Following is a letter from Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche to the Ligmincha International sangha related to the cancellation of his retreats scheduled in a number of European countries this spring. All of these retreats will be rescheduled in 2021. Rinpoche had previously announced plans for a yearlong sabbatical in 2021. Instead, he will be taking six months off in 2020 and six months in 2021.
March 02, 2020
After much reflection, and in consultation with leaders in the European Ligmincha communities, I have decided to cancel my upcoming visits to Germany, Austria, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. I am committed to rescheduling all of the cancelled events in 2021, and I look forward to being in Europe to teach at Buchenau, Germany and in Wilga, Poland this summer.
My decision is a response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. As an organization we are responsible for everyone who comes to our events. Until this situation is better understood and becomes more stable, we do not want to put anyone at risk or unintentionally help spread this disease. So, it is prudent to postpone these teachings and support efforts to contain the virus and prevent further outbreaks.
On my side, I feel that the universe is saying that I should take my sabbatical earlier and in a different way than I had planned. Instead of taking an entire year away from my teaching in 2021, I will take shorter periods for family, personal retreat and creative activity. And I will take these shorter breaks more often. I will take six months of time in 2020, and another six months in 2021.
In my opinion, all the news and reactivity about the virus is part of a collective fear manifesting in our responses to what is happening in the world. Recently there has been so much negativity in society and on social media, between politicians, political parties, religious groups and individuals. There is so much energy spent in defending and attacking, and in being separate or cut off from others. It is as if the world is saying, okay, you need to take a break from being mean to each other. Now we have an opportunity to set aside our differences and work together for a solution to stop the spread of the virus, care for the sick and support the families of its victims. We can use this situation and all that it brings us as an opportunity for personal and collective growth.
I encourage all of you to pray, as I do, for everyone who has been affected by this or any other sickness—those who have died, those who are sick, those quarantined, their families, their loved ones— and for the welfare of all the healthcare workers and first responders.
As always, I send each and every one of you my love and blessings.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche