“Arya Tara or Guru Rinpoche do not need temples, themselves. But the world and this current generation—we— very much do need Guru Rinpoche and Tara’s presence and guidance.”
—Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We wish you an auspicious beginning to the year of the Fire Rooster, and the genuine happiness of practicing a path of the good heart. After a year of planning, we have an update on the Retreatplex, and the new Tara Temple, and how both relate to the Sangdo Palri Temple, which, you will see, all stems from a timeless story.
In 2017 we will begin the construction of the Tara Temple Retreatplex, an important re-visioning of the Retreatplex that was introduced last year. The new plan incorporates a temple dedicated to Arya Tara, and her twenty-one manifestations, attached to the retreat building (pictured above). The original concept of the Retreatplex remains the same: to provide eight individual retreat rooms, with heat and running water, for retreats from 1 to 6 months, with an addition, also, of a Lineage Teacher’s residence as part of the new Tara Temple section of the builiding. The RetreatPlex rooms each have a large window and private deck that face out to the San Luis Valley, while the Tara Temple “gazes” towards Sangdo Palri. Building the two structures as one was seen as the most effective use of time and resources. It also keeps the rest of meadow land pristine and realizes all these aspects of Rinpoche’s vision for the retreat land. With the Sangdo Palri Temple at its heart, the Tara Temple Retreatplex by the Temple’s side, and the original retreat cabins across the land encircling these two structures, the campus of Longchen Jigme Samten Ling will be complete.
The story of Avalokiteshvara
The relationship of Arya Tara to Guru Padmasambhava is of special importance, and is clearly expressed in the story of Avalokiteshvara. Out of his compassion, Avalokiteshvara went to the hell realms each day, and emptied them completely of beings. At night, he would return to his Potala residence, only to witness the realms fill again. He became so sad and discouraged that his body split into 1,000 pieces from his grief and despair, and as this happened he shed two tears. Seeing his extraordinary compassion, Amitabha Buddha blessed him, so that he would now have 100 heads and 1,000 arms to perform his compassionate work. His tears turned into a green and a white Tara, who would multiply his activity even further, and at that time, Guru Rinpoche emanated from his heart.
In all her forms, Tara ensures the success of enlightened activity, much as a mother does all that is necessary for her child to succeed. In that sense, the Tara Temple perfectly complements the Sangdo Palri Temple, melding the wish for beings to be enlightened with the forces that support that wish to prevail. In a word, this is the mission of the Temple, of the retreat land, of Mangala Shri Bhuti, and the Longchen Nyingtik Lineage as a whole. On a personal note, Kongtrul Rinpoche has expressed his life-long closeness and reliance on both Guru Rinpoche and Arya Tara, equally. The warmth of his feelings and faith in them is wonderful to contemplate.
The Temple’s three floors also express this close series of connections. The third floor shrine is dedicated to Buddha Amithaba, the second floor shrine is dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, and the main shrine room on the first floor is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. In the Tara Temple, the shrine room will host the main Tara statue surrounded by her twenty-one manifestations, and a large antique wall tangka from Tibet of the Twenty-One manifestations of Tara.
A Year of Invoking the Lineage Blessings at the Temple
This past year at the Temple saw major accomplishments: the completion of the exterior building and the grand, “three lotuses in a pond” stone courtyard/tent platform, along with the pathway through the meadow. We hosted our first residential program this past fall, with participants staying in the dorm rooms and making use of the ground floor community kitchen. But the main focus this past year has been to design and build the shrines for the three main floors, acquire the statues, and develop the plan for the Tara Temple Retreatplex. We have been extrememly fortunate in this work. Pictured above are two exquisite Tara statues, for example, with White Tara on the left and Green Tara on the right, hand-picked by Rinpoche with much amitabhainspiration from the story of Avalokiteshvara. They will sit on either side of Avalokiteshvara in the Temple’s second floor shrine room, along with a three foot Guru Rinpoche statue in front. The new 11-foot Guru Rinpoche for the main floor is complete and will arrive from Nepal this spring, along with his consorts, life-sized Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava. The eight bodhisattvas for the second floor are also included in this shipment, as well as, the sertok, dharmachakra and deer, and the other ritual adornments for the Temple’s roofs and eaves. Numerous other statues have been acquired, such as a Buddha Amithaba, Vajrasattva, Manjushri and others.
An opportunity for purification and enrichment
We recognize your tremendous support in bringing the Temple to the current point of fruition, which might be considered, truly, the icing on the cake stage, as these incredible representations of the Temple’s main deities come to reside in the precious jewel of the Temple itself. There is no thank you that expresses enough of our appreciation for your participation – and of sharing this journey with you.
As we turn to the work of 2017, we ask you to extend your generosity further, to help us enhance the enlightened intent of the Temple with the construction of the Tara Temple RetreatPlex. As Rinpoche said, we can view the act of giving as more than simply giving, but “an opportunity for purification of self and enrichment of our connection to the lineage.” In this way, each donation makes a great impact on our own lives as well as benefitting the project.
Construction is already underway. See our Facebook page for ongoing posts and details, or follow us on Instagram. We are seeking funding to continue construction through late summer and fall, with an aim to have the building “dried-in” before Winter begins. We have raised in pledges and income close to $450,000 to date, out of an estimated $1.4 million dollar project. Our $250,000 goal before July 17 will give us the funds to waterproof and close in the building by the Winter, and then construction can continue inside.
A matching grant of $100,000 by July 7 was given to kickstart the spring fundraiser. We’ve raised close to $43,000 as of July 2. Please help us make it to $100,000 before July 7!