Montchardon Centre

CKML, 8900 route de Montchardon, 38160 IZERON, France

Montchardon, « The unchanging garden of activity », is a centre of Buddhist training.
It is located on the foothills of the Vercors Plateau, at 800 metres of altitude, between Grenoble and Valence (in the Isère department).
In 1994, Karma Migyur Ling was acknowledged as a religious congregation by the French administration.
A « Thousand-Buddha » traditional temple, 9 Stupas (including a 12-metres one) and a long-term retreat centre strengthen the spiritual atmosphere.

Karma Migyur Ling, placed under the spiritual authority of the 17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dordje, is a learning centre within the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Ven. Lama Teunsang, the center’s spiritual guide, has been living there for more than thirty years.
Not only he teaches, but he also regularly invites great masters and teachers from different backgrounds, religious, lay, Tibetan and westerners. The centre runs courses all year round : they mainly focus on intensive meditation and the study of the essential points of the Buddhist philosophy. A specialised library and bookshop are also of help to those wishing to further their studies.
Karma Migyur Ling counts about 2300 members and 4000 supporters (10 per cent of which from abroad) and offers an average of 60 courses and a seven month-retreat (Nyoung Né) per year. Its spiritual influence goes beyond the Isère department and even France. This thanks to Ven. Lama Teunsang who regularly teaches in different centres around Europe and Asia.
The centre is also fully committed to charity. Needy people living in India, Nepal, Tibet or Ladakh are offered support through a sponsoring network. The construction of a hospital and a school in the isolated valley of Kierong, Tibet, was entirely financed by the « Friends of Kierong » charity. As a result of such a generosity, a hundred children had the chance to receive an education .
Since 2009, the centre is actively involved in preserving the environment. As an example of the innovative nature of such an undertaking, collective heating is entirely provided by means of two wood-burning boilers working in sequence. This system also supplies heating in mid-season and allows a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of something like 176 tons per year.
Since its foundation, the Centre of Montchardon has exclusively been developing with the help of volunteers, members and supporters. Right from the beginning, its founders – Lama Teunsang and Jean-Pierre Schnetzler – instilled the fundamental ideals of generosity, help and service to others which they have been conforming to on a daily basis. The considerable development of the centre – achieved after more of 30 years of work – has been supported by thousand of people without any desire for a financial compensation. The daily management is fulfilled by a small team of volounteers who live on the premises but don’t belong to the clergy.

Timeline

1975. Jean-Pierre Schnetzler buys the estate and offers it to the XVIth Karmapa and to Ven. Kalou Rinpotche expressing the wish that a Lama would live and teach on the premises.
1976. Arrival of Ven. Lama Teunsang.
Beginning of the long-term process of transformation of the existing old building , a typical “dauphinois” farm, in the present one. It would take a lot of patience and tenacity to get to the final result as we can see it now.
The centre regularly hosts some of the most important Tibetan teachers, notably the Karmapa and Shamarpa, as well as the the Dalai Lama who paid a visit in 1993.
A DVD about the Centre’s history is available at the bookshop.

Visiting

Visits are restricted to every Sunday, from 2 to 6 p.m., and this to guarantee that all visitors are well attended to. It’s therefore not customary for guests to wander around the premises outside these hours.
Groups are guided to the Temple and can also watch a 55-minute-film retracing the exciting steps leading to the construction of Montchardon. The video also illustrates the main concepts of Buddhism and answers several possible questions on the subject.

The projection starts at 2 p.m. and continues uninterruptedly until 6 p.m.
Guided Temple-tour : 5 p.m., meeting point in front of the front office.

Teaching sessions

Karma Migyur Ling organizes several teaching sessions all year round : at week-ends and during the winter and summer holidays (see “Agenda. Lectures are given directly in French or translated into French from Tibetan or English. Unfortunately translations into other languages are not possible. Eventhough a few people speak some English, everyday life at the centre is in French.
Each year the following types of sessions are organized :
visits from great masters who lecture and give initiations
Buddhist core teachings by experienced Lamas
different sessions of meditation (calm abiding and insight meditation)
various Vajrayana practises
several weeks of intensive meditation or other types of retreat on Vajrayana practices
The Nyoung Né retreat ( the fasting ritual and meditation of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig)
Tibetan language classes for beginners and more advanced learners (depending on the number of requests and on the teachers’ availability).
In parallel with strictly spiritual activities, the centre also caters for a few personal development workshops and health treatments (for further information select « Catégorie / Autres stages » on page Agenda.

Individual retreats

Individual retreats in single rooms are allowed. They must be discussed with and approved by Lama Teunsang or any other teacher from the centre. For more details contact the office.

Interviews

Lama Teunsang or any other visiting Lama can give students private interviews ; this often occurs in the periods of training. Ask directly the Lamas or see with their tibetan translator for an appointment. Outside the training sessions you can still ask for interviews with Lama Teunsang by calling the centre’s frontdesk at this number : +33/4 76 70 38 33 13 or make a written request explaining the points you need to discuss by e-mail.

