Born in 1978 in Dharamsala, India to Ngawang, the Member of Parliament of Dudur in the Kham area, Tsering Dorje entered Gaden Shartse Monastery in 1982 as instructed by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. He received his ordination vows from the illustrious Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche.
Recognised by many yogis and high Lamas, including the Panglung Oracle, as the incarnation of Zawa Geshe Rinpoche, Tsering Dorje was later given the title Zawa Tulku Lobsang Dorje Chokyi Gyaltsen Rinpoche. He spent the next 16 years studying Buddhist philosophy in the monastery.
In 1997, Zawa Rinpoche was enthroned in an elaborate and large ceremony at Gaden Shartse Monastery. Later on, he completed his final examinations and achieved the highest levels of excellence in oral philosophical debate.
Zawa Rinpoche then embarked on an international tour, travelling extensively to give teachings and empowerments as requested by many Dharma centres. He is a master in the ritual arts and the construction of sacred sand mandalas. His specialities also include healing and purification rituals, and he is renowned for his kindness and pure morality.
Due to numerous and frequent requests from the people of Chatreng and the monks of Chatreng Sampheling Monastery, Zawa Rinpoche visited his previous life’s homeland in Tibet in 2001. An enthronement ceremony was also performed by the devoted community of Chatreng monks and laity during his visit.
While in Tibet, Zawa Rinpoche visited Gaden, Sera, Drepung, Tashi Lhunpo and many other holy places in Lhasa. He also received teachings from His Holiness Denma Gonsa Rinpoche and received his bhikshu (monastic ordination) vows from him.
In 2003, Zawa Rinpoche visited Italy at the invitation of H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche, whom he had met a few years earlier at Borobudur stupa in Indonesia during his travels. While in Europe, Zawa Rinpoche also met many other lineage masters, including H.E. Gonsar Tulku Rinpoche, H.E. Rabten Tulku Rinpoche, and H.H. Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche who was residing in Europe at the time.
It was also on this trip that Zawa Rinpoche met Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin. A Dharma centre in Canada had invited Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin to be the resident teacher there. However, Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin asked Zawa Rinpoche to go in his stead as he was unable to. Zawa Rinpoche agreed and went to Canada in 2003 with his assistant, Gen Lobsang Tashi.
Following the directions and advice of his teacher Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin, Zawa Rinpoche then became the Resident Teacher in Ganden Chang Chub Choling Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Montreal. He also founded the Moncton Buddhist Centre in 2006.
In 2014, Ganden Chang Chub Choling Tibetan Buddhist Temple relocated to Ste Sophie, north of Montreal, under the name of Tsongkhapa Meditation Centre.
Besides managing the temple’s affairs and its members, Zawa Rinpoche is an active spokesperson for Dorje Shugden practitioners, participating in various organisations and events to bring awareness to the practice of Dorje Shugden. He was formerly a committee member of the North America Gelug Buddhist Association (NAGBA) in the United States, a charitable, non-profit and non-political association founded with the objective of protecting, preserving and spreading the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in North America and the rest of the world.
Recently, Zawa Rinpoche has established a Dorje Shugden Society in Canada, as advised by the Protector Dorje Shugden himself through an oracle. He was elected to be the President of this society out of ten nominees.
Zawa Rinpoche has also taken up the responsibility to lead the project of building new Tantric monasteries for Dorje Shugden practitioners and monasteries, as requested by the Abbot of Shar Gaden Monastery.
Zawa Rinpoche currently travels extensively to receive the lineage teachings from many Rinpoches, Geshes and Lamas, especially the elderly in preparation for the completion of the new Tantric monasteries. By doing so, he ensures that the lineage is preserved and can be passed to the younger teachers and monks in the future.
Zawa Geshe, the Previous Incarnation of Zawa Tulku Rinpoche
The previous incarnation of Zawa Tulku Rinpoche, Zawa Geshe Rinpoche, was born in Chatreng in the Kham province of Tibet. He was a monk at Gaden Shartse Monastery in Tibet and his root Gurus were His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche.
After many years of intensive study and debate, as well as passing many levels of exams, Zawa Geshe completed his monastic studies, achieving the highest degree of scholarship conferred within the traditional Tibetan monastic system – the Geshe Lharampa title. Zawa Geshe was then instructed by Kyabje Zong Rinpoche to return to Chatreng to care for and serve the spiritual needs of the community.
With the blessings of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Zawa Geshe began a long period of various rigorous retreats in Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s meditation house. He developed special healing powers due to his repeated engagements in Nyung-nye and Chab Trul purification practices for many years. He was known to sleep very little, consuming only meditation pills, and was fully devoted to the practices of a Bodhisattva, healing others with blessing pills, as well as by simply blowing on them.
Zawa Geshe was very well respected and loved, and he remained in Chatreng for the rest of his life. Zawa Geshe entered clear light at the age of 73, on the eve of Saka Dawa, the date most commonly associated with Buddha’s birth, Enlightenment and parinirvana.
Zawa Geshe remained in tukdam (meditation on the clear light of death) for many days, with many signs of accomplishment. When Zawa Geshe was cremated, many sacred relics were discovered. His community in Chatreng suffered a huge sense of loss and wished to find Zawa Geshe’s reincarnation quickly. They contacted Gaden Shartse Monastery in India and requested help to look for their beloved guru’s incarnation.
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