Venerable Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey
The Dhargyey Buddhist Centre was founded in Dunedin, The South Island, New Zealand, in November 1984 as an international Buddhist teaching centre for the Venerable Gen Rinpoche, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, one of the most highly qualified Gelug lamas of his time. He gave it the Tibetan name Thuptän Shädrub Dhargyey Ling which can be translated as The Dhargyey Centre for Buddhist Learning and Practice. Since 1996, guidance of the Centre has passed to Gen Rinpoche’s two principal disciples- Venerable Thupten Rinpoche and Venerable Lhagon Rinpoche.
It is set up as a charitable incorporated society with The Rinpoches as advisors to The Board. The main function of the centre is to provide Buddhist Teaching to everyone who is interested- free of charge. This is achieved mainly through the teaching programme of three classes per week. The year usually starts on the first auspicious day of the Tibetan new year, which means somewhere around the end of February and runs until early December, usually with a few weeks break sometime during the year.
As a major Buddhist centre in this part of New Zealand the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre also acts to encourage harmony and unity amongst the followers of various Buddhist paths.
History: Teaching Program of Dhargyey Buddhist Centre
The teachings that were given by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey covered all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, with emphasis on the lineage taught by Jamgön Lama Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug tradition.
Teachings included Nagarjuna’s Letter to a King (Suhrllekha), Kyabje Pabongka’s Enlightenment in Your Hand (Namdröl Lagchang), Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacaryavatara), Chandrakirti’s Introduction to the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realisation (Abhisamayalankara), Je Tsongkhapa’s Great Exposition of the Path to Enlightenment (Jangchub Lam Rim Chenmo), and Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen’s Mind and Mental Factors (Sem Jung) These were interspersed with numerous short teachings on Mind Training (Lojong) by various Gelug, Kadam, Kargyu, Nyingma and Sakya masters. Recordings of some of these teachings are available here
Tantric teachings and empowerments were given from time to time as deemed appropriate. A systematic practical course in the Tibetan monastic tradition of debate was begun in 1993 under the guidance of Thubten Gendun, who studied at Sera monastery and the Sarnath Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies. Gen Rinpoche taught solely in Tibetan, so students were encouraged to learn Tibetan language as well as Buddhadharma. To facilitate this, Tibetan language was taught at the Centre, principally by the class interpreter, Losang Dawa. Every Sunday morning meditation classes were given along with a short experiential teaching to serve as the meditation topic.
Gen Rinpoche’s remaining living teacher His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited and stayed at the Centre during his visit to New Zealand in 1992. He gave his first Buddhist teaching in NZ during that visit. Gyume Kensur Ogyen Tseten, visited for several months in 1988 and in 1992-3. Both times he gave a wide variety of Buddhist discourses. Venerable Geshe Lobsang Doga was also a frequent visitor for Geshe Dhargyey from Melbourne’s FPMT Tara Institute.
Venerable Jampa Thupten Tulku Rinpoche
Venerable Jampa Thupten Tulku Rinpoche arrived and took over the role of public teaching for the Centre, after Geshe Dhargyey’s passing in 1995. Ven Thupten Rinpoche has taught many and varied classes. Ven Thupten Rinpoche’s teaching program has emphasized Buddhist practice in everyday life. He taught Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of life extensively from 1996 to 2007 reaching the end of the seventh chapter on Enthusastic Perseverance. This included referncing various commentaries and elucidating many points. Included was a very detailed discussion of Bodhisattva vows. Rinpoche also taught Mind and Mental Factors by Karchen Yeshe Gyaltsen, ‘Letter to a King’ by Arya Nagarjuna. He began Precious Garland (Rinchen Trengwa) by Arya Nagarjuna covering the first chapter. He also dwelt on Jewel Heap of Analogies of Geshe Potowa, Ven Thupten Rinpoche also gave many short course teachings, most notably his annual Eqster programme which included The 12 Links, Special Insight, Patience, Calm Abiding, 21 Tara Initiation and many others.
At the end of 2007 Ven Thupten Rinpoche took an extended sabatical from his role to allow him to honour a commitment he had made prior to coming to New Zealand. Sadly , Rinpoche passed away in 2011. A talk by Venerable Geshe Sangey Thinley about Rinpoche’s life and some of his many accomplishments can be heard here.
Venerable Lhagön Rinpoche
Venerable Lhagön Rinpoche kindly agreed to reside here also arriving in 1998. As of 2008 he has taken on the role of Spiritual Head to Dhargyey Centres generally and overseeing and advising on programmes and development of The Centre in Dunedin too.
Both Ven Lhagon Tulku and Ven Thupten Tulku were with Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey when they fled TIbet in 1959. Tulku means recognised reincarnation. Both originate from the same small monastery in Kham -East TIbet- Za Samdrup Gompa and it is believe they were close friends over some lifetimes previously also.
Current Resident Teacher
Geshe Lobsang Dhonyoe (pronounced ‘dhun-yer’) is a fully qualified teacher from the monastic university of Sera Jey, now located in southern India. Sera was one of the greatest monastic seats in pre-occupation Tibet renowned for the excellence of its scholasticism, monastic dedication and profundity of meditation practice.
Geshe-la (as we affectionately call him) is a native of Kham in eastern Tibet, and made the perilous escape into India along with the hundreds of Tibetans now living in the diaspora. ‘Geshe’ is an academic title and the equivalent of a PhD plus post-doctoral study. We feel extremely fortunate to have such a highly qualified teacher to guide us in Buddhist teachings, meditation and ritual arts.
The Dhargyey Buddhist centre is located in an historic mansion near the centre of Dunedin which has good views to the city, surrounding hills and sea. The house has a large meditation room, a library, and it is the residence of the Lamas (teachers). The house also accommodates some of the Centre’s ordained and lay supporters as well as guests.
A stupa in commemoration of Gen Rinpoche has been built about 30 minutes by car from the Centre, on the spot where his cremation ceremony took place- overlooking Portobello and the harbour heads.
Students at the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre include lay as well as some ordained.
In association with the main Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin there are two other Dhargyey centres in New Zealand which Ven Thupten Rinpoche has founded: Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling in Whangarei and Thupten Shenphen Dhargyey Ling in Christchurch. In addition, Morrinsville, Twizel, Whakatane, Blenheim and Takaka have people associated with The Centre. The Lamas also visit other centres in NZ such as the FPMT Centres of Chandrakirti, Dorje Chang Institute and Mahamudra.
There is a good collection of English language books on Buddhism as well as some in Tibetan and Chinese. These are available for borrowing to members of the Centre. The Librarian is Olga Hemmingson. The Centre also has a complete Tibetan pecha format set of Buddha’s teachings (the Kangyur) and the Indian commentaries (the Tangyur). All teachings at the Centre are recorded and are being uploaded to this website . All Geshe Dhargyey’s teachings were video and audio tape recorded and are being added to an online teaching archive on this website. . All Ven Thupten Rinpoche’s teachings were recorded on Audio cassette. As of 2008 we are recording in digital electronic format.
You can find out more about the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre’s history at an older version of this website