Geshe Lobsang Tsultrim is part of the Gaden Shartse Monastery in south India. “Geshe” is a degree that is earned after several years of intensive study and passing the highest-level exams. It is the monastic equivalent of a western “Ph.D.” degree. Having successfully passed these exams, Geshe Tsultrim is an expert on Buddhist philosophy. He is also a skilled artist, specializing in traditional Tibetan art.
Born in 1966 in the upper Ngawa region of Amdo in eastern Tibet, Geshe Tsultrim was fortunate to obtain a high school education in a challenging environment. One motivation for his studies was his love of traditional Tibetan art. Early in life, he began studying Tibetan art, and specifically sacred thangka painting, with his Uncle, a gifted and well-respected Tibetan thangka painter. Through this training, he learned the skills and techniques of traditional Tibetan artistry.
In 1986, Geshe Tsultrim arrived in India, where he undertook monastic studies at Gaden Shartse monastery, studying Buddhist philosophy and dharma. During his first five years at Gaden Shartse Monastery, Geshe-la contributed to the community by teaching art, painting, and sand mandala making to the younger monks. Recognizing the value of his artistry skills, Gaden Shartse monastery chose Geshe Tsultrim as one of 11 monks to tour throughout North, Central, and South America to raise funds to support the monastery. They offered teachings on Buddhist philosophy, performed traditional Tibetan rituals, and created sand mandalas. That first tour took Geshe-la to over 12 countries in two years. Geshe-la made two other tours over the next few years, offering initiations and teaching Buddhist philosophy such as the Four Noble Truths and the art of compassion.
In 2001, Gaden Shartse sent Geshe Tsultrim to the United States to continue his studies and to work at the Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling Center in Long Beach, California. After studying English, Geshe Tsultrim began sharing his extensive knowledge on thangka iconography. He started teaching Tibetan thangka painting, in addition to Buddhist philosophy, and continues to do so.
In 2008, Gaden Shartse appointed Geshe Tsultrim as the director of the Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling Center in Long Beach. Last year, the Monastery agreed to reduce Geshe-la’s obligations at the Center so that he could return to south India to complete his next level of studies at Gyudmed Tantric University. He remains the Financial Director for the Center as well as the leader of the Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation. After finishing Tantric college, in February 2015, Geshe Tsultrim will be returning to the United States to resume teaching traditional Tibetan artistry and Buddhist philosophy. He is fluent in Tibetan and can converse in English and Chinese.