#14 – May 2016 Newsletter

Quick links in this edition:

Completion of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche’s Three Year Retreat
Report on the drupchens and monastic dances in Nepal
Annual meeting, graduation and exam results
News from Shechen Bhutan
New Hostel for Shechen Nuns
Shechen Mexico update
Annual Shechen Seminar in Croatia in April
Building Group Support for Shechen Monks and Nuns
Support Shechen through AmazonSmile
Other Links

Completion of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche’s Three Year Retreat

Shechen Ramjam RinpocheWe are very joyful to announce the completion of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche’s extended three year retreat at Satsam Chorten in Bhutan. A small group of Rinpoche’s close disciples joined Rinpoche in the auspicious ceremonies and tsokpa offering to ritually conclude Rinpoche’s retreat on April 21st.

Rinpoche is in good health and spirits and we are delighted that he was able to take this important time for intensive practice and meditation, and successfully conclude his retreat without hindrance to his practice.

Report on the Drupchens and Monastic Dances in Nepal

Monastic DanceDue to the reconstruction work on the main temple since it was badly damaged during last year’s earthquakes, the annual drupchens and monastic dances in March were held using large tents for the assembly and for the dances. Despite this disruption, the ceremonies were a great success, attracting many visitors and attendees as usual.

The season’s ceremonies began with the Yamantaka Drupchen according to the Shinje Drekjom. This ritual is performed just prior to Tibetan New year to dispel obstacles for the coming year. After New Year the Tsokchen Dupa and Minling Dorsem Drupchens are performed, along with five smaller drupcho’s from the Nyingma Canonical Teachings. The ceremonies culminate with the Lama Sangdue Tsechu and monastic dance, which is one of the great events of the year, taking place on the 10th day of the second lunar month. It was held in a marquee in the main courtyard in the presence of thousands of spectators, bringing a much needed sense of joy and auspiciousness to a people who have undergone a lot of hardship in the past year. Shechen continues to offer prayers and help for those in need.

Annual Meeting, Graduation and Exam Results at Shechen Nepal

Annual MeetingThe Annual Meeting at Shechen Monastery in Nepal is held in the first Tibetan month, after the conclusion of the drupchen ceremonies. Chaired by Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, representatives of all the branches—the nunnery, the monasteries, the stupas in India, publications, art school, and so on—meet for three days to discuss the past year, go over budgets, and plan for the coming year. It provides an open forum for voices to be heard and new ideas to be discussed and formulated.

After the annual meeting, the exam results of all the monastery schools are announced. This year the results were presented on the March 21st by Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. Yangsi Rinpoche and Changling Tulku both gave advice and encouragement on the importance of education to the students.

The shedra exam results for the year were exceptional, with a very high pass rate. This year six monks from the shedra graduated as lopon. Those graduate monks will then go on to teach and hold key roles in the monastery and branches.

The final exams for the elementary school were an exciting time. These were the first exams our Lobdra young monks (age 7 to 14) have taken in the standardized Nepali system. This will enable them to get a diploma when they graduate. Some of the older Lobdra monks took their exams in the courtyard space under the new roof that has recently been built. Thank you to our donors who funded the new roof, allowing us to create more space in our very crowded campus.

Smiles all around at graduation as our little monks did extremely well on the exams, reassuring us that our new school system, teachers and principal are providing an improved education for the children. Congratulations to all!

Shechen’s Tsering Art School had 55 students sit for the exams this year. Six students graduated from the six year thangka study program and two artists from the Rabsel Thangka Studio graduated from the post-graduate course (which entails a further three years study and practice) and were bestowed the title “Lhadri Lopon” (equivalent to Masters of Sacred Tibetan Art).

News from Shechen Bhutan

Shechen BhutanShechen nuns received their annual exam results on March 29th from Adzom Gyaltse Rinpoche, at Shechen Orgyen Chodzong Nunnery in Sissinang, Bhutan. Twenty-two elementary school nuns and 51 shedra nuns sat for their exams, with three graduating from the shedra as Lopon.

Chazod Nudrup la represented Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche and Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche at the enthronement ceremony of Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’s reincarnation in Paro, in April.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche made prayers and lit lamps for the victims of the earthquakes in Nepal on its one year anniversary on April 25th and offered prayers and a message of support for the victims of the recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador.
Starting April 27th, the 18th annual Vajrakilaya Drupchen according to late Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Gongter (hidden treasure) is being performed through to May 6th at Thegchok Chokyi Gatsel Satsam Chorten Paro in the Vajrakilaya temple. Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche and Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche are leading the ceremonies, with an assembly of Shechen’s monks and nuns.

On April 27th Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche also visited Shechen Orgyen Chodzong nunnery for the first time since his long retreat and met with all the nuns. Rinpoche also visited the retreat center in the nunnery and spent a whole day teaching to a group of nuns who are in the third year of a three year retreat. Rinpoche also congratulated the first group of nuns to graduate from the nine year Shedra course and who are now Lopon-mas, the equivalent of a Master of Philosophy.

