Geshe Sangey Thinley is a highly skilled teacher who has attained the highest level of education in the Tibetan monastic system. Geshe-la was born in the Kham Province of eastern Tibet in March 1941. When he was seven he was enrolled in the Dhargyey Monastery to begin his studies. In 1957 he went to the great Monastic University of Sera, near Lhasa, (a 3-month walk at the time). In 1959, at the Norbu Lingka Palace of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he took novice monks’ bows from the incomparably kind Kyable Trijang Dorje Chang and continued studying, but immediately had to leave because of the military action by the Communist Chinese.
With many others Geshe-la fled to India and Buxa where three monasteries had been set up. He studied Madhyamaka, Prajnyapramita and Pamana there for ten years until 1969 when, in accordance with His Holiness’s wishes, he moved to South India to help build the new Sera Monastery. For three years, there was little opportunity to study until the new Sera was completed. In 1973 he again began to study, until 1985 when he entered the Lharam class, the highest class in the monastery. He was awarded first-class in the 1989 examinations. He then sat through final Geshe debates before the whole monastery, gaining his Geshe degree in 1990.
From 1991 onwards he taught logic, Buddhist philosophy and practice to the monks at Sera Je School. At the same time, in his house at the monastery, he looked after the needs of 80 students to ensure their adequate food and shelter, and advise them on conduct. “In 1998 I had the good fortune to be able to go to Tibet and visit my home country and Dhargyey Monastery, as well as other places of pilgrimage. I then quickly returned to Sera Monastery”
Upon acceptance of an invitation, from Thupten Tulku Rinposche (The Resident teacher at Dhargyey Buddhist Centre in Dunedin) and together with Venerable Geshe Sonam Rinchen (disciple of Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey and teacher at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India), Geshe-la traveled from Sera Je Monastery in South India, leaving behind his house of dedicated students, and arrived in Whangarei on the 1st of October 1999, to become resident teacher of the newly inaugurated centre Jam Tse Dhargyey Ling.
Geshe-la teaches in Tibetan which is translated into English.