In the last news about Lama Teunsang’s health, on April 19th, 2020, we informed you that he is suffering from leukemia. We would have liked to send news earlier, but the uncertainties of the last few weeks prompted us to delay this newsletter in order to provide more precise information. The doctors are now able to give us some rather reassuring news.

Generally speaking, the chemotherapy protocol that was rapidly set up following the leukemia diagnosis is working very well. Indeed, since the beginning of the treatment, the percentage of blasts cancer cells in the blood and bone marrow has rapidly and very significantly decreased. But doctors have warned us that the current treatment only keeps the disease asymptomatic for as long as possible, it does not cure it. Indeed, a healing protocol could not be supported by Lama at his age. The current treatment will therefore have to be maintained permanently to control the production of cancer cells, and it is working well for the moment.

However together with this encouraging result, since January Lama’s blood tests have shown a significant disturbance in his liver, a problem attributed to the heavy treatments that Lama had undergone last year. But these tests further deteriorated with the start of chemotherapy, and on several occasions last week, Lama Teunsang was suddenly taken with violent abdominal pain, fortunately controlled by painkillers.

Sophie Tartas, the oncologist friend who is closely following the Lama, had him hospitalized on Wednesday May 13th for medical examinations, including CT and MRI scans. These imaging techniques made it possible to eliminate the most alarmist hypotheses and to consider the two most relevant ones to explain Lama’s symptoms (the doctors specify that these are medical hypotheses without absolute certainty). These two possibilities are the return of the immunoglobulin-related disease (IGg4) from which Lama Teunsang suffered in 2017, and a concomitant inflammation of the liver bile ducts, linked to the migration of small gallstones visible on MRI. The two phenomena are probably linked.

The IGg4-related disease is a very rare condition (about a hundred cases in France) recently discovered and about which there is very little data. In 2017 it was rapidly treated with cortisone, but it is known that relapses are frequent after a certain period of time, when treatment is stopped.

The doctors’ therapeutic solutions have just been implemented: two antibiotics to stop a possible biliary tract infection and a cortisone treatment for the IGg4 condition. After the second cortisone treatment, Lama Teunsang regained his appetite and vigour. Liver malfunction had caused a jaundice and the yellow coloration of his skin and eyes quickly subsided. In conclusion, the chemotherapy treatment is working wel,l and we are gradually moving towards a seemingly favourable outcome for the liver problems.

As for Lama Teunsang, he remains the same, a rock-like example of patience and calm in the face of adversity, which has not spared him. At Montchardon he continued to walk to the temple morning and evening. These last days he was more tired, had less appetite and had lost some weight. This should improve with this new treatment. He is still under surveillance at the hospital and should return to the Centre in the next few days.

It is useless for people to try to visit him at the hospital: on the one hand the hospital is closed to visits due to the current pandemic, on the other hand it is really essential for Lama to rest. We therefore invite you to rather join in the prayers that are constantly being made for Lama Teunsang’s recovery.

Indeed, spiritually speaking there is a massive mobilization for the Chenrezig practice and Mani recitation that HH Thaye Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, has recommended. At the time of this newsletter, more than 15 million Manis have been accumulated since April 20th, with the participation of many people.

The Tibetan community has also engaged in many collective practices for Lama Teunsang’s health. A hundred thousand praises to Tara have been recited in Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s monastery, as well as many other prayers with great light offerings. He himself undertook particular practices that are beneficial in this situation. Lama Teunsang’s two nephews, the tulkus Je Karma Trinlaypa and Chime Rinpoche, have undertaken the reading of the Kangyur (103 volumes of the Buddha’s words), and three days of pujas of Sangye Menla (the Medicine Buddha) were concluded yesterday at Chime Rinpoche’s monastery in Ladakh.

A practice called in Tibetan “tsethar” – literally “to liberate or save lives” – has just been performed in Tibet by one of Lama’s nieces. Regularly used in Buddhist culture, it consists of saving the lives of beings doomed to death (fish in this case) and is said to prolong life according to the law of causality.

Thus, Lama Teunsang is supported in his illness by all this accumulation of positive practice, which is obviously not limited to his own person but dedicated to the benefit and happiness of all sentient beings without exception.

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This summer the programme will take place under special circumstances, since the Centre can resume activities provided that sanitary measures are strictly observed.

Whether you are vaccinated or not, whether you have a negative PCR test or not, does not change the need to respect sanitary measures.

Your presence in Montchardon implies that you strictly respect sanitary measures in all circumstances.

We are now used to these measures:

  1. Wear a protective mask in the temple during the whole teaching or practice period, in the refectory until you start eating, and in all situations where it is difficult to maintain a 1m distance with others.
  2. Hand wash with hydro-alcoholic gel when entering and leaving the temple and refectory, whenever accessing the self-service area and on all occasions when touching a collective object.
  3. Maintain a distance of 1m around yourself, in the temple, in the refectory and when moving around in the Centre.

Access to the temple will be limited to 70/80 people to respect sanitary distances.

For accommodation, the rooms that accommodate several people will become individual rooms, except for couples or families. The number of places in the dormitory will be reduced to space out the beds. This will allow us to accommodate about 80 people.

The campsite area will be open, and the layout of the tents should follow the same guidelines. Disinfectant will be available in all places where necessary.

These rules must be maintained in Montchardon at all times.

Indeed:

- We have a moral obligation to protect ourselves and others from disease, especially as we live in collective premises.

- It is important to continue to protect Lama Teunsang, whose immunity is greatly diminished, even though he has been vaccinated.

For these reasons, we are asking all those who come this summer to commit to respecting sanitary measures. This commitment will take the official form of a box to be ticked on the registration form, which will allow everyone to come to the Centre with complete peace of mind.

If you cannot or do not wish to follow these guidelines, we ask you not to 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.

When you leave, if you need to have a PCR test, this can be done in the cities in the area. However, it will be up to you to organise (making an appointment, travelling to and from the test site), because the Centre cannot manage these procedures.