Rituals

Three times a day, morning and evening, collective practices take place in the temple (see Rituals).

Staying at Montchardon

Karma Migyur Ling schedules sessions all year round, especialy during week ends and holidays. The programme is available on this site. A printed version can be sent to you on request (see the blog to download a pdf).
Our centre being isolated in the mountains (10km from the village of Izeron), it is meant to provide food and accommodation for around 100 people (Accommodation). This place is open to everyone, under the condition of subscribing to the association and depending on housing availabilities. On request, a bus shuttle runs from the nearest railway station (in Saint Marcellin) to our center twice a day. (Contact and access).

The orientations of the stays are pratice, retreat and study, the priority is given to the people who take part in the training courses and the bouddhism practice.
Tourism is not a purpose of stay.
For more details on the variety of stays offrered by the centre see Séjours proposés (French only) ».

Everyday life
The place is run by a small team of non-religious volunteers who make sure the place runs smoothly. During your stay, your help will be needed so as to keep our place pleasant and efficient. Therefore, you will be asked to offer one hour a day to take part in the housework and preparation of meals. It is also possible to stay after a training courses to help and tidy the rooms, see Help after training courses (French only).
For more details on the planning of a stay see Planning of a day (French only) and Rules (French only).

Children
In our center, parents are totally responsible for their children and must make sure they are looked after all the time. This is of course necessary for their own safety and for the peace and quiet of all residents. No special structure is dedicated to them.

Booking
In order to organise and plan meals, the centre requires a one week in adavance booking and 48 hours in advance in case of unexpected events.
For mor details see Booking.

Prices
Our centre of tibetan studies being a non-profit oragnization under the French law 1901, whoever wants to take part in our activities must be a member of the association.
You will contribute to the stay fees depending on your ressources. A price list is suggested to you and left to your own apreciation in order to let you contribute depending on your financial status. The lowest price does not cover the real expenses of a stay but can be considered as a support offered by our center so that money problems cannot stop anyone from taking part in our activities.
For more details see Prices & membership.

Vigilance COVID at Montchardon

The programme now takes place under special circumstances, since the Centre may resume its activities provided that the health rules are strictly observed.

The conditions of participation imply strict compliance with the barrier measures, whether for practices or courses.

Here is how we will organize ourselves.
For places of worship such as Montchardon, the rules set by the State are as follows:

  • - upon arrival at the Centre, the trainee must not be ill or show symptoms of the virus.
  •  obligation to maintain a distance of 1m around oneself, in the temple, in the refectory and when moving around the Centre,
  • - mandatory wearing of a protective mask in :
    •   - the temple: permanently during the teachings and daily collective practices.
    •   - the refectory: from the entrance to the moment of sitting down and if you get up to get a drink or to go out.
    •   - all other situations: as soon as it is difficult to maintain distance from others,
  • - hand washing with hydro-alcoholic gel at the entrance and exit of the temple and refectory, every time you enter the self-service area and on all occasions when you have to touch a collective object.
  • - An identifiable member of the administration will be responsible for the entry and exit phases of the prayer area to ensure that the rules are respected.

If you are unable or unwilling to follow these guidelines, we ask that you do not come to the Centre while these rules are in effect. The same applies, of course, if you are ill or have symptoms of the virus.

About Lama Teunsang

It is essential to protect Lama Teunsang whose immunity is compromised, making him extremely vulnerable to infection, and the people at the centre are in daily contact with him for meals and care. This also means that it is not appropriate to return to Lama Teunsang's home to greet him. For the compelling reasons mentioned above, he currently only receives those who care for his health.

No offering of kata to Lama Teunsang
It is asked to stay away from him, at least 1m and not to offer him a kata.
This use, so much appreciated by all of us, is currently suspended during the Covid period, to preserve its still fragile health.

Individual interview with Lama Teunsang
We asked Lama Teunsang about personal interviews. He does not wish to resume them for the time being. We will inform you of their resumption when he tells us so.
However, it is possible to request an interview with one of the Lamas of Montchardon. See with the translator.

In brief

Access to the temple will be limited to 80 people to respect sanitary distances. For accommodation, the rooms with several people will become individual accommodation, except for couples or families. The number of dormitory places will be reduced to space between beds. We will thus be able to accommodate about 80 people. The campsite will be open, the installation of the tents will have to follow the same instructions. We will have disinfecting liquids in all the places where it is necessary.

We would like to remind you:

  • - on the one hand, failure to respect the rules could lead to the closure of the Centre and legal proceedings.
  • - on the other hand, we have a moral obligation to protect ourselves and others from a potentially dangerous disease, especially since we live in collective premises.

As Buddhist practitioners, the constraints of masks, social distances and frequent hand washing can be integrated into our practice, as a constant training for vigilance and support of attention in our daily actions. It is also a great opportunity to practice the awakening mind, the altruistic attitude: "I commit myself to make this effort, thinking more about the well-being and health of others than about my own inconvenience". These are the skillful means of Dharma called " integrating unpleasantness into the path ".