3 Day Meditation Retreat for 10 Bates College Students from their Dharma Society Meditation Club

Written by Isabel O’Connell, the Bates Student October 2022

When I went to commons right before closing on Friday night with Abbey Ende ‘23, Barry Kilmister ‘24 and Whitney Miller ‘26, Abbey turned to us and asked, “How are you guys going to explain what we just experienced?” I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I’m going to try now.

I spent three days in the woods with the Buddhist nun Tenzin Dasel ‘88. I’d mentioned this plan the week before I left campus to friends, who frowned in concern about the parallels between this concept and many horror movie premises. I drove my own car to Shortridge for the dual reasons of helping Barry bring our food and being able to leave if it was terrible. But it was not terrible. Honestly, this trip may have changed my life.

I had never meditated in my life. I’d always been the sort of person who did things very quickly or not at all, and who had a medically concerning high resting heart rate. But when I was having dinner with Maggie McCulloch ‘23, Joel Hallkaj ‘24 and Barry, I mentioned that I didn’t know what to do for break, and Maggie said, “just come on the meditation retreat with us.” I decided at the very least it would make for an interesting story.

I had no idea what I was in for. While I drove Bora Legunda ‘25, she read the itinerary out to me. My initial concern was over the 6:15 a.m. wake up to go to the beach to watch the sunrise. I’ve never been a morning person, but as it turns out, a nun standing in your doorway in the early morning really will get you out of bed.

We weren’t allowed to have our phones, so we spent our free time reading and talking and cooking. I woke up the last morning to laughter and I came downstairs to everyone sitting around in the living room. We all got so close so immediately, which weirdly reminded me of the Netflix reality TV show Too Hot To Handle, in which the cast gets so close so quickly. I remember thinking that seemed scripted but now I understand how quickly people can be pushed together in an isolated environment like that.

When Tenzin told us we were supposed to have a silent day, where we communicate only with our eyes and hand gestures, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had come on this trip to hang out with my friends, so I wasn’t super thrilled about not being able to talk for a third of it. But I weirdly loved it.

Anyone will tell you, I talk a lot. I spent my whole childhood monologuing; my little brother was rumored to not have spoken a word for the first few years of his life because he just couldn’t get a word in. But I found I was able to communicate just as much, if not more, without words. We held hands and smiled and were able to somehow have full conversations with our eyes. It felt as though we were living in a peaceful silent film.

Barry and I found pieces of wood shaped like rocks and skipped them in the ocean. Joel and Maggie and I watched the stars and I had never seen a sky that open. I wrote twelve pages in my journal in the sand. I thought about how much we speak just to fill the silence. Things would come up throughout the day that I felt like I needed to communicate, until I sat and thought and realized that so many of the things we say aren’t as pressing as we think they are. I kept thinking about how much love can be communicated with physical touch and facial expressions, and how the concepts that can only be communicated with words tend to only complicate things.

Don’t get me wrong, I will not be becoming a Buddhist nun. Tenzin, too, said she never thought she’d end up as a nun when she was at Bates (she literally played lacrosse with my mom at Bates!). But I have been meditating every day since I’ve been back on campus, and I feel like I don’t need to handle everything all at once in the same way I used to. Not everything is as pressing as we think it is, and I’ve been trying to take more time for myself. I visited my neighbor/friend Amelia Killackey ‘25 last night and she observed, “Your voice even sounds calmer.”

Everyone should come out to meditation club. Meditating works. I hate that my dad who’s been telling me to meditate for years was right about that.

TGL Shrine Room Seeks New Home in May 2022

TGL Shrine Room

CALLING ALL FRIENDS of HHDL, Khensur Rinpoche and Tashi Gatsel Ling:

What is today called Tashi Gatsel Ling Buddhist Center has maintained a presence in Maine since the mid-90’s when the Buddhist monk called Lobsang Tsetan began teaching in Joli Green’s art studio in Freeport.  The shrine room and meditation space has moved several times since then to accommodate changing circumstances: to Pownal, back to Freeport, and now is presently housed in Gray.  

We are again facing a relocation challenge to locate a new space in Maine to temporarily host the shrine (consecrated by Khensur Rinpoche). It needn’t be a large space, but does need to be secure, dry, pure, and easy to maintain. TGL BC is hoping to find a situation offered freely as dana (or generous giving).  It would also be beneficial if there is a small space for an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun to stay on occasion as well.  Please contact tglmaine@gmail.com.

Prayer for the abbots and lamas of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, South India

“Having qualified teachers, especially monastics who have devoted their entire lifetime to studying, embodying, practicing and sharing the Dharma is so very precious. They have taken on the responsibility to make Dharma the number one priority in life and to really carry the teachings into the Twenty-first Century through rebuilding monastic institutions that fuse traditional education with the modern curriculum. This is a prayer of gratitude to the Khenpos, or abbots, who have served as leaders of the great Tashi Lhunpo, a Tibetan Buddhist monastic institution rebuilt in southern India to keep the valid unbroken lineage teachings alive. We are very grateful to their dedication, and thus this prayer reflects our love, devotion and appreciation. It also serves as an oral historical record of the leadership of the institution” – Venerable Tenzin Dasel

The abbots, lamas, and general monastic assembly of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery that is a branch of the Great Dharma Center in Tibet made the following request: “We need a lineage prayer for those who have held the abbot’s throne.” Therefore, the Dalai Lama, Shakya Bhikshu, and proponent of the Dharma composed these verses on the third day of the second month of the fire bird year of the seventeenth cycle, March 30, 2017.

