I was born in 1967 in a very small village in the western part of Nepal. Because my parents had five sons, they wanted at least one to join the monastery; it is an honor and a way of accumulating merit for the family. My parents had a disagreement about who should join the monastery, me or my younger brother, and finally they decided on my younger brother. They brought him to Kopan Monastery, but he was rejected because he was too young, although they had accepted others of the same age. I guess he didn't have the karma in this life to be a monk. When my parents brought me to the monastery, I was accepted.
When I was around eighteen, as any normal teenager, I struggled a lot, not knowing whether it was best for me to continue or to disrobe. But then, just before I went to Sera, I made the strong decision that being a monk continuously was how I was going to spend my life.
I had the opportunity to meet extremely great Geshes like Geshe Jampa Gyatso and Geshe Doga who came to Kopan to teach, as well as the late Geshe Jampa, and of course Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Lhundrup and Geshe Lama Konchog, as well as H.E. Khensur Rinpoche Losang Tsering, H.E. Jangtse Choje Rinpoche Losang Tenzin and H.E. Khensur Rinpoche Losang Delek.. They are my main root gurus, and I have great respect for them; they were role models for me and inspired me to study.
I also had many gurus from whom I received initiations, oral transmissions and teachings. Some of them are:
The late Geshe Losang Jampa, the late Geshe Jampa Gyatso, the late Dulkhu Khentse Rinpoche, Khensur Rinpoche lama Lhundup, Denma Lochoe Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche, H.E. Khensur Ugen Tseten, Panang Rinpoche, Geshe Doga, and H.Holiness Sakya Trizin Rinpoche.
I studied in Sera Je Monastery for the Geshe degree from 1987 to 2000. What has influenced me greatly, during that time and since, has been spending time around my teachers and observing how they practice, how they engage in their daily lives.
After I completed my Geshe studies, I went to Gyume Tantric College for a year and then I was sent to the United States to help at FPMT's International Office, as well as teach at the centers in Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I believe Geshes need to think about how to benefit more people, whether they are Buddhist or not. My view is that it doesn't matter whether people follow the traditional way of practicing or even if they are Buddhist. There are so many good aspects of the Dharma that we can share with them. We sincerely need to respect all other religious traditions, not just with our mouths, but with our hearts. We have His Holiness the Dalai Lama as an example of how to treat other religions with respect.
We also need to understand Western culture and psychology so that we, as Geshes, can be more effective and bring more benefit. However, we should not take too many liberties in changing the traditional ways of doing things, just because it doesn't suit the Westerners' way or because they don't like it. We should always think of the long-term benefit as opposed to simply short-term results.
For beginners in the Dharma, the most important thing is to try and integrate one's study and practice. Some are only into studying, they focus only on the intellectual. They have knowledge like a computer, but this knowledge never really touches the heart. This kind of individual becomes very arrogant and tends to look down on other people with less learning.
Then there are also people who do no study, thinking that all they need to do is practice. But how can you practice if you haven't studied? Study is crucial. Without study, the wrong teacher can easily misguide, take advantage of, and exploit students. Of course, I would emphasize this is my own personal view and I do not mean to imply criticism of anyone.
My final request of my students is to integrate study and practice together, which has always been the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.