In March 2006, Lelung Rinpoche met with Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile, to discuss the Geden Phacho Bhucho project. Conceived by Lelung Rinpoche, the project aims to identify endangered teaching lineages of the Gelug tradition and rescue them before they disappear. Samdhong Rinpoche, who agreed to become an official advisor, expressed his satisfaction that this important work is being undertaken:
Lelung Rinpoche has a very fantastic project and there is absolutely no doubt regarding the objectives and [its] necessity…Most of [those in] my age group in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage thought it absolutely necessary for quite some time, but no one had the courage to take the responsibility.
The meeting took place three months before a major conference on Geden Phacho Bhucho in Dharamsala. Drawing on thirty years of personal experience at the Academi Institution in Sarnath, Samdhong Rinpoche offered practical suggestions on how the project could be carried out. His recommendations included a two-part framework, a well-defined project plan aimed at Westerners, and a people-centred approach to management. The two-part framework he proposed consists of 1) Identifying the teaching lineages in danger of being lost; and 2) Supporting the teachers and students of that lineage to ensure that it is passed on. Rinpoche said his administration office is willing to help with the second part of the plan.
Citing the fact that many senior masters are approaching old age, Rinpoche stressed the urgency of this project. “We can’t plan it for a longer period,” he said, “There is not much time or some things will be lost…we must rescue them just now.” He expressed deep concern that most of the previous generation of teachers has already passed away and those still living are in their 80s. Therefore, it is vital that the right conditions are created for them to transmit the teachings they hold to the next generation of Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. To make this possible, the project team will organise events where the holders and potential recipients of the endangered lineages can come together.
During the meeting, Rinpoche questioned Lelung Rinpoche about the progress so far. He asked about the recruitment of key people for the project team and advocated appointing a single, dedicated person to serve as the director. Lelung Rinpoche will oversee the director to make sure that work proceeds smoothly. Satisfied with the way things are moving forward, Samdhong Rinpoche said confidently: “I think this project will succeed.” He also told the attendees that he had informed His Holiness the Dalai Lama of the project and that His Holiness thinks it is “a very good project.” He summed up his sentiments succinctly adding:
I have examined this project quite thoroughly and there is no doubt of its necessity and there is no doubt of its importance as far as the Gelugpa tradition in particular and the Tibetan Buddhist tradition generally.