The Present Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Teachings from High Lamas

Zasep Tulku received the complete Guhyasamaja initiations, commentary on Kye Rim and Tzog Rim (generation and completion stages) of Guhyasamaja practice, and transmission of the Sri Guhyasamajamahatantraraja (Guhyasamaja root text). He received Six-Armed Mahakala (Tib. Gonpo Chakdruk) initiation. In 1968, he received the complete teachings on the Lam Rim Chenmo and teachings on the Gaden Lha Gya Ma with commentary by the Seventh Dalai Lama, and he was ordained Gelong (complete monk's ordination) that same year. In 1970, he received the Kalachakra initiation and again received teachings on Lam Rim Chenmo. In 1971, he received the complete Lama Chopa (Guru Yoga) teachings and teachings on the Mahamudra root text with commentary by the Second Panchen Rinpoche. In 1973, he again received the Kalachakra initiation and the Chenrezig Wangchen.

From His Holiness Yongzin Trijang Dorje Chang he received Guhyasamaja initiations in 1964. In 1965, he received Lam Rim teachings, Bodhicitta Thought Training, Eight-verse Training of the Mind, Thirty-Seven Practices of the Bodhisattvas by Thogmed Zangpo, and Atisha's Lam Rim. He also received the complete Lama Chopa, and Vajrasattva initiation and teachings.

In 1966, he received the complete set of Heruka five deities and body mandala initiations and teachings. He received all the Vajra Yogini initiations and teachings several times and transmissions, and the set of Twenty-one Taras initiation as well as Chenrezig initiation. He received initiations of Amitayas and White Heruka for Long Life. Rinpoche also received very special teachings on the uncommon inconceivable yoga practice of Vajrayogini.  This teaching is only given to three students at one time. Rinpoche alone received this teaching when he was about eighteen. 

From His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche he received all the Yamantaka initiations and teachings on the commentaries as well as transmission of the Yamantaka Tantra root text. He received Gaden Lhargyame teachings. At Bodhgaya in 1969, he received Lam Rim Chenmo teachings and White Tara (Tib. Drolma Karmo) initiation. In 1972, he received the complete Lama Chopa teachings. Rinpoche received initiation of Amitayas, Chenrezig, Vajrayogini, Guhyasamaya, Haryagirva, King Garuda and Vajrapani.  He received commentaries on Lojong and Samayavajra.

Rinpoche also received one of the very rare sacred teachings called The combination practice of peaceful and wrathful Manjushri (Tib. Jamyang Zhe Tro Drag Drup Thun Moomg Ma Yin Pa.) Not many people know about this teaching, few Lamas have received this teaching.  According to the tradition of Geluk, you have to wait for a long time in order to receive this teaching. One has to wait for three years, three months and three days. Each year you have to make new request to the lamas.

Five Lamas made this request to H.H. Ling Rinpoche: Ven. Zasep Rinpoche, his teacher Ven. Geshe Thupten Wanggyel, Ven. Sha Ko Ken Rinpoche, Ven. Ja Moon Rinpoche, and Ven. Jhampa Kelsang Rinpoche.  After three years, three months and three days waiting, a letter arrived from H.H. Ling Rinpoche saying now it is time for you to come and receive this teaching.

The five Lamas traveled to Dharamsala from Dalhousie.  It was a great honor and happiness to receive this rare sacred teaching. The actual duration of receiving this teaching was less than three hours. H.H. Ling Rinpoche lent his own text for them to copy by hand. The text is not allowed to be printed or published.

Rinpoche's other teachers are Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Ven. Lati Rinpoche, Ven. Tara Tulku Rinpoche, and Ven. Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche

From H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, he received the initiations of Chakrasamvara Five Deities and Body Mandala, Vajrayogini, Chittamani Tara, and Chod.  He received the commentaries on Chittamani Tara, Chod according to Gaden Ear Whispered Lineage, and Six Yogas of Naropa according to Lama Je Tsong Khapa.

