Mardo Tashi Choling Monastery
Mardo Tashi Choling Monastery is located in Mardo Khok, in the Golok region of Amdo province, Tibet. Built more than two hundred years ago, it is one of the four main branch monasteries of Katog Monastery. Today more than three hundred monks belong to the monastery. One hundred sixty are full-time residents, twenty are in solitary retreat, eighty are in shedra (an institute for advanced study in Buddhist philosophy), and sixty are child novices. The monastery's monks have taken extensive vows which include vows not to harm any other being. They are committed to devoting their lives to the study, contemplation, and practice of the Dharma for the benefit of others.
The retreatants, holding perfect discipline according to their monastic vows, work to benefit others by remaining in strict solitude and meditating on the Dharma.
The shedra students also hold monastic vows. They engage diligently in study, contemplation, and meditation on the texts of the Buddha, for the purpose of which brings wide spread benefit to others.
Many of the children residing at the monastery are orphans or come from families too poor to support them. Khentrul Rinpoche has built a school with the purpose of educating local children who have no other opportunity to receive an education.
Mardo Tashi Chöling was, and still is today, home to many accomplished practitioners, including the great Tertön Jigmed Dorje, Gonpa Lama Chökyi's third emanation. All members of the community continually work with their body, speech and mind to benefit others. The lay practitioners of the area have also taken refuge and bodhicitta vows of non-harming and helpfulness. They diligently pray that illness not occur, fighting not break out, and the four elements not cause harm. These practitioners focus on developing the enlightened intention for all beings of the world that not even the words "suffering" and "pain" be heard, and that all beings enjoy the glory and wealth of peace and happiness.
History of Some of the Practitioners and Abbots of Katog Mardo Tashi Chöling
Mardo Tashi Chöling was the home of the great treasure revealer Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904) and the succession of reincarnations of Katog Dampa Rinpoche, starting with Gonpa Lama Chökyi Dorje. Throughout its history many other renowned and accomplished lamas, scholars, and practitioners have lived at the monastery. Of these, the principle masters have been Gonpa Lama’s blood lineage as well as the reincarnate lamas of his blood lineage. Many of his sons were renowned lamas. One of the most famous was Gelong Namkhai Nyingpo's reincarnation, His Holiness Katog Chagtsa Rinpoche. Katog Chagtsa was the sovereign Golden Throne Holder of the great Katog Monastery, and a reincarnation of one of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava's) twenty-five heart disciples. He served as Mardo Tashi Chöling's abbot until his death. Khentrul Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnation of Katog Chagtsa Rinpoche by his uncle, head abbot (gön-pön lama) Terton Jigmed Dorje. Khentrul Rinpoche’s family are all descendents of Gonpa Lama (called Gonpatsang) and have been upholding the monastery for generations. In 1993, Terton Jigmed Dorje enthroned Khentrul Lodrö Thayé Rinpoche as one of the main abbots of Mardo Tashi Chöling. Abbots of the monastery also include Khentrul Rinpoche's uncles and Jigmed Dorje's sons and others.
Reconstruction and Maintenance
During the unrest in Tibet, the entire monastery was destroyed. Today much of the monastery has been restored, such as two temples and a residential space for 160 monks. However, due to a lack of resources the main temple needs to be rebuilt, and a great deal of work still remains to be done. To fully support the monks and their activities, many more buildings must be constructed. More than 140 monks are still without housing. The monks' current quarters have only earthen floors and the roofs are in such desperate need of repair that the ceiling leaks when it rains.
An important goal of the monastery is that traditional representations of the Buddha's enlightened body, speech, and mind (statues, tangkas, texts, and stupas) continue to be produced and preserved for future generations. Presently, the statues in the temples are made mostly of clay. With additional resources, the monks can resume the traditional method of creating them from metal. Ongoing projects include the printing and restoration of Dharma texts as well as stupa construction.
All of the monks at Mardi Tashi Chöling are supported financially by Khentrul Rinpoche, through general donations, and through the sponsoring of pujas (ceremonies) practiced by the monks. When necessary, the monks seek support from their families or through the traditional practice of begging for necessities. We also have the opportunity to sponsor monks and retreatants at Mardo Tashi Chöling.
Please visit the donations page if you would like to make a donation or to sponsor a monk, retreatant, or child.