From India to New Zealand
Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey (1921-1995) was asked in 1971 by His Holiness the 14th Dala Lama to start a teaching programme for westerners at the newly constructed Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, Northern India. In 1985 His Holiness advised him to go to New Zealand to establish a Buddhist centre, which he did, founding the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin. He taught here until the day of his death in 1995. After he passed away two of his students, Paul Currie and Kaari Schlebach moved to Whangarei.
Whangarei’s Starting Point
In April 1997 Thupten Tulku Rinposche (the new Resident teacher at Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin) came to Whangarei for a visit and gave a Buddhist teaching including a Chenrezig Initiation. At the conclusion of this time, Rinpoche handed Paul and Kaari (much to their surprise) a piece of paper with a name written in Tibetan, saying this is the name of your Buddhist centre. Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling – Centre from which Love and Compassion Flourishes. Thus the Centre was born.
Kaari and Paul converted the family lounge at their home into a centre space. Regular meetings were held, prayer and meditation sessions were conducted using taped teachings. The Centre became part of the national Buddhist network, hosting other visiting teachers and establishing itself within the Northland community.
A new Centre
During another visit by Thupten Rinpoche it was discussed that a more suitable place for the centre was needed (although a wonderful start, a family home with three young children is not the ideal place for a Buddhist Meditation Centre). A place looking over Whangarei was sought. Several properties were viewed by Rinpoche and found to be unsuitable. Then a property with a house and 14 acres of land with a magnificent views over Whangarei was found. Kaari phoned Rinpoche (who was now back in Dunedin) and without even seeing the property he affirmed that “YES” it was the right place. The property was purchased in 1998.
A teacher comes
The next move was to ask for a teacher. Thupten Rinpoche was again consulted and together with Venerable Geshe Sonam Rinchen (disciple of Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey and teacher for more than 20 years at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India). It was decided that the Venerable Geshe Sangey Thinley would be the one invited to come. Travelling from Sera Je Monastery in South India and leaving behind his house of 87 dedicated students, Geshe Sangey Thinley (fondly known as Geshe-La) arrived in Whangarei on 1st October 1999, and took up residence in the newly inaugurated centre Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling.