Eye on Southeast Asia: The 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s activities in Indonesia 2024 – New Center, Chosgar Ling, and Amitabha empowerment

“Knowing that the purpose of dharma is to dispel negative emotions and the dharma centre is established to serve that purpose, we should understand that even if we can dispel the negative emotion of one being by establishing this Dharma center, it has served the purpose.” – 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche (4th May 2024)

On 4 May this year, a new page and chapter for the Karma Kagyu began in Indonesia with the opening of a new Dharma centre, Goshri Chogar Ling, by the great Karma Kagyu master, 12th Goshri Gyaltsab Rinpoche, followed by a Buddha Amitabha empowerment, which I was fortunate to attend in person.

As written about in previous articles, I have attended several teachings and empowerments of 12th Goshri Gyaltsab at Ralang and Zurmang Monastery Sikkim, India and at Bokar Monastery, Mirik, and witnessed his giving the red hat ceremony there and in Bodh Gaya. However, the last time I was able to attend his teachings in person was in 2018 at the Kagyu Monlam Bodh Gaya, just before the COVID lockdown.

It was a great joy to be able to attend these events, and also as a first-time visitor to Indonesia, a country that Rinpoche explained has great significance as a place where many great masters visited:

As for the place of practicing dharma, it is Batam in Indonesia. In the past, this land was blessed by many great masters, both Mahasidhas and great Buddhist scholars, such as Guru Padma Sambhava and Jowo Je Atisha. These were some of the great masters about whose visit to Indonesia, we have written information. But there might have been many other great masters who blessed this land.  Even these days, the teachings of Buddhism are flourishing, and there are many pieces of evidence such as ancient statues and ruins of ancient Buddhist monasteries which clearly show that Buddhism flourished widely here in this land during ancient times.

12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche

Since last year, Rinpoche looks fragile and much thinner, and he is now 70 years old, so it was inspiring and moving to see him traveling such long distances and still engaging in Dharma activities, despite his age and ill-health.  Sharing the blessings and merit!

The 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche with 17th Gyalwang Karmapa and Tulku Rinjung Rinpoche (who is leading the new Dharma centre in Batam island

Goshri Chogar Ling – Batam Island

The new Dharma centre, Goshri Chosgar Ling, is located in Batam Island, a short ferry ride of one hour from Singapore. It is led by one of Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s students, Tulku Rinjung Rinpoche (who, as the 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche explained, was picked by the 17th Karmapa in a detailed letter he wrote for his discovery). I traveled there alone from Malaysia to Singapore overland by bus and then ferry to Batam.

The main shrine room where Rinpoche conducted purification and aspiration rituals with several monks from Ralang and Rumtek monasteries in attendance, was lovely with a whole set of thangka images on the surrounding walls of the Goshri Gyaltsab lineage.

Once inside during the purification rituals for the centre. Tears of joy and heart-breaking grief started pouring from my eyes as I felt the incredible love,devotion of Gyaltsab Rinpoche for the 17th Karmapa, and a deep sadness that he could not travel and teach freely as before.

Adele Tomlin with two of the new stunning painting images of the Goshri Gyaltsab lineage in the new Dharma centre, Chosgar Ling, Batam Island. Image by the author

Click here for a transcript of the short teaching 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche gave for the opening ceremony (translated into English by Khenpo Lek Thong).

Rinpoche also gave the oral transmission of an Avalokiteshvara practice, in which the great Lord of Compassion fills the whole of space.  In the afternoon, a Mahakala Bernagchen in union with consort, Rangjung Gyalmo ritual was performed by the monastics and devotees.

The following day, on 5 May 2024, Rinpoche bestowed the empowerment of Amitabha to a packed audience at the Swiss-Bell Hotel Harbour Bay. It was a well-organised event with personal bags, notepads, pens, and vegetarian food freely given to attendees by the organisers.

The importance of the Goshri Gyaltsab lineage for the survival of the Karma Kagyu and his unbreakable connection and devotion to the Karmapas

The 1st Goshri Gyeltsab Rinpoche

Recently, I wrote the biography of 2nd Goshri Gyaltsab, Tashi Namgyel for Treasury of Lives and it goes without saying that his liberation story is inspiring indeed. He was a key figure in the dispute at that time regarding the recognition of the actual 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje (one of the most prolific scholars and masters in the Karmapa lineage) due to an impostor candidate being put forward.

Also, in a moving oral tribute by the 17th Karmapa explained in a Facebook video, without the Goshri Gyaltsab tulku lineage during the time of the 10th Karmapa onwards, when the devastating plundering and destruction by the Mongolian army and violent takeover of Tibet headed up by the Gelugpas caused “almost all the Karma Kamtsang monasteries in central Tibet disappeared. . . and at that time,” the Goshri Gyaltsab was central in importance in “governing all the monasteries in central Tibet” keeping the Dharma alive there with his “gentle,” “delicate” methods. Constantly governing, protecting and propagating the Dharma when the lineage suffered from the “calamity.”

Also, in terms of the current 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche, the 17th Karmapa explained how he had been the key person in protecting the Dharma teaching halls and retreat centres of Rumtek Monastery during the attempted violent and forceful takeover by 14th Zhamarpa and his followers with the Indian army. This takeover using the Indian military without the permission or knowledge of the Sikkim state, caused Sikkim officials to go on strike for two days (for more on that, see Mick Brown’s book and my interview with him).

The 17th Karmapa and Gyaltsab Rinpoche in 2017. From Facebook

The 17th Karmapa explained how to this day Gyaltsab Rinpoche has looked after Rumtek monastery well and is without doubt the “body, speech and mind” of the Karmapa and that:

“The name of Gyaltsab (Regent) is not only a mere name. It is necessary that the name matches its meaning. So one does not need to introduce the meaning of the name with long, wordy explanations, but that it is clear by itself inherently. . . Nowadays, I deeply feel that it is so rare to  have a teacher’s body, speech and mind without any affectation like Gyeltsab Rinpoche, I feel great reverence for him and believe in him deeply. The reason we are able to receive teachings from him in person, is due to eons of karmic accumulation. It can never be just some sheer good luck. “

Below are some resources to 12th Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s teachings. Firstly, my website has published an article on the Lion-Faced Ḍākinī empowerment, which I received from Rinpoche twice. Secondly, his long-time translator-scholar, Khenpo Leg Thong (who kindly assisted me with a translation of which Gyaltsab Rinpoche bestowed to us at Bokar Monastery, Mirik in 2018), wrote a moving tribute in July 2022 to Rinpoche for his 69th birthday, in which he described the incomparable devotion he had to the 17th Karmapa, whom he saw as “no different in any way physically or mentally” from his former teacher, the 16th Karmapa. Finally, on YouTube is a teaching Rinpoche gave several years ago, in which he explains the meaning of the word devotion (mogu).

See more

Goshri Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s programs in Indonesia (Facebook)
‘DANCE OF 17 LIVES: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF TIBET’S 17TH KARMAPA’. New Video/podcast interview with writer/journalist, Mick Brown (Dakini Conversations: Ep.3) and accompanying book review (Dakini Translations)
Lion-Faced Dakini sadhana by Karma Chagme (Dakini Translations)
English translation of Ziche Leethong’s speech on the 69th birthday of Drung Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche on the 13th July, 2022 (Facebook)
“Mugu,” Elements of Spiritual Motivation (Buddhism), H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche (YouTube)

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