Temple of All-Encompassing Great Compassion, Walden, New York

Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Temple of All-Encompassing Great Compassion, was established in Walden, New York in April, 2001 as the United States Seat of His Holiness Sakya Trizin. His Holiness established the temple in order to strengthen the Dharma in North America by creating a place where both renunciates and lay people could gather to practice the Dharma and to devote themselves to study, contemplation, and meditation. His Holiness’ many students gratefully and joyfully accepted the opportunity to fulfill his vision.

The temple property was purchased in 2001, and many members and friends of the temple worked to renovate and improve the grounds and buildings. When everything was ready, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, his eldest son His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, and their holy family came to reside at the temple for a month.

On July 4, 2003, His Holiness formally consecrated the temple and opened the Door of Dharma with an extensive series of Dharma teachings. Many students from all over the world gathered for this happy event. Please visit the photo gallery for images of the opening.

Since that time, His Holiness’ students have dedicated their best efforts and resources toward raising the funds to build a large traditional temple building (see architectural drawing of the proposed temple building above), which will provide a beautiful traditional setting for Dharma teachings and practice.

The groundbreaking ceremony and commencement of construction on the auspicious day of March 29, 2007 represented the first step in the fulfillment of this goal (see "Opening the Door of Dharma" article below). Through the continued efforts and resources of all of His Holiness’ students, the building’s completion will surely be swiftly accomplished.

Please visit Tsechen Kunchab Ling's website for more information.

Opening the Door of Dharma: The Establishment of Tsechen Kunchab Ling,
His Holiness Sakya Trizin’s Seat in the United States

Tsechen Kunchab Ling began at the auspicious time of the accomplishment of His Holiness Sakya Trizin's bestowal of the precious Lam Dre teaching in Vancouver, Canada, in August, 2000. The following article describes these beginnings and the establishment of the temple during the first three years in Walden, New York.

In His Holiness' advice to disciples at the conclusion of the Lam Dre teachings, he spoke strongly of the importance of strengthening the Dharma in new lands by establishing monasteries, nunneries, and temples where both renunciates and lay people can devote themselves to study, contemplation, and meditation.

His Holiness encouraged the Lam Dre disciples to exert their best efforts to help such institutions be established in North America. Soon thereafter, Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen asked His Holiness if he and his students might be permitted to offer service by establishing such a temple as a seat for His Holiness Sakya Trizin in the United States. His Holiness gladly assented. Although he had never been to that area of upstate New York, His Holiness pointed to a place on a map and instructed where to search. He described precisely the size and characteristics of the property and its distance from New York City.

The Property Is Located and Purchased

Venerable Lama Kalsang returned to Washington, D.C. and asked Ani Kunga Chodron to assist him in locating and purchasing the property for His Holiness' temple. The very next weekend, they drove to New York to find the property His Holiness had envisioned.

Just in the area that His Holiness had indicated with his finger on the map, real estate agents quickly located a 5.2 acre property in the Catskill Mountains, on the outskirts of the Village of Walden in Orange County, exactly an hour's drive from New York City. The property was a historic inn with a large restaurant, bungalows, and many sleeping rooms. With a little fixing up, it would immediately provide a large prayer hall for 250 people, fifteen retreat rooms, a smaller shrine room, office, and full-size professional kitchen. The grounds were already cleared, graded and landscaped, suitable for future large-scale construction.

His Holiness determined that this location was very auspicious, and recommended purchase of the property. His Holiness bestowed the blessed name Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Temple of All-Encompassing Great Compassion, upon his new seat in the United States. During the next six months, Lama Kalsang and Ani Kunga worked with the village, county, and state authorities to complete the incorporation, zoning, tax exemption, and other approvals necessary for purchase of the property. Disciples of His Holiness Sakya Trizin contributed generously toward the down payment to be able to fulfill the advice that His Holiness had given them at the conclusion of the Lam Dre teachings. Finally, in April 2001, having completed the necessary approvals and preparations, the property of Tsechen Kunchab Ling was purchased and offered to His Holiness Sakya Trizin. Great aspirations and many prayers were offered and auspicious signs occurred.

Renovations and First Annual Celebration of His Holiness Sakya Trizin's Birthday

His Holiness' devoted disciples from Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles immediately began renovations. The first stage of renovations was completed in preparation for a gala celebration held in honor of His Holiness Sakya Trizin's birthday on September 5, 2001. Many Sakya lamas and disciples from all over North America attended the celebration. Over the next two years, Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen held a variety of teachings and religious celebrations at Tsechen Kunchab Ling. Meanwhile, he directed continued improvements to the property in preparation for the day that His Holiness Sakya Trizin would come to formally consecrate his new seat in the United States and reside there.

His Holiness Arrives

His Holiness, accompanied by His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, Dagmo Kushog Kalden Dunkyi and their entourage arrived at their new temple on June 30, 2003, amid great rejoicing. They were pleased with the progress that had been made and expressed sincere appreciation for the efforts and determination of Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen, Ani Kunga Chodron, and the many students whose generosity and diligence had made this possible.

On July 3, an astrologically auspicious day, His Holiness led the assembly of lamas, monks and nuns in the performance of a Kurukulla ritual. He performed a ground blessing ceremony and laid the foundation stone for what will one day be a traditional Tibetan temple on the site.

His Holiness Formally Opens the Door of Dharma at Tsechen Kunchab Ling

On July 4, His Holiness opened the door of Dharma at Tsechen Kunchab Ling, bestowing teachings on the special mind-training pith instruction of the Sakya, Parting from the Four Attachments, to a crowd of over 600 people that gathered under an enormous white tent erected for the occasion. In attendance were lamas and practitioners from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as practitioners from other Mahayana schools and the Theravadan tradition.

Over the following weeks, His Holiness bestowed the Bodhisattva's vow, the Chakrasamvara major empowerment, the Vajrayogini blessing, and a concise explanation of the pith instructions. Each afternoon, His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche reviewed the day's teaching and commentary, and led the practice of the associated meditations. Those receiving the teachings, who had come from around the world and from five continents, were also blessed by the presence of His Holiness' sister, Her Eminence Sakya Jetsun Chime Luding, who was also in attendance.

Having completed the transmission of the entire teaching, His Holiness and His Eminence then led a week-long retreat, offering a chance for participants to become familiar with the various meditations and yogas.

As the month and planned activities approached conclusion, students repeatedly expressed their deep gratitude and joy at having had the chance to receive such precious teachings from His Holiness and His Eminence. Finally, on the day set for their departure from the United States, His Holiness, His Eminence, and all the lamas gathered to perform a brief consecration of the main shrine hall, and at the request of all of the students present, promised to return again before long.

This is a short summary of the external activities involved in the establishment of Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Seat of His Holiness Sakya Trizin in the United States. Through His Holiness' blessings and the faithful efforts of his devoted disciples and followers of the Buddha's teachings, may it flourish and grow to accomplish His Holiness' vision and aspirations. For the latest information and activities of the Temple, please visit the Temple's website at www.sakyatemple.org.

article by Ani Kunga Chodron and Jamyang Tharchin; source: Cho Trin, Volume 2 Number 1

Photos (from top):
Architect's drawing of planned new temple building
His Holiness Sakya Trizin (pictured on the far right), welcomed by Lama Kalsang and community members, approaches his new seat to perform the consecration ceremony.

>Visit the Photo Gallery images.

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