The story of our centre is the story of our founder, Geshe Palden Tsering. Geshe-la (the title by which he was addressed) first arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand as the attendant to the late Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, a renowned master of the Gelug lineage who spent the final chapter of his life in Dunedin after being invited there by his Kiwi students and as advised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. While serving Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Geshe-la continued with his monastic studies and eventually received his Geshe degree (the origin of his title) from Sera Jey Monastery, after which he was invited by Thubten Zopa Rinpoche to serve as the resident teacher of Dorje Chang Institute in Avondale, Auckland where he taught for nine years.
Having completed three terms as resident teacher at the Institute, Geshe-la was considering retirement in India but his students urged him to stay. Recognising the lack of Buddhist centres in Auckland's North Shore at the time, Geshe-la sought His Holiness the Dalai Lama's advice on the matter. His Holiness kindly gave his blessings for the new centre and named it Trashi Ganden Choepel Ling after Geshe-la's home monastery in Tibet where he first ordained and trained as a monk.
After a year at a temporary rental property in Birkenhead, the centre found its current home in Glenfield in 2003. We were honoured to have Sera Jey Monastery's abbot emeritus (Khensur Rinpoche) Geshe Jampa Tegchok conduct the opening ceremony. Since then we have been blessed by visits from many eminent masters such as His Holiness the 41st Sakya Gongma Trichen, the Throneholder of Drepung Monastery Geshe Lobsang Tenpa, Ganden Jangtse Monastery abbot Geshe Lobsang Tsephel, Geshe Sonam Rinchen, etc. Geshe-la himself gave regular teachings, conferred tantric initiations, and offered counsel and advice to the many people who sought his help and blessings. We have been very fortunate to have Geshe Sangye Thinley and Geshe Dhonam (a.k.a. Geshe Losang Tenpa) give us constant guidance as regular visiting teachers.
Geshe Palden Tsering passed away in 2007, having left instructions to invite Za Choeje Rinpoche, the founder and principal incarnate master of Trashi Ganden Choepel Ling in Tibet to take over the centre. Geshe-la and Za Choeje Rinpoche had connections across lifetimes but in this life, Geshe-la was one of two monks instructed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to reveal Za Choeje Rinpoche's identity as an incarnate master to Rinpoche and his family. Za Choeje Rinpoche kindly accepted our invitation and made his first visit to our centre in 2008, and has been our spiritual director since that time.
The purpose of the centre was expressed by Geshe-la in his last testament as follows:
Buddha Shakyamuni said in a sutra:
May the sound of the great drum of dharma
End the suffering of all sentient beings.
May I uphold the teachings of dharma
For many great eons.
Lama Tsongkhapa said:
With my heart filled with great compassion,
In whatever direction the most precious teachings have not yet spread,
Or once spread and since declined,
May I expose this treasure of happiness and benefit.
May the buddhadharma spread throughout this world, with the making of this Buddhist centre, Trashi Ganden Choepel Ling, here in North Shore, Auckland, New Zealand.