Statue of Gampopa

The following was adapted from an article by Ani Konchog Drolma that appeared in Volume 9 of the Lion's Roar, the Gampo Abbey newsletter.

Gampopa statueThe last stage in completing the stupa at Gampo Abbey was creating a bronze statue of Gampopa to be placed in the top of the stupa.

Gampopa is the lineage father of all the Kagyus, and the heart son of Jetsun Milarepa. In his songs Milarepa proclaims Gampopa as his equal, one who attains full realization and holds the full transmission of all his teachings and through whom they will forever flourish. Gampopa, according to Thrangu Rinpoche, is a good example for Westerners because he provides an example that is not extreme, therefore inspiring us to follow his path. The stories of Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa surely invoke devotion but can seem beyond ordinary present day practitioners. At the same time, Gampopa's renunciation, devotion to his Guru, and dedication to practice are in themselves perfect. His legacy to us is a vital monastic tradition and an intact lineage of Mahamudra masters. He founded the Kagyu lineage during a time when the Dharma was waning in Tibet. It is said that Gampopa had 51,000 monks and 500 yogis as students.

At Gampo Abbey we begin every day by reciting the Four Dharmas of Gampopa. These simple phrases resonate at every level of understanding with steps leading to full realization. We know him directly in our time primarily through the first Lamrim text to be written in Tibet, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, which is studied today throughout all lineages. He promised that studying it was the same as meeting him.

Here in the West, Gampo Abbey, through the vision of Trungpa Rinpoche, has the potential to be the foundation of western monasticism. The monks and nuns trained here will be the first generation to define western Buddhist monastic life, preserving tradition while adapting to a form appropriate to our culture and the 21st century. Creation of a harmonious community is the prayer of the earth and all her people and needs to be co-created in each moment. Moreover the monastic life of renunciation, study and practice create the conditions for enlightenment, our hope for teachers and leaders of the future. The ear-whispered lineage of the Kagyu, with emphasis on practice of the Lojong studies and emphasis on application of Dharma as heralded by Trungpa Rinpoche, come together at Gampo Abbey to guide us to peace and bodhisattva action.

Just as Gampopa's wisdom now touches us, through him an intact lineage spans time from Vajradhara to our children at this very moment. The statue of Gampopa, created by Ani Konchog Drolma, former Professor of Sculpture at the Maine College of Art, was cast in bronze. It is filled with mantras and was consecrated at the time it is placed in the stupa. Our vision is that Gampopa and the stupa will be a beacon of the Buddha's essence and teachings for a long time to come.

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