’re honest and sincere. You don’t even have to practise the same deities as him!

They are the type of people who are there for you when the chips are down and you’ve got nothing left to lose because everything has been taken away. Just be straightforward and do away with the mindgames.

Both of these men bravely oppose the ban on Dorje Shugden by going to the protests and, even more effectively, by supporting their lineage lamas. In Geshe Sopa-la’s case, he maintains and works in Trijang Buddhist Institute so there is a place for the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa to grow and spread from. So the ban will never be effective and Dorje Shugden’s practice will never disappear as long as practitioners like them are around to fight to keep the centres, monasteries and practice alive.

I’m very happy and honoured to have been part of the team to introduce Kechara to them, and even happier still that there is a Kechara to introduce, thanks to the vision and hard work of H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche and our dedicated sponsors, staff and members.

The last time I saw Geshe Sopa-la was in August last year, at the opening of Venerable Zawa Rinpoche’s centre, and the last time I saw Tomtom was in 2014 but we have kept in close contact. It was very nice to reunite with Dharma friends and to share with them what we have been working on. We showed them the Ladrang and all of our departments, explaining the function of each one to them. They were also able to attend a midnight distribution round with our Kechara Soup Kitchen. The highlight of the visit was of course a visit to Kechara Forest Retreat, to see our 25ft Dorje Shugden statue, culminating in an audience with Rinpoche.

The very fact centres like Kechara and Trijang Buddhist Institute exist despite the obstacles our teachers and our people have gone through is testament to the power of our lineage gurus’ blessings and to the blessings of Dorje Shugden. Work hard and please support your lamas, not just to clean the name of our teachers and of our Dharma Protector, but because it is good Dharma practice. Ultimately, serving our teachers regardless of our faith keeps the pure Buddhadharma of Je Tsongkhapa thriving.


Kechara Soup Kitchen, Kecharians, Tsem Ladrang, Tsem Rinpoche, Friends, Kechara Forest Retreat

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