On April 4th, Kagyu Changchub Chuling celebrated a momentous occasion with the sealing of its first three year retreat at Ser Chö Ösel Ling—The Land of Clear Light Golden Dharma. Seated in the lava rocks and ponderosa pines of Goldendale, Washington, the retreat sealing was an event more than 15 years in the making.
Guests came from as near as Hood River and as far as South America to give farewell wishes to the eleven retreatants: Kathleen Benz, Julia King Tamang, Hanna Karlin, Lois Beran, Susan Gladstone, Jane Harden, Galen Doucette, Liza Baer, Maggie Snee, Wendi Wood, and Susan Morgan.
The day’s events began at 9:00 a.m. in the shrine room of the south cloister, led by Venerable Lama Tsang Tsing of Kagyu Dakshang Chuling in Eugene, Oregon, who served as retreat master during Lama Michael’s three year retreat. Accompanying Lama Tsang Tsing were Lama Sonam, Lama Yangchen, and Ani Kunzang who were all on three year retreat with Lama Michael.
The primary leaders of the the three year retreat will be KCC’s Lama Michael Conklin and Lama Tara Goforth of British Columbia. Addressing the audience of visitors, Lama Michael noted the prevalent “sense of joy” filling the air as the community came together to support retreatants in doing “what they feel so passionate about doing.” He noted the exceptional amount of time, prayers, people-hours, and donations that made possible the creation of SCOL and the three year retreat.
Lama Tsang Tsing then guided the audience through the Green Tara Puja. Lama Eric Triebelhorn performed the Fire Puja in the bright sunlight just outside the shrine room. Through the translation of Ani Kunzang, Lama Tsang Tsing observed the “great power and great benefit” in doing the practice together. He said that “real benefit is realized from actual practice,” and encouraged the retreatants to give their “very best.”
Then came farewells. Sangha members, friends, and family filed through the shrine room offering the retreatants katas, hugs, smiles, tears, gifts, gratitude, and blessings. A delicious buffet lunch was then provided by SCOL staff and sangha volunteers, while lamas and retreatants remained inside the cloister.
Following lunch, the sealing ceremony for the retreat began. Lama Tsang Tsing led retreatants in a circumambulation of the north and south cloisters. The appropriate blessings and rituals were offered and white kata given to each retreatant. The retreatants then filed into the cloisters, and the gates were shut—the retreat was sealed.