In accordance with the wishes of Venerable Geshe Jampa Gyatso that the many aspects of the Buddhist path are preserved and grown, as well as to motivate people’s sincere desire for spiritual growth, a few monks and nuns established Associazione Sangha Onlus (NGO). Associazione Sangha Onlus is a registered charity trust whose main purpose is the building of a monastic complex which will be open to all ordained sangha, with a separate monastery and nunnery.
The idea behind this project is to create an ideal environment conducive to study, meditation and a lifestyle based on the vinaya – the tradition which regulates the ethical and moral discipline of the ordained sangha, as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.
Actualising this project will enable the monks and nuns to embody the ethical, doctrinal and spiritual values of the teachings of the Buddha, provide a valid support for the activities of Lama Tzong Khapa Institute and other Buddhist centres, and additionally be an important and stable reference point for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The project name was granted by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.¹ The meaning of the name is “place where the Dharma is transmitted and realized”. This project is a monastic project of the FPMTand the logo has been designed by a painter under Kyabje lama Zopa Rinpoces supervision. Due to the generosity of so many, Sangha Onlus has been able to purchase a 30 hectare (about 1.7 square kilometre) property near Pomaia in Tuscany since 2007. The architect of the project is Gino Zavanella, who is well known all over Italy. The University of Pisa have also been engaged in studies with respect to the project and its influence in the region and in June 2011 the research results were presented to the mayor and the local community.
Currently the project is working on obtaining planning permission from the local and regional authorities.
Building a new monastery and nunnery in Pomaia
»I am about to go live in Dharamsala, India in order to study Tibetan. I think it’s very important that at least one monastic complex for nuns and monks would exist in Europe. This can be vital especially for young people who wish to make their first step on the way to become nuns or monks when it is not possible for them to go in India or Nepal to do it, as I had to.
My offering for creating good energy for the building of the new nunnery and monastery in Pomaia is a daily circumambulation of the Namkhya Monastery in Dharamsala, where the private residence of HHDL is located.«
»Since monks and nuns in Europe have to bear many difficulties in order to study, do retreats and so forth in the absence of suitable conditions for us, I decided to go to live in a nunnery in India. It’s quite a basic existence not designed for the western mentality, but I hope to be able to withstand it. I don’t think my choice is an escape, but rather a contribution in order to put a seed of a similar possibility in Italy too. In order to create a pure connection between us, the Sangha, and the environment where Lhungtok Choekorling in Pomaia will became a reality, I offer the energy of my studying Tibetan every day.«
»I’ve spent 20 years of monastic life in Pomaia in a blessed, fruitful, virtuous profusion of roles, but now I especially need to be able to live according to the integrity of my monastic training and for this reason in a few months will leave the Institute to settle into private retreat. I’m happy because it’s my tendency to be a hermit nun, but I hope that other members of the sangha would not feel compelled to take this step without true inspiration, simply because they don’t have a conducive place to live together in a proper monastic style.
I take care to cultivate the garden at my retreat house and sincerely hope that the monastic project in Pomaia will also grow and blossom soon. The world needs monastic centers like this in order to disseminate the profound Dharma as, in the words of Buddha Shakyamuni, only the community of ordained Sangha can do.«
»I grew up in former East Germany and according to one of my relatives I wanted to become a monk already when I was five years old. When I was 29 while reading a book about The Four Noble Truths, it became very clear to me: “I must become a monk.” Since Buddhism is very new to the West, it was very hard to achieve this aim. Finally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Sangha of His monastery granted full ordination to me in 2006. I could not think of a better and more joyous lifestyle than that of a monk.
Buddha’s teachings bring tremendous joy and are able to cure all types of suffering from their root. Just practicing some of them will increase happiness and goodness. I could not think of a more useful engagement for the happiness of others and the world than in supporting a healthy, spiritual environment like a monastery. Doing this will enable the abidance of Buddha’s teachings for a long time and allows future monks and nuns to have a conducive environment for their inner growth, and for learning, reflecting and meditating on Buddha’s teachings.
My offering to make this monastery possible is to design and maintain this website, as well as to improve myself, to work on my mind, and to share as much as possible with others what I’ve learned.«
Sangha Profile – nun Jampa Tashi
»I’ve browsed many pages of my book of life. One of the most beautiful I turned eight years ago when I generated an initial desire to practice Buddhism. A few months later when I visited Lama Tzong Khapa Insitute for the first time I saw a nun and since that time I had the desire to take the vows. Four years later I completed that wish and since then my life has changed as I left my job and my home to live at the Institute which we are very fortunate to have. However it is a secular center, so I feel the need to share a “proper” monastic life.
The youth of most of us monks and nuns has passed and we walk to prepare the path for young people who come in the future to make their choice. By not having a monastery, we have to live in a more difficult environment which is a compromise that we experience each day with joy. Once we have built the monastic complex, we would be more able to live together as an example of harmony, applying the Dharma in every action and implementing all that our teachers, with great love, never tire of telling us.
