Statement of Commitment by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
I, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual and temporal head of the Shambhala Mandala, am completely committed to the development of Surmang, the spiritual home of my father Vidyadhara the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa, and to supporting the welfare of Chokyi Senge Rinpoche, the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku.
On my visit to Surmang in 2001, the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku along with the other tulkus and leaders of Surmang, asked me, in a special ceremony held for this purpose, to care for and take responsibility for the affairs of the Surmang monasteries and their people. It is in response to this request that I am setting forth my involvement in and commitment to the welfare of Surmang
Many years ago, when the Surmang Foundation asked for my support in their early efforts to assist Surmang and its people, I agreed to that, becoming its Founding Director and serving on its International Advisory Board ever since. I am deeply indebted to Lee Weingrad and all those who have worked with him over the past 15 years to build the medical clinic, provide medical care to the people of Surmang and help in many other ways. This work, which I fully support, will continue and I am delighted that it has received increasing levels of international support.
The Surmang Foundation is partnered with the Government of Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai Province and Beijing United Family Hospital. The Surmang Foundation clinic, built from 1993 – 1996, has two doctors, both local Tibetan, both trained by Surmang Foundation. Since 1992, the clinic has treated over 20,000 patients, all for free. Last year over 4000 patients were treated, among whom 750 came from 50 to 250 km to receive medical care. The Surmang Foundation is also piloting a Health Promotion project that will make its work into a template for other remote regions in China to help them acquire similar high quality medical care. In addition, the Surmang Foundation built the only public school in the region and supports with food and clothing, about 20 of the destitute elderly who have outlived their spouses and children.
When I visited Surmang and other regions of Tibet in the summer of 2001, I was asked to take on many other responsibilities, not only in Surmang, but also in other areas of Kham and in Golok. Many of these responsibilities are directly connected to the special role played in those areas by the Mipham Lineage.
To fulfill all those additional responsibilities I have created the Konchok Foundation, named after my mother, Lady Konchok Palden.
The mission of the Konchok Foundation is to help meet the spiritual, cultural, educational and humanitarian needs of the Tibetan people in Surmang and elsewhere in the Kham and Golok regions of Tibet.
While the Surmang Foundation focuses on the lay community of Surmang, the Konchok Foundation is directing all its initial efforts to support the education of the Trungpa Tulku and to build a Shedra for the monastic community. During my visit, I made an offering of funds raised for Surmang from the members of the Shambhala Mandala in North America and Europe, and the Konchok Foundation continues to raise funds for these two purposes. Other projects will be undertaken when we have the resources for them.
The Konchok Foundation has now completed the first stages of preparing for the construction of the shedra.
In 2002, Lady Diana Mukpo, who holds the title Sakyong Wangmo, visited Surmang. She was accorded rare honours while there, becoming the first woman to be seated on a traditional teaching throne. Her visit enabled her to hold on-site talks with the Surmang leaders and discuss detailed plans for the future work that will be needed. She was accompanied by her husband, Dr. Mitchell Levy, one of the Acharyas of the Shambhala Mandala.
In 2003, the Konchok Foundation sent a technical team to Surmang in 2003, headed by Bob King, the project manager for The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, to explore the construction requirements. Based on his work, we have now commissioned architectural drawings, which will be completed in the first part of 2004. Fund-raising for the actual construction work has begun.
Building the Surmang Düdtsi-til shedra involves three phases:
Phase One: Planning and fund-raising
This is now underway. The planning phase will be completed in 2004. The fundraising will continue until the shedra is completed.
Phase Two: Construction
Establish a building plan with a contractor, purchase and transport all the materials that are need for construction and then complete theconstruction of the building. The construction phase will begin once the planning phase is completed and we have raised sufficient funds to make the necessary payments to the contractors.
Phase Three: Completion
Paint, decorate and furnish the shedra to make it ready for use. This phase will begin once the construction phase is completed.
Our aim is also to help support the operation of the shedra by providing scholarships for the tulkus, monks and other participants.
This huge project will take approximately five years to complete fully. This time-frame is based on the technical study carried out by Bob King on behalf of the Konchok Foundation.
The Konchok Foundation would also like to: support the education of the lay population in Surmang; help fund the construction and operation of the Weyen monastery in Golok; support the Gesar orphanage in Golok and the Mipham Medical Institute in Golok; provide support to Khamput Monastery in Kham. These additional activities will require us to raise further funding for the future.
In the Golok Region, with the help of the Konchok Foundation and many generous friends, Wayen Monastery completed the construction of a new temple at the end of 2003. In addition the monks applied to the local government to help them bring in electricity. They have also built a simple shrine to Tara next to the Monastery for laypeople to come and worship. Now they are hoping to start a shedra for the over thirty young monks who are enrolled there. In addition a very large prayer wheel room has been constructed on the site of the land. This was a necessary addition since many lamas had noticed that it was important to build this in order to reverse obstacles. The prayer wheel building was graciously donated by Sogan Rinpoche.
The Mipham Institute in Golok has recently acquired all the necessary documents to become a full fledged non-profit organization. The plan is to construct a simple office building that will be used for research and communication. The existing building is in poor condition. It needs to be replaced so that its precious collection can be properly housed. The collection includes many priceless articles, literature and sacred materials that belonged to Ju Mipham and his lineage. I am grateful for the fact that the property for this site has been graciously donated.
We all face great difficulties in accomplishing the goals of both the Surmang and the Konchok Foundations. What we are doing is not an easy task. There are many obstacles, including the difficulties of bridging many cultures. I can assure you that the people of the western world have a great appreciation for the spiritual and cultural heritage of Tibet. I feel confident that they will continue to support us in whatever way they can. Progress always happens slower than we would like, but I speak for everyone involved in these projects when I say that we are determined to continue and to succeed in our efforts.
Throughout this period I will include the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku, his family, all the venerable tulkus of Surmang and other leaders of the Surmang community and all the people of Surmang in my prayers. I will do everything in my power to ensure that all obstacles are overcome so that the splendor and wisdom of the Surmang tradition continues to endure.