Why does Tsem Rinpoche have a ladrang?

1 May


Audience room of Tsem Ladrang.

One of the most commonly asked questions when I am explaining about Tsem Rinpoche and Kechara is the question what is a ladrang? Well, the standard answer is that a ladrang is basically the Guru’s residence. However, it is not just the place from which the Guru lives, it is also his private office. In the case of Tsem Rinpoche, he runs the entire Kechara organisation from the ladrang. In the Tibetan tradition, a lama’s ladrang is run by many changsos or liaisons. Likewise, Tsem Rinpoche has many liaisons that run the ladrang and the rest of the Kechara organisation.

Therefore, a ladrang in the Tibetan tradition has got to be big and impressive with different rooms catering to different aspects of Rinpoche’s works and teachings. This is not for the lama per se but to cater to the expanding works of the Lama. Besides the living quarters of the Lama, the ladrang would have a main altar to a particular Buddha like Vajrayogini or even a statue of Lama’s previous life (besides other smaller shrines and altars). Abundant traditional offerings of water, light (candles), incense and flowers are offered on the altar to the 3 jewels. The purpose is for the collection of merit to fuel the spiritual and material growth of the organisation and various projects of the lama. An altar to the previous life of the lama creates the causes for the Lama’s previous life to come to fruition in this life. Besides these, the Lama receives numerous offerings from many students and friends and these offerings are placed on the altar to be offered to the 3 Jewels before it is stored away or used.  This is to generate merits for the giver of these offerings. The ladrang is meant to be a place where one collects tremendous merits and therefore, students, friends and those who enter the ladrang can make an offering at the altar.

Besides the altar, a ladrang would have an audience room where the lama meets guests, students and friends in an formal setting for a teaching or a puja. This would be the setting and place from which the lama turns the wheel of Dharma by skillfully weaving the Buddha’s teachings and personal advice and instructions to benefit many. However, in keeping with the times, the ladrang’s dining hall,  kitchen and living room also serves a similar purpose. Rinpoche or his liaisons would host formal and informal meetings and dinners/lunches with various people to enroll them towards the lama’s vision and teachings. On top of that, Tsem Rinpoche is very fond of giving gifts to people so much so that he has a whole gift room in his ladrang. For Tsem Rinpoche, giving a gift to someone is always done with a lot of love and care. Everything is put together with the person in mind and Rinpoche would always utter a few mantras or prayers toensure that whatever gift he gives will open up their hearts and minds towards the Dharma.

Besides rooms meant for people, Rinpoche also have rooms and spaces for animals in his ladrang. Tsem Ladrang is designed to accomodate his beloved yogi, a salt and pepper Schnauzer along with his other Schnauzer friends. Rinpoche’s ladrang also has an aviary, fish pond and so forth. Rinpoche always love animals and he does his best to instill that sort of love in his students and friends. The idea is to develop care for beings that are unable to say thank you or reciprocate kindness and that’s one step forward in developing real compassion for others.

These are just some aspects of the ladrang but I hope what I have written here gives an overall understanding of the purpose and function of the ladrang. The ladrang is really like the command center of the Lama’s world. For students and friends, the ladrang is a place of generating merit for the organisation and is also the place from which the direction of the organisation is charted.

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