This profile was last updated in 2005
Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982-1054 CE). Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is the inspiration behind the revival of Kadampa Buddhism today. At eight years of age he became a monk and studied extensively in the monastic universities of Tibet. Under the guidance of his spiritual guide, Trijang Rimpoche, he spent the next 18 years in meditation retreats in the Himalayas. In 1976 he was invited to teach in England. Since then he has taught and written extensively, established over 400 centers, and created a project to build Buddhist temples in every major city of the world.
A woman who grew up in Columbia Falls, MT, went to San Francisco and became acquainted with the teachings of the Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. She decided to study and became a nun. In the summer of 1998 she traveled back to Montana to visit her mother. While in Montana she met many people who displayed interest in learning more about Buddhism. For a time she rented a home which became a residence center and taught New Kadampa Buddhism in Kalispell and Missoula. The community of interest began to grow considerably in the Kalispell area, whereas the interest in Missoula diminished. In 2000, Ven. Geshe Kelsang established the Kalinga Buddhist Center as a home for Kadampa Dharma.
Kelsang Sila, a nun and one of the residents of the Center, was one of the original people interested in New Kadampa Buddhism in Kalispell. She studied at the center in Kalispell and became a nun.
Gen Kelsang Wangden, a close disciple of Ven. Geshe Kelsang, is a Michigan native who was living in Chicago. He studied and practiced Dharma at Vajrayana Buddhist Center for many years. Ven. Geshe Kelsang appointed him Resident Teacher of Kalinga Buddhist Center in the spring of 2001. He has taught classes at Flathead Community College and is on the call list for the Hospital Chaplain.
Activities and Schedule
All New Kadampa Centers have three programs:
–The General Program, which provides a basic introduction to Buddhist view, meditation, and practice that is suitable for beginners. It also includes retreats, empowerments, and workshops
–The Foundation Program, which enables students to deepen their understanding and experience of Buddhism through an extensive and practical study of five of Geshe Kelsang’s commentaries. Classes meet twice weekly
–The Teacher Training Program is for those interested in training as authentic New Kadampa Tradition Dharma Teachers. This involves extensive study of twelve of Geshe Kelsang’s commentaries over a period of many years, leading a pure and compassionate lifestyle, and completing a number of meditation retreats.
(Please see website for current schedule)
Classes are held in Kalispell, Whitefish, Bigfork, and Eureka. The class includes chanted prayers, meditation, a dharma talk, more meditation, and a questions and answers session. They are held at the following locations:
Kalinga Buddhist Center
484 6th Avenue West North
Kalispell, MT 59901-3860
Electric Avenue Books
490 Electric Avenue
Bigfork, MT 59911
|Tobacco Valley Senior Citizen’s
310 1st Avenue East
Eureka, MT 59917
|Bohemian Grange Hall
Whitefish, MT 59937
(Please see website for current schedule)
A special preliminary practice for meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment (Lamrim). It combines the guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa with prayers to the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. It includes a 20 minute Lamrim meditation.
The guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa combined with more extensive prayers to the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. Includes a ‘tsog offering.’
The sadhana of Arya Tara, the female Buddha of swift compassionate action.
The sadhana of Medicine Buddha, an enlightened being who protects living beings from physical and mental illness and other dangers and obstacles, and helps them to eradicate the three poisons – attachment, hatred, and ignorance – which are the source of all sickness and danger.
The sadhana of Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas.
The sadhana of Vajrasattva, a Buddha connected with the practice of purification.
A special guru yoga practice, where the Spiritual Guide is visualized as the Wisdom Buddha Vajradhara. The practice includes a ‘tsog offering.’
Extensive prayers to the Dharma Protector, Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden, includes a ‘tsog offering.’ The practice duration is approximately 3.5 hours.
According members of Kalinga, the Flathead Valley community is fairly open and they have had no sizeable problems. Only a few slight instances were mentioned, such as the fact that occasionally posters for their events have been taken down very quickly. At a recent garage sale, when a group of people discovered that the sale was put on by the Kalinga Buddhist Center, they decided that they could not buy their selections, or support the Buddhist Center in any way. Also, an editorial was written against “meditation” in the local newspaper. Soon after many responses were printed in praise of meditation. By and large, the center has been accepted into the Flathead Valley community with little to no difficulties.