Greeting the Female Water Snake Year

Wangdrak Rinpoche, nuns & the Gebchak temple in snow.

The Tibetan year draws to a close and February 11 marks the start to the Year of the Female Water Snake. Deep in their winter retreat intensives (similar to the one seen in this video), the Gebchak nuns pray for the removal of obstacles from the past year, paving the way for the new one. And, as always, the nuns sincerely pray from the depths of their heart that all beings throughout the globe meet with happiness, peace and all auspicious circumstances.

Temple progress: 2012 brought with it the positive energy of moving forward.  The new Gebchak temple slowly stretches its way to a second story. The short summer season is the only window of opportunity for construction  and nuns not in fulltime retreat helped with as much hands-on building work as they possibly could – inspiring the paid laborers with their example. But for now, the winter snows blanket the landscape, the temple is in hibernation, and construction will resume after the spring thaw.

Our orphans: Finally out of emergency tents which had served as their temporary home since 2010, the Yushu orphans have moved into a rented building for the winter. Thanks to everyone’s kindness, we hope to provide these children with a permanent orphanage in the future.

Orphans receiving shoes & other supplies.

If you are a new reader to our blog, please read here to learn about how the orphans came into the care of Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche and about his commitment to provide these children the security of an education, a home – and their Tibetan culture. Their future depends on us all – and it will be many years until they reach adulthood. Please view this photo gallery of Winter 2012 to see the orphans in their new home plus the Gebchak nuns in their remote snowy environment.

Australia visit: Wangdrak Rinpoche thoroughly enjoyed his first visit to Australia last September. People turning out to hear his talks included advanced practitioners, inter-sangha members and beautiful gatherings of the curious and interested. An online album of the visit can be viewed here. Many people were struck by Rinpoche’s profound teachings and were enthralled by the illustrative descriptions of the Gebchak nuns in Tibet. Although nothing is set in stone, Rinpoche hopes to return to Australia for a two-week visit at the end of June 2013.   

It is the connection of your sincerity that allows the Gebchak tradition to keep on going. To you – our long-term and new supporters throughout the world – the nuns of Gebchak Gonpa send their gratitude and heartfelt prayers. May the new year be auspicious for you and your loved ones!

On behalf of Wangdrak Rinpoche and the nuns of Gebchak Gonpa, Tibet.

Posted in Events, Gebchak Lamas, Latest News, Nuns, Wangdrak Rinpoche, Yushu Earthquake Orphans | Comments closed

Gebchak News September 2012

NEWS FLASH – Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche will make his first visit to Australia in October!  Find his complete public schedule in the regions of Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Melbourne posted here. We request all of you who have connections in Australia to help us forward this information.

This senior Gebchak nun helped rebuild Gebchak Gonpa in the 1980's. Now in 2012, she helps build again.

Nuns build temple – meditation in action! Gebchak Gonpa has been bustling with construction of the new main temple – an enormous project. The old mud-brick, wooden temple at the centre of the nunnery was torn down last year. It was unstable and dangerous in an earthquake-prone region. Building materials are transported from the city of Xining, a 35-hour drive away. The contractor is from Sichuan, and the laborers were initially reluctant to travel up the steep road to the very remote Gebchak. Skilled stone masons have come from Lhasa and are doing excellent work, but with the short building season at Gebchak (summer only) they will not finish in time for the wood work to begin this year. Completion of the first floor will have to wait until next spring.

Nevertheless, patience and quality is the name of the game at Gebchak. The hearty Gebchak nuns have also contributed to construction work, carrying materials by hand and mixing cement. Wangdrak Rinpoche is very pleased with the quality of the construction so far, and though it is a long, hard endeavor the new temple will be well worth the wait in the long run. The estimated cost of the remaining construction is USD$500, 000 – though that is expected to rise quickly as costs do in China. Have a look at recent photos of the temple construction here.

Please help build the temple!
Any amount gratefully accepted.

A happy orphan at a back-to school picnic.

Our orphans: Two years after the earthquake, Yushu city is still an expanse of blue tents, though civic infrastructure is starting to take shape again. Because of your kind support, Wangdrak Rinpoche’s orphans have enough food, clothing and care to continue their education at the local school. However, the children are still living in emergency tents after two years, which does not allow for the stability of home and supervision they require in their formative years. A permanent orphanage building is urgently needed.  A orphanage building would provide them a nurturing environment, as well as permanent guardians and teaching staff.  An orphanage building with dormitories, kitchen and classrooms, along with purchase of land, is estimated to cost USD$220,000.

In early July, the orphans enjoyed a back-to-school picnic after their one-month school break for the annual “cordiceps” harvest. Cordiceps (known in Tibetan as “yartsa gunbu”, དབྱར་རྩྭ་དགུན་འབུ་) is a high altitude herbal medicine that is harvested and sold by Tibetans as a mainstay of their economy. Tibetans, young and old, go to the hills at that time of year to collect this herbal medicine. The children are now back in school and bracing themselves for the winter season ahead. The first snowfall of the year already came last week! Photos of the back-to-school picnic can be seen here. Recently the older orphans were issued good results on last semester’s exams. Rinpoche is delighted as this determines they will stay in Yushu where he can continue their care.

Any amount gratefully accepted towards creating a stable home, community, guardianship and tutorials for each of these dear orphans.

Tribute: An elder Gebchak nun, Takme Wangmo, passed away in July with all the signs of a highly-accomplished meditation practitioner. She was one of the few remaining senior nuns that re-built Gebchak after its total destruction during the Cultural Revolution. Please read more on this new website page – Tribute to Takme Wangmo.


