With a vast and profound vision, the Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche is accomplishing great benefit for many people around the world. Starting, as he says, "from nothing," he has initiated many projects and activities which create situations for children and adults who, otherwise, would not have an opportunity to create better futures for themselves, their families, and ultimately, our world. Thrangu Rinpoche believes that the greatest good one can do is to give all sentient beings permanent, enduring happiness. The only way to do this is to teach them the Dharma, so Rinpoche has set up a set of educational programs from age three up to receiving the khenpo degree in adulthood. He believes there should be no difference between opportunities for men or women to reach enlightenment and so he has set up programs so women can receive this same khenpo training. These projects are all funded by Rinpoche's generous students and supporters.
Thrangu Tashi Choling, Tibet: Since the late 1980's Thrangu Rinpoche has been overseeing the rebuilding of his monastery in Tibet. The temple, monks quarters, the Stupa, and shedra (monastic college) are now completely restored and at this time there are 135 monks in residence. This dharmic activity is not only a benefit for the monks themselves but is a long awaited and welcome activity for the people of the region.
Thrangu Tashi Choling, Boudhanath, Nepal: In 1982 Thrangu Rinpoche built his first monastery outside of Tibet in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. The Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery in Boudhanath is the center of monastic life for nearly 250 monks. This means they receive complete training in the Dharma, learning and practicing all aspects. They also take turns learning the different jobs of the monastery each year, including such things as discipline master, shrine master, and even cooking and management of the monastery. Eventually, those that take full ordination will study in the shedra and also do the traditional three year, three month, three day retreat training.
Approximately 100 of Rinpoche's monks are young children under the age of 18. Many of these boys are from poor, rural villages in Nepal, Tibet and Ladhak. They would have little chance, if any, for formal training and education if not for the monastery. Rinpoche feels this is very beneficial for the young boys because from a very early age they can begin a training and education which will help them to develop good habits and discipline that will serve them throughout their lives.
It is the case that occasionally a young man will really have the inclination to become a monk but due to lack of early instruction will have developed many hard-to-change habits (smoking and/or drinking, for example) which will prove to be an obstacle to taking up the monastic life. Early training, of course, helps to prevent this but it is also an important foundation for everyone.
Regardless of whether or not they remain monks, (at the age of twenty the young men may choose, if they wish, to take full ordination) all the children have a good, basic training of body and mind. This will benefit them whatever they may choose to do in life.
Conditions at the monastery in Boudha now are quite crowded and the city is also becoming quite large and polluted. To protect the physical health of the monks, as well as to keep them free of the distractions of the city, Thrangu Rinpoche is planning to move the monks out of town and build a new monastery at his retreat center two and a half hours out of town, at Namo Buddha.
Takmolugin or Namo Buddha, Nepal: Since 1977, Thrangu Rinpoche has been acquiring land at this famous Buddhist place of pilgrimage. It has been used for many years as a retreat center for his monks and other students and now has a new shedra (monastic college) with 25 monks and three Khenpo's (Professors of Buddhism) in residence.
Construction is currently in progress for quarters for the monks, and a new guest house. There are plans to begin building a new temple this spring and eventually, enough facilities for all the monks to live in residence here rather than in Boudha. When complete, Namo Buddha will offer complete training for monks of all ages, including the advanced studies of the shedra and the traditional three year retreat.
A SCHOOL FOR HIMLAYAN CHILDREN - Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche founded Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School in Boudhanath, Nepal, near the Great Stupa in 1987. The school provides an education for children who come from the remote Himalayan regions: girls and boys and the smaller nuns and monks who come from Rinpoche's monastery and nunnery as day students. We are currently educating over 300 children, about half of whom are boarding students. Nepal is the poorest country in Asia, a Hindu kingdom with few resources to provide services for her people, let alone an education for a minority in the distant mountains. Shree Mangal Dvip School is unique in addressing the needs of these forgotten people.
Many children cannot afford this school so the Himalayan Children's Fund administered by Jane Lawless raises money in the United States to provide for tuition, food and clothing for these children as well as the monks. Sponsors receive a photo and can correspond with the child they sponsor if they wish to.
The Swedish Tibetan Society has recently built a playground located next to the school. It is one of the only playgrounds in Nepal.
When monks are around 18 years of age they can then go to Namo Buddha Retreat and Monastic College which is located about two hours from the monastery in the mountains. There are now eleven monks in the three year retreat and thirty monks studying the Bodhisattvavacharya at the college. Rinpoche is also building a Dewachen Shrine and also a Medical Clinic for the people in Namo Buddha village. The generous support of Rinpoche's students in the Far East has transformed these primitive huts into a beautiful college.
Recognizing that many Himalayan women desire to study and practice the Dharma but have very little opportunityto do so, Thrangu Rinpoche established Tara Abbey, a monastic center for women. The Tara Abbey Project raises money to complete the building of Tara Abbey and pay for its upkeep. There are 129 nuns now. About one half of these have western sponsors. The nuns are deeply grateful for sponsorships and love to correspond with their sponsors. The cost for one year which includes shelter, food, and all their education is $240. For information on sponsorship please contact Christie Turner (ChrisTashi@aol.com). An excellent video on Tara Abbey, is available through the project coordinator, Sylvia Bercovici. Rinpoche says these are "very good nuns" and they have a rigorous daily discipline of practice, study and daily chores, just as the monks. They are very happy to be nuns and feel that it has greatly improved their lives.
Finally, when students have completed their studies at Namo Buddha, they will attend Vajravidya Institute, an institute for advanced buddhist philosophy and studies, which Thrangu Rinpoche built in Sarnath, India near Deer Park where Lord Buddha first turned the Wheel of Dharma. The property was purchased in 1988 and the Institute was inaugurated in 1999.. This Institute which is close to Sarnath University will also be open to Western students (who know Tibetan language).
Worldwide Teaching Schedule (see itinerary)
Besides his commitments to the people of Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Thrangu Rinpoche is also very involved in giving extensive Dharma teachings to Western students in Nepal, Europe and North America (see itinerary). Each March Rinpoche gives a Namo Buddha Seminar in Nepal at his monastery but this year it will be held at the Vajravidya Institute for the first time. For the last fourteen years these have been organized by Rinpoche's secretary Gloria Jones who lives in Boudhanath, near the monastery. Throughout the west of the year he holds seminars in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany and elsewhere for his students. In addition to this he often teaches at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, New York and at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada where Rinpoche is the abbot.
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