The recent demise of Surkhang Lhasay Jampa Tseten is indeed sad. I would like to send my condolences to his sister, mother, and family members. JT la, as we called him, was a very kind, compassionate, jolly and open-minded person. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with JT la during the late 1980's and early 90's in Cleveland, Ohio.
JT was very knowledgable in Tibetan and Tibetan history, especially because his father, Surkhang Sawang Chenmo, was one of the most influential cabinet ministers of Tibet in the 1950's. Surkhang Sawang Chenmo served as the bridge between the last regency of Tibet, the Tagdrag administration, and the 14th Dalai Lama's new administration. The Chinese Communist Party accused him of being a soul of the Tibetan resistance and revolution. He was very instrumental in bringing Western influence into Tibet and also the most important minister in organizing H. H. Dalai Lama's escape to India.
It is sad indeed that his son, JT la, died of cancer recently. I and the Jewel Heart community will pray for his good rebirth.
Dear Jewel Heart Friends,
I have some very sad news to share. Our dear friend John Adams passed away on Saturday. As we all know, John was such a wonderful, kind person. His sudden death is a big shock and surprise for all of us.
We wish him a wonderful future life and continuation with the Buddha, Dharma and Vajrayana practice.
I will be at the memorial service on Saturday, November 7th at Nie Funeral Home, 3767 West Liberty Rd., Ann Arbor.
We send our condolences and love to Carla Corazzol, his two daughters, Kristi and Aimee, and the family.
With the blessings of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche’s extraordinary achievements in keeping the cause of the Tibetan people alive under difficult circumstances were celebrated by Tibet Fund at the 6th Annual Tibet Fund Gala on October 14, 2015 in New York.
Jewel Heart congratulates Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche on this well-deserved recognition, with sincere respect for the depth of his commitment and efforts in supporting the Tibetan people.
This morning while doing dialysis, all my phones started to ring. My home phone, my two cell phones all rang over and over again at the same time. I was connected to the dialysis bag so I couldn’t move and I couldn’t answer them. But I heard a message spoken like a voicemail being left by loudspeaker: “Locho Rinpoche passed away at 3pm Indian Standard Time.”
I found out after I finished dialysis that an old friend of mine from India had been trying to reach me to tell me what I had just heard.
In early October, Locho Rinpoche had an excellent meeting with His Holiness in Dharamsala. There are pictures showing His Holiness to be extremely happy, touching heads with Locho Rinpoche. Two to three days after the meeting, Locho Rinpoche’s temperature was a little high and his sugar levels rose to about 400. He was treated by doctors who gave him medicine that seemed to settle things down. Today Locho Rinpoche took a walk and afterwards sat down on his cushion and drank some tea. He passed away suddenly at 3pm sitting on his cushion.
In a way it is the saddest of news, indeed, but it is also the biggest teaching of impermanence. I and Jewel Heart are sponsoring four days services of self initiation of Yamantaka, Heruka, Guhayasamaja and Vajrayogini as offering performed by those performing the funeral rites, particularly the Gyuto monks. We are also planning to sponsor Drepung Loseling and Nyare Kamtsen in a service headed by Togden Rinpoche. When the time of the funeral is settled, Jewel Heart may organize a delegation to attend, though I may personally may not be able to go. If anyone is interested in attending please contact email@example.com as soon as possible.
Please register for VajraYogini Self-Initiation and Lama Chopa Tsog on Oct 23, 2014 7:00 PM EDT at:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Below is an update on the offerings being made in India for Kyabje Denma Locho Dorjechang, and sponsored by Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche and Jewel Heart.
The Gyuto monks attending services in Dharamasala, India have completed the sponsored self-initiations of Yamantaka and Heruka and will continue with self-initiations of Vajrayogini and Guhyasamaja.
Over 5,000 monks at various locations in South India are reciting:
Each monk receives a feast offering and a stipend.
I'm very sorry to hear about the sudden demise of Choje Akong Rinpoche. I first met him in Buxa Tibetan Refugee camp near the Bhutan border in 1959. Later we spent quite a while with Freda Bedi in Delhi, along with Trungpa Rinpoche, learning English and learning about Western culture. This was long before the young Lama's Home School was established. Later Akong Rinpoche and Trungpa helped with the Young Lama's Home School. While Mrs. Bedi and Trungpa ran the school, I was sent to look after refugee kids as dharma teacher in various places in India.
