Gampo Abbey

The following article is from the Spring, 1988 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

Since the summer of 1983, Gampo Abbey has been slowly developing as a monastic setting for Western monks and nuns and for candidates for ordination. The Abbey, which is located on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, sits on 200 acres of landon cliffs above the ocean. It is a place of wild natural beauty and solitude.

The Abbey was founded by Vidyadhara, Venerable Chogyam Trangpa Rinpoche and is now guided by the Abbot of Gompo Abbey, Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche.

At Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche's suggestion, the year is divided into times of intensive practice and study and times of work. At present, the Abbey building is not adequate for its needs and therefore expansion is necessary. To facilitate this, Rinpoche established times when work could be stressed and times when work would cease altogether. From May to mid-August, when construction is in progress, the atmosphere is less monastic in quality. During this time there is an open invitation for people to come and help and the schedule includes 3 hours daily for meditation. Just as during the rest of the year, all people at the Abbey keep the basic 5 precepts, although there is no expectation that the workers are considering monastic ordination.

In mid-August the traditional 45-day Rains Retreat (Yarne) is observed. This retreat is open only to monks, nuns and candidates, and is a time of practice, study and learning ritual (such as musical instruments, torma making, etc.).

The winter retreat (December-March) is the other time when work ceases and is perhaps the most ideal time for the monks, nuns and candidates. The wild winter storms go together with the atmosphere of solitude and non-distractedness which is so conducive to meditation and study. This retreat is open to all interested in experiencing the monastic lifestyle.

Along with the group practice, the Abbey has 4 private retreat cabins which are available for solitary practice. The cost for non-ordained sangha is $20 a day. The food is primarily vegetarian and no solid food is taken after the noon meal.

Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche will be at the Abbey in the Spring of 1988 and after that will continue to visit, to send other teaching lamas and to provide ongoing guidance for the development of Gampo Abbey.

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