Early History of our 3 Year Retreat

Thrangu Rinpoche, seated

During Thrangu Rinpoche’s visit to Gampo Abbey in 1988 he requested that the Abbey build a 3 year retreat center on the property. Land was selected and Thrangu Rinpoche consecrated the land during his visit.

In April of 1990 the Japanese archery master Shibata Sensei consecrated the land for the future 3 year retreat with a Shihoborai ceremony.

Sangha architect David Garrett collaborated with Don Beamish in constructing the 3 year retreat building

along with a crew of many friends and volunteers including Dr. Herbert Gunther.

Sopa Choling construction crew

Actual construction took place from May until December 1990.

On Sept. 24 1990 His Eminence the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche visited the Abbey and blessed the 3yr retreat building and named the retreat center Sopa Choling or Dharma Place of Patience. He was accompanied by Venerable Dzochen Ponlop Rinpoche.

In establishing the 3 year retreat center at Gampo Abbey Thrangu Rinpoche suggested that the retreatants break up the retreat into several sections rather than doing the traditional 3 years all at once. He felt that this was better suited to westerner’s way of living. Following the wishes of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, all practices were to be done in English. The retreat was to be open to both men and women who would live and practice in separate wings of the retreat center.

The first 2 groups of Retreatants at Sopa Chöling, known as Group A and Group B, went in for 6 months then came out for 6 months and then went in again.

In October of 1990. Lama Sherab Tendar returned to the Abbey to train the first two groups’ of 3 yr Retreatants.

In December Thrangu Rinpoche came to teach the 1st 3 year Retreatants, give the necessary abhishekas, and to do the Gate closing ceremony which included circumambulating the retreat center 3 times as well as a group lhasang lead by Ani Pema Chodron.

Thus On Dec. 23 1990 Group A began retreat at Sopa Chöling.

In June 21, 1991 Ven Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche came to release the Group A from the first phase of the retreat and to give teachings.

Photos of the different Groups from our 3 Year Retreat