Every Saturday starting at 10:00 am (new comers at 9:45am), Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhist practice in the Gelugpa lineage is conducted at the Zen Center. Dharma Study is offered on the first Saturday of the month, immediately following the service. The format of the practice, which is centered on the Heart Sutra, was designed by the renowned Tibetan teacher Domo Geshe Rinpoche, and began in April, 1997. It is led by Andy Hassinger, a student of Domo Geshe Rinpoche for 28 years. Newcomers are welcome; they should arrive at 11:30 a.m., and go to the rear door of the main house to meet with Andy for instruction. Dharma Study is conducted on the first Saturday of every month, immediately following the practice period.
Domo Geshe Rinpoche passed away on Sept. 10, 2001. “The more we know about the qualities of the Buddha, the more we can appreciate the qualities of our own guru,” Andy says. “Although Rinpoche’s physical body has been transformed, his compassion, wisdom, and power are always with us. In Vajrayana Buddhism, faith in one’s guru is the foundation for achieving enlightenment. The connection with the guru is not just for one life or two lives—it is forever.”
Domo Geshe Rinpoche (Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche Ngawang Gyalten Jigme Chokyi Wangchuk) was born in Sikkim on January 22, 1937, and was recognized as a tulku (a reincarnate lama) at Dungkar Gonpa in 1941. He trained at Sera Monastery, and was admired from a young age for his devotion and exemplary behavior. He graduated in 1958, just before the Communists put an end to the religious training system in Tibet, and was imprisoned by the Chinese from 1959 to 1961. After his release, he began collecting texts, thangkas, and other precious ritual art objects to be smuggled out of Tibet. He went to India, where the government formally handed over Tharpa Choling Monastery to him. He formed the U/Tsang Association in Kalimpong, and later moved to Dharamsala, where he rescued and cared for thousands of Tibetan refugees.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked him to establish Tibet House in New Delhi. Since Domo Geshe Rinpoche was an artist himself and a great expert on Tibetan and other Buddhist art, he was able to collect many precious works for the Tibet House Museum, including rare texts. He also brought a Tibetan art exhibition to Japan as a cultural ambassador for the Tibetan government, and visited twelve countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s Gelugpa lineage began with the great Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, whose appearance in 14th-century Tibet as a monk was predicted by Shakyamuni Buddha. He restored the purity of Buddha’s doctrine and demonstrated how to practice pure Dharma during degenerate times. He founded the Gelugpa School by reforming the Kadam tradition of Atisha.
“If we are concerned with the continuity of the holy teachings, the time has come to distinguish between those who invent their own personal histories to make themselves stand out among others and those who hide their good deeds while working ceaselessly to safeguard the Buddha’s true teachings,” wrote Rinpoche’s student, the late Ursula Bernis, in her biography of her teacher in 1995. “Now is the time to distinguish between those who seek to praise only themselves and those praiseworthy ones who praise only the Buddhas through their pure deeds.”