2001- Construction and more horsepower
Rangjung Yeshe Gomdé – The Retreat Land of Self-Existing Wakefulness. There is a lot of power, or juice as Tsoknyi Rinpoche would probably put it and beauty in that name. This is the name that our kind teacher Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche came up with when he first envisaged a European place for passing on the instructions of masters past and present. I think it is fair to say that the name has found a worthy recipient in the 47 acres of hills, ponds, and fruit trees that our team of able scouts stumbled upon ten years ago.
I was seventeen years old at the time, and when I think back, I must admit that I remember the two crazy Summer Camps of ‘94 and ‘95 on Samsø far better than the purchase of Tornbjerggaard, the run-down farm on Helgenæs destined to become a spiritual home for so many people. Well, shame on me. In fact, I am sure there are many, many things I have forgotten during the past ten years.
The memories I do have from the retreat land of self-existing wakefulness, and I am happy to say that, after all, there are still quite a few, are like snapshots arranged in random order; I am not sure exactly when they were taken, but they are there, and they are fond and beautiful. That is what matters. Mostly, of course, I remember Rinpoche, our spiritual friend, father, teacher; without his kindness Rangjung Yeshe Gomdé would not be.
I remember him sitting in the shrine hall, radiating wisdom and loving kindness, and installing in everybody a sense of calm and belonging, and I remember him laughing, joking, and hugging me and everyone else while reminding us not to take things too seriously in this strange world of ever-changing experiences. I remember him, and I cannot wait for the next Summer Camp to happen.
Then there is the place itself; the view from atop the hill with the deep blue sea in front of you and soft green hills everywhere else. I remember sitting there one morning as the sun came up, the whole sky on fire; and the apple orchard with its endless rows of trees where, if you are lucky, you can meet Gomdé’s most elusive residents, the deer. Try going there for a walk in the evening as the dew is falling and listen to the sounds of silence.
There are of course the people, our Sangha, or extended family. Lawyers, students, dentists, psychologists, artists, businesspeople, doctors, farmers, you name it we have it. We really are a mixed bunch, and in many ways very different from each other. Still, I feel very strongly that we are all connected. We share something much more important than line of work or music taste, and it has been a pleasure to meet all of you in these wonderful surroundings. May we meet repeatedly in the retreat land of self-existing wakefulness!
In 2001 the people living and working on Gomdé were as follows: Kim Hansen, Morten Røgild, Ole Pedersen, and Mikael Bonde. In January the last remains of the old pig and cow barn were removed, a semi-open eating pavilion was added to the pig barn in June, and in September construction began on the new dormitory, the caretaker flat, and on the new roof for the pig barn. The year 2001 also brought more horsepower to Gomdé as Tara Goleman donated three beautiful Icelandic horses to the land. New caretaker Ole Pedersen, who brought his donkeys with him when he moved in, provided additional donkey-power.
Summer Camp 2001 consisted of two seminars with Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche: Songs of Enlightenment from July 16-22, during which time Rinpoche taught “A Dear Treasure for Destined Disciples, Pointing Out the Great Perfection by H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche”, and Cloudless Sky Dzogchen Intensive from July 22-29, where Rinpoche gave his first set of teachings on “The Oral Transmission of the Three Family Lords” by Chokgyur Lingpa. No empowerments were conferred. Rinpoche rounded off his visit to Denmark with a sold-out public talk entitled Fearlessness, the Buddhist Path to Inner Peace in Astrologihuset in Valby, Copenhagen, on July 30.
In the fall of 2001, Tsoknyi Rinpoche visited Aarhus where he gave a public talk, Buddhist Meditation, on November 16 and a two-day seminar entitled Introduction to Dzogchen on the 17th and the 18th. In spite of his busy schedule, Rinpoche managed to find the time to make a memorable one-day visit to Gomdé. Also in 2001, we were fortunate enough to have Dzongsar Gongna Rinpoche and his son, Simok Rinpoche, come to Gomdé and bless the land.