Acharya Tenzin Yonten
Tenzin Yonten was born on August 30th, 1987, in India. Being the only son in his family, he receives every bit of love and attention from his family members. Like every child, when Yonten was young, he was very naughty and sometimes hard to control, but inside he was very calm and positive. When he was around 5 years old his family moved to Nepal, where he still has very good memories of his childhood.
In 1999, he entered monastic life, where he started learning Tibetan reading and writing, memorizing ritual text, and making tormas, etc … In the monastery, he was very happy and enjoyed every moment of his life. At an early stage of his monastic life, he began attending Rinpoche’s Shree Mangal Dvip School (SMD School). He was very obedient and sometimes made new friends.
After attending SMD School, he decided to pursue his studies further and in 2005, he joined Vajra Vidya Institute for higher Buddhist studies (shedra) in Sarnath, Varanasi, India. Life at Vajra Vidya wasn’t as easy as his earlier life, when he only had to follow the monastic curriculum at SMD School. The days at Vajra Vidya began early in the morning, memorizing Buddhist philosophical texts, and training our Body, Speech, and Mind. One of the most interesting aspects of training at Vajra Vidya is that students debate for 2 hours every evening, as it teaches the practice of the six paramitas, the path by which one can attain enlightenment.
After graduating from his higher Buddhist studies, he served SMD Branch School, teaching young monks, under Thrangu Rinpoche’s guidance. Tenzin Yonten is now serving Thrangu Monastery Canada, where he has been since 2012.
My name is Sangpo Tsering Lama. I was born in a very remote place called Nar Manang in Nepal. My parents were uneducated and they were nomads. My Dad, Sangma Tashi Lama, usually travelled with yaks, sheep, goats, and cows. My Mom, Piitar Parkyo Lama, used to help my Dad in the fields. Our living style was very simple. I have three older brothers and one younger brother. I also have three older sisters. I was lucky enough to have been born to a Buddhist family. Because of this, I am here as a monk. When I was young, my Mom and Dad sent me to Thrangu Monastery to learn about Buddhism, to educate myself, and to be a monk. They knew that they’ve always been Buddhist but they didn’t know much about Buddhism as they were uneducated. They believed that without education and knowledge, life is hard for people. I was accepted to the Monastery and became a novice monk in 1993.
During the first few days at the Monastery I was confused because village life and lay life were completely different. Sometimes I was excited and sometimes I missed my parents as I was young and had never left my parents before. In the monastery, all the faces were new to me. But slowly I got used to them and made friends. I studied hard and slowly learned how to speak, read, and write Tibetan, which was quite tough for me at first. In 1994, senior monks sent me to Shree Mangal Dvip High School for Modern Studies, where we learned about science, math, and English. It was a really good experience going to the school. Every morning, we had to hike 10 to 15 minutes from the Monastery to the school. In 1998, Rinpoche asked me to quit school because I was growing too tall, which meant I was getting too old.
In 2000, I went to Vajra Vidhya Institute to receive higher Buddhist education. I studied there for almost 7 years. After that, Rinpoche asked me to serve as Food Manager for 2 years. I really enjoyed being the Food Manager. Every morning I had to drive and do the grocery shopping, and all of the staff were very helpful and cooperative. In 2010, Rinpoche asked me to go to Canada and I was excited. When I came to Canada, everything was so different, the lifestyle, the people, so much different from the way we used to live. I am really happy to be here in Canada.
Shrine Master Yeshi Wangdi
My name is Yeshi Wangdi. I was born on January 1st, 1975, in Tsangkar Tashi Ghang Radi, Bhutan. My mother’s name is Tenzin Chonzom and my father’s name is Kota. I was born in a big family – 7 boys and 2 sisters. I joined monastic life in my own village when I was 9 years old, and a few years later, I went to Nepal to be a monk. In 1994, I was accepted by Thrangu Rinpoche in his monastery in Nepal. It was quite a different lifestyle being a monk there, because all the monks were from different places. They were friendly and I was very excited at that time. For these first few years in Boudha, I started learning the foundations of Tibetan reading and writing, memorizing texts, and practicing rituals. In 1995, I was sent to Vajra Vidya Institute in Varanasi to be the Shrine Master of their new shrine. Later in the year, I was told to be the Food Manager at Boudha. I had to take care of everything that concerned food. I had to buy the vegetables, look after the cooking, and find sponsors for food.
In 1997, I had the chance to study at the Vajra Vidya Institute for higher Buddhist studies (shedra). Rinpoche’s Institute is named after his Root Guru, H.H. the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa. It was very busy at Vajra Vidya because we had to wake up at 5:30 am and perform pujas. Then we had classes until 10:30 pm and after that, we still had homework to finish. Often, we wouldn’t finish until 12 or 1am! In 2000, Rinpoche told me to be the Food Manager at Vajra Vidya Institute, and I held this post for 7 years. In 2007, I was given the opportunity to do a Ngondro retreat at Namo Buddha, Nepal (about 20 km from Kathmandu). While in retreat, it was quite strict because we could not leave the compound. I finished my retreat at the end of 2010. I was then told to be a Retreat Assistant.
I was sent to serve Thrangu Monastery Canada in 2012, and I may be here for 2 or more years.
Acharya Karma Tsundue
My name is Karma Tsundue. I was born in 1984 in Nepal. I entered the Monastery when I was 10 years old. I wanted to become a monk because I liked the way that monks followed the Buddhist tradition. I graduated in 2005 from Vajra Vidya Institute (the Institute for higher Tibetan Buddhist philosophy) in India. One year later, I was a tutor in the Institute. In 2007, I went to Namo Buddha in Nepal to be a teacher in Shree Mangal Dvip Branch School (SMDB School), which is a school for young monks. I taught there for 5 years.
On June 22nd, 2012, I came to Canada.