Sunday, 2 October 2011

Two more views of the stupa

A beautiful autumn at Lerab Ling

Usually autumn is a season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’, to quote the poet, but contrary to the usual September weather we’ve been basking in beautiful sunlit weather more reminiscent of an August summer day. So the number of visitors on a Sunday has been rather more than usual for the month of September, and they’re still wearing summer clothes!

We now have a wonderful memorial to Khandro Tsering Chödrön in the form of a stupa, next to the original seven metre tall white marble stupa which was built to honour Sogyal Rinpoche before the beginning of the three year retreat. No description necessary, the photo below says more than any words could ....

Also, in addition to the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni on the front lawn of the Temple are statues of the eight great bodhisattrvas, each with an attribute symbolizing their perfection in a particular quality or activity. I’m not sure I can yet identify them individually as I need to do a bit of research on this, and also there are different versions of what their attributes are.

It is sometimes said that the Buddha’s various qualities emanate through these eight great bodhisattvas. The Verses of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones by Mipham gives their names and attributes, or emblems, as follows:

“The youthful Mañjushri, the glorious Vajrapani,
Avalokiteshvara, the protector Maitreya,
Kshitigarbha, Nivaranavishkambin,
Akashagarbha, and the most noble Samantabhadra—homage to the Eight Bodhisattvas,
Supreme in granting auspiciousness and success, gracefully
holding your emblems:
Utpala flower, vajra, white lotus, naga-tree,
Jewel, moon, sword and sun!”

It is said that:

Manjushri personifies the Buddha’s wisdom;
Avalokiteshvara embodies his compassion;
Vajrapani represents his power and capacity;
Kshitigarbha personifies the Buddha’s merit and has special responsibility for the earth, the environment and resources;
Sarvanivaranavishkambhin embodies his precious qualities and is said to exhaust all the obscurations of beings;
Maitreya embodies love and also the Buddha’s enlightened activity;
Samantabhadra displays special expertise in making vast offerings and fulfilling prayers of aspiration; and
Akashagarbha embodies the Buddha’s blessings and has the perfect ability to purify transgressions, particularly to restore any loss or deterioration in the commitments of bodhicitta.

These eight close sons have already attained buddhahood yet they assume the form of bodhisattvas in order to work for the benefit of sentient beings until the end of samsara. The sutras, in fact, recount many extremely wonderful things in praise of each one of these eight bodhisattvas, and explain that simply to think of one or the other of these eight, or even their attributes or names, will infuse everything with auspiciousness.

As it says in the prayer:

“With all obstacles and harmful influences pacified,
May the work we are now about to begin
Meet with ever-growing fulfilment and success, and
Bring good fortune, prosperity, happiness and peace!”

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A Prayer by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

I came across this prayer by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö just recently and although it’s quite brief I found it very inspiring, so here is the translation. By the way, Orgyen Dorje Chang is one of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche.

kyabné kündü orgyen dorje chang
Embodiment of all objects of refuge, Orgyen Dorjé Chang,

dak gi nying ü zeudrur shyuk né kyang
Remain on the blossoming anthers in the centre of my heart,

dü sum trulpé bakchak gyün jang né
Constantly purifying all traces of persistent patterns of delusion accumulated throughout the three times, and

rigpé ösal tokpar jingyi lob
Inspire and bless me so that I may gain stable realization of the clear light of rigpa, the very nature of my mind.

By Chökyi Lodro

Monday, 5 September 2011

Paranirvana of Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche

Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche at Lerab Ling during empowerments

Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche, beloved ordination master for many of the nuns and monks at Lerab Ling, has passed away. He entered paranirvana on Friday, 2nd September and remained in thugdam for three days in his monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. He had visited Lerab Ling several times and gave many empowerments and teachings.

Some of us were fortunate enough to receive ordination from him in the Dordogne, France, in 1999, and if my memory serves me well it was the first time he had given ordination in the West.

Already I feel his loss quite deeply, as not only is he one of the old generation of masters raised and trained in Tibet, but also he very much represented for me the epitome of the monastic tradition of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. His monastery in a valley to the south of Mount Everest, in the Solu Khumbu district, Thubten Chöling, was home to a very large number of nuns, over 350, as well as many monks, most of whom were Tibetan refugees. Since he came out of Tibet, Rinpoche has ordained nearly ten thousand monks and nuns.

His passing does come as sad news, but it is said that actually the master is never separate from us. He always lives in us as the heart of our faith and devotion. According to Dzogchen Tantras, when a great enlightened teacher passes into parinirvana students have an extraordinary moment to receive blessings from their teacher by making supplications and offerings, as well as making profound personal commitments and aspirations, and praying that more emanations of the master manifest in this world to benefit all beings.

Whatever virtuous aspirations and commitments you make will swiftly be fulfilled, so now is the time for prayers and practice. It’s also an especially powerful time to do guruyoga and unite your mind with that of the master.

