Interview with Annemieke Jansen

Raised in North Holland

My childhood lies in North Holland. I grew up in Bergen and have 1 brother and 2 sisters, 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
After high school I followed the REK's Advertising and Shop window school in Amsterdam, where I learned everything about the design of shops and shop windows. I later learned the tricks of the trade from Vroom and Dreesman.


When I was 24 I moved to Vancouver, Canada and lived here for 10 years. Once I got here I applied for a job at the large department store Hudson's Bay and got a chance to show what I could do. I worked here for several years after which I became a team manager for a large women's group in the western hemisphere of Canada. A fantastic job with a lot of traveling and a luxurious life in hotels. Everything was possible and everything was allowed!
But I was homesick for life in the Netherlands and went back. Once in the Netherlands I started working in a fabric store that sold natural fabrics. After working here for 13 years, this store unfortunately went bankrupt and I started working in home furnishings. My knowledge as a window dresser came in handy of course.

How did you come into contact with Buddhism?

That is quite a special story. I came into contact with Buddhism because my sister got cancer at the age of 40 and died. Because of her illness, I was very much looking for answers and read books about cancer written by the Swiss psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She often referred to Buddhism. I also wanted to read about this and I went to the library.

But then you are faced with the many books and what should you choose? I picked up a book with the thought: “I like this book”. And that book was The Lama Who Came To The West, the biography of Reverend Dagpo Rinpoche. I printed out the picture of Rinpochee and put it on my dresser and said to myself, One day I'm going to meet this man! Two years later I met Rinpochee for the first time in the De Bolder community center in Amstelveen. I knew that Rinpoche would teach here through a brochure from Kadam Chöling that I had received at the Maitreya Institute in Amsterdam. Rinpoche's class felt like coming home. Everything I felt and thought fell into place. Since then I have gone to every class Rinpoche has given in the Netherlands.

I often think of the meeting in Haarlem where we listened to a lesson from Rinpoche about the dying process with 750 people. I also worked as a volunteer at Humanitas for a long time and had asked some of the Humanitas volunteers to come along to these lessons from Rinpochee in Haarlem. It is so special to see and feel that so many people are inspired by Rinpoche's teachings.

My husband understands Buddhist thinking very well. But he has no need to go to teaching. We have also traveled extensively to India and Tibet. For example, I had once read an article in a travelogue 'In the footsteps of the Buddha'. I told my husband that I would like to do this too. We were able to make this trip in 2007 thanks to a travel agency where we had put this wish. We have been everywhere, to Sarnath, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya, Lumbini and so on. It was fantastic.

In 2011 we made a trip through Tibet. Of course we noticed the oppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese government, but nevertheless we had a wonderful time. We therefore do not want to go to Tibet again because we want to keep the many beautiful memories.

Introduction to the monastery

When we were in India we went to Kais to visit the monastery. We were offered lunch and a tour by Rev. Lochen Rinpochee. We then also decided to 'adopt' a monk through Entraide Franco Tibétaine Netherlands.”

The WHISE Foundation

Elly came to visit me one day and asked me: "Do you want to be my sounding board?" She said she and Esther had talked to Rinpoche about the problems of the Dagpo Dratsang monastery and she wanted someone to listen and give feedback. I said, "Of course, I'd love to!"

And you know Elly, I soon went to talks with various organizations such as De Wilde Ganzen, all meetings with TU Delft, but also to the open days of Ganden Ling where we could explain TWF with our stand. 

Elly is a star at coming up with and tackling ideas, but I'm better at doing things. That's why I started making book covers and bags from which the proceeds go to the TWF.

In this way we can contribute to Rinpoche's wish to continue the Lamrim tradition taught in the monastery. And that makes me very happy!


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