Formal Opening of the Rinchen Terdzo

December 5th 2008

Today the Rinchen Terdzo opened.

When the Rinchen Terdzo opened this afternoon at the monastery, the westerners were seated in their own section to the left of the monks as you face the shrine. There is a wide black marble stage and a high throne on which Namkha Drimed Rinpoche sits giving the initiations, or in Tibetan wang. To his left, seated on a very low seat is the Sakyong. And behind the Sakyong are the Ripas. Behind them, about 40 times bigger than life is the Buddha, Shakyamuni with golden hands large enough to hold any of us. To the Buddha’s left is a 1000 armed, white standing Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. To the left is Padmasambhava.

His Eminence entered with a procession of Tibetan horns followed by the Sakyong and the rest the dignitaries. Then His Eminence sat down and gave a brief explanation of the lineage of transmission of the Rinchen Terdzo from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye to himself. He also spoke about the auspiciousness of the situation for the monastery and lay community—that the monastery is about to open and at the same time it is hosting Rinchen Terdzo, the collection of all the main termas in the Nyingma lineage. There was much more said, but this is what I gathered from a friend who understands Tibetan.

The lineage to Namkha Drimed Rinpoche is from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye to Sechen Gyaltsap who then passed it to Sechen Kongtrul who then gave the empowerments to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Then Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave the empowerments twice in his life. The second time he bestowed the Rinchen Terdzo he was eighteen. He offered it at Yak Gompa in Tibet. There were two principle recipients of the abhishekas, Yak Tulku Rinpoche and His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche. This is an extraordinary coincidence. One could not hope for a better person to give the Rinchen Terdzo to the Sakyong other than the Vidhyadhara himself.

As it turns out, we are receiving the abhishekas almost immediately. There were two—or rather one and a half bestowed today. The first one was a Vajrasattva empowerment. Vajrasattva is known as the embodiment of all the deities, all the buddhas. And so this particular empowerment for a Vajrasattva practice discovered by the terton Minling Terchen was symbolically the start of the whole cycle of teachings, and one that contained them all.

The half abhisheka was a preliminary for a peaceful and wrathful deity practice by Karma Lingpa. Karma Lingpa is very famous for his book, the Tibetan Book of the Dead as it is known in English. The ‘half’ part is that one is preliminarily were one is blessed and obstacles are symbolically removed, and then the next day one returns for the next part of the empowerment ritual. Often with this kind of two-day empowerment one is asked to look at one’s dreams and see if there are any auspicious signs. 

As we get settled, we’ll be posting a regular listing of the empowerments as well as an explanation of the structure of the Rinchen Terdzo. This will give a chance to understand more about how the dharma is transmitted in the vajrayana, and particularly in the Nyingma. This is one of the Sakyong’s wishes for this blog, that there is an on-going flow of information about what is happening here and how it pertains to the dharma and all of us.

Then there were several reading transmissions on such topics as Vajrasattva practice, completion stage practice, luminosity, dream and chod practice. All of this was in Tibetan, and all these instructions are very important within the Nyingma and other lineages. More to follow on the authors as well as the titles of the texts.

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