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1 Welcome to Our First Issue TGL Voices - Contents Welcome Fionnuala Shenpen Our Rinpoche The story of our precious benefactor Trasang Nun Stories My Aim Kunde Tashi Our God Father Tenzin Drolkar It gives me great pleasure to introduce the first issue of Tsoknyi Gechak Voices. When you join a traditional Tibetan Buddhist Gompa, whether a Monastery or Nunnery, you first join the Trasang. The Trasang is the general Gompa community whose responsibilities include the daily prayers and practices and managing the day-to-day running of the Gompa. Certain members of the community may get special opportunities to study or practice and join institutions within the Gompa such as the school or shedra (collage for higher Buddhist studies) or the 3 year retreat centre. About My Best Friend Dolma Lhamo My Experience Beginning My Nun Life - Tsering Lhamu My Home Town - Rinzin Choikyong About My Family - Tsangpa Droma How to Say Good Friend - Tsangyang Minub Here at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling it is well publicised that we have a primary and lower secondary school for our school aged nuns, Tsoknyi Gechak School, a Shedra for higher Buddhist studies and a 3 year retreat centre the Pema Chodron Drubde. What is not well known is that TGL also has a Trasang and in the Trasang there is a group of young nuns from Arunachal Pradesh in India. These bright young girls completed their lower secondary education at a boarding school in Arunachal Pradesh and decided they would like to become nuns.

2 At Khandro Tsering s recommendation they joined Tsoknyi Gechak Ling just over a year ago. As part of the TGL Trasang they help with the maintenance and running of the Gompa, and are studying Tibetan and learning ritual practice. From May this year, when our computer lab, courtesy of our Australian friend Jayavinda, opened they started computer classes. They have now taken on the task of creating a newsletter for Tsoknyi Gechak Ling. This first issues includes a detailed biography of TGL s founder and head Tsoknyi Rinpoche as well as stories and poems by the trasang nuns. I would like to sincerely congratulate the nuns and their teacher Ms. Pushpa and our volunteer/driving force David McGavock on the first issue. What a wonderful achievement! I would also like to send out a call to all members of the community: Tsoknyi Gechak Voices will be looking for your contributions for future editions! Best wishes - Fionnuala Shenpen Director, Tsoknyi Gechak School Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche III Tsoknyi Rinpoche s father, Kyabje Urgen Tsewang Chokdrub Palbar Chok descended from the divine lineage of Tsangsar. His mother Sonam Chodron, daughter of Lama Tashi Dorje, hails from a Royal Dharma lineage. Rinpoche was born in 1966 (the 17 th year of the of the sixty year cycle, in the year of firehorse, on the 18 th day of the 3 rd Tibetan month) in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Before he was born, due to the lack of rain in upper and lower valleys of Nepal the land became very dry and there were wild fires in the mountains. The crops in the valleys dried up, causing great hardship for everyone. During the night, when Rinpoche was born, thunder roared from the sky and hard rain fell all night; therefore the Nepali benefactors were filled with amazing faith and devotion. They stayed with their hosts for about one month. At the age of two, Rinpoche was recognized by the 16 th Gyalwang Karmapa Rangjung Rigpa i Dorje as the authentic reincarnation of Nagchen Drubwang Tsokyni Rinpoche. Although a special recognition letter came at this time, it was not announced but kept quiet for three or four years. As a young child, not only was Rinpoche very compassionate, intelligent and good-natured, but he had strong will power and could accomplish whatever he was doing immediately and without hesitation. Only a single day after he started to crawl, when his legs still couldn t support his body he suddenly stood up and walked carefree all over the place. From this and other behaviors, the child was clearly manifesting unique auspicious signs. From the age of seven, he started learning how to read and write from his grandfather, Lama Tashi Dorje. Even before he learned how to read and write, however, he naturally knew almost all thirty consonants (of the Tibetan alphabet). When he reached the age of nine, he came to Kathmandu from Nubri and stayed with his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. He received empowerments from Gyalwang Karmapa of Avalokiteshvara, Chakrasamvara, Vajra Varahi, and hosts of Dharma protectors, and also received the five fold lay precepts and the Bodhisattva vow. This was the first time he received empowerment in this life. After that, when Gyalwa Karmapa briefly visited Nagi Gompa by helicopter, Rinpoche had his hair cut in the ritual ceremony of going forth. Later, when he went to Nubri he received the reading transmission from his grandfather of the nine volumes of the collected works of Drakar Chokyi Wangchuk. From Lopan Gyurme he received the reading transmission of the complete collection of Nyingma tantras. When the great Gyalwa Dokhampa Khamtrul Rinpoche heard the news that Nangchen Tsoknyi Rinpoche s reincarnation was born into the family lineage in Nepal with these particular parents, he immediately composed a letter saying that he is responsible for taking care of Nangchen Tsoknyi Rinpoche s reincarnation, to please send the child to him, and that he will look after him well. Because of the long distance and not finding a messenger who spoke the local languages, for several years the letter 2

