Tsechen Kunchab Ling began at the auspicious time of the accomplishment of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin's bestowal of the Precious Lam Dre teaching in Vancouver, Canada, in August, 2000. In His Holiness' advice to disciples at the conclusion of the 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. Her Eminence Jetsun Kunshog-la announced her intention to build such a monastery in Vancouver Canada, and the entire assembly rejoiced.
Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen asked His Holiness if he and his students might be permitted to serve his Holiness by establishing such a temple as a seat for His Holiness the Sakya Trizin in the United States. His Holiness gladly assented, and recommended that it be established on the east coast.
His Holiness advised that his seat be located about an hour's drive from New York City, as this would be a central location for the eastern U.S. Sakya Centers, which are located in Boston, Washington D.C., and New York. He advised that a property of about 5 acres with buildings already on it would be most suitable, and that it should be located in a quiet place not too close to the city, and not too deep in the forest.
A few days later, while His Holiness was visiting Dhongthog Rinpoche's Sapan Institute in Seattle, Venerable Lama Kalsang offered His Holiness a map of upstate New York. After bestowing initiation and Dharma teaching, His Holiness opened the map and with his omniscient eye and holy fingers indicated an area in Orange County, suggesting that Lama Kalsang search for property in that area.
Venerable Lama Kalsang returned to Washington D.C. and asked Ane 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 120 year old 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, 15 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.
Venerable Lama Kalsang asked His Holiness' advice about this piece of property. His Holiness performed a prediction, and also requested His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche for advice. Both recommended that the location was very auspicious, and encouraged Lama Kalsang to proceed with its purchase. 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 months of September 2000 through April 2001, Lama Kalsang and Ane Kunga traveled many times to Walden and consulted repeatedly with His Holiness and Dagmo Kushog-la in preparation for the purchase of the property. They worked with the Village of Walden Planning Board to secure zoning for the property as a church, and also arranged for tax exemption, incorporation in the state of New York, and raised funds for the down payment on the property. Faithful disciples of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin contributed generously toward the down payment to be able to fulfill the advice that His Holiness had given his disciples at the conclusion of the Lam Dre teachings.
In April 2001, the necessary approvals and preparations were completed, and Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen and Ane Kunga purchased the property of Tsechen Kunchab Ling as an offering to His Holiness the Sakya Trizin. Great aspirations and many prayers were offered and auspicious signs occurred. The next weekend, a group of His Holiness' devoted disciples began the renovations. Under the wise leadership of Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen, renovations of the temple, retreat cabins and grounds have continued since that time. Faithful disciples of His Holiness from throughout the country offered their time, skill and financial support in service of their teacher's vision. In addition, Sakyapa lamas and hundreds of devoted students of His Holiness have come together each year to commemorate his birthday, and to pray for his long life and for the success of all of his holy activities.
Due to the guidance and efforts of Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen, and the hard work and generosity of many of His Holiness' students throughout the U.S., renovation of Tsechen Kunchab Ling was completed in the Spring of 2003.
On July 4, His Holiness the Sakya Trizin formally consecrated Tsechen Kunchab Ling and opened the door of Dharma by bestowing teachings on Parting from the Four Attachments. Approximately 600 people gathered for the joyous occasion. Following this, over the course of three weeks, His Holiness and His Eminence Dungsei Ratna Vajra Rinpoche bestowed the Chakrasamvara empowerment, Vajrayogini Blessing, detailed instructions on the Vajrayogini meditation, and led a week-long Vajrayogini retreat. His Holiness bestowed the Vajrayogini teachings in unusual depth and detail. Over 150 people attended the complete teaching cycle, expressing great joy and appreciation for the teachings. At the conclusion, His Holiness performed an extensive Mahakala ritual for the success of the temple's future Dharma projects. He also consecrated the shrine, statues, and thankas.
His Holiness expressed his warmest appreciation to Venerable Lama Kalsang Gyaltsen and all of the temple's members and friends for their efforts in working together to create Tsechen Kunchab Ling as a "mother temple," and as a seat for His Holiness the Sakya Trizin in the United States.
This is a short summary of the external activities of Tsechen Kunchab Ling, Seat of His Holiness the 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.