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In Service to Others: Ven. Tenzin Namdak
By Ven. Tenzin Legtsok
In November 2015, Dutch monk Ven. Tenzin Namdak completed the final exams for the 19-year geshe studies program at Sera Je Monastery in South India. He is perhaps the only Westerner to complete this program from beginning to end at any of the three seats [Sera, Ganden and Drepung Monasteries]. Due to the rigor and length of the study program, the most extensive of Tibetan Buddhism available anywhere, less than a third of the Tibetan monks who begin the geshe studies program finish, and for Westerners, the dropout rate is much higher.
Once, while onstage during a public talk in Bangalore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama quietly asked Ven. Namdak which class he had reached at Sera. On hearing that Namdak had reached vinaya, or monastic ethics, His Holiness placed his palms together as a sign of his pleasure that a foreigner had come so far in the study program. Ven. Namdak has not only completed the full 19-year program but done so in grand style. However, to give an account of his efforts by measure of grades, reputation, or time spent debating and meditating – although impressive – is perhaps less meaningful then to relate some of his service to others over the past years.
Ven. Namdak serves as director of Sera IMI House (Shedrup Zung Drel Ling), where Western FPMT monks live while studying at Sera Monastery. From its inception in 2002, Ven. Namdak has helped many Western monks find their way at Sera and provided continual encouragement to those who stay on. In 2004, Lama Zopa Rinpoche asked him to give Dharma talks to people in Bangalore. Gradually, a study group formed, and his initial groundwork has blossomed into one of FPMT’s newest centers, Choe Khor Sum Ling. Six years ago, at the request of Sera Je Monastery, he set up and began teaching an extra-curricular program training monk-students to translate Dharma into English, which continues today as the Sera Je Monastic Translators Training Program. He was one of the main organizers of an extensive series of teachings by the late His Eminence Choden Rinpoche at Sera, beginning in 2006, during which the transmissions of many rare and important teaching lineages were passed on to thousands of monks. Finally, for the past five years, as requested by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Private Office, he has led the annual pre-ordination course for aspiring monks and nuns at Tushita Meditation Centre in Dharamsala.
This is to list some obvious achievements that, as those of us who have lived and worked closely with him can attest to, have arisen from following the advice of his gurus with single-minded devotion, mindfully maintaining pure moral conduct, using each day and hour meaningfully in recognition of the value and transience of this precious human life, and sincerely wishing to benefit other sentient beings and the Buddhadharma.
- Guided Meditation on April 29, 2017 9:30 am
- Movie Day on May 1, 2017 2:00 pm
- Guru Puja on May 5, 2017 6:30 pm
- Introduction to Buddhism on May 9, 2017
- Special Lam Rim Retreat on May 10, 2017
- Medicine Buddha Puja on May 10, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on May 29, 2017
- HH the Dalai Lama public teaching on June 5, 2017 6:30 am
- Saka Dawa on June 9, 2017
- The Two Truths on June 14, 2017
Tushita is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. We're located in Northern India, in the forested hills above the town of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala - the seat in exile of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Tushita aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha. With this in mind we offer regular drop-in events and courses on introductory Buddhist philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate level courses and group retreats for more experienced students.
February to November
Monday - Saturday
9:30 - 11:30am
a break for lunch and then...
12:30 - 4:00pm