New Hostel for Shechen Nuns

Shechen NunsMany women want to join the Shechen Nunnery (Shechen Orgyen Chozong) to study and practice. We needed to find additional space for them. Last year the Royal Bhutanese Grandmother, Ashi Kesang Wangchuck, offered a beautiful temple in the sacred valley of Phobjikha (Gangteng Valley) to Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche and the nuns.

The valley is rich in biodiversity and home to many globally threatened species, including the migration of the black-necked cranes from Tibet. The site of the temple is sacred and was visited in the past by many great masters, including Guru Rinpoche.

Last winter, 10 of our nuns spent the winter there but suffered from the cold in flimsy, dilapidated, temporary huts. It became apparent that we needed to build them a hostel, and construction began.  We are building a beautiful Bhutanese-style hostel for 20 nuns and a teacher, installing a new septic system and a boundary wall to protect the area. Eventually this special site will be used for a retreat center or a small shedra.

The creation of this hostel opens a new chapter for Shechen’s support of women in Bhutan. A grant from the Pema Chödron Foundation has helped to make the final construction possible.

Join Shechen and the Pema Chödrön Foundation by helping us complete the building. Together we will ensure the establishment of a strong foundation for training and educating female practitioners now and in the future.

Update from Shechen Mexico

Update from Shechen MexicoLopon Tashi has given the following report on the activity at Shechen’s centre in Mexico:

Khenpo Karma Tsultrim and I have been in Mexico since 2012 as the resident monks at Shechen Mexico’s two Dharma centres: Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Our first six months were challenging, as we had to adapt to life outside our monastery, a new culture, a big city and a new language. We enrolled in Spanish language classes at the National University and after six months, as our Spanish had improved, we decided to change from both staying together at one centre, to switching between the centres every six months.

The dharma activities in both centres follow the traditions of Shechen and the practice lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s treasure texts. Every week we have four days of philosophical classes, beginning with an introduction to Buddhism, then Mahayana teachings and finally an introduction to Vajrayana Ngondro Practice. We also have practices on auspicious days according to the Tibetan lunar calendar: Tara practice, Guru Rinpoche practice, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Guru Yoga practice. We give a public dharma talk on the first Saturday of every month and ngondro group practice on the last weekend of the month.

At present, according to the advice of our teacher Rabjam Rinpoche, we lead a study group on Shantideva´s The Way of the Bodhisattva. For beginners, we introduce Nagarjuna´s Letter to a Friend and The Heart of Compassion, which is Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s commentary to The Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva. Every year we hold a retreat at both the centres where we practice silent meditation and the ngondro (preliminary practices).

Each year we have been fortunate to receive our teacher Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche from Shechen Monastery in Nepal, and other masters from the Khyentse Lineage to teach Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s treasure teachings and guide the practitioners in Mexico. We look forward to receiving more visiting teachers in the coming years as we progress in our spiritual practice.

Tashi Delek
Lopon Tashi
Shechen Mexico

Shechen’s Annual Seminar in Croatia

Shechen Seminar in CroatiaThe fifth annual international Shechen Seminar in Croatia was held from April 11th to 20th 2016 on Mount Medvednica (Sljeme) above the capital city of Zagreb. Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche arrived with Lama Lungrig Nyima, Khenpo Sangye Phuntsok, Lama Sean Price and Rinpoche’s attendant, Nyima Tsering, to continue the teachings and empowerments being bestowed in stages over a period of nine years. In the beautiful setting of the mountain retreat about 100 students gathered from 15 different countries (mostly European but also including Nepal, USA and Japan) to attend the teachings and empowerments from the Rangung Pema’i Nyingtik and Pema Tseyi Nyingtik cycles of teachings.

Shechen Croatia is a center for the dissemination of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s terma teachings and the European seat of Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. It was founded in 2001, under the personal direction of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche.

Building Group Support for Shechen Monks and Nuns

Building Group SupportLay Ching from Malaysia has organized 129 new donors who together will sponsor 43 young Shechen monks. Each monk is sponsored by five individuals, sharing the financial commitment. This is the fourth year she has helped us to find sponsors. She has been helping to find funding for monks from different monasteries for 12 years now, ever since she met His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In 2007, Lay Ching met Yangsi Rinpoche and asked to become his student. She is part of Shechen’s annual retreat in Bodhgaya that follows a nine-year practice training.

“When I saw these little monks taking refuge with Yangsi Rinpoche, I knew that I wanted to help them,” she wrote us. “Every year I have been able to find more sponsors and this year we can help 43 monks! I am just a freelance Mandarin teacher, but my devotion to Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi and his work is indestructible. So, I want to use my limited resources to help. This is my simple practice, like a little candle burning itself, but cherishing others!!”

Shechen has 300 monks and 125 nuns to support and educate. Our sponsorship program helps us to achieve this tremendous goal, but we have less than half the sponsors we need.

We deeply appreciate Lay Ching’s dedication and work to help the Shechen young monks. We hope her example inspires others to sponsor a monk or nun or initiate a similar group sponsorship. Recurring monthly sponsorships are also an easy, fun and manageable way to give and ensures the monks long-lasting support.

Thank you to all our current and future sponsors!

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Thank you!

Other Links

For continuing news please regularly visit our website where you can sponsor a monk or nun, donate to one of our projects, request prayers and find new information and photos. Current photos and news can also be found on our Facebook page.