Our Founder, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso—affectionately known as Geshe-la—devoted his entire life to the study, practice and flourishing of Kadampa Buddhist teachings throughout the world. After coming to the West in 1977, he worked tirelessly to establish a modern presentation of the Kadampa lineage of teachings with the blessings and encouragement of his own precious Spiritual Guide, Trijang Dorjechang Rinpoche. Geshe-la’s presentation, retaining the pure meanings and insights of Buddha’s original teachings, is accessible and suitable for modern-day practitioners. Through his great dedication and skill, everyone—regardless of race, nationality, culture, age, or gender—has the opportunity to practice scientifically-proven methods for solving the problems of daily life that ultimately lead to true and lasting happiness. In his teachings Geshe Kelsang emphasizes the importance of meditation and how to apply it in daily life, the need to be truly happy, and how to cultivate a good heart to help others — and he demonstrates these qualities perfectly in his own life.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso passed into the clear light in 2022.

"I understand through my own experience that Kadam Dharma is the supreme protection from suffering, the real method to solve human problems. Our intention in teaching Dharma is not just to spread Buddhism; we are trying to help people of this world by giving them special methods to solve their daily problems and to achieve the permanent happiness of liberation."

Born in Tibet in 1931 and ordained a Buddhist monk at the age of eight, Geshe Kelsang then studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title “Geshe”, which literally means “spiritual friend” under the guidance of Trijang Dorjechang Rinpoche, his Spiritual Guide.

After leaving Tibet in 1959, he spent the next 18 years in solitary meditation retreats in the Himalayan region in northern India. In 1977, encouraged by his own Spiritual Guide, Geshe-la accepted an invitation to come to Manjushri Centre in England to teach Buddhism to the people in the West.

"I can truly say that meeting Trijang Dorjechang made my life meaningful. Through him I came to understand the real meaning of Dharma. My entire ability to teach and all the help I give comes from this Lama."

In 1991, Geshe-la founded the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT~IKBU), which now comprises approximately 1,300 Kadampa centers and branches in cities as far afield as Perth, Australia, Querétaro, Mexico, and Durban, South Africa. It also has a number of retreat centers around the world, including in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the US.

"For Buddhadharma to flourish throughout the world and the wishes of all living beings to be fulfilled depends totally on the development of qualified Dharma centers. Only Dharma centers provide Dharma teachings, study programs, Dharma books, and other necessary conditions. Without qualified Dharma centers there is no possibility of pure Buddhadharma developing."

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso wrote  24 books, founded over 1,300 meditation centers, established modern Kadampa study programs adaptable to different countries, trained thousands of qualified teachers, established a flourishing ordained community, and created the Temples for World Peace project to build a Kadampa Buddhist temple in every major city in the world.

In his teachings, Geshe Kelsang emphasizes the importance of meditation and how to apply it in daily life, the need to be truly happy, and how to cultivate a good heart to help others.

Not only did he demonstrate these qualities perfectly in his own life, but he inspired so many people from so many different countries because he taught by example; a humble Buddhist monk dedicated to helping people throughout the world find true happiness.

"My books are commentaries to Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and his teachings are commentaries to Buddha's teachings. So these books are Buddha’s teachings. People may say that I am the author of Joyful Path of Good Fortune but in reality it is Je Tsongkhapa’s teaching. Dharmapala Dorje Shugden gave encouragement and energy to produce such a book, and helped to gather the necessary conditions and dispel obstacles, but the teachings themselves came from Je Tsongkhapa’s wisdom."

Geshe-la has written 24 authoritative books and composed over 50 sadhanas (prayer booklets), which have been translated into many different languages.