Our Founder, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Venerable Geshe-la has devoted his entire life to the learning and then flourishing Buddhist teachings throughout the world. After coming to the West in 1977, he worked very hard to establish a modern presentation of the Kadampa lineage of teachings. His presentation retains all the meanings and insights of Buddha’s original teachings, in a format that is accessible and suitable for modern-day practitioners. Through his great kindness everyone – regardless of nationality, culture, age or gender – now has the opportunity to practice scientifically proven methods for solving the problems of daily life that ultimately lead to true and lasting happiness.
A lifetime devoted to flourishing Modern Buddhism throughout the World
Born in Tibet in 1931 and ordained a Buddhist monk at the age of eight, Geshe Kelsang then studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title “Geshe”, which literally means “spiritual friend”, under the guidance of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, his Spiritual Guide. After leaving Tibet in 1959, he spent the next eighteen years in meditation retreats in the Himalayan region and northern India.
In 1977, encouraged by his own Spiritual Guide, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso accepted an invitation to come to Manjushri Centre in England to teach pure Dharma to the people in the West.
“I can truly say that meeting Trijang Dorjechang made my life meaningful. Through him I came to understand the real meaning of Dharma. My entire ability to teach and all the help I give comes from this Lama.”
In 1991, Geshe-la founded the NKT-IKBU, which now has over 1400 Kadampa centers and branches around the world, in cities as far afield as Perth, Australia, Queretaro, Mexico and Durban, South Africa. There are also a number of retreat centers that have been established the world, including in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and USA.
“For Buddhadharma to flourish throughout the world and the wishes of all living beings to be fulfilled depends totally on the development of qualified Dharma centres. Only Dharma centres provide Dharma teachings, study programmes, Dharma books and other necessary conditions. Without qualified Dharma centres there is no possibility of pure Buddhadharma developing.”
Geshe-la has written 24 authoritative books and composed over 50 sadhanas, which have been translated into many different languages.
'My books are commentaries to Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and his teachings are commentaries to Buddha's teachings. So these books are Buddha’s teachings. People may say that I am the author of Joyful Path of Good Fortune but in reality it is Je Tsongkhapa’s teaching. Dharmapala Dorje Shugden gave encouragement and energy to produce such a book, and helped to gather the necessary conditions and dispel obstacles, but the teachings themselves came from Je Tsongkhapa’s wisdom.”
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso retired from formal teaching in 2009. He continues to work tirelessly writing new books and updating previous titles and helping to establish new Dharma centers throughout the world.
He has established three unique study programs and over 1400 Centers and branches around the world, trained qualified teachers and a flourishing ordained community, and created a project to build Buddhist temples in every major city in the world.
Geshe Kelsang first visited Chakrasambara Center in 1997 when the center was still located in Brooklyn and later in November 2001, he formally opened the center at its previous Chelsea location in Manhattan. In 2006 he taught at the International Kadampa Festival upstate New York (also opening the temple there), the fourth festival he has taught at in the United States.
In his teachings, Geshe Kelsang emphasizes the importance of meditation and how to apply it in daily life, the need to be truly happy, and how to cultivate a good heart to help others. He not only demonstrates these qualities perfectly in his own life, he inspires so many people from so many different countries because he teaches by example. He is a humble Buddhist monk dedicated to helping people throughout the world find true happiness.