Retreat - Renewal - Renovation

Greetings Trinkar,

After three years of strict COVID protocols, and the inability to invite new residents because of border closings, quarantine requirements, and general world upheaval, at Gampo Abbey we are taking a breath and thinking about renewal. Guided by our principal teacher Ani Pema Chödrön, we are building on our strengths of 38 years and looking to increase our capacity to support deep retreat. 

Solitary retreat cabins are being repaired and upgraded, and general repairs to the main Abbey buildings are underway. We are excited to announce that renovations are underway to prepare the purpose-built Sopa Chöling building to host another cycle of the three-year retreat to begin in the fall of 2024.

This means that for most of 2023 we will not be hosting any in-person programs or residencies, but instead are exploring ways to support practitioners, near and far, in different ways during this period of renewal. Just a few months ago high-speed internet service came to the Abbey and this opens up many more opportunities for us to host programs for remote participants.

We hope that you will enjoy this first issue of our newsletter. You’ll see an interview with previous temporary monastic David Morris from the UK, as well as a video from newly appointed Artist in Residence Trinkar Ötso. We offer a powerful practice from Ani Pema Chödrön that comes right from our Abbey kitchen, as well as a new book from Ani Pema. 

Trinkar and the team at Gampo Abbey

Three-Year Retreat

Applications Open Now

Applications are being accepted for the new cycle of the three-year retreat to begin in fall 2024. This is a unique experience in Western Buddhism - a retreat conducted in English, with all texts translated into English under the guidance of Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche.

Learn More and Apply Here

Artist in Residence

In 2022, in recognition of her contribution to the Abbey community and to the many years of Losar cards, art salons, and workshops for residents, Trinkar Ötso has been honoured with the title Artist in Residence.

Read an interview with Trinkar about her years of exploration of the intersection of contemplative practice and artmaking here.

Read Interview

Click on the video to see a tour of one of her projects - The Alphabet Tools Project

To see more of her artwork on her personal website

Trinkar's Sketchbook Tour of Alphabet Tools Project

Gampo Abbey training ripples out into the world

Meet former temporary monastic David Morris (Thaye) who was a resident in 2018/2019. He's currently Staff Wellbeing Chaplain at Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in the UK. We had a chat with David, known at the Abbey as Thaye, about his experience as a monastic and how it has impacted his life and vocation as a chaplain.

Read the interview 

New Release

How We Live is How We Die

As much as we might try to resist, endings happen in every moment—the end of a breath, the end of a day, the end of a relationship, and ultimately the end of life. And accompanying each ending is a beginning, though it may be unclear what the beginning holds. In How We Live Is How We Die, Pema Chödrön shares her wisdom for working with this flow of life—learning to live with ease, joy, and compassion through uncertainty, embracing new

beginnings, and ultimately preparing for death with

curiosity and openness rather than fear.

Also available as an audiobook! Click here to listen to a


Kitchen Practice

From Ani Pema

As demonstrated in the elegant and pithy Instructions from the Cook by the 13th Century Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253) the kitchen of a monastery has been both a metaphorical and practical centre of monastic life for a long time. In the Zen tradition, for example, the head cook is the second most senior person after the abbot in the monastery.

At Gampo Abbey, every resident works in the kitchen at some point, whether it is making breakfast, the main meal at midday, or the simple evening meal we call medicine meal. The kitchen has its own shrine and we bow when we enter the room. Crossing the threshold is an intentional practice.

Ani Pema has offered a practice specifically for the kitchen. It's a useful practice for any household task.

Kitchen Practice Instructions from Ani Pema

1.     Outer: Paying Attention

Focus on what you are doing, the task at hand.

2.     Inner: Watching Emotions Arise

Notice emotions that arise and work with those.

3.     Timeless: Raising Your Gaze

Stop periodically to raise your gaze and recognize your surroundings and the larger situation, the bigger view. Look out the window, have a cup of tea, and remind yourself of the preciousness of this life, this very moment here at the edge of the Earth. 

What food will you never find at the Abbey?

Embedded in the Vinaya, the rules and procedures that govern the monastic sangha is the prohibition of garlic and onions. Since the time of the Buddha's first monastic sangha, these ingredients are never used. Chögyöm Trungpa Rinpoche asked Ani Pema to create a monastic kitchen protocol that was vegetarian and without onions and garlic. Why?

Gelongma Tsering Lhamo answered the question this way:

This is from the Indian tradition. Garlic and onions are sexually enhancing, stirring up sexual energies. So as we are taking vows of not having any sexual activity this just goes together. It was imported from another culture and in a place where the heat is very present, much more than in our place. Another thing is, I don't believe that at 75 it will have a big effect on me!

In our vegetarian diet, the one food you will never find is garlic and onions, and anything from the allium genus like leek, shallots and chives.

What do we use to replace garlic and onions?

White turnip, radish, or finely sliced cabbage sauteed at the beginning of a recipe are all popular choices.

We even make hummus without garlic, we simply increase the intensity of the other herbs.

Maitri Bhavana and Sukhavati Practice

We are always happy to receive requests to include your loved ones in our Maitri Bhavana or Sukhavati (Buddhist funeral) practices at the Abbey.

You can click here for information about this and to submit names. 


Since the time of the Buddha's first monastic sangha, there has been a potent karmic connection between monastics and supporters in the lay community.

Likewise, here at Gampo Abbey, our monastic community and the programs we offer are only supported by your generous donation.

Support Gampo Abbey