Pilgrimage to Surmang by Tamdin Wangdu
An Invitation from 12th Trungpa Rinpoche for Shedra Consecration in Tibet – July 2018
Our Recent Trip to Surmang
In August 2017, I led another group to Surmang, Tibet for two weeks, and it was simply the most meaningful experience with 12th Trungpa Rinpoche. I feel like I have found a Tibetan brother, an emerging leader, and an important Buddhist teacher who will build on Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s legacy. The humble, playful, and partly reserved personality of Rinpoche reminded me of my youth days of being a yak herder in Tibet. This might be another reason how Rinpoche and I feel connected.
About Trungpa Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa is credited by many as the one who brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West in the early 1970s. He founded Naropa University in Boulder and established over 160 Shambhala Buddhist Centers in the West. Born as Chokyi Sengay in Dege, Kham in 1989, 12th Trungpa Rinpoche was recognized in 1991, at age 2, as the reincarnation of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche by Tai Situ Rinpoche. Shortly thereafter he moved to his seat monastery of Surmang Dutsi Til. Over the years, Rinpoche has studied at Palpung Shedra for five years, Surmang Namgyal Tse for three years, and Serta Monastery for five years. Rinpoche is the 4th child of 8 siblings and was raised primarily by his father Chalo, as his mother Tseru died at age 50.
In 2001, Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, the elder son of Chogyam and current Shambhala lineage holder, traveled to Tibet and met with 12th Trungpa Rinpoche. Along with other offerings, Sakyong envisioned building a Shedra, a monastic college in Surmang, and founded Konchok Foundation, a non-profit organization in America, to support the Shedra Project in Tibet. With the generous support of donors and hard work of Konchok Foundation for many years, the Shedra is now scheduled to open officially in July 2018. The Shedra is expected to start with about 80 monks and continue to offer classes for lay students during their school holidays.
Rinpoche Wants to Connect
Trungpa Rinpoche told us that the Shedra consecration will definitely happen in July 2018. He made a video message as an invitation to Sakyong, those who have supported the Shedra Project from the West, and many local dignitaries and community members. We have heard from Sakyong’s secretary that he might not be able to attend, as his schedule seems already full. However, Trungpa Rinpoche hopes that members of the Mukpo Family (family members of Chogyam Trungpa from America) and Konchok Foundation are able to attend along with key sponsors. The Shedra consecration will be one of the most joyful occasions, and the Surmang Valley is expected to be filled with rituals and ceremonies, songs and dances, and even horse racing.
Conscious Journeys normally offers an itinerary to Surmang, known as Dokham Journey, that essentially explores in and around Yushu, along with a few days in Surmang. Since people will be coming specifically for the Shedra consecration, we will be spending most of our time in Surmang and include a side excursion to Namgyal Tse Monastery. While you are acclimatizing in Yushu, we will visit several sights including Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery, which was rebuilt at a new location after the 2010 Yushu earthquake damage. Surmang is located in a vast alpine region, whose nomadic and farming community is one of the poorest in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. For mountain enthusiasts and humanitarians, a visit to Surmang provides an opportunity to combine great hikes with humanitarian works in community development projects.
Conscious Journeys will offer a trip to Surmang for the Shedra consecration from July 15th to 30th, 2018. The activities of the consecration are a huge logistical effort by themselves. Conscious Journeys, a Tibetan travel company that is officially registered and authorized in China to receive travelers, will coordinate travel logistics from beginning to end. The group members will meet in Chengdu and then fly to Yushu for the drive to Surmang. Surmang is a small Tibetan village and has very limited lodging. Conscious Journeys will be working with Trungpa Rinpoche to turn his old residence into a guesthouse, as he moves into a newly rebuilt old castle. On a first come, first-served basis, we will have limited rooms. Rooms have access a toilet and a shower. For more information, please visit www.ConsciousJourneys.org and be sure to look for Dokham Journey.
Tamdin Wangdu is the founder and executive director of Tibetan Village Project, a non-profit, non-political organization dedicated to creating sustainable livelihoods for Tibetans. Conscious Journeys is a TVP sister organization that organizes trips to Tibet. Tamdin has been living in Colorado since 1994, a member of Boulder Shambhala Center, considers Shambhala Communities as his extended family in the West and welcomes anyone who wishes to travel to his native Tibet with him.