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Apr 19
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Placing the Earthquake in our Lineage

Neal Greenberg offers an insightful discussion on the connection of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to places in and around Jyekundo affected by the earthquake. The Shambhala Times has paired his reflections on lineage connections in the region with images shared by the Varja Vidya Foundation of the destruction at Thrangu Tashi Choling.

By Neal Greenberg

The region affected by the earthquake is very important to our Shambhala history. Surmang Monastary was the place where the Trungpa lineage was originally founded and of course that extends all the way to our teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the 11th Trungpa Tulku and original inspiration for our Shambhala lineage today. While Surmang was far enough from the earthquake epicenter to be unaffected, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery, Thrangu Tashi Choling, had close ties with Surmang and has been devastated by the recent events.

The tremendous destruction at Thrangu Tashi Choling can be seen above. This major exhibition of impermanence mirrors some occurrences fifty years ago that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was involved in.

The Law of Impermanence

In 1953, Trungpa Rinpoche officiated rights over the death of the abbot of Thrangu Tashi Choling alongside of Jamgon Kongtrul of Palpung, the great lama who was the root teacher for the 10th Trungpa. Several weeks later, he had to return to Thrangu to officiate the death of Jamgon Kongtrul who had correctly predicted his death in a cryptic remark to Trungpa Rinpoche during the prior ceremony. He had said as they were leaving each other after the funeral of the abbot, “One is already dead, and one is going to die, this is the law of impermanence”.

So back Trungpa Rinpoche went for the second time in a month and officiated those rites for Palpung Kongtrul’s funeral. This was a very important time in his life. Weeks earlier, he had been asked to leave his studies with his own root teacher Jamgon Kongtrul of Sechen in order to take care of monastic business. Sechen Kongtrul had thought that this was premature and told him to continue his studies with his own dharma heir, Khenpo Ganshar at a later date.

Upon his final return after the funeral, Trungpa Rinpoche saw a major road through the mountains foretelling of the impending situation with the Chinese. So, for him, Thrangu Tashi Choling was very much connected with impermanence during that time.

During the intervening trip to Surmang from Thrangu Tashi Choling, Trungpa Rinpoche traveled through the Bi valley, another area close to the earthquake. In this valley, he saw ancient proof that the the great king, Songtsen Gampo was actually a Buddhist before he married the Buddhist princess from China who legendarily converted him. There are great carvings in rock and statues in this region.

The Monks of Surmang Dutsi Til

As we speak, monks from Surmang Dutsi Til are helping in the relief efforts at Jyekundo and Thrangu Tashi Choling. Surmang Dutsi Til has been extremely important to our lineage; it has served as the seat of the Trungpa lineage, since its founding by the first Trungpa, Kunga Gyaltsen. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche founded the Konchok Foundation in order to help the Surmang region with educational and health projects. Since 2004, the Konchok Foundation has been building a shedra (monastic college) at Surmang Dutsi Til, which is nearing completion and was not damaged in the earthquake.

Photos of the damage to Thrangu Tashi Choling can be viewed here.

Read a letter and appeal from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche on The Chronicles of CTR.

Make a donation to the emergency relief fund at the Vajra Vidya Foundation.

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1 response to “ Placing the Earthquake in our Lineage ”
  1. Kathleen Fraser
    May 1, 2010

    My heart thoughts are with you in this time of sadness. I wish you strength, love and confidence in your efforts. Although I am many miles away when I read and see the pictures of the land and the Tibetan people I know the connection between all of us.

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