From Tara Rinpoche, he received initiations of Haryagirva Sangdrup, Guhyasamaya, Vajrasattva, White Manjushri, and Six-Armed Mahakala.

From Ven. Lati Rinpoche, he received the initiations of Chakrasamvara Five Deities and Body Mandala, Orange Manjushri, Medicine Buddha, White Heruka, Goddess Svarasvati, and Dharmapala Sher Tab Chen.

From Ven. Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche, he received Chod initiations and teachings of Gelukpa tradition. The initiations of Chod according to Gaden Ear Whispered Lineage and Dakini Ear Whispered Lineage. He also received initiation of Chod according to Kagyu Lineage.  Rinpoche received Kurukula initiation from Ven. Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche.

The above teachings and initiations are only the most important ones Zasep Tulku received.

Geshe Wanggyel's Passing Away

In 1972 in Dalhousie, Geshe Wanggyel told Zasep Tulku to go to Varanasi Sanskrit University to further his studies in Pramana and Madhyamika philosophies. As Zasep Tulku left, his kind and holy teacher gave him his copy of the Lam Rim Chenmo and told him that they could now no longer remain together.

After Zasep Tulku had been in Varanasi for three months, his teacher died. Before his death Geshe was unwell for only two days. He died early one morning after doing the Vajra Yogini self-initiation with some of his students. Geshe-la's body stayed up in meditation posture for three days with beautiful energy. He was in the state of clear light and bliss.

Studies, Travels and Teachings

Zasep Tulku studied for three years at Varanasi and received his Acharya (Master's) degree.

In 1975, he went to Thailand where he stayed for eighteen months and practiced vipassana and anapanasati in many forest temples, as well as studying with Achaan Buddhadasa at Wat Swanmokkhaballaram.

When Zasep Tulku Rinpoche was studying in Thailand

When Zasep Tulku Rinpoche was studying in Thailand

He was then requested by Lama Thubten Yeshe to come to Australia to act as translator for His Presence Geshe Thubten Loden. Accordingly he arrived at Chenrezig Institute for Wisdom Culture in mid-1976.

** Note—at this point in the text "Zasep Tulku" becomes "Zasep Rinpoche" **

During his three-year stay in Australia, Zasep Rinpoche traveled widely, giving Lam Rim meditation courses in Sydney and Melbourne and lectures in Adelaide and Linsmore College, Sydney. His Tasmanian students established near Devonport Darjeerling Retreat Centre in Lorinna, and in New South Wales the Tenzin Ling retreat centre was formed under his direction, near Quaama.

Rinpoche is spiritual head of Tashi Choling Centre in Hobart, Dharma Foundation of Tasmania, Tenzing Ling Centre in Quaama, Lobsang Gyalwa Mandala in Sydney and Tang Soo Tai Martial Arts Centre in Mooroochydore in Queensland, Australia and Vajra Ling Centre in Uralla, N.S.W.  Since 1984 Rinpoche goes to Australia every second year to teach at various centres.

Rinpoche in Mongolia

Rinpoche in Mongolia

The Move to Canada

After being invited to Canada by his students and relatives there, Zasep Rinpoche arrived in early 1980. He took up residence in Nelson, British Columbia, where he gave a six-week course on the theory and practice of Buddhism at David Thompson University.

In the fall of 1980, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche arrived in Toronto at the same time as Zasep Rinpoche. During that time, many students requested H.H. Ling Rinpoche for his permission and blessing in creating a center for the Gelug order. His Holiness gave the center the name Gaden Choling Mahayana Buddhist Meditation Centre and appointed Zasep Rinpoche as the resident teacher.

Once the center was well established, Zasep Rinpoche invited His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, who came to teach in Toronto in the spring of 1981. His Holiness was very pleased about Dharma activity in Toronto.

