As 2012 draws to a close, I would like to let you know about some of the work that Pundarika Foundation and the new International Friends of the Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns have achieved over the past year.
Someone recently asked me if any of my teachers ever thought about retirement or at least time off. I replied, definitely not. Their continuous joy is knowing they can always and in all ways benefit others who may be suffering. When I reflect on the lives of my teachers and then their teachers and so on, what I see is benefiting others has no end.
TSOKNYI LINEAGE NUNS OF NEPAL AND TIBET
TSOKNYI LINEAGE NANGCHEN NUNS, TIBET
One of my chief responsibilities is to provide the spiritual and material support for more than 2000 nuns in Nangchen, Eastern Tibet and over 200 nuns in Nepal. The first Tsoknyi Rinpoche initiated this legacy in the mid-1800s and began the tradition of creating and sustaining a vibrant network of practice centers and hermitages that would allow thousands of women to strive for the fruit of Tibetan Buddhist practices: great love and compassion, and profound freedom. This system was renowned in Tibet for the commitment and deep realization of its practitioners, with many great masters attesting to their excellence.
After seven years of fundraising and careful investment, we have succeeded in closing the $2.3 million endowment fund. Distribution of these endowment funds will begin next year, under the auspices of the Bridge Foundation, one of the most respected and effective NGO’s in Eastern Tibet. Funding will be prioritized by need to the more than 26 nunneries, retreat centers and hermitages where these extraordinary women live and train. To learn about the lives of the Tsoknyi Lineage Nangchen nuns in Tibet, please visit www.tsoknyirinpoche.org/monestaries/the-tsoknyi-lineage-nuns-of-nangchen/
THE INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS OF THE TSOKNYI LINEAGE NEPAL NUNS
Over the past 20 years, scores of Buddhist nuns have made the arduous journey from Nangchen, Tibet to Nepal to reconnect with me as their lineage teacher. In early 2010, a home for these exceptional women was found at the abandoned Chobhar Monastery outside of Kathmandu. In the spring of 2011, they were joined by 82 girls from ages 6 to 14—all from my home village of Nubri in northern Nepal. By the fall of 2011, over 135 adult nuns, young girls, and live-in teachers began to experience the opportunity of a secular and religious education for the first time in their lives.
Chobhar Monastery was designed to house 35 people, and the aging facility was overwhelmed. It became crucial to address this situation, and The International Friends of the Tsoknyi Nepal Nuns was formed as a result to help support the vision of continuing the Tsoknyi Lineage of educating, supporting and championing female Buddhist practitioners. By early 2012, architectural drawings and site plans were completed for the building of a nunnery and integrated educational facility called Tsoknyi Gechak Ling. Our vision is to train nuns to become among the most accomplished Buddhist practitioners and Dharma teachers in the world. I envision them being particularly skilled at teaching the importance of loving kindness, compassion, and how to become healthy human beings. They will inspire students to work on a variety of social causes such as the environment, medical needs, education, and community health.
Please visit the newly created International Friends of the Tsoknyi Lineage Nepal Nuns website: www.tsoknyinepalnuns.org for up to date information, to make donations, or to request prayers. For further information contact Julie Green at email@example.com or call (970) 846-1016.
TSOKNYI GARGON LING NUNNERY, MUKTINATH, NEPAL
In 1991, when they learned of a Tibetan lama from their own lineage, three senior nuns from Tsoknyi Gargon Ling Nunnery high in the Himalayas in Muktinath, Nepal, walked hundreds of miles over mountainous terrain to Kathmandu to request my instruction and help.Twenty years later and as a result of your generosity, construction on a kitchen, dining hall, and a beautiful new shrine hall was completed. Due to these improvements, seven nuns were able to begin a three-year retreat in November of this year.
The October 2011 Consecration of Tsoknyi Gargon Ling was a joyous occasion attended by thousands of villagers, renowned teachers, and students from around the world. Jean Chang, a long-time student, is to be congratulated for her dedication to and support of this project along with all of the other students who helped the Muktinath Nuns receive a beautiful home and shrine hall.
I will be visiting Tsoknyi Gargon Ling in Muktinath April 21-28, 2013, along with any students who wish to make the trip. It will be a time to receive teachings and do retreat in a very special environment. (Individuals will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
OPEN HEART, OPEN MIND BOOK TOUR
Between April and July of 2012, and with the help of many of my students, I was able to complete a vigorous three-month tour of the United States. Over 6,000 people attended book events in person and over 20,000 participated by podcast, through our web site (www.tsoknyirinpoche.org), and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Tsoknyi.Rinpoche.Sangha).The tour quickly became an extraordinary love affair with people from all walks of life. So many people were able to touch the Buddhadharma and found themselves laughing with a wondrous, lively, childlike joy, as we defined and explored the teachings of the Buddha for a modern age.
A NEW FILM: WHEN THE IRON BIRD FLIES
A new feature-length documentary film produced and directed by Victress Hitchcock—a long-time student—was released commercially in October 2012 and already has had excellent reviews in film festivals in Amsterdam, San Francisco, and New York. Supported by Pundarika Foundation, When the Iron Bird Flies examines the path of an ancient and enduring spiritual tradition and asks whether Buddhist teachings can help people living in the 21st century to discover genuine happiness and create a saner, more compassionate existence. For more information, please visit the Chariot Videos web site, http://www.chariotvideos.com/documentary/ironbird.shtml
We are currently engaged in designing a curriculum that will serve as a means for students who feel connected to my lineage to train in the Buddhist path. We have already assembled many audio teachings, transcriptions, and videos, and as time allows next year, we will focus on organizing this treasury of teachings and making it available.
YESHE RANGSAL RETREAT LAND
The very special 55 acres that comprise Yeshe Rangsal have been blessed over and over by many rinpoches and lamas through teachings, prayers, and practice, and the land is protected by Dorje Yudronma. Because our efforts have focused on cultivating support for the nuns in Tibet and Nepal, development has been slow. However, we are making some progress toward fulfilling our vision of a Three-Year Retreat Center for about 15 students, as well as individual retreat cabins. Each year we make small improvements, anticipating a time in the near future when we can develop this “dharma land” to its full potential. This coming spring, for example, we are constructing new bathrooms for retreatants. And our motto is: “from portalettes to porcelain.” This project will be completed in time for the August 2013 retreats in Crestone and will eventually serve as permanent facilities for longer-term residents of 15 retreat cabins spread across the land.
Of course, support for the Tsoknyi Lineage Nuns and other projects would not be possible without your kind and generous contributions. Please take the time to consider this opportunity to become involved in these compassionate projects to educate girls and women in Nepal. We are looking for an architect and grant writer to volunteer their time. Please contact Julie Green at email@example.com if this is something that you may be interested in helping with. As the year 2012 comes to an end, funding to complete the nun’s shedra and residence building is urgently needed. Your donations ensure that the Tsoknyi lineage of accomplished nuns will continue and that women practitioners will have the chance to increase Dharma throughout the world. (All donations are, of course, tax-deductible.)
My very best wishes and prayers to all of you in the coming year!
With deep love, respect and gratitude,