Dear Sangha,

Greetings! I am John Swearingen, one of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche’s longtime students, CGF member and Treasurer of Chagdud Gonpa Foundation. 

This summer the Monument Fire swept through the lands of Rigdzin Ling destroying the water system, nine housing structures, and severely burned much of the forested areas. It devastated trees, wildlife, and land over several days of extreme wildfire and intense heat that burned the very root-paths of the earth. Sangha and staff returning from evacuation were met with the destruction the fire had wreaked. Miraculously, the fire skipped the Tara House shrine room and facilities by a few feet, and also spared Lotus House, Creek House, Sky House, the Prayer Wheels, and Tibetan Treasures! Those buildings are now in wonderful shape and still full of blessings.

The wildfire arrived on the heels of the pandemic closures that, although preventing the sangha from participating in-person at Rigdzin Ling, nonetheless allowed so many of us to practice together via regular livestreamed teachings. 

Along with Chagdud Khadro and Lama Padma Gyatso, I’m part of the Restoration Committee, created by the Board of Directors, dedicated to planning, funding, and organizing efforts to nurture and renew Rigdzin Ling immediately and for the next 100 years. (Click here for a detailed list of our recovery plans)

We are aware of the cycles of destruction in the Buddhist world. Monasteries, monuments (including the Boudhanath stupa), and the precious texts themselves have been repeatedly destroyed by fires, earthquakes, and invaders. But through the transcendent vision of Dharma-holders and contributions of the faithful they have been restored. The longevity of Chagdud Rinpoche’s unbroken thousand-year lineage in Tibet is our model for regenerating and restoring Rigdzin Ling as a vital container for Dharma activity at Chagdud Gonpa in the West. 

As a mandala of merit, our Dharma activity is continuous. 

Since returning to Rigdzin Ling sangha members have been contributing resources, time and effort for immediate recovery needs, including building an interim water system to supply the functioning buildings. We gathered online for Lama Padma’s ongoing cycle of teachings on The Way of the Bodhisattva, for Red Tara and Guru Rinpoche feasts, and for several 3-day drubchod retreats. In the almost two years of the pandemic and in the months since the fire, we have been encouraged at how our scattered sangha has rallied and come together.

The work of rebuilding facilities and nurturing its natural habitat are interdependent with Rigdzin Ling as a refuge for Dharma and sanctuary for living beings. The committee has begun working with conservationists and government agencies for immediate repairs and for advice on how to affect the long-term restoration of the fire-scorched land as well as to secure funding for our goals.

We invite you to join and offer your donations to the Restoration Project through our website.

We thank you—our inspiring, stalwart community—for your continued support of Chagdud Gonpa and for making our collective practice possible. We look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Sincerely, 

John Swearingen
for the Restoration Committee