My name is Ngawang Rigdol, I was born in the Indian Himalayan region, in Ladakh. At the age of seven, I was ordained as a Buddhist monk at the Sera Jey Monastery. Before enrolling in the higher Buddhist Studies at Sera Jey Monastic University, I did my secondary education at Sera Je School.
Presently, I am enrolled in the Rigram Geshe program (equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Buddhist Philosophy). During these 20 years in the program, I have been serving as the Tibetan Secretary for Sera Jey Monastery’s Administration office. I have also served a full three-years term as the Administration Officer at Sera Jey Ngari Education Society. In addition, I have also volunteered at many NGOs.
As president of Ngari Institute Foundation, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to Executive members: Mr. Duyet Do and Mrs. Bibi Do for their steadfast commitment and dedication of their precious time in support of children in the Himalaya region, as well as their efforts with the UCI–Tibet Initiative, an Exchange Program at the University of California in Irvine.
Ngari Institute Foundation, a non-profit organization in the state of California, would like to invite friends and supporters to join and work towards a progressive and successful Foundation.
As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama says:
“Right from the moment of our birth, we are under the care and kindness of our parents, and then later on in our life when we are oppressed by sickness and become old, we are again dependent on the kindness of others. Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are so dependent on other's kindness, how can it be in the middle that we would neglect kindness towards others?”
To preserve our Ladakhi cultural and religious tradition, we invite Buddhist scholars from Tibetan monasteries in India to visit and provide teachings to the underprivileged children at Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. Alongside modern education, Buddhist studies with ancient values will help nurture the children with strong values and help them become happy individuals.
Geshe Tsewang Dorje was born in Stok, Ladakh, India in 1966. He started school at age 6 in Stok and at 14; he went to South India for Buddhist studies at Sera Jey Monastery, one of the four great monastic colleges in Tibetan Buddhism. During his time at the monastery, he studied meditation practice as well as Buddhist philosophy. He received full ordinance from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and took his novice vows from Ling Rinpoche (tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama). In 1994, he received his Bachelor of Art in Buddhist Philosophy. In 1996, he received his Master Degree and then in 1999, he was bestowed the highest degree of the monastic educational system, Geshe Lharampa (equivalent to a Ph.D. degree in Western educational system). In 2000, he studied at the Gyudmed Tantric College for Vajrayana, which led to a Master of Tantric Degree. In 2001-2003 he was appointed Philosophy Lecturer at Kopan Monastery, Nepal.
From 2004 to 2006, Geshe la served on the Committee of Sera Philosophical Studies & Board of Examinations. In 2010, he became the first Ladakhi monk to ever be elected to the post of Geko (similar to an academic dean) of Sera Jey Monastic University.
In 2006, he started to travel and came to the United States for the first time. He taught at the Vietnamese Buddhist centers in San Francisco and Oregon. Over the years, he has returned to the U.S. many times to teach and share his experience at universities like NYU and North Yarmouth Academy, Maine.
Geshe la has organized Mandala tours in France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, and the U.S.
Geshe-la has also taught and given lectures at several dharma centers in the international Buddhist community, including Theken Choling in Singapore, and Jamtseling Dharma Center in Malaysia. He has completed a pilgrimage to Indonesia and Thailand.
In addition, Geshe la founded a small temple in Leh, Ladakh called Jamtseling Buddha Relics Temple, which exhibits the sacred relics tours. Geshe la has taught about the life of Buddha to thousands of Ladkhis.
Geshe la is currently the Director and President of Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Saboo Village of Ladakh. Ngari Institute provides free shelter and modern education for the underprivileged Ladakhi children and young monks, who could not otherwise afford school education.
His vision is to disseminate love and compassion and to teach Buddhist Philosophy to Buddhist communities around the world.
Bibi engaged in Tibetan Buddhism after her trip to Tibet in the year 2000. She eventually met and studied with her late root guru, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen until 2009. Under his guidance, she learned the profound “Lam Rim” (Stages of the Path) teachings and developed an interest in the “Tonglen” practice for cultivating love and compassion, this “sending and receiving” practice established a firm foundation for her continuous spiritual development, even after her teacher passed away.
Under the guidance of Geshe Gyeltsen and together with a group of dharma students, Bibi first visited the Tibetan community in exile in India in 2007, and again in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2019. Her love for travel also has taken her and her family twice to the mysterious Buddhist region of Ladakh in northern India. During her first visit, Bibi immediately felt a strong connection with the region and an urge to do something meaningful to support the Buddhist monastic community in India. When asked to help the underprivileged children at Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, it seemed like a natural thing to do, so she accepted the request without reservations.
Bibi is also the founder of the UCI-Tibet Initiative, an exchange program which aims to provide opportunities for the Buddhist monastic community to experience the western educational system at the University of California in Irvine since 2011.
When I was a 14-year old teenager in my native country of Vietnam, I stumbled onto a Vietnamese translation of “The Life of Super Mundane Milarepa”. Almost three decades later and while living in exile in America, I returned to the same fascinating book, but this time in an English translation. Due to the compassion of all Buddhist masters and my own curiosity about Jetsun Milarepa’s life, I found my way to Tibet in the year of 2000. This visit to the beautiful country of Tibet left an immense impression on my mind and eventually led to me becoming a follower of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Many years have gone by and most of my limited knowledge on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni is owed to my first and most important teacher, the late Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen. In 2007, Geshe Gyeltsen had taken me and a group of his students to receive a teaching from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, and to visit Geshe la’s monastery in the Tibetan refugee camp in India. The trip opened the door for me to become acquainted with many friends in the Tibetan Diaspora. However, with the situation in Tibet deteriorating and my dreams of returning to Tibet fading with it, the Ladakh Kingdom in the Himalaya region of India with its deep-rooted Tibetan Buddhist culture has been a natural alternative for me as well as all practitioners to turn to.
In 2014, under the Buddha statue of Stok Village in Ladakh, BiBi and I met and befriended Geshe Tsewang Dorje, the current Director of Ngari Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. Over the last five years of our friendship, I have observed and greatly admired Geshe Dorje’s tireless effort in seeking financial support for the underprivileged Ladakhi children, who have taken shelter under the roof of the Ngari Institute. When Geshe Dorje requested us to assist Venerable Ngawang Rigdol in forming a California-based non-profit religious foundation for better outreach to American friends, our only response was “Yes Geshe la, we will do our best!”.
Orphans in need of love and care exist all over the world and there is no lack of sentient beings living under fear and oppression. However, my karmic relation with Geshe Dorje and other Ladakhi friends has given me the opportunity to serve the people in this particular part of the world, so I humbly accept it. In a couple of years, as I grow older and weaker, I sincerely hope that a young, passionate, and talented person would take over my duties to further the goals and missions of the Ngari Institute.