Our History

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In the beginning …

Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) truly is a labour of love and compassion. Envisioned by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche in early 2012, the pristine forested land where KFR is now located was acquired in April 2012, after weeks of scouring the Malaysian countryside for a suitable plot.

With the necessary paperwork out of the way, extensive pujas were conducted to consecrate and bless the land, and visitors began to trickle in, each interested to learn how they could contribute to Rinpoche’s vision.

Temporary accommodation in the form of canvas tents (for the men) and container cabins (for the ladies) were installed and a dedicated team of staff moved in to get the project underway.

Earthworks officially started on 3 October 2012 and what followed next was months of hard work and effort unlike anything the city-dwelling volunteers and staff had ever known. For the next 10 months, devoted students and workers alike battled the natural elements, braving the scorching heat and suffocating humidity for the first half of the year, while the second half brought torrential rains, flash floods, muddy lands and hazardous working conditions.

The lack of infrastructure such as electricity, water and poor telecommunication reception multiplied the challenges, but dedicated staff and volunteers faced each problem head on, armed only with sheer faith, belief in the cause and love for their Guru.

Never one to shy away from adversity, Tsem Rinpoche also stayed in the most basic of cabins right in the middle of the then jungle, enduring the same harsh living conditions and adverse weather from Day One. The perfect example of putting others before self, Rinpoche patiently suffered the heat, humidity, blackouts, floods, and even heatstroke while living on the land, inspiring others to do the same.

Many will attest to fond memories of this dedicated, compassionate and caring Lama walking around in yellow rubber boots under the hot sun or pouring rain, picking his way carefully across dangerous grounds, personally supervising the works in progress, and dispensing words of encouragement, advice, and even food.

In between his morning and evening walkabouts, Rinpoche also performed extensive daily pujas to bless the land and all those working on it, to avert problems, mishaps and to ensure that every step of the project was on track.

Despite the various challenges and uphill battles, the team persevered, working at a feverish pace. Phase 1 of Kechara Forest Retreat was completed in just under one year, and we are now in the planning stages of Phase 2.

Signs of the future

Auspicious omens

From the time Kechara Forest Retreat was conceptualised till today, many auspicious signs have been witnessed by those present on-site. In the Tibetan tradition, such omens symbolise that this project will bring great benefit to society in the future, regardless of race, creed or colour. These are just some of the auspicious signs that have occurred in the recent past.