Gyelwa Shakya Rinchen returns to Phajoding

Hello everyone. The other day we had a very special visitor here at Phajoding. The reincarnation of the Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen came to visit all of us here and I spent a long time talking with him about his studies, plans for the future and what we should be teaching the monks here. Some of you may remember that Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen was the one who built all the temples here at Phajoding in the 18th century. He was also famous for being the 9th Je Khenpo (Chief Abbott of the central monk body of Bhutan) and was the heart disciple of Milarepa as well.

Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen tulku

Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen tulku

The Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen reincarnation (or tulku) is now nearly 16 years old and is studying at Nalanda Buddhist Institute in Punakha under the care and instruction of Venerable Dorji Lopen – Bhutan’s second highest religious figure after the Je Khenpo. As well as Phajoding, the Gyalwa Shakya also founded the Nalanda Buddhist Institute.

He’s quite a tall and very compassionate young man who is very interested in photography and computers. Actually, he knows a lot about computers and showed me a really nice slide show of his photos with music that he made of a recent hiking trip into the mountains.

He will finish his Masters of Buddhist studies in the next 3-4 years then he told me that he wants to come to Phajoding to complete his 3 year meditation retreat. While he was here he selected the site where he wants to build a small house for himself.  Once it is built (hopefully by the end of the year) he told me that he wants to come here often, whenever he has a break from his studies. All the monks are really excited about this news.

Once he completes his 3-year meditation retreat at Phajoding he said that he is going to permanently live here to teach the monks.

During our conversations while we were having tea together he mentioned 2 important points:

Firstly, he stressed that it was very important to teach the monks debating because it will help to stimulate their critical thinking and be the cause for a deeper understanding of Buddha’s teachings.

Secondly, he also stressed to me the importance of teaching the boys the English language. He said that without English the monks wouldn’t gain the full respect of the Bhutanese people (mainly those who are educated) as they can’t communicate the complexity and wisdom of what they have been taught properly. He is worried that some people think that monks are illiterate because they can’t speak English despite having a deep knowledge of Buddha’s teachings. He was emphasizing to me the importance of sharing Buddha’s precious knowledge with everyone. I told him that I am personally already teaching the monks English and he was very happy about this.

He really likes the web site that Khenpo Chimi Dorji and I have set up to help the monks and congratulated us on our initiative and concern for Phajoding and the young boys.

This is such good news for Phajoding and we are all very happy to have welcomed him here

While he was here he also met with the high lama that lives at Phajoding who is commonly known amongst the Bhutanese as Yanglop (Lopen Chuki Lotay). He was previously one of the 5 high lamas of the Central Monk Body. I hope you like the photos that I took.

by Lopen Namgay Tenzin

Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen tulku greeting Yanglop

Gyalwa Shakya Rinchen tulku greeting Yanglop

GW Rinpoche & Yanglop