We are pleased to share this exiting new development by our former school director, Fionnuala Shenpen:
As you know our Tsoknyi Gargon Nuns have a base Nunnery in Muktinath. The Nunnery was founded over 400 years ago by a wandering Drukpa Kagyu Yogi. More than 70 years ago the nunnery burnt down. The nuns struggled for a number of years to maintain their tradition without a nunnery. However it became increasingly evident that they needed to rebuild their nunnery. In 1991, hearing of a great Drukpa Kagyu lama who supported nuns, three senior nuns walked hundreds of miles over mountainous terrain to Kathmandu to request the spiritual and material help of Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
You probably all know that, as a youth, the first Tsoknyi Rinpoche was a monk at Tsechu Gompa, a Drukpa Kagyu Monastery and the then seat of the sixth Adeu Rinpoche. The first Tsoknyi Rinpoche actually attained realisation while practicing in the Drukpa Kagyu tradition at Tsechu Gompa. Tsoknyi the first then went on to reveal rediscovered treasures or ‘Yangter’ of the great treasure revealer Ratna Lingpa and be recognised as a reincarnation of Ratna Lingpa. With the help of his heart-son Tsang Yang Gyatso he founded Gechak Nunnery and a number of branch nunneries and monasteries where these rediscovered Ratna Lingpa treasures known as the Tsoknyi Lineage were practiced. Following this tradition in this lifetime Tsoknyi Rinpoche the third as a child was sent to Khamtrul Rinpoche’s Drukpa Kagyu Monastery, Tashi Jong to train and later as an adult received the full Tsoknyi Lineage transmission and committed himself to preserving this lineage in Nangchen and now at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling in Kathmandu.
However along the way Tsoknyi Rinpoche also adopted these nuns from this ancient Drukpa Kagyu Nunnery in Muktinath. Rinpoche’s first visit to Tsoknyi Gargon Ling, back in 1992, led to the immediate construction of 10 small rooms to accommodate some of the nuns. Since then, the nunnery has continued to be repaired and enlarged. A kitchen, dining hall and medical clinic have been added. In a joyous celebration, during the full moon in October 2011 a grand new shrine hall was completed and inaugurated.
About 10 years ago the Gargon nuns were offered Tangdroling, a small retreat centre in Sitapila near the Swayambhunath stupa in the Kathmandu Valley. A group of 7 nuns, supported by Togden’s from Tashi Jong completed a 3-year retreat there in 2016. Two of them went on to join a second advanced 3 –year retreat on the Six Yogas of Naropa with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s Nuns at her Dogyu Gatsal Ling, Drukpa Kagyu Nunnery and returned to Kathmandu for Losar 2019. A new group of 4 nuns are currently in retreat at Tangdroling. In the meantime the retreat centre has been expanded and with the support of Khenpos from Tashi Jong the nuns have also set up a Shedra. Tangdroling shedra runs a 10-year program similar to Tsoknyi Gechak Ling: a foundation year or ‘Shi-rim’ followed by years 1 to 9. Currently at Tangdroling 4 students are studying in foundation year and 8 students are studying in year 2. (There are no students in year 1)
The nuns now wish to create a school for the younger members of the community. So we at Tsoknyi Gechak School at the request of Rinpoche and the Gargon nuns have agreed to establish a branch school at Tangdroling for the young nuns there. TGS management will assist with hiring and training staff. Staff salaries and school supplies will be paid for from the education fund, which also funds Tsoknyi Gechak School. We had hoped to move forward on this plan in March but have been greatly delayed by the pandemic and the resultant lock down. We haven’t even decided on a school name. Full details will be sent to you all in the near future once the project is underway. We will also be updating our Tsoknyi Gechak School website and Facebook etc. This is just a little taste of the good news to come!