Our founder – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Our founder, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche (Geshe-la), passed away peacefully at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in September 2022, at the age of 92.
Venerable Geshe-la, a truly remarkable person, lived a life of extraordinary service to others. Born in a remote village high on the Tibetan plateau he ordained as a Buddhist monk at the age of eight and spent the next twenty years studying the teachings of Buddha in the great Tibetan monasteries.
After concluding his studies and being awarded the title ‘Geshe’, which means ‘virtuous spiritual friend’, he entered a life of meditation, engaging 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.
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 Centre 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.
Since that time Manjushri Centre was Venerable Geshe-la’s spiritual home, where he gave thousands of teachings. Many of these teachings have been published in 23 highly acclaimed books on Buddhism and meditation.
Throughout his life he was a great believer in the universal applicability of Buddha’s teachings and presented them in such a way that everyone, regardless of nationality, age or gender, can put them into practice in their daily lives and begin to experience true inner peace.
He understood the problems faced by modern people and showed how we can solve them through simple scientific methods taught by Buddha. But though his teachings are extraordinarily clear and easy to understand 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.
While at Manjushri Centre Geshe Kelsang designed and oversaw the construction of the first Kadampa Temple for World Peace, and inaugurated the International Temples Project with the intention to establish Buddhist institutions such as Temples throughout the world.
Over the years, Venerable Geshe-la founded more than a thousand meditation centres and groups in over forty countries, and has established three study programmes – the General Programme, the Foundation Programme, and the Teacher Training Programme – to be taught continuously at these centres.
He trained hundreds of teachers and ordained scores of monks and nuns, and transmitted 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.
Even when he retired as Spiritual Director, he continued 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.