Posted in Events, Gebchak Lamas, Latest News, Nuns, Tour, Wangdrak Rinpoche, Yushu Earthquake Orphans | Comments closed

Wangdrak Rinpoche: Visit to Australia

Wangdrak Rinpoche in Nangchen, Tibet.

We are very excited to welcome Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche on his first journey to Australia. This is a friendship visit to both the Sydney and Melbourne regions where wonderful opportunities have been organized. Rinpoche will share stories and images of the Gebchak nuns plus give teachings on how we can meditate on our own true nature – our Buddha nature.

Wangdrak Rinpoche is a Khenpo and abbot of Gebchak nunnery in the remote region of Nangchen in Eastern Tibet. Gebchak Gonpa is renowned for the accomplishments of its nuns in profound meditation practice and in their joyful expression of compassion and wisdom.  Rinpoche’s care for these devoted women is a living example of deep compassion.


Media presentation & Talk plus Q&A on Gebchak nuns
Thursday 11th October 2012 ~ 6.30pm for 7pm 

YHA, 207 Katoomba St, Katoomba, NSW 2780
$10 – there are free places if money is an obstacle.
Refreshments available.

Human Nature—Buddha Nature
Friday 12th October 2012 ~ 6.30 pm for 7pm 
4/52 Govett’s Leap Road, Blackheath, NSW 2785
$10 – there are free places if money is an obstacle.

Media presentation & Talk plus Q&A on Gebchak nuns
Sunday 14th October 2012 ~ 6.30pm for 7pm 

Vajrayana Institute
9 Victoria Avenue, Ashfield, NSW 2131
$20/15 – let us know if money is an obstacle
Tickets at the door. Refreshments provided.
Meditation on Buddha Nature
Monday 15th October 2012 ~ 6.30pm for 7pm 
Buddhist Library
90‐92 Church St, Camperdown, NSW 2050
$15—let us know if money is an obstacle.
Tickets at the door. Refreshments provided.
All Melbourne talks are FREE of charge.

Human Nature ‐ Buddha Nature
Friday 19th Oct 2012 ~ 7.30pm ‐ 9.00pm 
Buddhist Society of Victoria
71‐73 Darling Road, East Malvern

Living a Good Life
Sunday 21st Oct 2012 ~ 2.00pm ‐ 3.30pm
Tieu Dao Meditation Centre
5 Rolex Court, Noble Park

Meditation on Buddha Nature
Monday 22nd Oct 2012 ~ 7.30pm – 9.00pm 
17 Grandview Road, North Brighton
(Please ring the Melbourne contact below if you will be attending this session)

Sydney – (02) 47877666 or 040844873
Melbourne – Sarah (03) 9596 4909

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Happy Year of the Dragon!

Nuns prepare tea during drubchen.

The Gebchak community wishes you a very happy Losar, the Tibetan New Year! May we welcome the Year of the Dragon with all its auspicious qualities.

The Gebchak nuns: The nuns are staying centered and engaged in their bodhisattva practices of inner transformation despite drastic changes in their surrounding Tibetan community. They are busy this winter with continual drubchens – ten-day prayer ceremonies that the nuns perform together. As the main temple no longer stands they are crowding into an older and smaller shrine hall for these drubchens, or carrying out the practices in their own retreat rooms. A few of the drubchens they perform are Amitayus (Long Life), Mahakala, Vajrakilaya and Guru Yoga. The nuns dedicate these for the welfare of all beings, keeping in mind all those they have a connection with.

Wangdrak Rinpoche in the Tibetan winter.

Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche: Wangdrak Rinpoche has just returned to Nangchen after a two-month stay in Singapore. Rinpoche led a shamatha meditation retreat at Poh Ern Shih temple over the 2012 New Year weekend, followed by ten evening teachings on dependent-arising and preliminary practices. Rinpoche was also present to celebrate Chinese New Year on January 23. These Dharma activities in Singapore were a delight for all and Rinpoche is very pleased with his students’ efforts in practice. Rinpoche has now returned to Nangchen, after a few days’ visit with students and friends in Shanghai.

Yushu orphans: The orphans are still living in tent colonies. The junior group of children (14-and-under) are living in two tents, one for the girls and one for the boys. The older children are living more independently in five different tents. All of them are healthy and busy with school and play. Several relatives and neighbors live with the children as custodians, so they are nestled in a community with plenty of attention to go around.

Nuns in the winterscape of Gebchak.

For a slideshow of the orphans during this winter, please go here.

A new school year began with the turn of Chinese new year. All children in Yushu are attending classes in makeshift buildings while a new school is under construction. When construction is finished, the government will decide if high school students are to be accommodated in Yushu or sent away to other schools. Four of our oldest orphans will be affected by this decision. In the meantime, their main hope is for the next summer to come and they are passing the cold winter days in anticipation!

Wangdrak Rinpoche is intent on building a permanent shelter for these children. The situation in Yushu has been uncertain since the earthquake of April 2010, but Rinpoche now feels positive that a building could be maintained. It would certainly provide a sense of security for these children and allow their custodians to take better care of them.

At the start of this Tibetan New Year (February 22), Wangdrak Rinpoche and all at Gebchak Gonpa wish you a very blessed and peaceful year of the Dragon! Tashi delek!

(If this news was forwarded to you, please join our e-mail list here.)

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