Later Akong Rinpoche and Trungpa founded Samye Ling in Scotland. Trungpa Rinpoche moved to the US. Akong Rinpoche remained in Samye Ling, carrying out many dharma and cultural activities. Later I learned that he started a number of projects in Tibet, and in Gansu and Yunnan Provinces, his native area. My understanding is that he established a number of orphanages, Tibetan medical schools and dharma/monastery centers. He was also connected with various Chinese universities, sponsoring over 1000 students - Tibetan and other minorities. He funded salaries for a number of teachers and between 1990-2010 he brought nearly 20 million US dollars to these schools, monasteries, meditation centers, learning centers, orphanages, vocational training centers, etc. Akong Rinpoche was not only part of bringing dharma to the West but he made great efforts to reestablish dharma and Tibetan culture in his homeland. His death is a loss for everybody and from Jewel Heart we pay our condolences to Samye Ling's community and to Choje Akong's family and monasteries.
Excerpted from Gelek Rimpoche’s Essence of Tibetan Buddhism, 9/15/2013
When you engage your mind in faith then your mind is becoming that faith; that faith is becoming part of your mind. I told you that there are 52 different mental faculties and all are oneness with the mind and yet there is separation there. So when faith is engaged by the mind, the mind becomes faith. However, there is separation between the faith-functioning mind and the hatred-functioning mind. You can separate them. Faith functioning does not become hatred functioning and hatred functioning does not become faith functioning. But both are part of your mind and your mind becomes both of them.
So the struggle is about whether the positives or the negatives are going to occupy your mind more. When you say that mind is addicted with hatred, obsession, attachment, etc., then without effort mind will go there. But engaging in positive minds like non-violence or faith or knowing how to feel shameful and knowing how to develop hesitation, having patience or enthusiasm, that’s a struggle.
The mind is under your control. When you look, you can direct it. Observe yourself and you can direct it. So taming your mind means: don’t let the mind go in a negative way, but try to keep in a positive way, constantly and continuously, as much as you can.
Thoughts are part of the mind. Some people will tell you, “Watch your mind, whatever is popping up, peel it off.” What is popping up is your thoughts. Thoughts are part of your mind. I will say here: all 52 mental faculties are part of mind. That’s what I mean with saying that there is oneness, yet there is separation.
Maybe you need to think about this a little more. What difference does knowing that make? It will give you a little insight. At the present level, whatever mind you have, if you look into a positive subject, like the Four Noble Truths – whatever understanding gained of the First, Second, Third or Fourth Noble Truth – you may have that as information, as knowledge or as some kind of deeper movement, but whatever that may be, that very part of that mind is the mind that will become total knowledge.
From the Buddhist point of view that will become Buddha, because it accepts and takes it in and becomes it. Then total knowledge it built up and that’s how it is. That is why training the mind is almost becoming like spiritual practice. That’s what it is. And that defines your own future, in a positive way or negative way. What mental faculties are you engaging in more?
I haven’t talked to you about the mental faculties at all, except the 11 virtues and the non-virtues. There are also certain mental faculties that sustain the mind and certain ones that always accompany the mind and make it work. These are important, but they are not really spiritual or contemplative, but again, to know the mind, they all have to be brought into the picture. Mind is focusing on certain things and then certain mental faculties will work and connect the mind with the object or subject you are focusing on. Then, becoming that is the nature of that mind.
Improving that becomes – the more you present it better, the better it becomes automatically. That’s why people can develop, learn more and become educated. That is how people become qualified – because mind is the basis on which all is maintained.
Note: A video of Gelek Rimpoche’s most recent Sunday morning teaching is made available on the homepage the following Wednesday. Earlier sessions of the Essence of Tibetan Buddhism teaching series are available through the Webcast Subscription.
