Tibetan Renaissance Seminar > Participants > Carrie Frederick Frost

Reting Monastery

Name: Reting or Retreng

Wylie: ra sgreng or rwa sgreng

Sectarian Affiliation: Kadampa/Gelukpa

Location: Central Tibet, northeast of Lhasa

Nation: China

Province: Tibetan Autonomous Region

Cultural Location: Central Tibet

Location’s Language: Tibetan

Location Description: Reting is located in a Juniper forest in a remote area 160 km northeast of Lhasa in Linzhou County.

Date Founded: 1056/7

Founder Drömton Gyélwe Jungné

Blue Annals References: {Roerich}186, 233, 253, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 269, 272, 279, 284, 296, 306, 312, 313, 323, 325, 330, 595, 641, 649, 682, 710, 1001, 1002, 1004, 1070

The Blue Annals references to Reting consist of abbatial lineages, teachings given, and Atiśa’s association with the monastery.

Historical Summary

Exceptional to the trend of Kadampa monasteries, Reting was not founded in the Eastern Vinaya lineage. Drömton Gyélwe Jungné, who was a lay disciple of Atiśa, founded Reting in 1056-7. He translated tantric ritual manuals such as Cakrasamvara and Yamataka with Atiśa. In contrast his Kadampa contemporaries at Solnak Thanpöché and Sangpu Néütok, Drömton translated more philosophical, non-tantric materials.

Drömton was said to have 60-80 disciples at this time. Three of his disciples at Reting stand out: Punchungwa Zhönu Gyeltsen (1031-1109), Chenga Tsultrim-bar (1038-1103) and Potaba Rinchen-sel (1027-1105). Now the Kadampa sect became known as “Kadampa,” as these disciples were referred to as “Kadampa” or “Jowo Kadampa.” These three monastic brothers were dedicated to protecting Kadampa teachings. These three brothers each played their own role in the popularization of Buddhism.

Several noteworthy pieces of art from this period are extant including a scroll copy of Tara and a white bell-metal image of Tara called Tara Victorious over the Army (gyul rgyal sgrol ma), the latter of which is believed to be one of Atiśa’s personal statues.

All though the three monastic brothers were enormously successful in their efforts to popularize Buddhism, they neglected the financial side of monastery upkeep. As Reting declined in importance, Sangpu Néütok became the most important Kadampa center. Also, as Sangpu became known for its philosophical teachings, Reting became known for its Kadampa contemplative path teachings, such as the purifying the intellect (blo sbyong) practices.

Although Reting was atypical for a Kadampa monastery in the 11th century in that it was not in the Eastern Vinaya lineage, it has the unique reputation of being the monastery which housed the Kadampa leaders who successfully popularized Tibetan Buddhism, which was a critical aspect of the Tibetanization of Buddhism in the Renaissance period.

Reting was absorbed into the Gelukpa sect and is still an active Gelukpa community, in spite of being partially destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.


external link: TBRC

Blue Annals, Roerich Translation

Ronald Davison’s Tibetan Renaissance

Michael Kapstein’s The Tibetans