Dear friends and sponsors of the Tashi Jong togdens,
I apologize for being so late in sending the annual newsletter this year, mainly due to health issues and dealing with the covid situation. Until now travel to India is impossible and it’s uncertain if it’ll be possible to enter India before mid-March, 2021. I’m also very sorry I couldn’t send individual thank you notes for each of your donations. If you’re not sure whether yours was received, please send me a message and I can check the Paypal receipts to let you know.
As usual I arrived in Tashi Jong around the third week of December 2019 and was able to stay there till the end of February 2020 … Soon after my arrival I met with some of the togdens at the lower retreat center and offered the annual sponsor money for the eleven togdens residing there to Tsawa Lama, Togden Thutop Nyima and Togden Drubgyu, and made some photos at the stupas below their retreat houses. This year Togden Lekden was in strict recitation retreat most of the year so I couldn’t meet him, and most of the other ones there are the younger generation of togdens that are still in training and hardly ever come out of their long retreats.
For the togdens at the upper Yamantaka retreat center, as the weather was quite stormy and it’s not so easy to walk up there in winter, after concluding the annual two-week Yamantaka drupchen Togden Gyamtso came to visit my retreat house so I could offer the annual donations for him and the other five togdens in training up there. All of them continue to be well and are extremely grateful for your ongoing support.
After meeting Khamtrul Rinpoche and the togdens and organizing my retreat supplies, I managed to do some retreat for 5-6 weeks till around mid-February, when Dorzong Rinpoche’s third anniversary was celebrated at his Jangchub Jong monastery, so I went there with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and a few other nuns to attend the elaborate ceremonies. We left early morning on the main day of his paranirvana and joined a lovely gathering of Khamtrul Rinpoche, Choegyal Rinpoche, five of the togdens and many of the Tashi Jong monks, as well as the Jangchub Jong monks and some of Tenzin Palmo’s Dongyu Gatsal Ling nuns. We had a wonderful day and [included in this album] are some photos of the week-long ceremonies that were held inside the main Jangchub Jong temple in the morning and in the afternoon outside, facing the amazing stupa with Dorzong Rinpoche’s relics which was consecrated that day.
At the end of February I went on to Nepal where the covid lockdown started March 24th, but in India it started ten days earlier. Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown around mid-March, the whole of the Tashi Jong community has stayed in strict lockdown which is going on till now. Supplies for the monastery and the lay community have been delivered so that nobody needed to go to any of the nearby towns, and so far nobody got infected since March. Though the pandemic has not been severe in the Himachal Pradesh district where Tashi Jong is located, because coronavirus keeps spreading throughout India it’s not possible to enter India with a tourist visa for now, only work and business visas are allowed…
…Meanwhile in Tashi Jong things have relaxed somewhat and the annual fall drupchen ceremonies started as usual. After the Vajrakilaya and Mahakala drupchens in October and November, the monastery is now performing the Chakrasamvara drupchen with Togden Drubgyu attending. For each drupchen one togden has to attend, except for the 2-week Yamantaka drupchen in January when five togdens need to attend. I stay in touch with them regularly and heard that Togden Achos is still very well even though he is 87 now. [In the album] you can see him teach Togden Gyamtso about tormas and explain the Chakrasamvara mandala to some of the togdens in Khamtrul Rinpoche’s garden. Other than joining the drupchens, the togdens just stay at the retreat center and only meet at their temple for special day pujas.
Here is a short video recording with Togden Achos.
With sincere gratitude and blessings from the togdens and many thanks for your continued support of these amazing practitioners,
Amsterdam, December 18th, 2020