Gampo Abbey is a Buddhist Monastery on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. At the time of filming, it was celebrating thirty years since its founding by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1984.
Every winter a six week retreat called Yarne is held there. Lay practitioners join the Abbey’s monks and nuns for six hours of daily meditation, teachings, periods of study, household work and rest. Part of most days are spent in silence and there are two week long periods of complete silence. Ani Pema Chödrön is the retreat leader and main teacher.
The tradition of this retreat goes back to the time of the Buddha when monastics would gather in summer to shelter from the monsoon rains to meditate and hear the Dharma.
Gampo Abbey is nestled in the lap of the Cape Breton Highlands and perched on a cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence—a site both achingly beautiful and challenging as the hurricane force les suetes winds can sometimes blow for days. On any given day there can be rain, sleet, ice pellets and snow, fog and sunshine perhaps a reflection of the ever changing minds of the practitioners.
This beautiful portrait of Yarne and the Abbey was filmed by Kent Martin while a member of the Yarne sangha.
Photographed and Edited by Kent Martin, music by Binny Clark and the Gampo Abbey Choir, Production Assistance—Roger Farwell and Jascha Hoffman, interviews with Pema Chödrön, Lodrö Kalsang, Dawa Lhatso and Loden Nyima.