Greetings from Gampo Abbey
Cheerful Spring from Gampo Abbey! So much has happened since we were last in touch with our Fall newsletter.
We welcomed Winter with a wonderful lhasang overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence and a climb up a nearby hill, on trails recently blazed by our intrepid Lodro Sangpo. The hill is now blessed by the presence of rupas and other sacred objects. Then we began a three-month Winter Retreat (our annual six-week Yarne retreat, which this year was open only to residents, followed by another closed six-week retreat). It was a time for deep practice and study.
Our Yarne retreat consisted of two weeks of practice and small-group study, when residents chose a topic they wanted to explore with others, two weeks of silent retreat, and a week of Mahamudra investigations led by Lodro Sangpo. Our Main Shrine Room, particularly in the subdued light and settledness of winter, provided a perfect container for these meditations.
Our Yarne retreat came to a powerful close with Acharya Larry Mermelstein leading a richly informative week-long intensive on the Sadhana of Mahamudra, one of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's most seminal texts. (Our next Yarne retreat will be taught by Ani Pema Chödrön and will be open to non-residents. Click here for more information.)
Following Yarne, we continued our study and practice with another six-week retreat. Our life monastics moved to Söpa Chöling and were off-schedule. Their Abbey jobs were handled by staff members, allowing our life monastics a time for especially deep study and practice.
Those remaining in the house for this six-week retreat were joined by three volunteers. We were so grateful for the presence, inspired cooking, and devoted practice of Zane Denoncourt, Janet Whelan, and Bruce King. Thank you!
The house retreat began by watching and discussing a series of talks that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche gave on Enlightened World. We all found much to contemplate in his teachings. Along with the rest of the mandala, we enjoyed a spirited celebration of Shambhala Day, joined by members of the Cape Breton sangha. And with that, we welcomed the Year of the Water Dragon.
Shastri Ani Lodro Palmo, who lived at the Abbey for nine years, returned to lead a ngondro and werma intensive for our life monastics. She also led a week of contemplation and practice for the other residents on the topic Being Loved Is Being Love. We all benefited from Ani la's infectious enthusiasm and humour! To bring our retreat to a conclusion, Lodro Sangpo led a powerful mahamudra shamatha intensive. And, along with the rest of the mandala, we were introduced to the inspiring Shambhala Sadhana by the Sakyong. It was a truly wonderful way to welcome Spring.
With Spring comes, well, Spring Shedra! Israel Lifshitz, an accomplished dharma teacher and Nitartha Institute instructor, taught an intensive four-week Madhyamaka class. Ten students avidly explored this challenging and liberating philosophical system.
All of us at the Abbey wish you a most wonderful Spring. If you have the opportunity, please consider joining us at the Abbey. Four of the possibilities are described below. Full details of the programs offered at the Abbey (including tours) can be found on our website.
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Openings for Residents in 2012
Have you ever thought of exploring monastic community life as part of your spiritual path? Come live at Gampo Abbey. The next entry dates are June 7 and September 6.
We are continuing to explore how the Shambhala teachings provide the backbone of monastic training at Gampo Abbey. As a member of the community you must be willing to fully commit to participate in this ongoing experiment in creating enlightened society. On a day-to-day level this means fully surrendering to the daily schedule of participating in morning and evening chants, 3 to 4 ½ hours of meditation practice, and 4 hours of service to the community.
We require a minimum one-year commitment, and that you have taken refuge, have an interest in taking temporary monastic ordination during your stay, and have completed a Shambhala Training program.
For more information on living at Gampo Abbey and to download an application form, please visit our website.
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In-House Retreat is the one time in the Gampo Abbey year that people have the opportunity to participate in Abbey life without having to make a one-year commitment. Retreats are available in either a one-week or two-week format.
This year we are offering In-House retreats from June 12 to July 10 and from July 24 to August 7.
The daily schedule at the Abbey provides a retreat-like environment for the community aimed at providing four hours of meditation practice and two hours of service (work) each day. Participation in all aspects of the daily schedule is required for those joining the community for In-House Retreat. Due to the nature of the schedule we strongly recommend that those applying to come to the Abbey for an In-House Retreat already have an established meditation practice.
For more information, see the Programs section of our website.
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Summer Service Week
Please join us for our Summer Service Week, from August 7 through August 14.
Service Week is a great opportunity to spend a week at Gampo Abbey, participate in Abbey life, and help our community with many projects. During this week you will participate in all aspects of the Abbey's daily schedule with four hours of meditation practice and four hours of service (work) each day. We recommend that those coming to the Abbey for the Service Week already have an established meditation practice.
Service Week participants will work in the garden, tend the grounds, assist with housekeeping tasks, and help with many projects. The Abbey also has an outstanding library of Buddhist and other texts that will be available to you. The Abbey is located near Cape Breton's scenic Cabot Trail with many walks and trails accessible virtually from our front door. The Service Week includes your accommodation and three vegetarian meals a day.
For complete information about our Service Week, please visit our website starting around May 15.
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Gampo Abbey and Söpa Chöling invite you to celebrate with us our tradition of performing a Vajrayogini Druppa, from July 10 to July 18.
This druppa (practice intensive) format was introduced in 1987 by Thrangu Rinpoche's three-year retreat master Lama Sherab Tendar. It involves the construction of a sand mandala, four sessions (thüns) of daily practice, and the dismantling of the sand mandala.
Everyone who has received the Vajrayogini abhisheka is invited and in particular all Söpa Chöling alumni (three-year retreat graduates).
For more information, visit our website.
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