Origin and growth
of the project
“A friend of mine showed me an abandoned village in the mountains of northern Italy in 1981. In 1982 the burning ceremonies for the 16th Karmapa took place in Sikkim, in which I could participate with a group of Swiss. I told my friends about this village, showed photos and under the deep impression of the blessing of this ceremony we asked Shamar Rinpoche if he would give us his support to buy up and revive this abandoned village. He gave the village the name “Karma Dechen Yangtse”, place of the highest joy.
We were inspired by reports of spiritual communities such as Findhorn, the Farm and others and thought we could do something similar on the basis of Buddhism. In the same year we founded the cooperative. A small group of pioneers began to clear the then completely overgrown area and buy the houses. Soon a meditation room was built and then a stupa was erected.
Later families followed, many children were born there, and soon we were able to found a kindergarten from which the “Bordo Free Family School” emerged. This group of about 15 adults and 15 children formed a constant community for about 10 years. The men earned their money mainly from abroad, while the women ran the seminar and guest business. The biggest construction activity also took place In these 10 years.
Of the many people who have visited Bordo or lived there over the years, many have stayed in the valley and built their own houses in the neighbouring villages. Bordo has also had an important influence on the recolonisation of the whole valley. The integration in the valley and the cordial exchange with the population seems to me unique.”Gerard Frei
Many high-ranking masters of the Kagyu lineage such as Kalu Rinpoche, Chime Rinpoche, Gendün Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Khandro Rinpoche, the 17th Karmapa, Shamar Rinpoche and Jigme Rinpoche have found their way to the village so far.
From the beginning Bordo was a place where people could be inspired and make their first contact with Buddhism in an informal way. Some qualified Dharma teachers have emerged from the circle of residents and visitors who practiced for three to six years at the retreat center of Lama Gendün Rinpoche and today continue to support the place with their activities.
The village is under the spiritual direction of Shamar Rinpoche and Jigme Rinpoche. Following Shamar Rinpoche’s visit in 2006, the Cooperative Assembly decided to follow his offer and run the Buddhist Centre as a Bodhi Path Retreat Centre. “Bodhi Path” is called “Way of Awakening”.
Various reasons – existential, family, children’s education, professional careers, etc. – led to a gradual withdrawal of the first generations. New residents and many volunteers have since joined and have supported the village with their activities for shorter or longer periods of time. Nevertheless, the community has shrunk more and more.
Since 2015 we have been working successfully on writing a new chapter for Bordo with adapted structures and a new concept.
Many thanks to the many people who have been involved with Bordo in the past and who have contributed to the reconstruction, preservation and continued existence of Bordo.