JP Thong

Director of Tsem Ladrang

Having studied in high school in New Jersey, USA from the age of 14 and graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Economics and French, I returned to Malaysia in 1992 to work for a credit card company as a Corporate Sales and Marketing Executive. Not certain of my career path, I explored other industries and joined as a Sales Executive for a time share membership resort.

Thereafter, I was headhunted to do business development of hotels and resorts in Los Angeles, USA and Malaysia for a Malaysian public listed company. In 1996, I decided to join my parents’ company to manage their property investments and hotels in Malaysia. While managing these properties I started my own company in 2005 with a friend exporting furniture to Japan.

Other than focusing on my career, I was very passionate in my extra-curricular activities such as charity work and singing. In 2002, I joined Asiaworks Foundation as a committee member supporting children who are orphans, underprivileged, abused and special. I continued to serve Asiaworks Foundation as the President from 2003 to 2005 and initiated the Community Chest. In 2002, I joined The Wicked Pitches, an award winning acapella singing group, and performed in corporate functions and very established theatres in Kuala Lumpur such as The Actors Studio and KL Performing Arts Centre. In addition, I produced and did solo performances with two other singers in the genre of musicals, jazz and opera.

In the midst of my busy worldly pursuits, I met H.E. Tsem Rinpoche in 2006 after reading Rinpoche’s book Why I Make Myself Unhappy. Since then, I attended all of Rinpoche’s Dharma talks. Rinpoche skilfully answered all my questions with logic and simplicity. I was awed by Rinpoche’s wisdom. With new knowledge, I realised that my mind became lighter and more at peace. I was happier.

In 2007, the Board of Directors invited me to become Head Director of Tsem Ladrang, the residence and private office of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Although I did not know much Dharma and the function of a Lama’s ladrang, I was humbled to be given the precious opportunity to serve my Guru. As an entrepreneur, I used whatever skills I had to manage Tsem Ladrang, promote Rinpoche and Rinpoche’s teachings, and take care of Rinpoche’s secular tasks. In 2008, I was further elected by the Board of Directors to be on the Board of Directors for the Kechara organisation. Recently, I was voted in by Kechara World Peace Centre Exco to be a member of this Exco who is responsible for spearheading the fund raising and construction of our retreat centre in Malaysia.

The biggest challenge when I initially joined the Ladrang was to learn the functions of the Ladrang, Tibetan etiquette of serving the Lama and the structure of the Kechara organisation, manage the operations, raise funds to sustain the operational expenses, recruit new staff, clean the domestic area, do offerings at the altar, assist Rinpoche and receive mind transformation trainings from Rinpoche all at the same time. In a nutshell, I have enrolled myself into a spiritual boot camp which will continue for the rest of my life!

I remember during a leadership programme I participated in eight years ago, I declared, “I want a spectacular life!!!” I did not know exactly how that would look like. But now I do: I want to be of benefit to others always.

Portfolio

  • Director of Tsem Ladrang
  • Board of Directors, Kechara organisation
  • Executive Committee member, Kechara World Peace Centre

Contact

[E] jp.thong@kechara.com