Overview of 2019 in Sekhar
January 13, 2019
Drupon Khen Rinpoche returned to Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center, Nepal, on the evening of December 21st 2018 and resumed his normal daily teaching schedule the following day, as well as joining the 8am group meditation session as usual. After greeting everyone Rinpoche proceeded to relate the highlights of his trip to East Asia and Southern Africa; and check the progress of their studies and so on.
For the next six months, Drupon Rinpoche will remain in residence at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center, continuing to guide the retreatants and give daily teachings. Currently there are 92 students staying at Sekhar under Drupon Rinpoche’s guidance: 16 Thrangu Monastery lamas and together with other four Himalayan practitioners in a traditional three-year retreat, 57 international practitioners from over 20 countries who are participating in long-term retreats of six years or more, and the 15 children who came to the retreat centre in 2018 to train under Drupon Rinpoche’s care.
In the new year Drupon Rinpoche will continue teaching those doing the traditional three-year Karma Kamtsang retreat from 10-12 each morning.
For the international students who are in the fourth and fifth years of the six-year programme, the main teaching and practice will be calm abiding meditation based on The Ocean of Definitive Meaning which Drupon Rinpoche started teaching in February of last year. The common teachings, which can be attended by all international students, including short term retreatants, will be on The Precious Ornament of Liberation for English speakers, and The Prayer to be reborn in Sukhavati Commentary, taught directly in Chinese for the Chinese students.
All the international students have received teachings from Khenpo Wangchuk on Chandrakiti’s auto-commentary to Entering the Middle Way over the past year and a half. Having concluded these teachings on 29th December, Khenpo Wangchuk began teaching the Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra (The Highest Continuum) on the 13th January. For this new teaching, 11 translators will alternate as interpreters; five for the English class and six for the Chinese. Of the 11, six have come through the Tibetan learning programme here at Thrangu Sekhar retreat over the last 18 months, and this opportunity forms part of their training.
In the new year, Khenpo Wanchuk will also begin to give teachings in Nepali twice a month for the retreat centre staff, which means everyone who stays at the retreat centre will now have the opportunity to receive and study the dharma.
As regards the ongoing education of the 15 children, Rinpoche will continue to oversee their study of Dharma and languages. At present the African children engaged in studying Tibetan, French, English, and Swahili, as well as memorising Entering the Middle Way root text. The young monks of Thrangu Gompa will continue to study Tibetan, English, and memorise the root texts of the five major topics, while the three youngest children are just beginning to learn to read and write. All the children attend the group meditation session each morning.
The Tibetan learning programme will draw to a close around July of this year, at which point the majority of students will have good enough Tibetan to understand the teachings directly, without the need of an interpreter. Since this will give the students the opportunity to receive so much more teaching, Drupon Khen Rinpoche has decided that from the latter part of this year most of the teachings will be given in Tibetan alone, with just a few teachings a week being given with interpretation for the sake of the short-term retreatants. He is committed to enabling the retreatants to have the chance to receive in-depth teachings on all the main topics of sutra and tantra.
Apart from the dharma teachings given daily, Rinpoche will also continue teaching Tibetan to the children and international students, as well as teaching the foundational Tibetan classes for the new international students daily. Every fifth day Rinpoche gives a teaching on Jamgong Kongtrul Rinpoche’s Heart-Nectar Advice in Tibetan only; the teaching is attended by the Thrangu monks that manage the retreat centre and the international students who can understand Tibetan. Apart from the daily dharma teachings, Rinpoche will also continue to travel to Namo Buddha to teach the khenpos and students of Thrangu Shedra four times a month.
2018‘S HIGHLIGHTS FOR THRANGU SEKHAR
- As of the beginning of 2018 Drupon Rinpoche has finally been able to realise his goal of making Thrangu Sekhar free for all. The retreat centre no longer charges retreatants for board and lodgings during of their stay; with no distinction made between the lamas of Thrangu Gompa and international practitioners from abroad, those who have gone forth and lay practitioners, or even buddhist and non-buddhist.
- With the completion of the new building, Namkha Kyung Dzong (Garuda Sky-Fortress), the long-term retreatants all now have individual retreat rooms. Although there are still not enough rooms to accommodate all the people wishing to stay in long term retreat in Sekhar, three rooms have been set aside especially to accomodate short term retreatants. In this way, in 2018, Thrangu Sekhar was able to welcome 60 people for short retreats of a week to three months.
- On 11th January 2018, a group of Thrangu Monastery lamas completed four years of retreat at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center. The Very Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche was present for the opening of the boundary at this the successful conclusion of the sixth retreat cycle. The eighth cycle started retreat on 27th January (two cycles of retreat run simultaneously.)
- On the 15th January, The Five Chosen for Trial – five children from Congo and Zambia came to the retreat center with an African teacher to train under Drupon Rinpoche’s care.
- Following the arrival of the African children, in April, in accord with the enlightened intent of Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche, the Khenpo’s of Thrangu Gompa chose five young monks to be sent to Sekhar to train under Rinpoche’s care. A child who was devastated not to have been selected subsequently managed to contact Drupon Rinpoche and through his own efforts be accepted for training too. Another three young children were also sent here after their parents’ persistent requests, which makes 15 children in total.
- Drupon Rinpoche started teaching The Ocean of the Definitive Meaning on 7th February for both English and Chinese speaking groups. This text will form the basis of the teachings and practice over the next three to four years.
- A new Tibetan class started following the African children and new retreatants’ arrival.
- Thrangu Rinpoche visited the retreat centre between the 11th and the 18th of September during which he gave empowerments for the practices of Guru Rinpoche, Amitabha, Chakrasamvara, and Dorje Palmo.
- On 29th December Khenpo Wanchuk completed teaching Chandrakirti’s auto-commentary on Entering the Middle Way to the English and Chinese speaking students.