Gelek Rimpoche

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Gelek Rimpoche
Nawang Gelek Rimpoche (aka Gehlek Rimpoche)
Born(1939-10-26)26 October 1939
Died15 February 2017(2017-02-15) (aged 77)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
ReligionTibetan Buddhist
SchoolDrepung Monastery
Senior posting
TeacherKyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Khensur Denma Locho Rinpoche, Song Rinpoche

Kyabje Nawang Gehlek Rimpoche (Tibetan: སྐྱབས་རྗེ་དགེ་ལེགས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ།, Wylie: skyabs rje dge legs rin po che/) was a Tibetan Buddhist lama born in Lhasa, Tibet on October 26, 1939. His personal name was Gelek; kyabje and rimpoche, are titles meaning "teacher" (lit., "lord of refuge") and "precious," respectively. He was a tulku, an incarnate lama of Drepung Monastic University, where he received the scholastic degree of Geshe Lharampa, the highest degree given, at the exceptionally young age of 20.[1] The 14th Dalai Lama[2] said "he completed his traditional Buddhist training as a monk in Tibet prior to the Chinese Takeover."[3]

Considered "an important link to the great lineages of Tibet’s great masters, especially of the Geluk school. Known more famously for the Tibetans as Nyakre Khentrul Rinpoche, Rinpoche had been instrumental in reprinting many of the Geluk texts in the 1970s, and also remained an important object of affection for both Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Of course, his emergence as one of the great Tibetan teachers in the West has also been a source of inspiration for many.”[4] Gelek Rimpoche was a nephew of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He was tutored by many of the same masters who tutored the current 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

In 1959, Gelek Rimpoche fled to India from Tibet and gave up monastic life. He was one of the first students of the Young Lamas Home School.[5][6][7] He was director of Tibet House in New Delhi, India and a radio host at All India Radio.[8] He conducted over 1000 interviews, compiling an oral history of the fall of Tibet to the Communist Chinese. He was the founder and president of Jewel Heart, "a spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian organization that translates the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism into contemporary life."[9][10][11]

He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1987 to teach Buddhism. He became an American citizen[12] and founded Buddhist communities in Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Chicago, Cleveland, Nebraska, New York, Maylaysia and The Netherlands.[13]

Beat-poet Allen Ginsberg was among the more prominent of Jewel Heart's members. Ginsberg met with Gelek Rinpoche through the modern composer Philip Glass in 1989.[14] Allen and Philip jointly staged benefits for the Jewel Heart organization. Professor Robert Thurman, Joe Liozzo, and Glenn Mullin are also Jewel Heart members and frequent lecturers.

Gelek Rinpoche died on February 15, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan after undergoing surgery the previous month.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation, (foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama), Riverhead Books, 2001, ISBN 1-57322-196-1
  • The Tara Box: Rituals for Protection and Healing From the Female Buddha (with Brenda Rosen), New World Library, 2004, ISBN 1-57731-461-1
  • Essentials of Modern Literary Tibetan: A Reading Course and Reference Grammar (with Melvyn C. Goldstein, Lobsang Phuntshog), University of California Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0520076228, ISBN 0520076222
  • A History of Modern Tibet, Vol. 1 1913-1951', (with Melvyn C Goldstein), University of California Press, 2008, ISBN 0520061403, ISBN 9780520061408, ISBN 9780520075900, ISBN 0520075900
  • A History of Modern Tibet, Vol. 2, The calm before the storm, 1951-1955,(with Melvyn C Goldstein), University of California Press, 2009, ISBN 9780520249417, ISBN 0520259955
  • How the Mind Works, Jewel Heart, 2016, ASIN B01H2MXIDE
  • Perfection of Wisdom: An Essential Explanation of the Mantra and the Five Paths, 2014, ASIN B00KCX3IUE
  • The Three Principles of the Path: A Brief Explanation, Jewel Heart, 2014, ASIN B00KDIZBZ8
  • Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life: Chapter 3; Full Acceptance of the Awakening Mind, Jewel Heart, 2013, ASIN B00BUVLZNE
  • 37 Wings of Change, Jewel Heart, 2012, ASIN B006WFKPUM
  • Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life: Chapter 6; Patience, Jewel Heart, 2010, ASIN B00BUYYN3U
  • The Four Mindfulnesses: On the Basis of a Poem by the Seventh Dalai Lama with Commentary by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Jewel Heart, 2009, ISBN 193499409X
  • The Four Noble Truths, Jewel Heart, 2009, ISBN 1934994057
  • Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life: Chapter 7; Enthusiasm, Jewel Heart, 2008, ASIN B00BUYYN58
  • GOM: A Course In Meditation, Jewel Heart, 2005, ASIN B004N84VLE
  • Lam Rim: Foundations of the Path, Jewel Heart, 2005, ASIN B00KD3OOLU
  • Transforming Negativities, Jewel Heart, 2004, ASIN B004N63770
  • Catalogue : first exhibition in new Tibet House, (with Gyaltsen Yeshey, Nicholas Ribush, Trisha Donnelly); Tibet House, New Delhi, India), 1979, OCLC Number: 37437276


