Wandered up to Lam Rim Monastery, on Zanabazar Street just below Gandan Monastery in Ulaan Baatar. I have gone here many times over the years but I never really knew the story behind the founding of this monastery. The other day I dropped to see Bayantsagaan, the director of the monastery, and by chance his daughter Erdenetsetseg was there. She lived in Malaysia for several years and speaks near perfect English, so with her help I was able to get some background information.
Lam Rim Monastery was founded in 1990 by Erdenetsetseg’s father S. Bayantsagaan. Originally from Khovd Aimag in western Mongolia, Bayantsagaan studied the Lam Rim Teaching and Buddhist philosophy at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Zanabazar Institute in Ulaan Baatar. He has a Geshé degree from the Zanabazar Institute and is fluent in Tibetan. In the early 1990s he played an active role the democratic movement in Mongolia and for much of the 1990s he worked as the director of the Mongolian Believers Association. During this period about seventy monasteries and temples were activated under his leadership. He has also initiated and strengthened communications between Mongolia and Tibet and in recent years has organized visits of the Dalai Lama to Mongolia.
Lam Rim Monastery was founded to promote the Lam Rim Teaching of Tsongkhapa (Mongolian=Bogd Zonkhov), who in the fifteen-century founded the Gelug Sect in Tibet.
Bogd Zhonkov is author of one of the primary Lam Rim texts, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path of Enlightenment. Bayantsagaan would like to emphasize that the Lam Rim, or Graduated Path, is not just for monks, but for all practitioners who wish to proceed on the path to Enlightenment. The three main Protectors of the monastery are Gombo, Namsrai, and Choijoo, three deities who have promised to protect Bogd Zonkhov’s teaching wherever it may be.
Monks giving blessings
Lam Rim Monastery also specializes in the Kalachakra (Mongolian = Duinkhor) Teaching believed to have come from the Kingdom of Shambhala. Kalachakra ceremonies are performed here on the 10th and 25th day of the Lunar Month. One of the goals of the monastery is to prepare people for the eventually arrival of the 25th Kalkin King of Shambhala under whose reign Buddhism will flourish throughout the entire world.
Kingdom of Shambhala depicted on Thangka at Lam Rim Temple
One of the Thirty-Two Kings of Shambhala on display at Lam Rim Temple