Our Founder

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism. Geshe-la, as he is affectionately called by his students, is primarily responsible for the worldwide revival of Kadampa Buddhism in our time.

This tradition stems from the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni as explained by the great Masters Atisa and Je Tsongkhapa After Je Tsongkhapa, the New Kadampa lineage flourished for hundreds of years, down to the present day. In recent years, it has been promoted widely throughout the world by the contemporary Buddhist Master, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche (Geshe-la) is a contemporary Buddhist meditation master who holds a complete lineage of Buddha’s teachings that he received through an unbroken chain of realized masters dating back to Buddha himself.

On the advice of his own Spiritual Guide he has pioneered the development of modern Buddhism in contemporary society, introducing a special presentation of Buddha’s teachings that preserves their original meaning while making them easily accessible and applicable to the modern world.

He was the Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition for many years. Though he has now formally retired, even at the age of eighty he continues to work tirelessly to spread the precious teachings of Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world with the intention that each and every living being will eventually experience the supreme permanent mental peace of enlightenment.

Study and Retreat

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche is a contemporary Buddhist Master and the founder of New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union. He truly is a remarkable person. He was born in Tibet, in a remote village high on the Tibetan plateau and he was ordained as a Buddhist monk at eight years old. The next twenty years of his life were spent engaged in studying the teachings of Buddha in the great Tibetan monasteries and learning to meditate.

Upon the conclusion of his studies and being awarded the prestigious title ‘Geshe’, which means ‘virtuous spiritual friend’, he used his knowledge of the scriptures and his practical knowledge of meditation to engage in deep retreat, at first near the Nepali border and later in the mountains of northern India, where he soon developed a reputation as a great meditator, with many coming to regard him as a modern day Mahasiddha (accomplished Master).

After almost twenty years in retreat, in 1977 at the behest of his own Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, Geshe Kelsang graciously accepted an invitation from Manjushri Center to travel to the West and become the Resident Teacher at what was then a fledgling Buddhist centre that had recently acquired Conishead Priory as its base.

“Developing compassion and wisdom, and helping those in need is the true meaning of life.”
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Practical Teachings

Venerable Geshe-la shows how Buddha’s teachings can be used by anyone, Buddhist or not, to solve their daily problems, improve their personal relationships and eventually attain a deep and lasting happiness and peace. Geshe-la has devoted his life to creating all the necessary conditions to support the study and practice of Buddhism in modern society, writing twenty-two highly acclaimed books, establishing over 1,200 meditation centers and groups throughout the world, developing modern study programs, training qualified meditation teachers; and establishing local, national and international courses, events and festivals. Through these immeasurably kind actions Geshe-la has laid the foundation for everyone in this troubled world to discover lasting inner peace and happiness.

This work began in 1977 at Manjushri Center which has served as Geshe Kelsang’s spiritual home. His effort became international in 1991 after he made Manjushri KMC the Mother Center of the New Kadampa Tradition, which he established the same year. From the time of his arrival until he retired a few years ago Manjushri Center was fortunate to host thousands of his teachings. Many of these teachings have been published in 22 highly acclaimed books on Buddhism and meditation, including his latest title, How to Transform Your Life.

Geshe Kelsang is believes deeply in the universal applicability of Buddha’s teachings. He feels everyone can benefit from what Buddha taught and presents them in such a way that everyone, regardless of nationality, age or gender, or background can put them into practice in their daily lives and begin to experience true inner peace.

He understands the problems faced by modern people and shows how we can solve them through simple scientific methods taught by Buddha. He is renowned for teachings that are extraordinarily clear and easy to understand, yet they contain the entire profound lineage of ancient wisdom he holds. Geshe-la’s oft-repeated phrase, ‘simple, but very profound’ perfectly encapsulates his uncommon presentation of modern Buddhism.

Benefiting the Modern World

While living at Manjushri Centre Geshe-la designed and oversaw the construction of the first Kadampa Temple for World Peace. He also created the International Temples Project, the intention beingto establish Buddhist institutions such as Temples and Centers throughout the world.  A few years later, the second Temple for World Peace was opened in New York.

Over the past forty years Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has founded more than a thousand meditation centers and groups in over forty countries on every continent, making Kadampa Buddhism a global phenomenon. This growth is based on the development of practitioners though his design of three study programs – the General Program, the Foundation Program, and the Teacher Training Program. All of these programs will be offered here in Bloomington.

Under his guidance hundreds of teachers and many hundreds of ordained monks and nuns have appeared in the world. They are all supported with a complete lineage, not only of teachings and insights but also of prayers, ritual practices, sacred art and music, all tailored to the needs of the modern world.

First International Temple for World Peace
Manjushri Center, Ulvertson England

The First Temple for World Peace, Ulverston, England

Second International Temple for World Peace
KMC New York, Glen Spey, NY

Kadampa World Peace Temple, Glen Spey, NY