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Our Tradition

Bringing Timeless Buddhist Wisdom to Modern Life

Kadampa Meditation Center Chicago is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to sharing the practical wisdom of Buddha's teachings in the Chicago area. We offer an array of drop-in classes, weekend events and retreats open to everyone and suitable for all levels of experience. Most of our classes and events are held at our two centers: in Oak Park and Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. We also offer branch classes in South Bend, Indiana.

Our meditation practices are based upon a tradition that for thousands of years has been passed down from teacher to student. Feel free to try any drop-in class and see for yourself. Each includes guided meditation, practical teaching and time for questions. No pre-registration is needed.



The New Kadampa Tradition

We are part of the New Kadampa Tradition, an international network of more than 1,300 independent, non-profit centers and branches in more than 40 countries, all devoted to sharing Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world.

Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982-1054 A.D). We use Buddha’s teachings as practical methods for transforming daily activities into the path to enlightenment.

Kadampa Buddism

The Great Kadampa Teachers


After Atisha, the Kadampa lineage was passed down through a succession of precious teachers who not only were great scholars but also spiritual practitioners of immense purity and sincerity. They placed particular emphasis on the practice of Training the Mind (Lojong) by which all our daily life experiences, and especially all our problems and suffering, can be transformed into the spiritual path.

The Kadampa lineage passed from generation to generation until the fourteenth century when it reached the great Buddhist Master Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 A.D.). Je Tsongkhapa clarified all the teachings and made them very accessible to the people of that time.

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Je Tsongkhapa

2024 Kadampa Buddhism Worldwide brochure

Modern Kadampa Buddhism

After Je Tsongkhapa, the New Kadampa lineage flourished for hundreds of years, continuing down to the present day. In recent years, it has been promoted widely throughout the world by the contemporary Buddhist Master, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. By founding the New Kadampa Tradition - International Kadampa Buddhist Union, Geshe Kelsang has created a global infrastructure to preserve and promote Kadampa Buddhism for many generations to come.

New Kadampa Tradition

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Our Founder

Our Spiritual Guide


“Developing compassion and wisdom, and helping those in need whenever possible, is the true meaning of life.”

- Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche

Our founder, the Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism. Geshe-la, as he is affectionately called by his students, is primarily responsible for the worldwide revival of Kadampa Buddhism in our time.

From the age of eight Geshe-la studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title ‘Geshe’, which literally means ‘spiritual friend’. Under the guidance of his Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he then spent the next eighteen years in meditation retreats in the Himalayas. In 1977 he accepted an invitation to teach at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in England, where he lived and taught for many years, giving teachings and guidance to an ever-growing group of disciples.

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Teaching in the West


Geshe-la has given many teachings and empowerments at the International Kadampa Festivals, which are attended by thousands of people from all over the world. He also has published a series of remarkable books on Buddhism and meditation, from basic introductory books to advanced philosophical texts and meditation manuals. Geshe-la has established three unique study programs and 1,300 centers and groups around the world, trained hundreds of qualified teachers, established a flourishing ordained community and created a project to build Buddhist temples in every major city in the world.

Teaching by Example


In his teachings, Geshe Kelsang emphasizes the importance of applying meditation to daily life, the need to be truly happy and the cultivation of a good heart to help others — and he demonstrates these qualities perfectly in his own life. This remarkable teacher inspires so many people from so many different countries because he teaches from example. He is a humble Buddhist monk dedicated to helping people throughout the world find true happiness in their hearts.

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Spirtual Directors

International Spiritual Directors

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General Spiritual Director


Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong is the General Spiritual Director of the NKT-IKBU. She is also the Resident Teacher at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Center in England, the Mother Center of Kadampa Buddhism.

Gen-la Dekyong has studied and practiced Kadampa Buddhism for many years under the guidance of her Spiritual Guide Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. As one of Venerable Geshe Kelsang’s close disciples, Gen-la Dekyong’s teachings, humor, and kindness exemplify the essence of the Buddhist way of life. She is a perfect example of a Kadampa Teacher.

Each year, Gen-la Dekyong teaches at the International Festivals, National Festivals, and Dharma Celebrations throughout the world.

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Deputy Spiritual Director


Gen-la Kelsang Jampa is the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) and Resident Teacher of International Kadampa Retreat Center Grand Canyon. He is an American Buddhist monk dedicated to helping people solve their daily problems by developing the capacity of their mind through the practice of meditation and modern Buddhism.

Gen-la Jampa has been a student of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for many years. Under Geshe-la’s guidance, he has taught at many centers and events around the globe. Gen-la is well-loved for his clear and inspiring teachings, and his ability to touch people’s hearts through his sincerity and loving-kindness.

National Spiritual Director

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Midwestern US National Spiritual Director


Gen Kelsang Demo is the Midwestern US National Spiritual Director and the Resident Teacher at Kadampa Meditation Center Washington DC. She has been a student of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche for over 20 years and has been teaching Kadampa Buddhism since 1998.

Gen Demo is deeply respected as a teacher and practitioner. She demonstrates a wealth of practical knowledge and provides clear and inspiring teachings for people of all levels of interest.

2024 Kadampa Buddhism Worldwide brochure

2024 Kadampa Buddhism Worldwide brochure

PDF - 25.9 MB

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