What is the Geluk tradition?
The term “Geluk” or “Gelugpa” comes from the Tibetan language and means “system of virtue”. The great scholar and teacher Lama Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa, along with his closest students – Gyaltsab Je and Khedrub Je, were responsible for spreading the tradition of this Buddhist school in Tibet. Its history is linked to the creation of “Ganden Monastery”, which was founded by Lama Tsongkhapa in 1409. Subsequently, such a school of meditation became one of the predominant schools in the spectrum of spiritual traditions of Tibet.
Lama Tsongkhapa obtained his spiritual training in majorly in two Tibetan lineages (namely, “Sakya” tradition and “Kagyu” tradition). He was also intensely inspired by the texts written by the famous teacher Atisha Dimpankara (who lived between the X and XI centuries). The Geluk School, in the context of its emergence, spawned what is known as the third period of transformation in Tibet and thus inculcated various reforms in Tibetan spiritual systems, particularly with regard to the interpretation of the Monastic Code of Conduct (“Vinaya” ) and to the Tantric Buddhism System called Vajrayana. The Geluk tradition was founded at the end of the fourteenth century and it was responsible for a reform movement that sought to restore various aspects of the immaculate practice of Dharma in order to renew and refresh the teachings of teacher and master Atisha Dipankara.
As for the aspects of this reform mentioned above, it is worth mentioning some guiding ideas: I. the strict observation of the monastic conduct code of “Vinaya”; II. the centrality in the systematic training of knowledge in religious life, with an strong emphasis on the importance of the development of scriptural knowledge, philosophical aspects and debate; III. the religious rites of Vajrayana Tantric Buddhism should be reserved for those who go through the whole cycle of intellectual training through systematic studies. Lama Tsongkhapa was deeply concerned about the issue of strictness and accuracy both in the studies and in moral discipline; for this reason, he wrote a well-known treatise called Lamrim ChenMo (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Complete Awakening), which has become a great manual of practices and meditation and, because of its validity and actuality, is still studied to this day .
The year 2019 marks the 600th anniversary of the death of renowned teacher Lama Tsongkhapa, and for this reason, this year is extensively celebrated by thousands of Buddhist monks around the world. This teacher was the founder of the Geluk tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, whose its more famous representative is the His Holiness, The XIV Dalai Lama