Community Update: Spring/Summer 2021


Greetings from the Gampo Abbey community. We are in the height of our late spring/early summer season and enjoying the return of warmth, whales, fishing boats, and birds, particularly hummingbirds. Even though the greenery is growing all around us things at the Abbey are feeling still and settled.

Many of us have received our first vaccinations and the sense of some change from the current protocols of isolation and distancing seem imminent. We are so eager to welcome guests and participants but are trusting that if we continue to follow community and government protocols we will be able to do so safely.

Here is a look at what our community is up to:


Rest Practice Schedule and Solitary Retreats

This month many of our monastics are choosing to engage in solitary retreats. We are blessed to be able to support this deep practice for residents on our land. Solitary retreatants take what they need into one of the Abbey’s cabins and cradle themselves with practice, silence, and the beautiful wildness of Cape Breton. Our residents emerge renewed and often quite sensitive to the contrast and vitality of community life in our main building.

With so many of our residents in cabins we decided to adjust the schedule of the community to allow for a more relaxed and open atmosphere for the months of June and July. We call this our Rest Practice Schedule, which allows us to be more flexible in our practice as well as enabling a good balance between practice and service.


Community learning: Knowledge keepers of the Mi’kma’ki

For the past few months the Gampo Abbey community has been attending an online course called ‘Learning from the Knowledge Keepers of the Mi’kma’ki’, taught by Elder Stephen Augustine, a Hereditary Chief of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and the Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Affairs and Unamaki College at Cape Breton University. The course has been deeply inspiring and engaging and we look forward to continuing to learn more over the next several months. We first met Elder Stephen when he came to Gampo Abbey for last year’s Tibetan New Year celebrations.  We were so honoured to have him with us for our Losar celebration.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Gampo Abbey’s founder, placed a lot of emphasis  on ceremonies that connect us to indigenous traditions of Tibet and so having the opportunity to learn from Elder Stephen about the Mi’kma’ki teachings about the seven levels of creation, smoke offerings, and the history of the land on which the Abbey resides feels deeply inspiring. We hope that we can continue to learn, embodying the Buddhist and indigenous teachings that we have been offered, in order to give benefit to those who come here in the future.

Learn more about the course here:

Garden Service Day

With the emerging spring everyone at the Abbey looks forward to our first garden service day. The garden is being cared for with great heart this year by Ani Yangchen who has wholeheartedly dived into the Head Gardener position, taking over from our previous Head Gardener, Lucas (Tharpa).  Grateful thanks are due to Lucas for his virtual coaching at the beginning of the season and whenever Ani Yangchen has a garden-related question.

We are already enjoying beautiful radishes, salad greens, cilantro and parsnips and look forward to the continued vitality that our organic garden offers us thanks to Ani Yangchen’s ferocious stewardship.

Garden service day was a beautiful day of digging potatoes, hammering and repairing fences, airing our compost, and continuing to work on clearing dead trees from parts of the forest close to the Abbey buildings.

Relating in this way to the food we eat is a powerful way to learn the teachings of interdependence. Just seeing the amount of work that can go into growing a potato can give rise to a sense of gratitude for all that we are given by people who grow our food. We are surrounded by the kindness of others and knowing this helps us to ensure that we use our time at the monastery to be of benefit to all beings.

3 thoughts on “Community Update: Spring/Summer 2021

  1. I’m interested in coming to a program or solitary retreat.

    Do you have a sense of when you will be able to plan activities? thank you.

  2. Hello Abbie,
    It looks like it will still be quite some time before we are open for solitary retreats.

    If you are interested in a solitary retreat I would recommend looking at Milk Lake Retreat Center. Here is a link:

    In terms of other programs we will soon be posting our application for in-house retreats and Yarne. Our applications are also already open for short and long-term residencies.

    Reach out to [email protected] if you are interested in more information.

    All the best to you,

  3. I can’t imagine Tingzen every replying to me, but …
    Reading this I remembered digging through the septic sewage swamp that had been a compost pile, just uphill from the garden.

    It was mythic! to take what was so well digested in such a foul state and //somehow// make good of it.

    Myself and one other (A big fellow; I’ve lost his name.) worked to make it so.
    He hauled soil from up above the road; I threw the slop over the fence and, in a shallow trench, mixed it with what he brought down. In the end we have produced something like a huge grave site!

    I can’t help but think how that little slice of ground would become ever so rich. (I had apple trees on my land on Barra Glen Road; I’d have loved to do transplant.)

    Tashi delek!

    p.s. when you choose to ignore people’s social responses, you poison the entire gnōosphere. it’s physics. don’t be entropic!