Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobzang Tsetan is a Tibetan Buddhist monk from Ladakh, India who has been traveling and teaching in the United States for over thirty years. He began his monastic life at age seven in Stok, his family village in Ladakh, India. At age thirteen he joined the Stok Monastery to study and memorize Buddhist scriptures. In 1952, when he was fifteen years old, he walked 800 miles with his father from Ladakh to Shigatse, Tibet to enter the renowned Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Rinpoche received his novice monk vows there and studied Buddhist philosophy at the monastery’s Skilkhang College with many prominent Tibetan scholars.
His dream was to receive the Geshe degree in Buddhist philosophy, roughly equivalent to a Ph.D. This dream was deferred for him when the Chinese government intensified their policy of cultural genocide on occupied Tibet in 1959, so Rinpoche escaped to his homeland in 1960. Back in the village of his birth, he studied tantric practices, and then joined the School of Buddhist Philosophy in Choglamsar for seven years. Following this Rinpoche went to Varanasi, India, where many high lamas in exile had resettled and built new monastic colleges, and received his Shastri degree, the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Afterwards, he felt a responsibility to return to Stok and contribute to the community through teaching, so from 1974-1978 Rinpoche taught high school in Ladakh. Then he received a special invitation to come to the United States and teach at the first Tibetan Buddhist learning center in America, Labsum Shedrub Ling in Washington, New Jersey. He went in hopes of learning English and completing his Geshe degree studies. He accomplished both, and in 1984 returned to the Drepung Monastery for commencement.
Since that time Rinpoche has been traveling and teaching in the United States for part of the year, and returning to Ladakh during the summer months to oversee activities at the Siddhartha School and later at the monastery. His association with the Manjushri Center in Amherst and other connections have provided him with extensive teaching positions and lecturing opportunities at a number of schools including Smith, Bowdoin, Amherst, Hampshire, Drew, Maine College of Art, Bangor Theological Seminary, Phillips Exeter Academy, Deerfield Academy, Stanford and others.
In 1995, Rinpoche founded The Siddhartha School in his home village in Stok, Ladakh. The school seeks to preserve Tibetan Buddhist Culture and language while giving the children of this remote Himalayan area a well-rounded education, which allows them to represent themselves and their culture in our rapidly evolving global community.
In 1996, shortly after he founded the school, H.H. Dalai Lama, appointed Rinpoche to be the head abbot of the newly reestablished Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in India. (This is in the absence of the 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet’s most revered reincarnating masters and traditionally Tashi Lhunpo’s abbot, who has been missing since the Chinese Government took him and his family into custody when he was 4 years old.) Khen Rinpoche humbly set aside this great honor, with the Dalai Lama’s blessings and support, so that he could devote himself completely to the Siddhartha School. However, in 2005 His Holiness again asked Rinpoche to accept the abbot position, and this time he could not refuse. In July, 2005 Rinpoche was installed as Kachen, or head abbot, of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in southern India. His title at that time became Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobzang Tsetan.
Previously Hosted Teachers at Tashi Gatsel Ling
Geshe Ngawang Tenley was born in 1969 and in 1989 began preparation to become a monk under the guidance of his uncle, Geshe Tsulga. He was ordained by the late Gyume Khensur Geshe Urgyen Tseten Rinpoche in 1990 and began the program of studies to become a geshe at Sera Je Monastery. During the course of his studies, he has received many teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as other highly qualified masters. In 1998, he received his full ordination (gelong) vows from His Holiness, and in November 2008, after eighteen years of rigorous studies, he completed his final exams to be conferred the geshe degree at Sera Je Monastery. He began teaching at Kurukulla Center in 2009, and was appointed the resident teacher by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2010 following the passing away of Geshe Tsulga. His cheerfulness and humility endear him to everyone he meets.
Venerable Robina Courtin was ordained in the late 1970s. Since then she has worked full time for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s FPMT. Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, executive director of Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners have been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.
Lama Willa Miller has studied and practiced in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for the last twenty years in the non-sectarian Kagyu, Nyingma and Shangpa lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Her teachers and guides have included Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Lama Norlha Rinpoche, Lama John Makransky and others. She completed two traditional Three Year Retreats in the nineties, was authorized as a lama [Buddhist minister] in 1999, and teaches Tibetan Buddhist practice, meditation and yoga in the Northeast. Her teaching specialties include natural meditation (mahamudra), heart-cultivation (lojong), deity practice, and practices for deep retreat. She is interested in the practical integration of meditation into daily life, and the power of nature to inspire authentic presence. She is the author of Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You (Quest Books), and the Arts of Contemplative Care (Wisdom Publications), and is the Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge. She is a Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Ministry at Harvard Divinity School, and has a PhD from Harvard University.