2014 served as a momentous transitional year for the Surmang shedra or monastic college. Key steps were undertaken by the Konchok Foundation and the Surmang Dutsi Til monastery that will allow the shedra to begin teaching programs for adult monastics in 2015.
A central element of the vision for the shedra since the project’s inception is that the shedra would provide advanced dharma education for adults, principally for monks and nuns. This part of the vision for the shedra will now be able to commence in 2015.
A $150,000 grant in late 2014 from the Pema Chödrön Foundation, $125,000 of which was structured as a two stage matching grant, helped to lead to an outpouring of support from loyal Konchok Foundation donors. These funds will be used for many finishing details and furnishings at the shedra, making possible the completion of the construction phase.
The programs for children, which began in 2008, will continue. The largest programs for children at the shedra takse place in the winter. Thus 2014 began and ended with educational programs for lay children, both girls and boys. More than one hundred children have participated in the winter. There was also a session in the late summer/early autumn with a smaller number of children. When in session, the program operates seven days per week and provides basic reading and writing lessons in Tibetan, as well as introductory math. Children are given two meals per day when at school.
As in prior years, Konchok Foundation provided modest support for the living expenses of Chökyi Senge Rinpoche, the Twelfth Trungpa, and for monks on retreat at Dorje Khyung Dzong and Dechen Choling retreat centers at Surmang as well as for programs for children at Wenchen nunnery and Kyere monastery. Much of this support came from donor-directed gifts.
Relatively small amounts of construction at the Surmang shedra took place in 2014, including work on the front door of the shedra lhakang or shrine hall (depicted above).