Every day I have a smile on my face, and I watch the small statue of the Buddha in my room … which seems to me to be smiling: “You can make it!”. To create good merit for the swift start of the construction of the new project, every morning I will as usual circumambulate the stupas at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute by reciting the mantra of compassion for all readers, with love and awareness.«
Profilo del Sangha – monaca Ghialten Ciotso (Dolma)
»The wish to be a monastic has always been very strong in me and the more time passes the more it becomes clear to me how much being a monastic does not bring benefits only to me but also to all others by keeping alive a lifestyle and a mode of inner search that has benefited many people in the past, and that in the future will benefit many more. I therefore feel a growing sense of responsibility as well as a deep sense of gratitude towards all those who preserved this way of life, towards those who share it with me in this time and towards those who support it actively. Paradoxically, the more you withdraw inside the more you open yourself to others.
Facilities like monasteries and nunneries where monastics can live a true community life are very much necessary in order to get the full benefit from monastic life, but for the time being these are absent in Italy. In the teachings it is taught that meditating alone is like trying to weep the floor with just one sorghum grass, while meditating together with other people is like weeping it with a broom – it is more powerful and more effective. Similarly, even in the context of monastic training we need the support of people who share our same objective and difficulties.
Regarding how the construction of a monastery will be of general benefit for everybody I can only say this: nowadays, we tend to think that only someone who does something actively gives an effective contribution to society and humanity, however forgetting that the first rule is not to harm. By the simple fact that we live a monastic life we automatically engage in not to cause harm to anyone. Then, on the basis of our own individual capacities everyone of us tries to contribute in an active way to the common welfare through teaching or spiritual support. From my side I will dedicate one mala of the Medicine Buddha mantra to all of you, visitors of this webpage, and to the success of the Monastery Project.«
Sangha Profile – nun Tenzin Palmo
»I am the newest nun in ILTK sangha community, I joined it in March 2012 after taking monastic vows with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. The day of my ordination was the happiest day in my life, the day for which I had to wait a few years as the wish to become a nun arose almost immediately after I met the Dharma, therefore I was advised to wait and see how my aspiration would develop. It is kind of difficult to imagine how the monastic life would be before actually becoming a monastic, but now I can clearly see it has been the best thing I could ever do with my life, it opened much more space for what is really important for me – walking the Buddha’s path as purely and as quickly as I can.
Being a monastic means to leave one’s householder’s life and to join the sangha community. Apart from study and personal practice, I consider very important also the opportunity for monks and nuns to live and practice together in order to learn how to diminish self-centeredness, wish to take decisions independently from the needs of others and wish to control over everything and how to develop the concern for others, the ability to see their needs and wishes as important. And of course, living together gives us chance to learn from each other and to inspire each other. It is my heartfelt wish for the new monastery to be built very soon and for all the sangha everywhere to be harmonious with each other and to be of greatest possible benefit to all, offering help, advice and good examples to follow.
I offer three long Chenrezig mantras every day for our Facebook friends to be able to develop compassion themselves and also to be accepted with compassion by others.«
Sangha Profile – monk Losang Jinpa
»I am very grateful to have lived at ILTK for eight years although it is not possible for dharma centres to provide all the conditions monastics need, as centres have different functions to fulfil. My opinion is that we need to establish monastic centres so we can properly establish and invest in sangha in the west. Monastic centres act as a basis for a lot of the essential conditions sangha require to survive and prosper, including a stable environment and structure to subdue and develop the mind and the group energy of like-minded practitioners, as well as the basic necessities of living.
To be able to consistently produce knowledgeable, able sangha of high calibre who can share their experience and advice with others requires a supportive environment and as an ordinary person I find it very difficult to develop my mind and abilities beyond a certain level without that external support. Some strong, high quality individuals may not require this, but in general for the sangha to grow and flourish, I feel there is a vital need for settings where the monastic life can be lived fully. Monastics are no different from other professions where the correct facilities, trainers and support are needed in order for people to follow and succeed in their chosen careers.
Subduing and training the mind to remove negativities and produce qualities and wisdom is a long term process and needs certain external conditions to help the inner process of development. We can write many words but basically, sangha need support in many ways which only a monastic centre can support or provide, and it is crucial we develop this group dynamic and focus. Without such centres, the sangha remain scattered, fragile and diluted in energy, far more limited in their ability to serve in this increasingly fragmented, troubled world.«
According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, ‘People who say that ordination is no longer relevant in the modern world misunderstand its purpose. This method was taught by both Buddha and Jesus to protect us from delusions, to prevent us from harming ourselves or others. As a result of the karma of not harming others, we receive the immediate benefit of not being harmed by them, and experience great happiness and peace.’
My name is Tiziana Losa or Thubten Drolkar, I was born 32 years ago in Milan and I have been ordained for nearly seven years. This is one of the few choices in my life that the more I proceed, the more convinced I am about it.
As many of my friends know, I prefer caves and solitary retreats than community life, but after six years living and studying at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy I have seen the necessity for a place when monks and nuns interested in monastic life can preserve their vows and study while following the tradition of the Buddha. I don’t see any limitation that makes Western Buddhists unsuitable for the monastic life in the same way that for hundreds of years has happened in the East. I think that the only thing missing is a proper place to do it.
As with all projects, the monastery project cannot continue without the support of everyone, therefore, please stay informed and involved in it! Thank you from my heart.«