Summer Pause!


Warm greetings, dear Dharma friends,  

With warmer weather setting in for the next few months, we at Tashi Gatsel Ling Buddhist  Center will be spending more time outdoors and putting our practice where the rubber hits  the road. Here in India we will be in silent retreat diving deeply into the peace that passeth understanding. Therefore, we shall be pausing our monthly programming of Medicine  Buddha Puja and Maine Moment Meditation so our community can invest more time in  personal practice.  

Here are a few ideas: 
– Walks in nature or at the beach 
– Retreat for a few hours, a day, a weekend or a week  
– Saying additional mantras each morning and evening 
– Increasing morning meditation sessions by adding 10 minutes more  
– Adding an evening meditation session 
– Committing a new prayer to heart 
– Sharing practical Dharma with a child or grandchild with a focus on happiness, healthy habits, truth telling, and kindness activities  
– Feeding the hungry: birds, people, or shelter animals 
– Growing more flowers, plant a new garden  
– Practicing a vegetarian diet by going meatless two days a week 
– Sitting out on the screen porch in the evening, skipping the evening news
– Taking someone out for a surprise ice cream cone or sundae (don’t tell them where  you are going) 
– Cleaning out items no longer needed or worn and giving them away 
– Recalling the times you felt altruistic loving kindness and deep compassion by writing these stories down or sharing them with others 
– Becoming less opinionated and become a fresh observer without labelling, let the mind rest in open awareness  
– Living in Noble Silence for at least 30-60 minutes a day  
– Eating just breakfast and lunch with no snacking in between, lite dinner 3 days a week
– Setting up a dedicated sacred meditation/prayer area in your living space
– Taking a news and media fast, alternate a day on and day off for summer months.

The main point is to make whatever you decide to focus your practice on personally meaningful. It is essential to approach what we do in our practice with confidence in order to gain support and clarity on the path toward enlightenment. By lightening our load and  schedule, we are able decide what will be the most joyful and beneficial way to hone in our  daily commitment. Then, absolutely, make a clear commitment and timetable for  practice.  

Let’s not kid ourselves, there are reasons we must schedule appointments at the doctor’s  or dentist’s offices and cannot just randomly show up when we get in the mood.  Likewise, we need a schedule built into our days to help us keep our practice on course. We  cannot just do it when the feeling moves us. It is like learning to become skillful at the  piano, we must practice the scales.

With all good wishes that your practice supports and grows your happiness, day by day, breath by breath, sending love and gratitude to all. May all be free and blissful,  
~Tenzin Dasel

Saka Dawa begins today!

May 12 starts the auspicious month of Saka Dawa. Saka Dawa refers to the fourth month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar during which Buddha’s ordination, enlightenment, and parinirvana are celebrated. Saka Dawa runs from May 12 to June 10.

On Wednesday, May 26, Tashi Gatsel Ling is hosting a virtual event of a powerful Medicine Buddha Puja and Saka Dawa. We will extend our time together to 2 hours starting at 6:30 pm EST to 8:30 pm EST. Here is the Zoom link to access this event.

This is a Buddha Day when karmic results are multiplied one hundred million times, as cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic. As Buddha Days are particularly powerful, it is encouraged to put effort into creating merit through virtuous actions.

Eco-Dharma Center

We are very excited to announce our efforts for our biggest project yet, that of building an Eco-Dharma Buddhist Center in Maine, USA. A place of gathering where our Dharma practice can be supported and enhanced. If you feel moved, you can support this project by making a donation via our Donate page. For more information and any questions, please connect with us via our email address tglmaine@gmail.com.

Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops

We are pleased to announce the release of Climate Emergency: Feedback Loopsa series of five short films featuring 12 world-renowned climate scientists. Narrated by Richard Gere, these films are freely available for viewing now & are subtitled in 20 languages at https://feedbackloopsclimate.com/. Learn why natural warming loops have scientists alarmed – and why we have less time than we think.

New Year Medicine Buddha Puja

Saturday, January 2, 2021 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM EST

In addition to our monthly Medicine Buddha Puja, we are offering a New Year’s Medicine Buddha Puja. We are very blessed that Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo will be joining us during this New Year’s Celebration. Jetsunma is a bhikṣuṇī in the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. She is an author, teacher, and founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachal Pradesh, India.  Jetsunma will answer any questions that we may have relating to our practice. 

Following this auspicious time, we will gently shift to a 45-minute Medicine Buddha Puja for healing and happiness in the New Year led by Venerable Tenzin Dasel. 

If you would like to join us, please email Venerable Tenzin Dasel at ventenzindasel@gmail.com with your intention to join us, along with any questions that you might have for Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo about deepening your practice.   

For the Medicine Buddha Puja, please email your dedications to tglmaine@gmail.com. Here is the text we will recite.

REQUESTED DONATIONS: If you are able, TGLBC would appreciate your kind donation to help support our mission. You may donate via https://tashigatselling.org/donate/ or mail a check to TGLBC, PO Box 1883, Gray, Maine USA 04039.

Blessings to you and yours for a safe and happy holiday season from all of us at TGLBC!

Ven. Tenzin Dasel partners with Sattva Project

Nothing exists independently. We move this intention and apply it in our Dharma practice. This is the spirit our Lead Teacher Ven. Tenzin Dasel models herself as she propagates authentic Vajrayana Buddhist teachings in all corners of the world. Currently, Ven. Tenzin Dasel partners with Sattva Project, a platform for integration and dialogue. We encourage you to learn more by accessing this link.