A new IMI cabin in Thakpa Kachoe, Vajrayogini Pure Land in France.By Venerable Gyalten Yangchen
It is with great joy that we announce the opening of a cabin built by the International Mahayana Institute at Thakpa Kachoe, Vajrayogini Pure Land in France.
This new cabin, named “Olka Cholung”, after the name of the place in Tibet where Lama Tsongkhapa did extensive retreat was built by generous donation from the new FPMT Ordained Sanhga Support Fund. It is run by Takpa Kachoe and administrated by the IMI for IMI sangha wishing to do medium or long retreats in Europe, including the big three year retreat.
Thakpa Kachoe has twenty-two acres of pasture and forest and is located in the amazingly scenic South Alps region at Guillaumes in the hamlet of Villetale; a one hour forty minute drive from Nice. The cabin is a single room cabin with kitchenette, shower and adjacent dry toilet.
Our spiritual leader, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche has long known the need for retreat places such as this to be built. He said “Now what is needed are people who will sacrifice their lives, as they did in India, Tibet and Nepal, not just to study Dharma like at a college or university, but to actualize the teachings in a monastery or isolated place. In Tibet, the mountains were full of caves like ants’ nests, where people would go to practice without distraction. This is how Buddhism really comes alive – when it is not just words, not just scholars, but really living Buddhism… For Buddhism to really be preserved in the West as it was in Tibet and India, we need people who will sacrifice their lives to completely actualize in their heart what was explained by the Buddha.”
The International Institute and Thakpa Kachoe have been working on making Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s wish for a retreat location where sangha can dedicate long periods of time realizing the teachings of the Buddha in their hearts, a reality.
Since 2007, on Daniel Mestre and Sylvaine Litaud’s initiative, Thakpa Kachoe has established an FPMT study group, installed the main water and electrical services for the cabins and administrative buildings, cleared the land and prepared it for a botanical and medicinal project which already contains lavender fields as well as, in the future, other medicinal and aromatic herbs and plants capable of thriving at the elevation of 1150 meters.
Olka Cholung now has its first occupant who has already started a fourteen month retreat. Having recently arrived there she mentions how easy will be to meditate on dependent arising as well as the kindness of others while in retreat because the cabin “would not have been possible without all the people who support the project… who had the initial idea… who have contributed financially and those who have put their hard work into it.”
She continued saying “I call it a ‘five star retreat hut’ because it indeed has all the conducive conditions. The surrounding is amazingly beautiful… the valley is quite vast, giving a gorgeous open view… The air is clean and the water pristine. There is silence. The hut is within a forest, isolated from other buildings… All the material(s) used are the most eco-friendly possible. This is crucial for the environment and also for the people living in it… And last but not least the indispensable condition of having good caretakers.”