Event : Sopa Choling 3 Year Retreat
Duration : 2011 - 2015
Venue : Sopa Chöling Retreat Center
Website : http://www.sopacholing.org/group-g.htm
Shambhala students who received transmission from either the Vidyadhara, the Regent, or Sakyong Mipham, whether or not they have received Vajrayogini Abhisheka, are now eligible to apply for the first segment of the Three Year retreat, the 6 month phase which includes the guru yoga practices of Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa and Mahamudra.
The new revised requirements for applicants for the first phase are:
* either applicants have completed their Kagyu ngondro by number, or
* if Primordial Rigden Ngondro is an applicant's first ngondro, they will also need to have completed three (3) months of group ngondro practice AND three (3) months of group Werma practice. (Note: these months need not be done consecutively by those who already have done part of this requirement.)
Please email sopacholing firstname.lastname@example.org for an application for the first phase of the retreat.
GROUP G SCHEDULE
Year I: Enter Fall 2011- (10 Months)
Abhishekas for Practices from The Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
Guru Yoga and Mahamudra (Revised requirements apply)
Konchik Chidu (Padmasambhava Sadhana) (Standard requirements apply: completion of Vajrayogini four karmas fire puja)
Year II: Enter Fall 2013 (10 Months)
Inner and Secret Vajrayogini (5 months)
Chakrasamvara (5 months)
Year III: Enter Summer 2015 (11 Months)
Six Dharmas of Naropa (5.5 months)
Jinasagara and Mahakala (5.5 months) (Peaceful and Wrathful Manifestations of Compassion)
Information about the Three Year Retreat Practices
This retreat was designed in 1989 by Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche for the Shambhala Buddhist community. Because he understood that the view of the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was to create an enlightened society, Thrangu Rinpoche wanted this retreat to be divided into segments that would allow practitioners to maintain relationships with family and careers.
In 2004, with the blessing of the Sakyong and Thrangu Rinpoche, the decision was made to open up the retreat modules so that practitioners who were unable to attend the entire retreat could do one or more sections of it. This has proven to be a great success as people in our community discover the hidden treasure of Sopa Choling.
1. Mahamudra retreat: The first three months of this retreat are dedicated to guru yoga sadhanas of Gampopa, Milarepa and Marpa (which require abishekas). These are followed by three months of silent group retreat in which we practice mahamudra investigations, using the text by the 9 th Karmapa, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya, and a commentary by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. This retreat is a rare and powerful opportunity to discover and practice vipashyana mahamudra.
2. Konchok Chidu retreat: Konchok Chidu, meaning “Embodiment of the Three Jewels”, is a sadhana of Guru Rinpoche, with a commentary by Jamgon Kontrol Lodro Thaye. It includes an outer, inner, secret and long-life practice as well as an amending fire offering and feast practice. His Holiness Dingo Khyentse Rinpoche bestowed this abisheka for our community in 1987.
3. Inner Vajrayogini retreat: This retreat is an excellent bridge between Vajrayogini practice and the Six Dharmas. It uses the same sadhana text as in our previous practice, but the commentary we follow is by Pawo Tsug-lak Trengwa, which offers a series of five recitations that progressively train in chandali and mahamudra. It includes drupchen and fire offering practices.
4. Chakrasamvara retreat: The sadhana text used in this practice is the same as the one used by other practitioners in our sangha, but the visualizations are different. We follow a commentary written by Karma Chagme, a ten chapter practice manual for the outer, inner, secret and very secret practice, which includes a drupchen and fire offering. Many people who completed the Chakrasamvara practice before coming into this retreat found this new commentary extremely beneficial. The retreat is also open to those who have received the abisheka but have not done the practice.
5. Six Dharmas of Naropa retreat: The six dharmas are the practices of chandali, illusory form, dream, luminosity, bardo and powa. Together they represent the completion stage of Vajrayogini-Chakrasamvara practice and are methods for transforming all states of mind into the wisdom of mahamudra. At Sopa Choling we have an ideal facility for these practices, with guided instructions for group and individual training. In particular each retreat has included older practitioners, many in their sixties, who have found this retreat most workable and beneficial.
6. Jinasagara retreat:
Jinasagara (Tib: Gyalwa Gyatso), red Avaloketishvara with consort, is a very important yidam practice in the Kagyu lineage, and like Guyasamaja, it is of the father lineage—an emphasis on the upaya of compassion, completely transforming aggression.
The lineage comes from Rechungpa who received it from two sources. First he was asked by Marpa to go to India and receive these teachings on the nine dharmas of the formless dakinis from Tiphupa.
Padmasambhava also gave instructions on Jinasagara to King Trisong Detsen and Yeshe Tsopgyal. They were concealed as a terma that was later transmitted to Rechungpa by the terton Nyan Rolpa. Rechungpa’s lineage was transmitted to the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi and the practice of Jinasagara remains a heart practice of the Karmapas.
The practice in retreat is similar to Chakrasamvara in that it has outer, inner, secret, very secret aspects and a drupchen and fire puja are included.
7. Krishnachola drupchen: The lineage of instruction for the wisdom protector Krishnachola (Tib: Pernakchen) and his consort Mahakali comes from Guru Rinpoche who taught it to Trisong Detesen’s brother who was a ngakpa. The instructions were passed down through thirteen generations to Karma Pakshi, who then promulgated the practice. Throughout retreat, a group daily practice to Vajra Krishnachola is done, and this culminates in a two month drupchen at the conclusion of the retreat.
