Something Old, Something New
Letter from the Director
While the search for a suitable location to establish a monastery had been underway for a number of years, the land on which the Abbey now stands was chosen by the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1983. An offer to purchase was made in 1984 -- and the rest, as they say, is history. And it has been a very dynamic history, the details of which will be documented in a multimedia presentation written by Ani Pema Chödrön, with the assistance of Ani Migme Chödrön, which we hope to have ready for release this spring.
As we move into our second quarter-century, this tender shoot of Western monasticism based on the Shambhala terma teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche has taken root in the harshly beautiful landscape of the Cape Breton Highlands here in Nova Scotia, Canada. Under the direction of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and with the blessing of our Abbot the Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Ani Pema Chödrön in the role of Gampo Acharya is leading this monastic and lay community in an ongoing experiment in creating enlightened society.
Building on the deep and profound experience of the Kagyu monastic tradition as embodied by our Abbot, we are exploring how the qualities of enlightened warriorship of Shambhala can inform our training as monastics. Since this is a work in progress, it’s not easy to say precisely what this will mean and how it will affect the day-to-day lives, schedule, forms and decorum that make up life within this community.
Some things are clear. We are a community dedicated to waking up through practicing, studying, working and living together based upon the five precepts of not killing, not stealing, not engaging in sexual activity, not lying and not taking intoxicating substances. We are a community that continues to welcome practitioners from all Buddhist traditions who are interested in exploring monastic life and who are open to receiving monastic training based upon the Shambhala terma teachings. We are a community willing to work with getting to know how our habitual patterns keep us stuck, even when this experience may be deeply challenging and unsettling. We are a community of individuals who have chosen to come here not to escape from the world, but rather to deeply experience how we can work with our minds and live our lives with friendliness and curiosity.
As I write this, we recently finished the annual seven-week winter Yarne Retreat. In addition to the core Abbey monastic and lay community, we had two visiting Zen priests who assisted with the leadership of the retreat, two novice nuns from the Gelug tradition, a monk from the Zen tradition, and eight non-monastic guests from a variety of different traditions and practice backgrounds. Ani Pema taught extensively on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, as the snow fell and the winds blew down off the Cape Breton highlands…
-- Les Ste. Marie
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In-House Retreats in 2010
Gampo Abbey will offer In-House Retreat time, from August 3 to September 21, 2010.
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 minimum 8-month commitment. Retreats are available in either a one-week or two-week format. 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, check the
Programs section of our Web site.
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Extended Retreats at Sopa Choling
Propagating Kagyu, Nyingma and Shambhala Retreat Practices at Sopa Choling
Gampo Abbey and Sopa Choling are pleased to offer, from November 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011, one-month to six-month intensive personal practice retreats for practitioners of Primordial Rigden, Kagyu and Nyingma ngondro as well as Werma, Vajrayogini, Cakrasamvara and Vajrakilaya sadhanas and Six Dharmas practices.
Accommodations include private rooms with single beds and shrines; and three cooked meals a day. A maximum of 8 retreatants share a full and half bath. Exercise space and laundry facilities are on site.
The daily schedule includes 4 practice sessions in your rooms with group protector practice each evening; and a shared cleaning rota each day after lunch. A Retreat Master/MI is available for interviews and instruction.
The minimum time for participation is one month, and the maximum is six months. Entry dates are on the first day of each month and exit dates on the last day of each month. (Please don’t ask for exceptions to this, as they cannot be granted.) Fees for one or two months are $1500/month. Retreats exceeding two months are $1400 for each additional month. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A Talk by Pema Chodron
Visit our blog to listen to streaming audio of a talk given by Pema Chodron to the Gampo Abbey community last year, shortly after she was designated Gampo Acharya. In this talk, Ani Pema describes a new vision for monastic life at Gampo Abbey. It will be of interest to anyone who enjoys Ani Pema's teachings or feels a connection to the Abbey.
This is the first in a series of talks from Gampo Abbey that will be shared with the public as online audio files. Stay tuned to this newsletter for future talks!
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Gampo Abbey Offers Maitri Bhavana and Sukhavati Services
Sangha invited to submit names of people who are ill or recently deceased
The monks and nuns of Gampo Abbey regularly conduct Maitri Bhavana practices for those who are ill, and Sukhavati practices for those who have recently died. We invite the sangha to send us names to be included in these practices. Please send your requests to the specific email addresses listed below.
Based on the practice of Tonglen, this meditation cultivates compassion by engaging our willingness to take on the sense of suffering of others, acknowledging our deep interconnectedness. A sense of spaciousness and well-being is directed to those who are suffering, with the intention of providing relief from the claustrophobia that suffering creates. This is intended for those who are ill as well as for their family and friends. Along with names, please describe the nature of the pain -- i.e., cancer, depression, etc. Email to: email@example.com
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it is understood that the individual's mind, after death, transitions from this life to the next through the intermediate state, or Bardo. In this transition, the mind has heightened awareness. Historically, it is taught that if the mind in the Bardo is not focused, fear and confusion are experienced. In this state of heightened perception, the mind is more receptive to being helped through the difficulties faced in the Bardo. The Sukhavati ceremony is performed for the benefit of helping the deceased transition through the Bardo by lessening suffering, fear, and loss and offering focus and clarity. In addition to the name of the deceased please include birth and death dates, a brief comment about them, and a photo if one is available. Email to:
These practices are offered to all who request them. If you would like to send a donation to support the community of practitioners who perform these ceremonies, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (902) 224-1358.
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Find Us on Facebook
Are you on Facebook? Check out Gampo Abbey's Facebook fan page, where you can view photos and keep up with what's going on at the Abbey.
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