The final part of Sakya Pandita's brilliantly clear presentation of the Buddhist path, Elucidating the Thought of the Sage, and group practice retreat on White Mahakala (Tib: Gonkar - the wealth and protection bestowing emanation of Chenrezik) have closed a momentous summer in the 25-year history of Sakya Changlochen Ling. Whilst many participants came from England, this was an international event with around 80 people travelling from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore and the USA as well as the UK.
Since 1989, Sakya Changlochen Ling has been transformed from the rustic charm of the original buildings to an extensive gompa (temple) and retreat centre, replacing a solitary tap for washing with comfortable accommodation, catering facilities, with a beautiful shrine room as the crowning jewel. Over the past 25 years, Lama Jampa has given many important teachings and initiations there, including Lopon Sonam Tsemo's General Presentation of the Tantra Sets, Shantideva's Entering the Bodhisattva Conduct and Sakya Pandita's Discriminating the Three Vows as well as the initiations of White Tara of the Wish- Fulfilling Wheel, White and Orange Manjushri, Vajrapani Bhutadamara and many more.
The latest phase in the development of Changlochen has been perfected with this year's auspicious visit of His Holiness Sakya Trizin. On a perfect summer afternoon on 26th July, His Holiness gave the initiation of Manjushri Arapatsana to a gathering of members of the Dechen Community along with honoured guests and friends from the the nearby Nyingma and Karma Kagyu centres. After the initiation, His Holiness blessed the land and then attended as guest of honour a reception hosted by Lama Jampa. He offered warm thanks for Lama Jampa's invitation, remarking that he had been kept well informed of developments over the years. Lama Jampa reassured everyone that further visits from His Holiness - and HE Ratna Vajra and HE Gyana Vajra Rinpoches - would be soon requested.
Recent years have also seen a growing connection with the Kagyu and Nyingma centres in the area, particularly Dhagpo Kagyu Ling. Lama Jampa has been teaching there over the last four years and, this summer, gave teachings on the Three Vows culminating in an explanation of Sakya Pandita’s The Root Downfalls of Vajrayana. Among those attending the teaching were many lamas and drub-las from Kundreul Ling, the retreat centre originally established by Gendun Rinpoche. At the end of his teaching Lama Jampa spoke of his strong sense of the preciousness of Dhagpo and its sangha and urged them, in the light of the recent passing of Shamar Rinpoche, to do their best to safeguard this treasure of the Kagyyu tradition. As a further sign of this connection, a number of students from Dhagpo Kagyu Ling came to Changlochen at the end of the Sakya summer school to receive Karma Chakme's commentary on the Prayer to Vajradhara, a teaching which they had requested from Lama Jampa.
With the summer at a close, there is now time to think about what the future 25 years could look like for Sakya Changlochen Ling, sustained by the renewed blessings of our kind lamas.