Showing posts from 2009

Goodbye Canada - Hello Blighty

Hi Y'All,

My last post saw me about to go into retreat. I very much enjoyed my little 5 day solitary in the "Longevity Cabin". I managed to get in plenty of study and meditation and prepared my talks for the introductory weekend I was to be supporting later in Guelph. The weather was pretty chilly with a light dusting of snow. I really enjoyed the wood burning stove!

snow on the hilltops

Coming out of retreat I was given a surprise farewell rejoicing party - with lashings of ice-cream. What a great way to come out of retreat - I felt completely love bombed! I usually feel rather awkward at these sorts of things, but really enjoyed it all the same.

My last week at Gampo Abbey flew by in a whirl of activity. I had lots of loose ends to tie up and those around me were busy preparing and supporting Shambhala training levels, so it was all a bit of a blur. Being driven out of the Abbey to meet my shuttle bus felt slightly surreal and I felt a lot of sadness to be leaving my Abbey…

September and October at Gampo Abbey

Hi you All, As summer becomes a fast fading memory, things have taken on a quieter aspect at the Abbey. Our program has settled back into it's usual gentle routine with less of the activities seen over the summertime.
The trees and bushes have their Autumnal colours and we saw our first light snow fall on the 15th October – it didn't settle at the Abbey, but the trees on the hills behind us looked like a Christmas postcard. The little mountain road between us and our main shopping town of Cheticamp had 10cm of snow.The View from my desk of Gampo Lhatse (the hill of the Abbey Protector Deity) & Ani Palmo's Cottage
In September we had our annual visit from Shibata Sensei. The Sensei is a Kyudo (Japanese archery) master in the Zenko lineage and a 20th generation master bowmaker. He is also a third generation “Bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan” (although now retired).

Shibata Sensei was a close personal friend of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and maintains close links with the Sha…

August at Gampo Abbey

Hello me Ducks,

I hope you are all well and happy.

At the beginning of this month we had the arrival of 12 ladies for the latest stage of the 3 year retreat program in the SopaCholing Retreat Centre (adjacent to Gampo Abbey). One of these was my old mate Christine Behrens so it was lovely to have a chance to catch up with her.

This current session includes study and practice of the 6 Yogas of Naropa, one of which is Tsumo or production of inner heat. Should save a bit on the heating bills this winter.

We prepared the retreat centre for them prior to their arrival and said our goodbyes at the official Gate Closing ceremony.

This included circumambulating the retreat centre with flags and trumpet blowing,

a Lasang (fire puja/offering)

and the gate closing itself with offerings to the protector deities

concluding with posting pictures of the 4 Kings on the retreat centre gates.

The retreatants are now confined to the retreat centre and it's grounds for around 9 months.

Farm Visit

The Abbey has…

July at Gampo Abbey

Prayer flags at sunset
Hi y'all,

Another full and action packed month as summer rolls into Cape Bretton island. We have just recently said goodbye to the last batch of In House Retreatants who have been staying with us over a period of 5 weeks. This has been an opportunity for people to stay for one or two weeks and get a taste of Abbey life. They all seemed to enjoy themselves and it adds a different flavour to the Abbey having new faces appearing every seven days or so.

The tourist season is now in full swing. At times we must have 20 or more tourists a day visiting the Abbey. I have enjoyed giving afternoon tours to groups around the Abbey, explaining about Tibetan Buddhism, the historical Buddha, protector deities, the history of the Abbey, why I am the only one dressed in blue and so on.

The latest batch of recruits took temporary monastic ordination this month. This begins with a hair cutting ceremony the night before. Two of us were doing the barbering. Dennis was my first vi…

Torma Night

Just one of the many and varied community activities we take part in at Gampo Abbey. Torma Night is a winner with all the monastics - well, it is compulsory, but I like to think we'd all go anyway.

Torma is an offering gift in Tibetan Buddhism. The Tormas we make on Torma night are used in our main shrine room and presented to the local protector deities by being flung into the garden at appropriate moments during our chants.

These are made from barley flour dough and butter. The central pinacle represents Mount Meru - the centre of the Buddhist cosmos and the four points on the base represent the four continents - one of which is our home - Jambudvipa. Hence we offer up the whole universe for the benefit of practicing Dharma.

When sticking the continents onto Mount Meru it is important to get them on the right way up - with a flat side on the top - otherwise all the people are liable to fall off. It also makes the job of building Ikea even more difficult for the people of Jambudvip…

June at Gampo Abbey

Hi All,

Wow, how time flies! The weeks just fly by here – it’s the minutes that can kill you. Particularly the last three minutes at the end of a three hour period meditation session, you are at the front and it’s your job to ring the gong at the end. The digital clock is in front of you and you have to keep an eye on it, the numbers slow, slow some more and……freeze, the clock goes into stasis – you have entered the twilight zone!

This last month has been action packed. The latest group of Three year retreatants finished their current period in the Sopa Choling retreat centre. They have been practicing hard, 7 days a week for about 10 months, meditating and sleeping upright in their Tibetan box thrones (like a wing armchair, but different). The retreat centre is “sealed off” except for a few essential persons and the retreatants are not allowed outside of their fenced area during their stay. We had an official gate opening ceremony led by Bhiksu Lodro Sangpo and a Lasang (a kind of Wind…