Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s life is an inspiring story, and his accomplishments to benefit this world are remarkable.
Born in a remote village high on the Tibetan plateau, he ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of eight and spent the next twenty years studying the teachings of Buddha in the great Tibetan monasteries.
After concluding his studies and being awarded the title “Geshe,” which means “virtuous spiritual friend,” he engaged in deep retreat – at first near the Nepali border, and later in the mountains of northern India, where he become renown as a great meditator.
In 1977, after almost twenty years in retreat, at the request of his Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, Geshe Kelsang accepted an invitation from Manjushri Buddhist Centre to travel to England and become the Resident Teacher at Conishead Priory.
Since then, Manjushri Centre (now Manjsuhri Kadampa Buddhist Centre, or Manjushri KMC) has been Geshe Kelsang’s spiritual home, where he has given thousands of teachings to students from all over the world. Many of these teachings have been published by Tharpa Publications in 22 highly acclaimed books on Buddhism and meditation, including his latest title, Modern Buddhism.
Geshe Kelsang knows the problems faced by modern people very well, and explains with uncommon clarity how these can be solved through the timeless scientific methods taught by Buddha. Geshe-la’s oft-repeated phrase, ‘simple, but very profound’ perfectly encapsulates his special presentation of modern Buddhism.
So that Kadam Dharma can flourish in the hearts of his students and throughout the world, Geshe Kelsang founded the International Kadama Buddhist Union in 1991. The main activities of the IKBU are provided through three unique study programs – General Program, Foundation Program, and Teacher Training Program – that reveal the entire Buddhist path of compassion and wisdom, leading to enlightenment.
Over 30 years Geshe Kelsang has transmitted a complete lineage not only of pure teachings and insights, but also of prayers, ritual practices, sacred art and music, all appropriate to the needs of people in the modern world and delivered in the language specific to each country. He has also established a vibrant ordained community and trained hundreds of qualified lay and ordained Kadampa teachers.
Geshe Kelsang’s kindness also appears outwardly as more than 1100 meditation centers and groups in over 40 countries, including three extraordinary Kadampa Buddhist World Peace Temples located at Manjushri KMC, KMC New York, and KMC Brasil, as well as a number of City Temples currently under construction. Geshe Kelsang’s kindness also appears outwardly as more than 1100 meditation centers and groups in over 40 countries, including three extraordinary Kadampa Buddhist World Peace Temples located at Manjushri KMC, at KMC New York, and KMC Brazil, and a number of City Temples under construction.
Additionally he has established Kadampa Hotels and World Peace Cafes as contemporary avenues for people to make comfortable, convenient contact with Kadampa teachings, and he has founded the International Temples Project with the intention to establish Temples in various forms throughout the world.
Although Geshe Kelsang has now formally retired as Spiritual Director, even at the age of 80 he continues to work tirelessly to spread the precious teachings of Kadampa Buddhism everywhere.