3 did not arrive in Nepal. Kyabje Khyentse Rinpoche aspired that Chokyur Lingpa s profound treasures (terma) would not decline, but that the lineage would be upheld. Accordingly, Kyabje Rinpoche himself bestowed the empowerments and reading transmissions of the Chokling Tersar together with the Dzogpa Chenpo Ningtig Yabshi empowerments, which Rinpoche received. When Gyalwang Karmapa was about to pass away, he left instructions that Lamas and Tulkus should receive the empowerments and transmissions of the Tinchen Terdzo from Kalu Rinpoche, and the empowerments and transmissions of the Chokling Tersar from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Accordingly, Tsoknyi Rinpoche received Chokling Tersar empowerments and trasmissions, Kunsag Tuktig, mind teachings and from his father at Nagi Gompa. At the age of thirteen, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Lama Tashi Dorjee and a relative of Kalsang (Tulku Urgen Rinpoche s half brother) travelled via Lumbini to Dehra Dun in India. In Dehra Dun at Mindroling monastery, Kyabje Khentse Rinpoche was giving the empowerments and transmission of the Rinchen Terdzo. Tsoknyi Rinpoche stayed for several days at Mindroling receiving empowerments and transmission. Tsoknyi Rinpoche then went to visit the holy place of Tso Pema together with Tulku Chokyi Nyima. After staying at Tso Pema for a night Rinpoche s grandfather Lama Tashi Dorje and Namdrol Gyatso travelled to Tashi Jong where they paid respect to Khamtrul Rinpoche and made body speech and mind offering. Khamtrul Rinpoche was delighted and showed special affection to his visitors. From time of his enthronement until the age of 26, Rinpoche completed contemplation of various fields of knowledge mainly focusing on sutra, tantra, grammar and poetry. Earlier when Rinpoche was 8 yrs old, he had gone to Dro Pungney Mountain, on the western side of Swayambhu. At that time he didn t have more more than 10 rupees, which he had hid under the ground as a treasure. Some years later, by the power of interdependence of the aspirations that he made, a benefactor offered one hundred thousand rupees, which he used to purchase property for the future monastery. When he was studying in India, the construction of the outer structure and inner sacred shrine objects of Ngedon Osel Ling Monastery were begun, according to his father Tulku Urgen Rinpochee s wish. After the age 26, Rinpoche returned to Nepal and completed the project. In 1994, 5 nuns arrived from Gechak Nunnery in Tibet. At that time, because Rinpoche didn t have any nunnery in Nepal, he rented a house for them to stay in. Over time more nuns arrived from Tibet until there were 20 nuns. Those 20 nuns entered in 3 years retreat in Parping, where they practised the cycle of Thugdrup yanf Nying (Innermost heartpractice). In 2003, Rinpoche purchased some land on the hillside across from Asura cave in order to build a new nunnery for these nuns. Just after retreat, they moved to that place and it became their residence. Then in 2004, a group of young girls joined the original group of twenty, and a few nuns trickled in from Tibet, until the community grew to twenty-nine. In 2007, eight more girls joined the community. In order to increase the nuns understanding, experience and realization, Rinpoche invited a teacher from Namdroling monastery who taught them Bodhisattvacharyavatara (the Way of the Bodhisattva). In 2009, all the nuns moved from Parping to Chobar, a sacred place of Gelongma Palmo. In 2010, Rinpoche founded Nun s shedra at this sacred place of Gelongma Palmo. Later in 2010 eighty new nuns from Nubri joined the community in Chobar. Rinpoche founded a monastic elementary school for these new nuns to get a general education. In summary, Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche accepted and continues to uphold his heart commitment to the Buddha s teachings in general and especially for the teaching, practice, and activity of all monasteries whose teachings are suffused by the waves of blessings of Drubwang Rinpoche s compassion. This short biography of Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche III has been excerpted from, Radiant Compassion; A Tribute to the Celebration of the New Temple s Successful Completion, Palden Drukpa Tsoknyi Ghargon Chumik Dechen Choeling. 3

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15 An Interview with the writers of Tsoknyi Gechak Voices Issue #1 January 2018 The Trasang Nuns at Tsoknyi Gechak Ling created this newsletter while participating in a photography class. They photographed people and scenes around the Gompa, learning how to play with light and composition using an ipod and iphone. Their enthusiasm for photography was exciting to watch and a joy to teach. In the course of learning photography we decided to begin writing. The stories included in the Newsletter were chosen by them and represent only half of the stories they wrote. Following is an interview that reveals a little bit about their process and their hopes for future issues. David McGavock Did you enjoy creating this newsletter? Yes, we enjoyed it very much. We enjoyed writing stories. It required searching for new words in English. We don t often get an opportunity to use English. This was a nice opportunity. We like to write in English most. Nepali and Tibetan are not our first languages. We want practice with English. What do you hope to learn through making the newsletter? In addition to learning more English we d like to learn to create pictures and poems. We enjoyed using the cameras most. Making photos and designs in the stories was enjoyable. We d like to more of this. What did you like about photos most? It was nice to learn about the cameras, the technology and different ways to shoot photographs. Would you like to write some stories in Nepali or Tibetan? No, we d rather write them in English. Our first language is Monpa (form/ dialect of Northern Tibetan). Arunachal pradesh in NE India What stories would you like to tell in future issues? We would like to write some funny stories and some fantasy stories, like with ghosts. Scary stories would be fun to write. We could tell stories about the things we do in the Gompa or our trips outside to places like our recent trip to Boudha. We could take photos and tell our readers something about our trip. Who would you like to feature - interview? People you who you would like to know more about? We would like to interview each other most. How would you like to use photographs in future newsletters? We could share some of the photos we have taken since the last newsletter. We could just highlight a few photos that we like the most. Tsoknyi Gechak ling For updates about Tsoknyi Gechak School go to: PO Box 4957 Chobhar, Kathmandu Nepal

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