Our Resident Geshe, Geshe Tenzin Nyima
Geshe Tenzin Nyima was born in 1971 into a farming family in the region of Kham in Tibet. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Drayab Magon (Drayab Mother) Monastery in Kham. He began his studies immediately and quite unusually studied aspects of tantra and rituals. At the monastery conditions were difficult but this did not matter to Geshe Nyima who realized that there were not enough Gurus to enable him to really study of Dharma or monks to learn to debate and study together. He longed to have the opportunity to learn the Dharma and to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama and receive teachings and blessings from him. In 1995, after nine years at the monastery he and eleven others escaped from Tibet via Lhasa to Solu Khumbu, a distance of 1000 km, walking over seventy days in life threatening conditions.
Geshe-la arrived in India and then enrolled in Drepung Monastery in Karnataka, South India where he studied the Buddhadharma. The food and hot and wet climate of South India as compared to that of Tibet resulted in difficult health issues for Geshe-la and he then went on to Kopan Monastery in Nepal. He then spent fourteen years there and attained the degree of Geshe in 2005. During this time, Geshe-la fulfilled his aim of studying philosophy and the major texts of the Gelug school and also learnt and practiced various tantras and aspects from both the lower and upper tantric colleges.
In 2011, Geshe-la was appointed to the important position of discipline master (dGe-skos, Disciplinarians) for two years at Kopan Monastery. Geshe-la had also come to Theckchen Choling (Singapore) as a monk in the early 2000’s to help with numerous events and he, like numerous other monks from Kopan Monastery have been instrumental in assisting Namdrol Rinpoche in bringing about the flourishing of Buddhadharma and the activities of Thekchen Choling (Singapore).
We are very pleased that Geshe Nyima is back here with us in Singapore , to lead and guide us and also an inspiration to remind us the lengths to which he went to receive the teaching of Buddha.
Resident Sangha Lama Phuntsok
Born in 1968 in the region of Tsum, Nepal; Lama Tenzin Phuntsok was fascinated by temple monks in robes and he liked the idea of being a monk.
At 13, he requested a Kagyu Rinpoche to bring him to Kathmandu, and after arriving, he was brought to Boudha Stupa where he helped clean the area, mani wheels and used butter lamps etc. The Rinpoche then brought him to Kopan Monastery in 1984. At the same time, he was ordained and given vows under a Rinpoche from India.
Lama Phuntsok then met the Late Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup and immediately spent the next 16 years studying the Buddha Dharma (1984-1990). In 1990, he spent another three years studying under a Kopan Tantric master.
In 1995, he went to Hong Kong and Italy to create sand mandalas. He also went to Germany to do Lama Dance under the tutorage of Geshe Lama Konchog.
In 1999 he stayed in Taiwan till 2016; serving the 3 Taiwan FPMT Centers (Jinxiu Farlin, Shakyamuni Center, Heruka Center); helping the resident Rinpoche by teaching the Tibetan Language & mudras etc. He also completed 3 retreats during his stay in Taiwan.
In March 2016 he was in Thekchen Choling (Malaysia) at Kota Tinggi to help fill the giant Thousand-Armed Chenrezig. Since then, Lama Tenzin Phuntsok has been with us in Thekchen Choling (Singapore).
Ani Chodron, 41, was ordained in 2004. Ani Chodron is among Lama’s first disciples, having met him in 1994.“By 2004, I had known Lama for a decade already. I experienced Lama’s kindness and I always wanted to be of service to him. Because I was working shifts, I could not actively help Lama and the temple. It was then that Lama told me that if I really wanted to be of service to the Buddhadharma, I should consider becoming a nun. With no one to hold me back, as my parents had passed away before I met Lama, I decided to do just that. I am really grateful to Lama and to Thekchen Choling. Without them, I would never be able to practise Dharma in this capacity.”
Ani Dechen, 42, was ordained in 2006. “Since I was young, I’ve always been interested in religion and spiritual matters. After I came to Thekchen Choling,the urge became more pronounced. Sometime in 2006, I reflected on my life and felt that professional pursuits and worldly endeavours did not make my life more meaningful. When I consulted Lama about my situation, he suggested that since I was dissatisfied with the householder’s life, I should consider the monastic path. I thought hard about this and finally with my parents’ permission, I decided to become a nun. Since then, I’ve noticed a gradual transformation – I think and react differently from before.”
Ani Chokyi, 40, joined Thekchen Choling in 2006 and was immediately attracted to the place, its Lama and the disciples. What was particularly special to her was that Lama was giving regular Dharma teachings in Mandarin. Being shy of her English language skills, the teachings were a blessing for her. “Lama’s teachings really opened my heart. It is hard to find a Lama who can teach in Chinese and in a way that is so clear and direct.” Ani Chokyi was ordained in 2007.
As a child, Ani Kunsang was exposed to both Buddhism and Taoism, but unfortunately, her parents were unable to answer her questions regarding Buddhism. In 2004, she went to Thekchen Choling when Namdrol Rinpoche held teachings at Bukit Timah were her questions finally answered. Here was a teacher who taught in English at a time when it was rare to find English teachings about Buddhism. In the earlier years, Ani Kunsang was advised by Rinpoche to take ordination vows by both Namdrol Rinpoche and Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup Rigsel. She was unable to do so as she had to tend to her aged parents. With the passing of her parents, she decided that the time was right, not to procrastinate and took ordination vows on 21st February 2017.