Excerpted from Gelek Rimpoche’s teaching on Essence of Tibetan Buddhism, 9/8/2013
Mind is something that governs our activities. With everything we do, we follow our thoughts. I develop thoughts, thinking, “I’d like to get up”, so following that thought I get up. My thought will say, “I should walk” and then I walk. A thought will say, “Sit” and I sit. A thought will say, “Hit” and I will hit. A thought will say, “Eat” and I will eat. We are not robots, however, look at all our activities and we see it is thought that pushes us. Even the subject we study and analyze, even when we analyze the brain, our thoughts will direct us in that. Our thoughts are directing us. That’s why thoughts are really important. You cannot deny that.
Now the question is whether there is something called thoughts completely separate from the brain cells, neurons or whatever. That I don’t know. But there definitely are thoughts. Not only that, but for me, there is mind - and that is also gross mind and subtle mind. And there is a very subtle mind too. When I talk about gross and subtle mind, you will have some idea. So I am thinking of something even much more subtle. When I use “subtle mind”, it is the mind that continuously remains within us - from a previous life to the in-between life to the present life to the in-between life to the future lives.
You may think, “Hey, it must be permanent”. But no, it is impermanent. An earlier Tibetan master in America, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche used the terminology: Continuation of Discontinuity. Some people will describe it like a mala and the mala’s thread. Some people talk about it like ice cubes touching each other while melting and stuck to each other.
Subtle mind is so subtle. It has no idea and no knowledge of right or wrong. It has no idea or knowledge of light or dark. It is so subtle, just capable of growing. It is the continuation of capability; nothing physical, right from the beginning. It is sort of a capability, to be able to grow. So this is like expansion and contraction, and expansion and contraction, and so forth. Like that, it has the capability of growing in detail and functioning. It is capable of reducing and withdrawing to such a subtle level that you are not even sure it is there. It is a very, very subtle thing.
There was a Buddhist school called “Mind Only”. Whether they are right or wrong is a different subject, but mind is that important. And that is where we are. Whether we are going up or down, whether we will succeed in our life and the life after or not, all depends on this mind.
So the mental work is the most important contemplative work. The mental work is the most important spiritual work, because it makes a huge difference. So that’s what I will talk about with you.
What I want you to keep in mind – see I said “mind” again, because I presume you have a mind – is the mind as a basis and how it is and what it is. It accepts suggestions. It perceives ideas. It picks them up like photo print. And it keeps it, it becomes part of it. That’s why many people say, “Think about the positive and you will become positive. Don’t think of the negative, otherwise you will become negative.” This is important.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become action. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think we become.” That’s what Mrs. Thatcher said [in the movie “Iron Lady”]. All of you who are watching and listening are liberal-minded. So Mrs. Thatcher was a little conservative and even she thought that there are thoughts and that they make things different!
Excerpted from Gelek Rimpoche’s Essence of Tibetan Buddhism, 8/25/2013
It is very common knowledge, no mystery, what violence and non-violence are. But there is much more to violence than the physical, such as verbal and emotional violence and abuse. All kinds of things are there which are equally hurtful and painful. Sometimes it is even part of the culture for people to do it. Intelligent and younger people, such as your selves, may not do it. But if you look at the older society, sometimes they look down on women or kids or different races. Racism, etc., are actually violence.
How sophisticated and detailed it is – as you all know. You always have to be aware of it and move through it. Particularly, when you are moving through with violence, sometimes some cultures will do something funny. Some abuses may not even be recognized as abuse by a certain culture. We see it all the time everywhere. But you, an intelligent, great human being, have to be aware of it. If we don’t have the awareness, it is our fault. Even if we have awareness and cannot manage and are overtaken by addiction, then it is the addiction’s fault - which is our fault. We let ourselves be controlled by our addictions. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. It should never occur.
We have to convince ourselves and make sure we don’t leave the dirty activities of violence for future generations to clean up. That’s what we are doing today and it’s not right. It is our mess and we have to clean it up. We have to make it right. I have to make it right, it is my mess. Whatever it takes, I have to do it. Likewise, it is our mess, we have to take responsibility. Making it right is one of the important points of non-violence.
Within non-violence, sometimes there is violence too. If you go into detail, there is. Even though the Gandhi movement tried to be totally non-violent, there were self-sacrifices many times. Watch the movie “Gandhi” you will see how many self-sacrifices they made. That is also violence. Harming yourself and harming others, all of it is violence. During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese monks burned themselves for the sake of the poor people, for the sake for their religion, for the sake of themselves. And it is not that this is not happening today. It is happening.