Photos taken during a visit to Thubten Choling by Ane Chökyi Drolma

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Khyentse Sangyum

This most amazing of ladies, this dakini, Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Khyentse Sangyum, who passed away on the 30th of May this year, showing all the signs of attaining the final accomplishment of a great Dzogchen practitioner, was considered to be an emanation of Shelkar Dorje Tso, who was taken from her homeland in Shang Tanak by Namkhé Nyingpo, and offered to Guru Rinpoche as his consort.

This mirrors Khandro-la’s own life as she became the spiritual consort of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, one of the most outstanding masters of the twentieth century who was considered to be the activity emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, who was the body incarnation of Jikmé Lingpa.

She was nineteen years old. For the next eleven years she served as his attendant, devoted and loving companion, and inspired his response to her many requests for practice, prayers, and advice, often putting her request or questions to him in the form of songs.

Her spiritual marriage to him transformed her from a somewhat rebellious and very beautiful young woman into a radiant dakini held in high regard by all who had the good fortune to meet her.

She was the aunt of Sogyal Rinpoche who writes of her in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and in the same way that he considered Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö to be like a father to him, he also considered her to be very much a spiritual mother to him, as it is she also who brought him up.

There are many wonderful stories of how Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Khandro-la found termas with Gyarong Khandro, a female master and tertön, who never slept and had a gift for predicting when people would die. Every 10th and 25th day of the lunar calendar, it is said, she would disappear and travel to the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. Khandro-la requested Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö for a prayer to Gyarong Khandro which he composed at her request.

Once, when they were performing a tsok feast Gyarong Khandro had a vision, so got up and left, and walked directly to a place where a treasure was, but because she was so fat she had difficulty reaching it and asked Khandro Tsering Chödrön to help her. They removed rocks and earth and finally reached the treasure―a ritual dagger which was still warm, that they gave to Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.

There is the story of how she was with Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Khandro Tsering Chödrön when they revealed the two-armed Vajrakilaya practice, Phurba Meyi Pudri as an earth terma.

Also, in 1952, when Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was opening the sacred place of Khyungchen Paldzong, known locally as Gyalgen Khyungtak, above Dzongsar Monastery, Jamyang Khyentse, Gyarong Khandro, Khandro Tsering Chödrön and Sogyal Rinpoche all left their handprints in the solid rock.

Khandro-la first came to visit Lerab Ling in 1996―a year that also brought Nyoshul Khenpo and his sangyum, Damchö Zangmo, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Neten Chokling Rinpoche, and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche―and finally came to live at Lerab Ling in 2006, shortly after the beginning of the three year retreat, joining her older sister, Mayum Tsering Wangmo, the mother of Sogyal Rinpoche, who had already been living here at Lerab Ling for several years.

Her precious physical presence is still with us in the form of the kudung which will remain here in Rinpoche’s private shrine room for several more months until the time of her cremation, and students attending the retreats later this summer will have the opportunity to visit the kudung and receive her blessing.

How incredibly precious an opportunity to be here at Lerab Ling at this special moment in time...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Open day at Lerab Ling

A busy Sunday today at Lerab Ling as we host an open day for visitors. Last year over 1,500 people came and were shown around the Temple, the stupa, the lake with a statue of Guru Rinpoche, and the land and gardens, and this time there will probably be as many if not more.

Our Temple here is not just a beautiful building but a sacred space, a special environment and an especially potent symbol of the Dharma, and has been blessed by visits from numerous great masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

We hope that when the visitors enter the Temple they will be enthralled by the large statue of Shakyamuni Buddha which is the centrepiece of the Tsuklhakahang, flanked on either side by Avalokiteshvara and Guru Rinpoche. Also on either side are the past and the future buddhas, Dipankara and Maitreya with 1002 buddhas.

So our Temple is a place of teachings, empowerments, blessings, meditation, tantric rituals, and retreats – especially the three year retreat which ended almost eighteen months ago now. It holds the hope of enlightenment for the welfare of all beings, and extends the opportunity of the truth of the dharma for all who would hear.

As Sogyal Rinpoche says:

“We have built this temple because it is, we believe, one of the greatest contributions we can make towards bringing wisdom, compassion and peace into the world.”

“In many places today, people are recognizing that spiritual development is not a luxury, but a sheer necessity for our survival. Witness the almost desperate hunger and need everywhere for spiritual vision, and for the tools to negotiate the challenges of life, find happiness and understand and transform the mind. This is why the very existence of spiritual centres like Lerab Ling has now assumed truly vital importance, because it is on the accessibility of spiritual teachings and the building of a spiritual culture that the very future of humanity depends.

“This temple is for Tibet, and it is for the world.”

Unique as it is in a world of turmoil, may all the visitors find peace, compassion and wisdom, and through their visit may they make a connection which brings them to the ultimate state of enlightenment.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Such a blessing ...

We’ve just finished a wonderful weekend of teachings with Sogyal Rinpoche on ‘Compassionate Living, Fearless Dying’ at Lerab Ling with about 600 or so people attending. On the last day the blessing was given outside as people lined up around the Temple. Here’s a photo of some of the monks and nuns receiving a blessing from Rinpoche.

Many thanks to Jan Pieters for the photo.