Trijang Buddhist Institute came into fruition as a sincere wish of fulfilling a Lama’s mission of benefitting all sentient beings. It started out as the Institute of Visionary Leadership in 1986 under the directorship of Rae Ann Barkley, who taught peace education and service leadership classes at Norwich. Under the guidance of His Eminence Domo Geshe Rinpoche and with the support of many friends of the Institute, the Institute for Visionary Leadership was relocated to a 354-acre plot in Northfield, Vermont in 1995.
Formerly housing Seitz Dairy Farm, the original buildings have been restored and converted into functional units for Trijang Buddhist Institute’s use. A 1880s barn has been revamped and now houses the main prayer hall, bookstore, office and dining hall complete with a fully-equipped kitchen. The 1790s farmhouse is now the residence of the Institute’s resident teachers.
At the advice of the incomparable Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, Rae Ann Barkley was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun by Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche prior to her passing in March 2004 and became known as Ani Tsering Lhamo. It was Ani Tsering Lhamo’s fondest wish to offer the institute to Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche. On 18 September 2005, approximately six months after the passing of Ani Tsering Lhamo, the Institute for Visionary Leadership was formally gifted to His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche and officially became known as Trijang Buddhist Institute.
While it is not a monastery per se, Trijang Buddhist Institute is an important institution within the Gelug lineage, empowered with full authority by the 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal to preserve, represent and disseminate the Buddha’s teachings, specifically the Gelug tradition.
One of Trijang Buddhist Institute’s objects of veneration is an autographed photograph of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama along with his well wishes and a prayer that the Buddhadharma will flourish, that all sentient beings may receive the precious Dharma and that they may live in happiness and virtue. This in itself is an endorsement of support from the Dalai Lama for Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s works and by extension, for Trijang Buddhist Institute.
Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s main aspiration is to continue the work of his much respected predecessor, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang who was the heart disciple of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, which includes proliferating the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism for the happiness of all sentient beings.
Under his guidance, Trijang Buddhist Institute’s mission is to work for the benefit of all sentient beings and serve all those interested in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the Gelug lineage. As such, people from all religious and non-religious backgrounds are welcome at the Institute.
Trijang Buddhist Institute offers a wide range of classes and activities that draws a diverse group of spiritual seekers to the Dharma. Activities conducted include Tibetan language and culture studies, puja and meditation courses, intermediate Dharma studies right up to advanced Tantric retreats such as those on the practice of Vajrayogini.
While Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche personally conducts most of the Dharma classes, he is assisted by two highly qualified Geshes and a dedicated team of administrators and students.
Geshe Lobsang Sopa (Resident Teacher)
Geshe Lobsang Sopa was ordained at a very young age in Gaden Shartse Monastery and has completed his training in all aspects of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. While pursuing his monastic studies, he received many precious teachings from great masters such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, and many others. He now serves as a resident teacher at Trijang Buddhist Institute.
Geshe Cheme Tsering
A highly qualified Buddhist scholar, Geshe Cheme Tsering studied in the Central Institute of Tibetan Higher Studies from 1972 to 1976 before joining Gaden Shartse Norling College as an ordained monk from 1976 until present. He received his “Geshe Lharampa” degree in March 1996, after 15 years of intensive study.
Geshe Cheme Tsering was invited to Trijang Buddhist Institute in May 2007 to fill the post of resident teacher, and officially assumed this position on 16 September 2008. A highly valued member of staff, he is skilled in performing sacred rituals, chanting prayers, guiding meditation classes and introducing Tibetan Buddhism to new students. Geshe Cheme Tsering is particularly well known for his expertise in translating Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s teachings to the English language.
Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok
Born in 1969, Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok began his education in a Tibetan school for seven years. At the age of 12, he joined Gaden Shartse Monastery and it was there that he was ordained as a monk by Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. In the course of his studies, he received many teachings from erudite teachers such as Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Sharpa Choje Lobsang Nyima Rinpoche and Geshe Tendar.
Upon completion of his studies, Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok, who was one of the most brilliant Geshes in his class, was appointed to be Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche’s study assistant in Europe and has continued to assist Trijang Rinpoche to this day. Besides his passion and dedication to teaching Buddhism, he is also skilled in the creation of sand mandalas and in the Tibetan ritual arts as well as chanting.
Venerable Tharchen Lobsang
Ordained by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang at the age of 15, Venerable Tharchen Lobsang studied in the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala from 1962 to 1974. While he was studying Tibetan Buddhist philosophy at Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India, he received many important teachings from numerous great Buddhist masters.
After His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche was recognised by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1985 as the reincarnation of Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, Venerable Tharchen Lobsang assumed the role of attendant and has served in this capacity right to this day. His role at Trijang Buddhist Institute, besides attending to Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, includes conducting Tibetan language classes.
Mrs Kunsang Dechen
Born in Leh Ladakh, India to His Eminence Drigung Kyabgon Rinpoche and Gangchen Drolma, Mrs Kunsang Dechen has two siblings. Her elder brother is the recognised Kagyupa Lama Ayang Drupchen Rinpoche and her younger sister is Dolma Lhamo. She finished her middle school education in Leh Ladakh and attended high school in New Delhi. She continued her education at Jesus and Mary College at the University of New Delhi, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2002.
Besides her regular education, Mrs Kunsang Dechen had the opportunity to receive many Tibetan Buddhist teachings and initiations and has assisted in the translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts to English. She has also coordinated and participated in meditation retreats and performs many duties such as corresponding with other Tibetan spiritual leaders. Given her background in monastic protocol, experience and skill set, she qualifies to perform official temple duties and rituals as well as assist the Dharma teachers.
Venerable Tashi Jamyang
Born in 1933 in Lhasa, Tibet, Venerable Tashi Jamyang was offered to Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang by his parents at the age of five. Under the tutelage of this incomparable master, he studied in Nyarong Sha, Lhasa for eight years. When he was 15, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk by Rato Chowar Rinpoche.
During the uprising in 1959, he fled Tibet together with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. He served as an attendant to Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang then and has reassumed this responsibility with the current incarnation, Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche.
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