1996 – First seminar on the Retreat Land of Self-Existing Wakefulness
On a cloudless and clear summer day in July people lined up in front of the Lhakhang with white khatas –the air was filled with incense and juniper smoke and conchs were blown – everybody was anxiously waiting for the arrival of Tulku Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche who this year was accompanied by Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
On the front seat of the limousine that had been rented for the occasion Rinpoche had placed a big, beautiful Buddha statue (Nalanda style) a gift for the newly refurbished temple hall. The temple hall was decorated with brocade that Tempa-la had brought. The first seminar on the retreat land was about to begin.
CNR gave two seminars that year; the first was titled “The Three Yanas” and was open for all. During this seminar Chökyi Nyima and Tsoknyi Rinpoche gave the Guru Rinpoche empowerment from the Barchey Künsel, on the “Vajrayana assembly” for practicing Vajrayana Students, CNR kindly bestowed the Vajrakilaya empowerment. Khandro Sangwa Yeshe was given to a small group that stayed after the seminar.
CNR also gave comfort and advice to old students as it was the year where we “lost” Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
In the yard in front of the main house Tsoknyi Rinpoche gave his first teaching, it was on Chogyur Lingpa’s “Cleansing offering“ and Rinpoche was delighted to start out with “Kye - Within nonarising primordial purity, unconstructed space, Unceasing spontaneous presence manifests as five-colored light ...”
The first seminar went very well -- Teachings morning and evening -- afternoons spent meditating outside on the rolling hills or going to the beautiful beach, just a short walk from Gomdé. It was a very joyful and precious occasion.
Much preparation preceded the seminar. In early spring David Benjamin was back leading the constructions, showers were built behind the kitchen, toilets at the camp site.
The residents helped to make a big kitchen with tiles on floor and walls. Good second-hand but professional gas stove, el-oven, sinks, tables, refrigerators, etc. were installed and extra electrical power was connected to the buildings. When we first introduced our great professional cooks Jette and Tove to the kitchen “facilities” there were only old walls, a few roof beams and a dirt floor, yet everybody was optimistic and trusted that it would come out right.
On the north side of the old farm building, a big area was cleaned up, giving space for the dining tent (that was put up with help from the locals) and the “base camp cafe” (both loved and disliked for its draft beer).
The residents at this time were Inge Lisbeth and Tom, René, Mikael and Claus (listed as they moved in). Prior to the seminar Erik Pema, Danny and Tara, Morten, Mads and Birthe also helped a lot.
During the autumn holidays people joined in for more building, the roof of the main house was raised and the process of building 14 new rooms was begun. As the new roof came up, according to Danish tradition, a ceremony of raising the roof tree was given, all the local workmen whom we couldn’t have done without and who openly had welcomed the “strange” newcomers to the “island” came to a great feast with beer, red sausages and Steen’s exquisite sushi.
The winter was hard, we were in closed by snow for almost 3 weeks but that could not break the enthusiasm and pioneer spirit that had been present all year.