Geshe YongDong (GesheLa) began teaching small groups of students from his home in Courtenay B.C. in 2002. The classes quickly grew to an average of 10-12 on a weekly basis, and workshops held in the tiny living room regularly attracted 15 – 18 students. There were many requests to have a drop-in meditation practice and more workshops. It was soon evident that we were ready and needed a bigger space.
Several dedicated students and sangha members, committed themselves to pay a monthly annuity towards the rental of a room for a centre. The necessary paperwork was completed to create “Sherab Chamma Ling”, and after a long search, a rental room was agreed upon. Donations paid the rent and any maintenance items needed for the upkeep of the centre. With the help of caring members, our centre had become a reality.
We began to create the Tibetan Bὄn Buddhist Society in November 2005 and the first AGM was held in February 2007. Our first executive was elected and to many this was our first experience with a society, so it was and continues to be a learning process for all of us. The Tibetan Bön Buddhist Society is a registered non-profit, tax-exempt charity administered by volunteers.
It took a few more years and paperwork, but we finally received our “tax revenue” number form the B.C. government and we were then able to give tax receipts for donations made. Regular business meetings are held once every four months and the Annual General Meeting of the society is held yearly in February.
In 2008, a new, larger and more central location was found for our centre - 407A 5th Street at England, right in the heart of Courtenay.
Students and sangha members formed work parties and spent many hours first cleaning the space, hammering, painting and all the other necessary jobs to get the centre ready.
On 28th September 2008, we had our “official” opening to the general public.
Our centre hosts, meditation practice, weekly teachings, Ngondro practices and special sangha social events on a regular basis. In addition it is used to hold business and AGM meetings; GesheLa uses it to do spiritual and astrology consultations, several fund raising committees now use the space to meet and carry out fund raising projects such as making prayer flags.
The centre assumed the responsibility of hosting the two annual weekend teaching retreats which have turned out to be an overwhelming success. Sherab Chamma Ling has hosted several visiting monks from other centres and from the Tibetan Bön monastery Menri, in Dolanji India.
In addition to teaching at Sherab Chamma Ling, GesheLa travels on a regular basis to teach other groups of students’ at different locations on Vancouver Island and the mainland. These include groups on Quadra Island, Cortez Island, Gabriola Island, Nanaimo and Pt. Alberni, as well as talks and day workshops at the Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo B.C. GesheLa travels regularly to teach in the U.S. at the Yeru Bon Center in L.A. and at the Ligmincha centers in Charlottesville, Virginia and Houston, Texas.