Dear friends and sponsors of the togdens,
Here is finally the 2017 newsletter that I planned to send since a long time. I usually write it in June after getting back to Holland from my annual 6 month stay India and Nepal. This year things got delayed due Ani Chonyi Zangmo’s resignation from her work as coordinator for the togden sponsorship program in the US, which made it necessary to change the Paypal option and reorganize the togden website.
Ani Chonyi Zangmo, who did an amazing job as coordinator for the togden sponsorship program in the US during the last 17 years, had to resign from her coordinator work due to serious health problems. With her son Paolo she set up a website [togdens.net] with a Facebook page nine years ago, through which the old sponsorship program could be extended to support the new togdens in training, which Togden Semdor requested me to do before he passed away. Previously, donations from longterm sponsors had dwindled because many old sponsors had passed away, so there was just enough for the old togdens from Tibet. But Ani Chonyi’s work made it possible to support both old and new togdens, now 17 altogether, with an annual donation for their personal care, which has been very helpful.
It took quite a while to find someone suitable to replace Ani Chonyi, and at the advice of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo I asked an old friend called Caterina, who has a strong connection with Tashi Jong and lives in the US, to reorganize the Paypal and the website, and take over some of the coordinator work. By now she organized a new Paypal address for the togden sponsorship program, which has become part of a non-profit organization called the Four Corners Foundation and can be found at this link.[Update: This new website for the togdens’ sponsorship is now connected to an online Paypal option with details on our donate page here.]
Sponsors in Europe can still send donations to my bank account or Paypal address as before, clearly mentioning “Donation for Tashi Jong Togdens”. As usual the donations from the different accounts will be gathered together and taken to Tashi Jong in December to be equally divided among the Khampagar togdens.
Now to finally give you some news about the togdens. Last winter I arrived again in Tashi Jong around December 20th, and after getting settled in my little retreat house across the lower retreat center, I went to visit the togdens to bring their annual donations. Again this year there was enough to offer each togden 12.000 Rps, so each of them got 1000 Rps a month for their personal and medical expenses. Although life in India has become a lot more expensive over the years, this helps them a lot. The health of most of the togdens is fairly ok, though the older ones like Togden Achos, Togden Lekden, and Tsawa Lama, have their share of various health problems and need regular medical care. They are all extremely grateful for your support and send their sincere thanks and blessings……
The sad news in Tashi Jong this year was the paranirvana of His Eminence Dorzong Rinpoche last February. Dorzong Rinpoche was one of the most important lamas in Tashi Jong. He left his monastery in Gojo, Eastern Tibet, in 1959 along with the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, and besides being an extremely learned and highly realized being, he was instrumental in the development of the Tashi Jong community. He had been ill for a few years, and after a longterm treatment in Delhi he went for treatment to a hospital in Taiwan, where he passed away mid-February. After his passing he stayed in what is called “thugdam” for about 2 weeks. During this time the body remains warm around the heart, while the practitioner is in deep meditation. After Dorzong Rinpoche concluded his meditation, his body was brought to Tashi Jong where it stayed in the main temple for 2 weeks for devotees to make offerings and perform the necessary ceremonies. Then it was taken to Jangchubjong, Dorzong Rinpoche’s own monastery about an hour away from Tashi Jong, where it was cremated in April. The main lamas performing the cremation ceremony were the 17th Karmapa and Dzongsar Khyentse, Khamtrul, Choegon, and Orgyen Topgyal Rinpoches.
I was in Tashi Jong while Dorzong Rinpoche’s sacred body arrived from Taiwan and used to go and practice an hour or so in the temple where it was kept, which was a great blessing. I had to leave for Nepal soon after his body was taken to Jangchubjong so couldn’t attend the cremation and give you first-hand information about it. But I heard that many special signs appeared during the cremation ceremony, and now they are building a stupa at Jangchubjong for his relics.
I conclude this now so you finally have some news … With sincere gratitude and blessings from all the togdens.
Ani Jinba[in Amsterdam at time of writing]