Whatever the purpose may be, the means should not justify the end. This is very dangerous. Many of us would like to justify the means because of the expected end result. That is sometimes very abusive and sometimes becomes very violent. It is done in the name of non-violence, in the name of a good purpose, good reason. We all have to be very alert to that. One should not sacrifice other people for your own personal comfort as well as making people suffer for saving one’s own embarrassment. All of those are violence to me.
If you look at it that way, it is very difficult for us to be free of violence. Violence comes here and there and it is like the iron dust picked up by a magnet. All will go to the magnet. As long as we have ego functioning within us we pick up all of those, like a magnet picks up metal dust. This has been harmful, is harmful and will be harmful. One should be very aware of it, as much as possible. It can never be perfect straight away, but do as much as you can. Try to improve day by day, because this is the essence of spiritual practice. This is the essence of virtue. This is the foundation of all development, joy, happiness.
We always make mistakes here, because of our addictions. This is how addictions are harmful. They are really cutting the life tree of spirituality within the individual. The root of your spirituality, the life of spirituality is severed by violence. Although it looks like you are hitting somebody, like you are the winner; but in reality we are losing. Whoever is engaging in violence in any form is losing and severing the life of spiritual development.
So it is really important. Please remember, violence is not simply using weapons. It is not simply physical. There is mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, verbal violence. In every part of our life there is violence and abuse. Luckily today everybody at least knows that rape is not good. There are cultures in which people do rape so much and they think they are doing great. To them, it is a matter of laughing about it.
But all of them are violence. Violence comes in a variety of ways. We entertain them with a variety of excuses and finally, it severs the head of your spiritual tree. If it is like a banana tree and when you lose your head once it won’t grow again. So it is really important. You need awareness, alertness, and conscientiousness. We should bring them all together and keep our violence down.
Excerpted from "Essence of Tibetan Buddhism", Sunday, August 18, 2013
We are driven from incident to incident. It’s what we do. We spend all our time in emergency management. There may be no emergency, but we spend our time that way. That’s because we haven’t thought it through properly.
So give yourself time and opportunity. Get your mind to breathe. Get your body to breathe in and out and relax a little bit. Give your mind the opportunity to function naturally, smoothly. Take it away from obsession, from hatred and from ignorance. Let it be natural, let it be normal, think about it.
When you are able to think, breathe a little bit and you will be able to see how your days and nights become worthwhile, worthwhile for yourself and others. They become worthwhile for you emotionally, spiritually, materially, financially - all of that requires time to think.
I am going to tell you spiritually. I don’t know how to make money. So those who can tell you how to make money and those of you who know how to make money, try to have a relaxed mind - a mind that is free of fireworks. We see the fireworks when they go off and some look like flowers and some look like light. Our mind is thrown in there and functions like fireworks. We shoot up there and come down and all these things are happening till it comes back down here. Mind is functioning like that just now. So try to change that.
The way you change that is by giving yourself a little time to breathe. Give a little time to your mind to become natural and get in touch with its own nature. I am not talking about the nature of wisdom of emptiness, but just the natural state - not influenced by those emotions - the natural touch, and being able to think something.
Then you will realize that motivation is one of the most important keys. Try to use motivation - the motivation of love, of compassion, of ultimate love and compassion, of bodhimind. So that will be the perfect way to shape your day, your week, your month, your year.
If you want a new year’s resolution, here you are. You can adopt this. If you want a birthday gift for yourself, here you are. This is what you can use.
From Gelek Rimpoche's Teachings
Sunday, June 10 from the weekly Essence of Tibetan Buddhism Series
Buddha said: Avoid negativities, build positivities and tame your mind.
This is bus stop Buddhism in a nutshell. Avoid negative karma and build positive karma. Most importantly, tame your mind. These are activities for living a worthwhile, meaningful life for yourself and for others.
