Kadampa Buddhism

Modern Kadampa Buddhism is a special, practical presentation of Buddha’s teachings that is particularly suited to the modern day. It was introduced into contemporary society by the world-renowned meditation master and scholar Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche.

Modern Kadampa Buddhism preserves the meaning and intention of Buddha’s original teachings while presenting them in a clear and systematic way that anyone of any nationality, age or gender can easily understand and put into practice.

In the word ‘Kadampa’, ‘Ka’ refers to Buddha’s teachings and ‘dam’ refers to Atisha’s instructions on Lamrim (the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, also known as Kadam Lamrim). ‘Kadam’ therefore refers to the union of Buddha’s teachings and Atisha’s instructions, and sincere practitioners of Kadam Lamrim are called ‘Kadampas’.

The New Kadampas

There are two Kadampa traditions, the ancient and the new. Practitioners of the ancient Kadampa tradition appeared to emphasize the practice of Kadam Lamrim of Sutra more than the practice of Tantra. Later, Je Tsongkhapa and his disciples emphasized the practice of Kadam Lamrim of both Sutra and Tantra equally. This new tradition founded by Je Tsongkhapa is called the new Kadampa tradition.

After Je Tsongkhapa, the New Kadampa lineage flourished for hundreds of years, reaching the present day through immensely pure lineage Gurus such as Je Phabongkhapa and Vajradhara Trijang Rinpoche.

In recent years, this precious lineage has been preserved and promoted throughout the world by the contemporary Buddhist Master, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, the present day lineage holder.

The dawn of modern Kadampa Buddhism

In 1981 Venerable Geshe-la’s Spiritual Guide, Vajradhara Trijang Rinpoche, encouraged him to develop a new presentation of Kadampa Buddhism for the modern world that everyone throughout the world could easily understand and practice. Thus, Modern Kadampa Buddhism was born.

Since that time Venerable Geshe-la has worked tirelessly to develop and promote the precious gift of Modern Kadampa Buddhism. This new presentation faithfully preserves the original meanings of the lineage of Kadampa Buddhism all the way back to Buddha himself while presenting them in a contemporary and easily accessible way.

Above all it is an international presentation open to everyone, not anchored in any specific country or culture.

The Lineage of Kadampa Buddhism

Venerable Atisha

The great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982 to 1054 AD) was responsible for reintroducing the entirety of Buddhism into Tibet.

Although Buddhism had been introduced into Tibet some 200 years earlier by Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, Buddhist practice in the country had largely degenerated during the anti-Buddhist purges of the Tibetan king, Lang Darma (circa 836 AD).

Invited by Jangchub Ö, a ruler of Ngari in western Tibet, Atisha was asked to present a Dharma that everybody could follow and that would show how all the paths of Sutra and Tantra could be practiced together.

Read Advice from Atisha’s Heart

In response, Atisha wrote Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, the original stages of the path to enlightenment or Lamrim text, which has served as the basis for all subsequent Lamrim instructions. In this way he was largely responsible for the successful revival of all Buddhist teachings of Sutra and Tantra in Tibet.

Je Tsongkhapa

Je Tsongkhapa was a famous 14th century Tibetan Buddhist Master whose appearance in Tibet had been predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni himself. Je Tsongkhapa (whose ordained name was Losang Dragpa) widely promoted and developed the Kadampa Buddhism that Atisha had introduced three centuries earlier.

Je Tsongkhapa patiently taught the Tibetans everything they needed for their spiritual development from the initial step of entering into a spiritual practice to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood.

This was a golden age in Tibet, and thousands of Tibetans were inspired by Je Tsongkhapa’s immaculate example of pure moral discipline, compassionate way of life, and profound, liberating wisdom.

His followers became known as the ‘New Kadampas’ and to this day Kadampa Buddhists worldwide study his teachings and strive to emulate his pure, compassionate example.

All the books studied at Kadampa Buddhist Centers are inspired by and based on the teachings of Je Tsonghapa, which in turn are based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and Venerable Atisha.

Venerable Geshe-la

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.

From the age of eight, Geshe-la studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title ‘Geshe’, which literally means ‘spiritual friend’. Under the guidance of his Spiritual Guide, Trijang Dorjechang Rinpoche, he then spent the next 18 years in meditation retreats in the Himalayas.

In 1977 he accepted an invitation to teach at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in England, where he lived and taught for many years, giving teachings and guidance to an ever-growing number of students, including at many International Festivals.

From 1977 to the present day, he has founded over 1,300 centers for Kadampa Buddhism around the world and trained up hundreds of modern Buddhist teachers.

© 2024 Je Tsongkhapa KBC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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