In July 1981, the growing center occupied a house in which regular teachings could be held. Since then, Rinpoche has given many teachings at Gaden Choling, including Lam Rim (the gradual path to enlightenment), the Bodhisattvacharyavatara (Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life), teachings on death, rebirth and the intermediate state, Buddhist logic and debate, Kalachakra sadhanas, seven-point thought transformation, Mahamudra teachings, and the Four Foundations (Ngondro). He has also given Chenrezig, Manjushri, Vajrapani, Medicine Buddha, White and Green Tara initiations, White Manjushri, Svarasvati, Mahakala, White Zamballa, Vajrasattva, Heruka, Yamantaka, Vajrayogini, and Chittamani Tara many times. He also gave a commentary on the sadhana of Yamantaka, Vajrayogini and Chittamani Tara, and led weekend retreats, and has given private teachings for individual students, both formally and informally.

In a traditional yurt in Mongolia

In a traditional yurt in Mongolia

Since Zasep Rinpoche arrived in Canada, his students there have started four other centers: Tashi Choling in Nelson, Zuru Ling in Vancouver, Cittamani Group in Ottawa, and Potala Centre in Thunder Bay. American students have founded Golden Blue Lotus Tara Center in Moscow, Idaho and Lama Tsong Khapa Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Rinpoche and his students at Tashi Choling, Nelson, British Columbia, are in the process of raising funds to purchase land for a temple and retreat facility in the Nelson area.  Rinpoche feels it is important to have a retreat centre in such a beautiful, clean environment as it is good for retreat practice. He wishes that many of his students from North America and Australia will come there to study and do retreats in the future. In order to achieve good concentration and solid realizations on the sutra and tantra path one needs peace, quiet and a naturally beautiful setting.

Rinpoche regularly visits his centres and offers extensive teachings, initiations and retreats which his many students attend enthusiastically. As well as establishing these Dharma centers, Rinpoche has taught courses at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado on Buddhist logic and debate, Pramanavartika, and Madhyamikavatara during the summers from 1980 to 1982. He has lectured at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and Carleton University in Ottawa, and has twice led two-week retreats at Ainsworth Hot Springs, B.C., on Medicine Buddha (Tib. Sangye Menlha) and on the Lam Rim. Zasep Rinpoche has also taught the Dharma community in Edmonton, at the Tibetan Buddhist Temple (la Temple Boudhiste Tibetaine) in Montreal, Quebec, at Thubten Dhargye Ling Center in Los Angeles, at Vajrapani Institute in Santa Cruz and at Melaripa Center in Vermont, and also Rinpoche has taught in Anchorage, Alaska.

Rinpoche and his students are involved in various levels of spiritual organization, inviting many high lamas and teachers to Canada and the U.S., such as Venerable Tara Rinpoche, Lati Rinpoche, and His Holiness the Ninth Khalka Jetsun Dampa, also inviting the late Serkong Rinpoche and the Ganden Tripa. Recently the incarnation of His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to visit many centres across Canada. Over the years Rinpoche has organized pilgrimages to India and Nepal to visit the major holy sites five times.  These pilgrimages have been very meaningful for students in terms of making connections with Lord Buddha and deepening their Dharma practice.

In November 1997, Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche brought all his centres together in Vancouver for the first Presidents meeting.  We now are working together as Gaden for the West: An international organization of Rinpoche, his students and centers, created for the express purpose of bringing, interpreting and integrating Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhism to the western world. Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche created this vehicle to make Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhism accessible to as many people as possible. People in the west are different from Tibetans in their culture, customs and psychology. Western minds need the teachings of Buddha to be presented in a way that they can understand. The teachings are the same; the interpretation is different. For instance, the six realms can be seen as a state of your mind, not a physical reality.

In Tibet, 99% of the teachings were for monks and nuns. In the west, they are 99% for lay people. Gender references need to be for both women and men. We are revising and changing the way of teaching for the western mind, not creating a new lineage.

The Buddha said we should revise and adapt to the times, the land and the people we are dealing with, so the teachings will grow and benefit those who receive them. Then the teachings will not degenerate and die. The essence of the Buddha's teaching is compassion, wisdom and understanding of the human mind—for the enlightenment of all beings.





On to Rinpoche's Address to the First Presidents Meeting

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