Geshe Tenzin Yangton is the resident lama at Serenity Ridge Retreat Center, the headquarters of Ligmincha International located in rural Nelson County, Virginia.
Born in 1974 in Chharka (pronounced “Tsarka”), a remote village in the Dolpo region of western Nepal bordering Tibet, he is part of the ancient Yangton lineage, said to go back to the time of Buddha Tonpa Shenrap more than 18,000 years ago and traceable to Yangton Sherap Gyaltsen, who was born in 1077.
As a child, Geshe Yangton and his twin brother completed the customary three-year retreat. After a series of tests in which it was determined that Geshe Yangton would train to become a monk while his twin remained at home, in 1990 Geshe Yangton traveled with his uncle, Lama Tashi Gyaltsen, to Triten Norbutse Monastery. There, he took his vows as a novice monk from Yongdzin Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. He studied mandalas (khyikhor), writing and grammar, learned many rituals and received teachings from Yongdzin Rinpoche.
In 1991, Tenzin Yangton travelled to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. In April of the following year, he enrolled in the Bön Dialect School in Dolanji, where he took the full 250 vows. His rigorous schedule included study and practice of sutra, tantra and dzogchen; reasoning and debate; rituals, art and poetry; numerous initiations and special events, and long retreats, among other things. He attained his Geshe Degree in 2006.
Geshe Yangton also became assistant to Menri Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche, his uncle. As assistant to Menri Lopon, he had the opportunity to visit the United States, Europe and Russia. In 2007, he studied English in Houston, Texas with the support of western dharma friends and sangha members. He had known Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, founder and spiritual director of Ligmincha International for many years and visited Serenity Ridge a number of times during his travels.
After receiving his geshe degree, Geshe Yangton voluntarily taught younger monks to support the monastery and increase his learning. He was Geshe Yangton was coordinator of Yanggon Thongdrol Phuntsog Ling Monastery in his home village of Chharka, Nepal, the Dolpo Tsaga Welfare Healthcare Clinic and many other projects. He was preparing to move to Dolpo when Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche asked him to come to Serenity Ridge as the resident lama. He arrived at Serenity Ridge on May 29, 2014.
Plans are under way for Geshe Yangton to conduct regular meditation/practice sessions, rituals and retreats and workshops at Serenity Ridge, help during Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s retreats and visits of other lamas, and more. He is particularly interested in tantric rituals and may be available in the future to conduct workshops on areas such as making torma, the sang chod smoke offering ritual, soul retrieval and medicine Buddha practices. In January 2015, following the 2014 Winter Retreat at Serenity Ridge, Geshe Yangton will lead a Ngondro Practice Retreat for participants who have received the ngondro teachings and transmission of the Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung prior to Jan. 1, 2015.
Geshe Yangton also feels a responsibility toward his monastery, Yanggon Tongdrol Phuntsok Ling (www.yanggon.org), and the Dolpo Tsarga Welfare Healthcare Clinic. He expects to continue his work to preserve the culture and teachings of Bön in general, and the Yangton lineage in particular, in his village of Chharkha and plans at some point to return to the area.