To my dear brothers and sisters, who are brave and good-hearted, concerned not only for yourselves, but who want to see the world happy and peaceful; then, besides this world, who are concerned for the peace of all the countless living beings; and who want to offer service, I have an extremely important request for you.
First, I will mention the background of this request. Around Lhasa, there are three great monasteries: Sera, Ganden, and Drepung, each of which has many thousands of monks. These are the main places of learning for the Dharma, for learning the complete extensive teachings of the Buddha, the philosophy of Buddhism, both sutra and tantra. In our present time, there came to be a very highly realized yogi named Tehor Kyorpon Rinpoche, who was a great scholar from Drepung. After he took his examination to become a lharampa geshe, which is like earning a doctorate from a University, he left for the mountains to meditate. He went to one very high mountain near Lhasa to look for a cave, carrying only the few possessions of a monk, the robes, etc., which are needed according to the practice of Vinaya and the Lam-rim Chen-mo, Lama Tsongkhapa’s great commentary on the graduated stages of the path, the heart of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha.
A Buddhist meditator is an inner scientist, a scientist of the mind. In this way, Tehor Rinpoche meditated like a scientist, experimenting. He studied for all those years, and generated vast understanding of the depths of Buddhism. Then he tried to achieve the meaning of the path by generating the realizations of the stages of the path in his mental continuum. His disciples, all geshes, also completed the extensive study program in the monasteries. Some of them also came to live an ascetic life in the mountains around where he was, although with quite some distance between them, in order to actualize the path to enlightenment.
When Tibet was taken over by Communist China in 1959, Rinpoche escaped from Tibet. He lived in Dalhousie, near Dharamsala. There were many Tibetans in the Tibetan settlement where he was – lay people, and also monks from other monasteries, such as the lower and upper Tantric colleges, and so forth. Tehor Kyorpon Rinpoche was guiding them and started a group of ascetic monks – geshes. He individually examined and accepted each one. In this group, there was also a great meditator, Geshe Jampa Wangdu, who had vast success actualizing the lam-rim, guru devotion, the three principal paths, calm abiding, and also the generation and completion stage realizations, such as the clear light and the illusory body – all these stages of the path.
Geshe Jampa Wangdu practiced lam-rim and achieved shiné, calm abiding, at this place. Before he passed away, I took some teachings from him on the pill retreat known as “taking the essence,” (chu len), so he is one of my gurus. There have also been others who achieved calm abiding there. I don’t know many stories about all the other meditators, but they are all very serious practitioners.
Like this, there have been extremely successful meditators produced from that community, who have reached very high levels of the tantric path. Tehor Kyorpon Rinpoche was, initially, the great yogi who led the group. There was one incarnate lama among that group, one lama who was the chief disciple of that great yogi. After Tehor Rinpoche passed away, this lama was given the responsibility to develop and sustain the community. There is still a group of meditators that continues, even up to now, but the land they are using, which is in Kangra, belongs to some monks from another tradition. They recently asked for the land back and have given the meditators a deadline by which they must either vacate the land or buy it.
These meditators are the real thing, serious practitioners living an ascetic life and experimenting on the path. They have received 300,000 rupees (US $6700) from the Tibetan Government. The Tibetan Government also sent out a letter requesting help from the Tibetan community, but that letter doesn’t really explain the importance of this group and what they are doing, meditating and attaining the path – the common lam-rim and the uncommon lam-rim, the tantric path. This is the most important thing that is needed in the world. Each meditator who attains the path will bring so much peace and happiness to this world. Each of them becomes more precious than the whole sky filled with wish-granting jewels. You can see how important the need is. If you look at how much suffering there is in the world: all the war, terrorism, famine, torture, dangers from the elements, so many people dying everywhere from disease – millions and billions dying of cancer (how many people are dying of cancer right now?), AIDS, etc., you can see how important meditation is for the world.
We need spiritual guides who have experience of the path. This is so rare. It is so important, in the world, to receive teachings from someone with experience. This is the best model, the most inspiring thing for the people of the world to achieve enlightenment.
Also, they live according to the Vinaya. They are preserving the Vinaya practice shi sum, the three foundations – Sojong, Abiding in the Summer Retreat (yarne), and Releasing the Retreat (gakye). Living in pure Vinaya is the basis for attaining the path of liberation and enlightenment. Whether or not the teaching of Buddha can be said to exist in a country is defined by whether or not these pure Vinaya practices are being performed. Vinaya is protecting oneself, disciplining one’s own three doors from the obstacles which interfere with being able to achieve liberation – freedom forever from the ocean of samsaric sufferings. It is the spiritual discipline which brings a person to liberation and to enlightenment.
They still need approximately US $9,000 to buy the land. In addition to that, they also need around US $2,500 to build a small temple where they can gather and do their practice, and to purchase a few other helpful items.
From the depths of my heart, I thank anyone who can help with this very much. This is definitely helping with world peace. Of course, there is no question that anyone from this group who has already actualized bodhicitta is a holy being; and then there are all those who will actualize bodhicitta, and will become holy beings that bring incredible peace and happiness to this world. This is a great blessing for the whole world.
With much appreciation,
Thubten Zopa, who bears the name of “Lama”