Other practices and trainings included in the retreat:
Fire Offering: Adjacent to the retreat building is a beautiful Fire Offering shrine room that overlooks the sea. Amending Fire Offerings are included in Konchok Chidu, Vajrayogini, Chakrasamvara and Jinasagara retreats.
Feast Offerings: Werma and Padmasambhava feast practices are also included throughout the retreats, as well as Vajrayogini, Chakrasamvara, Konchok Chidu and Jinasagara. (the latter 10 th day feasts are specific to those retreats)
Sadhana of Mahamudra: We follow the custom of performing the sadhana on full and new moon days, and a Sadhana of Mahamudra feast is offered at the conclusion of each retreat.
Rain of Wisdom: Normally within the retreat there will be at least one full day of reading the Rain of Wisdom, with the Milarepa sadhana.
Sur Offering: On a daily basis, we perform a smoke offering to the six guests, including bardo beings and our karmic creditors.
Daily Vajrakrishnachola: The wisdom protector practice is done by the group daily, chanted in the traditional melodies. For most of the retreat, this is the only group gathering of the day, since all the other practices are done mainly in your rooms.
Monthly Vajrakrishnachola feast: In some of the retreats, a 29 th day feast practice to the protector is performed.
Torma: All retreatants will receive extensive training in torma making, and will make permanent tormas out of clay for each practice as well as fresh tormas for offerings.
Music: We train in the use of cymbols and drum, conches and the long horns (radung). Gyaling (trumpet) and kangling (thigh bone trumpet) trainings are available for those who are motivated to learn.
Located on the northwestern coast of Cape Breton Island on the beautiful Cabot Trail, Gampo Abbey is surrounded by meadows and wooded hills rising above the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Gampo Abbey is located in Nova Scotia, Canada, on the north west side of Cape Breton Island indicated on this map by the redish dot near cape north. The map below provides approximate travel times by car between different points in Nova Scotia. Click your mouse on the dot to see a map of Cape Breton Island.
If you would like to locate Gampo Abbey on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, try the Travel Maps link. If you are travelling by car, information on possible route(s) are provided through the Car link. If you are flying you will arrive in Halifax and need to take a bus to one of the pick-up points. Information is provided on possible bus routes. Cape Breton is famous for its striking scenery and rich cultural heritage. Additional pictures of the surrounding country can be found off the Points of Interest link.
By Plane to Halifax, Nova Scotia
It is best to fly to Halifax. When booking your flight try to arrive at Halifax airport by 11:30 am, which leaves time for plane delays and customs and immigration clearance if you wish to continue your journey the same day to the Abbey by bus or shuttle. Return flights should be scheduled no earlier than 3:00 pm.
Travelling by Car From Mainland of Nova Scotia
Take the Trans-Canada 104 to the causeway to Cape Breton Island.
Take 105 off the traffic circle there to Whycocomagh (also the highway to Baddeck and Sydney).
Turn left at Whycocomagh to 395 then follow highway past Lake Ainslie, Scotsville and Upper Margaree to T-intersection (about 50 kms.) Turn right and follow highway to the next T-intersection at Margaree Forks. (5-10 min.)
Turn left and continue through Cheticamp and over MacKenzie Mountain through the Highlands National Park to Pleasant Bay.
Turn left at the sign to Red River, at a disused gas station. Proceed along this paved road and you will enter the small township of Red River where the road becomes gravel/dirt across a small bridge.
Keep going for the another 3 kms or so and watch for the Gampo Abbey sign on your left.
Driving Times (approximate):
* Halifax to Antigonish 3 Hrs.
* Antigonish to Whycocomagh 1 Hr.
* Whycocomagh to Cheticamp 1 Hr.
* Cheticamp to Gampo Abbey 1 Hr.
Total Trip: 5.5 to 6.5 hours
Gas and Weather – Be Prepared
The last gas stations on your way are in Cheticamp.
Weather on MacKenzie Mountain can be intense. During Spring, Fall, and Winter, if there is any risk of snow or freezing rain, ask for road conditions before leaving Cheticamp or phone (800) 307-7669 or (902) 224-2041.
By Train to Truro, Nova Scotia
Take the East-bound Via Rail train (800-561-8630) to Truro, Nova Scotia. The Montreal train, which runs daily except Tuesdays, arrives in Truro at 2:26 p.m. Please confirm this as schedules change. The Acadian Bus stops at the Truro bus station at 2:35 pm. This makes for a very tight connection and will only work if both Via Rail and the Truro bus station (902-895-3833) are notified that you need to make this connection. It saves time if you carry on your luggage instead of checking it. The return trip gets you to Truro at 1 pm in plenty of time for the 3:08 pm Truro-to-Montreal train.
By Bus or Shuttle Halifax to Baddek
If you are travelling by bus or shuttle the Abbey can arrange to pick you up at the Tim Hortens in Baddek. Please contact the Abbey office 902-224-2752 to confirm all travel arrangements where you require a pick-up by the Abbey.
The nearest large commercial airport is Halifax, Nova Scotia. Shuttle services between Halifax and the Halifax airport to Gampo Abbey will be arranged on your behalf after confirmation of registration.
Note: Please allow for a day’s travel time for the shuttle between Halifax and Gampo Abbey.
By personal car: Four winter tires of highest quality are essential for travel in this area.