A year since my last visit, I approached Tsoknyi Gechak Ling with warm anticipation. I was eager to see the students. They are warm, shy and playful; and exuberant as all children are. They are also Tsoknyi nuns, growing in dharma education. Most of them come from very poor families in the far reaches of Nepal, eager to receive the secular education they would not otherwise get. Some will fulfill Tsoknyi’s dream by becoming fully mature and accomplished dharma teachers in their own right.
Appropriate beverages were served.
But today, they are celebrating Rinpoche’s birthday with a school-wide ceremony in a brand new community meeting room in the main structure of the major building program underway.
The progress of this huge development program was obvious on my arrival. The roof of the new shedra is completed; the shell of an entire floor (one of several) of the main gompa is completed and the signs of more levels to rise from there are apparent. The main building will dwarf all others, the school, the old gompa (under renovation) and the shedra.
It’s amazing that this progress has occurred at all, given the impact of the earthquake a year ago, particularly on the surrounding community. Tsoknyi Gechak Ling was extremely fortunate to have escaped any major damage.
But thoughts of the past year could not have been further from the minds of everyone gathering inside the new meeting room, making preparations for the celebration. Students gathered on the floor as Ngawang, the Master of Ceremonies, prepared to commence. Rinpoche’s wife and mother were present, along with the faculty and administrators.
Opening remarks included details of the lives of Tsoknyi’s previous incarnations, Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche I and II, as well as details of his current life.
Then, students lined up to make offerings to Rinpoche by placing katas on the alter. Several classes as well as the faculty sang songs, including birthday songs in several languages.
Every performance was received with wild applause.
The cake was cut and beautiful chaos reigned with shooting strings and exploding confetti, masks and flying frosting.
Happy Birthday, Rinpoche. Feel the love!