Archive for the ‘Books, texts, art & gifts’ Category

A Pilgrimage to California

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, Summer and Amaya at Rigdzin Ling.

A Pilgrimage,   by Summer Adams

This July along with many South Americans I set out on a pilgrimage to North America, with the Padmasambhava Peace Institute as my main destination. Before attending the incredible event held there I had the good fortune to spend some days at Rigdzin Ling with Khadro. The heat of the California summer was such a relief, having left Khadro Ling in mid-winter. My daughter, Amaya, was able to run around in only a diaper and play with buckets of water outside. It was delightful seeing Khadro and all the activity there. She would often be in front of Tara House talking to the contractor, Lama Norbu driving the tractor and Lama Thubten heading upstairs to do the Gonla practice in Chagdud Rinpoche’s shrine room.

I had only visited Rigdzin Ling once before and I was very impressed with how secluded and beautiful it is. Visiting there I imagined Chagdud Rinpoche’s time before moving to Brazil. Thinking of him planning where to build, performing ceremonies, I imagined how his hand had held that same brass rail in Tara House that Amaya was now reaching up for.  It felt as though I could almost see him there now.

Chagdud Khadro at Rigdzin Ling

Rigdzin Ling was hosting the annual children’s camp. It was great seeing the dynamic and compassionate interaction of the Dharma teens and children. The Lamas and parents supported the activities of the children, while the children ran a wonderful camp. Some of them would arrive for lunch in fantastic costumes, and the dinning room had a lively atmosphere. The parents helped organize creative projects that included making tsa tsas. To support their tsa tsa project they requested the Buddha Akshobya empowerment from Khadro, which she happily gave them. Even the young children seemed very focused during most of the empowerment.

Also, the children did beautiful traditional drawings of auspicious symbols on the driveway (with help of parent and artist Glenn Sandvoss) to welcome Jigme Khyenste Rinpoche, who gave a teaching to the camp participants and others. Before he arrived the children had taken the volumes of the Kangyur down from the main shrine and Lama Padma carefully checked the order. Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche then taught about the history and meaning of the Kangyur at Khadro’s request.

Main entrance to Rigdzin Ling with auspicious symbols that the children drew. 

He mentioned in the teaching that to have the Kangyur there was like being in the presence of the Buddha. The wisdom of his words made that presence even stronger. Also, he spoke about the effort made by wisdom masters and great scholars to preserve these volumes and accomplish their translation from Pali to Tibetan. I wondered as he spoke if some of our young sangha members would become future translators.  Everyone felt blessed by the visit and Rinpoche’s kindness to make the long drive to Rigdzin Ling from San Fransisco. The following day he also traveled to PPI to attend the rare empowerments of the Apong Terton cycle that HH Sakya Trizin would bestow.

Arriving at PPI was like arriving at a huge family reunion. Jigme Tromge Rinpoche was radiant and completely available greeting all of us as participants arrived. I was so happy to have my baby there with us. Even though she probably won’t remember, later I will tell her that she met HH Sakya Trizin and received this precious cycle. Just the fact that this cycle was given in its entirety and attended by so many linage holders felt completely historic. A blessing for the whole Chagdud Gonpa Sangha! Jigme Rinpoche and the PPI sangha were so incredible kind to make the event possible.

Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche teaches the children at Rigdzin Ling, next to the stacked Kangyur volumes. 

Like a whirl wind as soon as the event finished many of the Lamas and participants packed up and set out on another long drive to Pema Odsel Ling to attend Dudjom empowerments being bestowed by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Even though many of us arrived after midnight the POL staff was kindly waiting to receive participants. Again the South American practioners were there in numbers and there was a strong sense of vajra family. Lama Sonam Tsering and the other Vajrayana Foundation lamas greeted us with great care and warmth. Although I was often running in and out of the main shrine after Amaya, outside was beautifully arranged with speakers, video screen and tents for shade.

Visiting these three locations left me a deep sense of rejoicing in the powerful blessings of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, our teachers and the strength of our sangha here and abroad.

Amrita, Jigme Rinpoche and Amaya in the PPI shrineroom. Photo: PPI’s archive.

Setting up a Shrine

A shrine is a focal point of meditation and provides a means of accumulating merit through the generosity of making offerings. A traditional shrine would include an image of the deity (a statue, photograph, or painting), seven water offering bowls set out in a straight line, and an arrangement of special offerings of incense, flowers, food, tea, and butterlamps or candles. A serkyem may be added for making offerings to the dharma protectors. Other items such as photographs of one’s lama and dharma gifts that one has received could also find a place on the shrine. Texts should occupy a shelf above the shrine if possible, or at least in a high place (never on the floor).

In the morning, one fills the water bowls left to right, lighting incense and a butter lamp or candle, as well as offering tea (or alcohol) and food in a small glass and a dish. It is best to make fresh tea and to keep a bag of cookies or other food used only for this purpose. One recites Om Ah Hung as these offerings are multiplied without limit through mantra and visualization. The water is visualized as billowing clouds of pure offerings and qualities that are presented to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, particularly to the practitioner’s chosen deity, and their blessings shower on the practitioner and all beings. One may recite the water offering prayer entitled Ocean of Siddhis by Kyabje Dudjom Lingpa.

Similarly, incense is imagined to pervade the universe with a delightful scent that purifies sickness and obscurations, and expresses the perfect discipline of the dharma. Light becomes complete illumination, dispelling the darkness of delusion for all beings. TheButter Lamp Offering Prayer may be recited here. When one offers flowers, they fill all of samsara and nirvana with loveliness and with pleasure in their beauty. Food and drink are transformed into nectar, absolutely satisfying.

Alternatively, a set of seven offering bowls may be filled with rice, on which are placed the traditional offerings of water for drinking, water for washing, flowers, incense, a butter lamp or candle (without an offering bowl), perfume (a drop of perfume in a bowl of water or sprinkled on some rose petals), food, and sound (a small conch shell or a set of tingsha). One may use the same visualization, recitations, and prayers as described above to make this kind of offering. One renews all the offerings except for the offering of sound every day.

During the day one adds to the offering a bit of one’s own food and drink before one partakes of them, as nectar to all wisdom beings and then imagines that they are returned as wisdom blessings and nourishment to all.

There are many profound teachings on the nature of offerings, but the essential point is to make offerings with supreme generosity. Such generosity creates a foundation of nonattachment and open awareness that increases the accumulations of both merit and pristine awareness.

Whatever virtue one has created is dedicated to the welfare of all beings with the wish that they be free of suffering and attain enlightenment.

The above teaching has been adapted from the Red Tara Commentary by Chagdud Khadro.