  1. ^ Tworkov, Helen. "A Lama for All Seasons: An Interview with Gelek Rinpoche". Tricycle Magazine. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Gelek Rinpoche". Mandala Magazine, FPMT. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  3. ^ Gehlek, Nawang (2001). Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation. New York: Riverhead Books. pp. Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. ISBN 9781573221962.
  4. ^ Lewis, Craig (February 16, 2017). "Respected Tibetan Teacher Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche Dies". Buddhistdoor Global. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  5. ^ Mackenzie, Vicki (March 28, 2017). The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi: British Feminist, Indian Nationalist, Buddhist Nun. Shambhala. p. 102. ISBN 1611804256. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  6. ^ Namgyal, Tsewang (July 27, 2009). "Foundations for a Modern Tibet". Phayul. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  7. ^ Liozzo, Joe. "Celebrating Gelek Rimpoche". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Remembering a Great Teacher: the learned and inspiring Gelek Rimpoche of Jewel Heart International left behind a sparkling jewel of Dharma teachings". Buddha Weekly. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Art and Impermanence". Rubin Museum of Art. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  10. ^ Gehlek Rimpoche, Nawang (Winter 2001). "The Real Enemy Nawang Gehlek Rimpoche exhorts us to let go of anger and take charge of our minds" (Nawang Gehlek Rimpoche). Tricycle Foundation. Tricycle Magazine. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  11. ^ Rimpoche, Gelek (February 17, 2017). "Enlightenment in Female Form". Lion's Roar, Buddhadharma, Lion's Roar. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  12. ^ Norbu, Konchog (March 20, 2014). "Trailer: New documentary celebrates "The American Rimpoche"; June premieres in NY, DC". Lion's Roar Foundation. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  13. ^ Silliman, Daniel (December 28, 2017). "A woman who married God, a chess-playing priest and 10 more fascinating religious figures who died in 2017". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  14. ^ "Lifeline". Allen Ginsberg dot org. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  15. ^ "The Office of Tibet Mourns the Passing of Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche". The Office of Tibet, Washington, DC. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  16. ^ Biddlecombe, Wendy Joan (February 15, 2017). "Tibetan Buddhist Lama Gelek Rimpoche Has Died". Tricycle. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  17. ^ Meade Sperry, Rod. "Remembering Gelek Rimpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author (1939-2017)". Lion’s Roar Foundation. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  18. ^ Lewis, Craig. "Respected Tibetan Teacher Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche Dies". Buddhistdoor Global. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  19. ^ Magill, Mark. "Remembering Gelek Rimpoche". The Tricycle Foundation. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Jewel Heart: Remembering the Life of Gelek Rimpoche". Be Here Now Network. Retrieved 9 March 2018.

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