When my Tsem Ladrang team received an invitation to the opening of Kyabje Zawa Rinpoche’s new centre, I was very very happy to hear this news. Whenever anyone is successful in establishing or propagating Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition anywhere in the world, it is important for us to rejoice. It does not matter whether the founder has the same practices or not; what is important is that we rejoice in the growth of the Buddhadharma so that sentient beings may benefit from the wisdom of Shakyamuni’s teachings. So although I was not able to attend the opening myself, I wanted to send some of my close students there to represent me and show my support for Zawa Rinpoche’s works.
Zawa Rinpoche has visited Kechara many times in the past. During his visits here, he performed pujas to bless our land and also taught us some rituals which we were not familiar with before. Also some of my students have been in regular contact with Zawa Rinpoche. He has been very informative and helpful to them regarding the monastic system which my students who are not Tibetan are not familiar with.
The invitation was for the opening of Zawa Rinpoche’s new Buddhist temple known as Centre De Méditation Tsongkhapa (CMT, or Tsongkhapa Meditation Centre in English). Located in Ste-Sophie, Quebec (Canada), the centre sits on four acres of land which is forested and (I am told) very beautiful and serene. There is a main gompa (prayer hall), as you will see from the photos below, and also a small house for Zawa Rinpoche in the back. They have also built rooms for visiting sangha, have a well-stocked library and they will soon be doing renovations to convert their garage into a kitchen. In the future, Zawa Rinpoche would like to develop his land to include retreat huts.
CMT is actually Zawa Rinpoche’s third centre, so to speak. His first centre was opened by the late Venerable Geshe Khenrab, and it was located in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) before a sister centre was opened in Moncton, New Brunswick (also in Canada). After Geshe-la passed away, Zawa Rinpoche became the organisation’s spiritual guide. However, my students tell me that the Montreal centre was not located in a very conducive area because it was on a main road with shops, restaurants and bars nearby. Hence Zawa Rinpoche looked around for a more suitable location. When he found some properties, he submitted them to His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche who advised him that this location in Sainte-Sophie would be very good.
There were many auspicious signs in the run-up to the opening ceremony. For four days, rainbows appeared above the centre, either as double rainbows or circular ones around the sun. At one point, when Zawa Rinpoche was installing a Dharma wheel on the roof of the gompa, five-colored lights shone from the Dharma wheel. These were invisible to the naked eye although they show clearly in the photograph. Zawa Rinpoche also told us that completely white flowers sprouted spontaneously on the land, and that these flowers were not native to the area. Closer to the date of the opening ceremony, two small ponies came onto their land. After Zawa Rinpoche fed them, they disappeared and never came back.
So there were all of these good signs surrounding the centre, which made my team excited about attending what is surely an auspicious occasion. The opening ceremony was also attended by many lamas around the world who were keen to show their support for Zawa Rinpoche’s works. Present was Venerable Trote Rinpoche from New York, Venerable Kalden Rinpoche from Brazil, Geshe Phende from Austria, Gen Youten from Canada, and Geshe Sopa, Geshe Cheme Tsering and Gen Jamyang Tashi from Vermont. Venerable Rabten Rinpoche was also scheduled to attend the celebrations, representing His Eminence Gonsar Rinpoche who was not able to attend himself.
Zawa Rinpoche had also invited his own teacher, Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin. There is an interesting but sad story about this senior, very learned and gentle monk. Geshe Tsultrim is a monk of Gaden Jangtse Monastery who had many students. For decades he taught tirelessly until the height of the ban. At this time, some of his ‘students’ came to attack Geshe-la’s simple home, throwing stones and rocks at it. The harassment escalated and became so bad that Geshe-la had to escape the monastery in the middle of the night. He left India and travelled with Switzerland where Venerable Gonsar Rinpoche gave him refuge. Later Geshe-la moved to Austria where he now lives. There are very few monks now of Geshe-la’s generation, scholarship and practice so my students were extremely fortunate to meet him and make a connection with this holy practitioner.
My team spent their first day at CMT getting to know the volunteers, as well as some of the guests who had arrived early. They also had a short audience with Geshe Tsultrim to present some offerings I wished to make to him. With Zawa Rinpoche helping to translate, my students requested for Geshe-la to live long and on my behalf, offered to him a statue of Amitayus. Then they explained to Geshe Tsultrim about the works I have been doing in Malaysia and the progress of Kechara and what we wish to accomplish. I am told that Geshe-la was very happy to hear all of this and accepted their request for him to pray that this manifests.
In the evening, Geshe Sopa-la of Trijang Buddhist Institute requested our people to join him and Zawa Rinpoche the next day in escorting His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche to the centre which my team were of course very honoured to accept. They came extra early the following day to make sure they would not be late.
His Holiness Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche arrived and was escorted in the traditional manner, with a golden parasol, incense and flowers scattered at his feet. Outside of the gompa, His Holiness recited prayers and cut the ribbon sealing the doors. Then His Holiness entered the gompa to perform a consecration ritual with the other Sangha.
After a short break, His Holiness proceeded to give a short commentary and oral transmission of the Gaden Lhagyama. His Holiness explained that he had received this teaching from His Eminence Kensur Lati Rinpoche and it was according to the Segyud tradition. The teaching was translated by the Venerable Geshe Cheme Tsering, who is an excellent scholar and has been translating for His Holiness for many years. His Holiness also explained the motivation with which one should receive Dharma teachings. I am told that the teaching was very well-received and that His Holiness’s style of transmitting the Dharma is very similar to that of his predecessor.
His Holiness ended the afternoon with a gift to Zawa Rinpoche of an antique and very beautiful Namgyalma thangka. After that, everyone had the opportunity to make offerings and receive blessings from His Holiness, who left soon after. Again Kechara students had the merits to escort His Holiness back to the hotel which was very nice for them.
Over the next few days, my team had audiences with Venerable Rabten Rinpoche, Venerable Kalden Rinpoche and Venerable Trote Rinpoche to update them on our works and make a connection with them. I am told that the lamas were very happy to see our works and offered their prayers and support for our continuous growth. I thank them very much for this. My students also spent time getting to know our Dorje Shugden brothers and sisters, many of whom they have connected with on Facebook but never actually met before.
When I was Zawa Rinpoche’s age, I also had my own Dharma centre so I know from experience it is not easy to open a Dharma centre especially in an area where people may not be so familiar with Buddhism. Therefore I would like to offer Venerable Zawa Rinpoche my heartiest congratulations on the opening of the Tsongkhapa Meditation Centre which I know was not easy to do. I wish him every success and offer him my prayers that all of his works come to fruition.
Please scroll down to enjoy more photos below, and rejoice in the proliferation of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition in the west.
The opening of Kyabje Zawa Rinpoche’s event
Or view the video on the server at: The Opening event
I had the great merits to receive a message from Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin, who is an old and senior monk and very learned and kind
Or view the video on the server at: Geshe Tsultrim Tenzin's message
I also received messages from Chatreng Yeshe, which I am very honoured to receive. Chatreng Yeshe risked his life for many years to courageously stand up against the ban on Dorje Shugden.
Or view the video on the server at: Chatreng Yeshe's message - Part 1
Or view the video on the server at: Chatreng Yeshe's message - Part 2
Please support us so that we can continue to bring you more Dharma: