"We think happiness is what we get when attachment gets what it wants. Buddha says happiness is what we get when we give up attachment."

Ven. Robina

Lama Yeshe

Lama Zopa Rinpoche


MaryEllen gives us the latest news from Kathmandu

MaryEllen Kirkpatrick (center right) and her husband Doug with fellow March 2018 Lawudo trekkers Nadya Caminer (far left) and Sharron Carter outside the cave where the previous Lawudo Lama, Kunsang Yeshe, meditated for the last 20 years of his life. Photo Nadya Caminer.

MaryEllen Kirkpatrick from San Francisco, one of our 2018 Lawudo Trekkers, is overseeing a series of improvements at Lawudo Gompa, Lama Zopa Rinpoche's retreat center in the Himalayas, that will make things so much easier up there. We’ve so far raised about $14,000 of the $24,000 needed. Many thanks to Australian nun Ven. Lozang Gyurme, who offered $7,500, and Doug, MaryEllen’s husband and fellow trekker, who offered $4,000. The balance of $2,500 was left over from this year’s trek, so thanks to the 32 participants whose pockets the dollars came out of!


September 24

After arriving September 13, the first meeting I had was at the stupa with Lawudo’s director, Sangay Sherpa, and Amber Tamang to start the ball rolling. Then off to see our new stove.

This stove is a very exciting acquisition for Lawudo. It is a work-horse designed to be used in a busy kitchen. The design, by the Himalayan Stove Project, is unique, with an enclosed combustion chamber that virtually eliminates the smoke that commonly pours from a wood stove when the rings are open to cook. Pam Miller and Jai Raj Bhandari of Himalayan Stove Project have gone to great lengths to make this stove available to us. It is the very last of this model that will be available until next spring.

MaryEllen's view across the Boudhanath district of Kathmandu from Kopan, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's monastery. Can you see the famous Boudha stupa in the distance? Photo MaryEllen Kirkpatrick.

We’ve also purchased two induction burners, along with two pots, a kettle, and a wok appropriate to use on them. Between the new stove and the expanded electric cooking capacity, it is unlikely that we will need to cook on open fires to support retreat groups coming up in the future.

We have also purchased two water filtration systems from Tyler McMahon and his associate Anisha of SmartPaani that will eliminate the need to boil water for anything other than making coffee or tea.

Ven. Robina and Sangye-la, Lama Zopa Rinpoche's brother, director of Lawudo Gompa, in Mende in March 2018. Photo Kate Macdonald.

I’d been struggling to find a solution to seating in the toilets at Lawudo, and Tyler just happened to know a company that works in fiberglass that has designed what they call a “WC Pan,” which is exactly what we were looking for: a fiberglass seat to go over the hole for people who prefer to sit.

Tyler does business regularly with Kapilvastu Glass Fiber Industries, so he has ordered the WC Pans for us. And Anisha happened to know someone who has a business that stocks the perfect commode chairs we were looking for as well.

Mary Ellen with engineers from Gham Power who are designing solar panels for Lawudo. Photo MaryEllen Kirkpatrick.

Amber, Rakesh, Jai, Tyler, Anisha – all making a connection to benefit Lawudo and all the people who in turn come to Lawudo and benefit countless others.

The last branch in this phase of the projects is a solar installation designed to increase the amount of electricity available at Lawudo by taking the electrical burden off the running the water pumps. A lot of careful planning is going into this project. My husband Doug consulted from San Francisco via video conference with the engineers at Gham Power. Everything is now in order and the next phase is installment at Lawudo.

I’ll keep you posted.