While the past two years have presented many challenges to the world, the sangha has adapted with flexibility and the resolution to not let the circumstances of the pandemic deter the sangha’s practice and study of the Dharma. Benefitting from the vast vision and kindness of Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche and Minling Jetsün Dechen Paldrön, we have all had the good fortune to be able to continue uninterruptedly due to their guidance. Online programs and retreats have been a wonderful vehicle for the worldwide Mindrolling sangha to practice, study, and maintain connection and contact with our peerlessly kind and compassionate teachers as well as our fellow sangha members.
Minling Lotus Garden has also benefitted from the presence of Minling Jetsün Dechen Paldrön, Minling Jetsün Rinpoche and Minling Dungse Rinpoche. From the end of 2020 until early 2022, the three Rinpoches were in residence at Lotus Garden and with their great blessings, guidance and support, Minling Lotus Garden was able to continue as a place of practice and study of the genuine Buddhadharma. In addition, under Jetsunla’s guidance, the residents took on many projects to maintain and improve Lotus Garden.
Much work involving renovation and extension of main residence was completed. Landscaping and re-designing of the gardens on the land and planting of many flowers and trees were undertaken by the residents with the focus to create beautiful gardens that peak during the busy summer and autumn months when the sangha gathers for programs. The gardens now have more native Virginia plants that are beautiful, require less maintenance, and support the natural ecosystem.
The residents continued to deep clean, repair, maintain, and improve the existing buildings that after nearly 20 years of heavy usage greatly benefitted from some much-needed attention. The trailer was moved, and the interior remodeling continues so that it can become a retreat and living space all year round. These projects have been much needed and were undertaken with great joy by all residents, knowing that in the future the greater sangha can benefit from them.
The pandemic shut down most construction activity in 2020. In 2021, the work on the Temple began again with enthusiasm. This past year saw Britton la working with and organizing the contractors to complete many aspects of the temple building. Despite so many challenges with the supply chain and the pandemic, Britton la’s continued dedication and hard work, supported by Ven. Lama Roar and Alex Ryan, has kept the construction moving forward at a steady pace. The heating and air conditioning systems, elevator, electrical, drywall, plumbing, and much of the finishing details have been completed. The painting has been done on the second floor and many of the spaces are nearly ready to use. This has been truly wonderful and inspiring to see.
The focus of the construction now turns towards the shrine rooms. Under the guidance and instruction of Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche and Minling Jetsün Dechen Paldrön, Lama Riga and Britton la have been coordinating the finishing work for the shrine rooms. The three main statues for the shrine are at Lotus Garden and the shrines on the main floor and second floor are being constructed. All the outdoor ornaments including the ser-tog (golden spire for the top of the building), the dragon spouts, and lotus petals have arrived and are currently being installed. We look forward to the completion of this project and hope that circumstances will allow the Lotus Garden sangha to come and enjoy the new temple as a place of practice and study!
Practice and Study at Mindrolling Lotus Garden
This past fall, a dedicated group of students at Minling Lotus Garden and from around the world undertook a six-week practice intensive led by Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche. Due to Rinpoche’s unceasing kindness and continued blessings, students were able to continue to deepen their study of the Great Chariot teachings while undertaking the discipline of retreat. Over 80 students from around the world took part in this retreat.
In December, Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche bestowed a series of teachings to those gathered at Lotus Garden. It was a tremendous blessing to have the good fortune of Rinpoche’s return to Lotus Garden after two years. During this time, Rinpoche continued to teach on the most profound and sacred text of the Great Chariot by the Omniscient One, Longchen Rabjam, and these teachings form the next series of teachings on the Great Chariot Online Program Part 5. Rinpoche’s teachings continue to inspire students to go beyond an intellectual understanding of the teachings and to go deeper into the path of dharma by always remaining indivisible from the view. It has been a harmonious and powerful time for all to further their dedication and commitment to leading a life oriented towards the dharma.
Although Lotus Garden has remained closed for programs at the center, many students still took the opportunity to request time at Lotus Garden to do individual retreats. It has been a great inspiration to see so many dedicate their time and efforts to retreat, despite personal responsibilities and challenges.
As we begin the month of April at Lotus Garden, the worldwide Mindrolling sangha continues the studies of the Great Chariot. Connecting these profound teachings with the practice of dharma is one of the sacred commitments of receiving such nectarlike and profound teachings. In the coming months, all sangha members are encouraged to reaffirm the commitment to practice and study. In April, the residents of Minling Lotus Garden will be entering another extended period of retreat. This will include all the daily disciplines of group prayers and caring for the retreat center. Practice and study continue to be at the heart of all activities of Minling Lotus Garden along with the entire worldwide sangha.