Building positivity doesn’t have to be in the sense of construction of a building. Every action, even thoughts, are building, positive or negative. The difference is the motivation and the action itself. We have recommended ultimate love/compassion, which makes a very rich motivation. Almost everything we do, or even don’t do, builds positive karma – just by this motivation power. That’s why we emphasize motivation.
We build that motivation each morning and then, if we forget or lose its influence during the day, we rebuild, remind, re-engage and re-energize it. Then, even if you are not doing anything, it becomes a little positive. Not doing anything also becomes good karma because you are not engaging in negativity. If you engage more in positivity, it not only becomes good karma, but it becomes strong, powerful, and effective good karma. This is the human advantage. This is the advantage of Buddha’s experience. Otherwise, you talk about karma as huge, bigger than space, while it is the individual’s deeds and habits.
Also our time is limited. Our task, our goal, our destination, is a steep climb. You need powerful efforts. We have to produce these. That is done not only by not creating negative karma, and through building positivity.
By Gelek Rimpoche
I was planning to go to New York and have a Jewel Heart Fundraising Dinner on the 29th, but Sunday was a topsy-turvy day, as we all know. Not only did we have to cancel our flight, but neither I nor Philip had a way of getting to New York that day. I thought of driving there, but the weather conditions became much worse. Then we had no alternative but to postpone it.
It is an amazing, unpleasant surprise when it hits our own country and especially New Jersey and New York City – one of the largest and most important cities in the world. It really shakes us up when it hits home. It reminds me what impermanence is all about. It reminds me what samsara is all about.
I personally called and checked on a number of our friends and for those I couldn’t reach Amy Hertz and Debbie Burr contacted them on my behalf and I am relieved that everyone is OK. For those who lost lives or loved ones, we pray and dedicate our positive deeds for their well-being.
By Gelek Rimpoche
For me, I am grateful for President Reagan because during his presidency I entered the United States as a green card holder. And I am grateful for President Clinton because during his tenure I became a citizen of the United States. Therefore, I am grateful to both parties. Also I am grateful that I can exercise a citizen’s right to appoint the next president of the United States, my senators, house of representatives, as well as the judges, if I want to (the president).
Locho Rinpoche Visiting Jewel Heart
By Gelek Rimpoche
We are really excited and waiting for Kyabje Locho Rinpoche to be able to walk in through the doors of Jewel Heart. The teaching that I requested was a little too much and I was a little afraid of requesting it, however, he very kindly accepted to teach Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa’s “Essence of True Eloquence,” which is one of the major, major, major texts of Buddhist practice, philosophy and theology, and which Professor Thurman translated decades ago.
I intended to ask Professor Thurman to translate the complete teachings but in the meantime we got a wonderful translator, an American Buddhist monk, Stephen Carlier, who is a geshe (an outstanding scholar). Later, Thurman heard of my intention and when we met in New York, he told me he would be happy to translate whenever he can, but there are days when he has to lecture elsewhere. But whenever he is available he will come. Anyways, it is great Professor Thurman is joining us.
We would also like to make this teaching without charge. Any donations are welcome and will go to Kyabje Locho Rinpoche after the travel expenses have been paid.
Visit to Lincoln, Nebraska
By Gelek Rimpoche
The first weekend of November I will be going over to Nebraska. Our folks in Nebraska have made nice arrangements for a public talk and student and faculty QA at Southeast Community College. I will also be giving a Jewel Heart teaching. Ujjen is joining me and would like to pitch membership for Jewel Heart. After all, Nebraska is the heartbeat of the United States. Maybe we can convince Bob Kerry to become an honorary member!
By Gelek Rimpoche
Since I came back from Asia, I thought I would have a lot of time to do a lot of things, including spending time to write a book, which I do owe to the publishers. But, ever since then I have been so busy and have already gone to New York three times. Actually four times, including Garrison, and I’m looking forward to being in New York for the H. H. Dalai Lama’s visit, as well as the Jewel Heart benefit.
The folks in Jewel Heart do realize that Jewel Heart needs money too, so we are having a benefit on the 29th of October. Philip Glass told me yesterday on the phone that he has some exciting questions and he is preparing more questions and sharpening them, so I’ve been warned to watch out! He won’t tell me what they are about but I’m looking forward to our conversation. It will be fun and I hope that all of you can make it.