The Ceremonial Conclusion of the Rinchen Terdzo
This entire web page was updated on Saturday March 21st.
There are several new and updated posts following this article. The links at the top of the page have all been updated. The new articles include a talk by His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, an article on the Rinchen Terdzo and the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, descriptions of the empowerments after the concluding ceremonies, and more.
Breakfast this morning was followed by a meeting for all the western students with Shambhala’s president, the indefatigably cheerful Richard Reoch. Richard had come from a meeting with the Sakyong with a list of various offerings to be given to His Eminence, all having been paired up with the names of many Western guests at the Rinchen Terdzo. In gratitude for the empowerments, His Eminence is receiving a variety of gifts from both the westerners and the Tibetans at the event. We spent a good twenty minutes working out the order of the long line of westerner offerers who’d be carrying such gifts as vases, kapalas, kilas all made of sliver and a set of the eight auspicious symbols leafed in gold. These are the kind of gifts worthy of a dharma king.
The day was quite a big one and also turned out to be one of the hottest of the season in Orissa, possibly surging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 Celsius. A large pavilion had been stretched over part of the monastery courtyard to shade the overflow guests from the different Tibetan camps. Since the start of the dzogchen empowerments, the veranda had had barely enough room to walk through.
Inside the shrine room there were now three thrones set up, each with a canopy overhead. As we waited for the events to begin, I watched the Rinchen Terdzo empowerment shrine nearly buried behind bag after bag of food being readied for the final feast that everyone would partake of. While we were waiting for His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche and Lhuntrul Rinpoche (who was also being formally empowered as a lineage holder) to arrive, the Sakyong Wangmo entered the room in the robes she wore last year at her enthronement. During the ceremonies themselves she wore the Yeshe Tsogyal cape. She looked particularly regal and radiant on this day.
Eventually, the three empowerments of the day began, starting with The Blazing Jewel of Sovereignty, the ritual used to confirm a dharma king. This empowerment was conferred at least three times on Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, once when he received the Rinchen Terdzo from Sechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, and twice from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The Vidyadhara was about eight years old the first time he received the empowerment from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and the second time was when he was enthroned as the Sakyong of Shambhala in 1982 in Boulder, Colorado. His Holiness Penor Rinpoche used this same empowerment to enthrone Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche as Sakyong of Shambhala in 1995.
The Blazing Jewel of Sovereignty starts with the recipient sitting in a chair before the master performing the ritual. Gradually, as the ceremony progresses, the recipient, or in this case the two recipients, are gradually clothed as a sovereign of the dharma, and brought to the throne wearing clothing much like the robes worn by Padmasambhava. After assuming the throne, the new dharma king receives the lotus crown and the many offerings befitting a monarch of the teachings.
It was quite a magical environment. I will let the photos speak for themselves. Everyone was dressed for the occasion, especially the Tibetans. While it’s been quite normal to see the Tibetan women wearing chubas and colorful aprons at the events, this was the first time I have seen so many of the laymen wearing dignified chubas and the occasional fur and brocade winter hat. After the enthronement, there was a tea and rice ceremony for everyone assembled served by the women from the five Tibetan camps.
After tea and rice (cooked with almonds and raisins) there were mandala offerings made to the two new lineage holders. First, the Ripa Lhadrang and His Eminence’s monasteries in India and Nepal made offerings to the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Afterwards, the two monasteries made mandala offerings to Lhuntrul Rinpoche. And at the end, the two monasteries made mandala offerings to the Sakyong Wangmo, Dechen Choying Sangmo.
After the conclusion of the enthronement ceremonies, His Eminence began a long textual empowerment. This ceremony was from a very well known cycle called the Union of All The Gurus, and was discovered by the terton Sangye Lingpa. It presents every aspect of the path leading up to the final section of dzogchen and has a very long section of reading transmission as part of the empowerment.
Following this, the chief khenpo of the monastery, Khenpo Pema Tenpel, read a very long, ceremonious and traditionally appropriate description of how the dharma came to Tibet and how the Rinchen Terdzo along with His Eminence and his lineage came to benefit us in the present. The text for this description, really a long praise read by Khenpo Pema Tenpel, was taped together like a scroll and seemed to be about twenty feet long.
After the formal expression of gratitude to His Eminence from the Shambhala community, offerings were made to Lhuntrul Rinpoche in gratitude for the reading transmission of the Rinchen Terdzo. Following this there were no less than 13 organizations making offerings to His Eminence. The procession of monks and lay people carrying texts, grain, medicines, carpets and other expressions of gratitude took nearly an hour. Then, slightly behind schedule, we broke for a fine Indian lunch prepared by the monastery for all the guests present for the events.
Following the lunch break there was a final long-life empowerment which itself was followed by three or four more hours of a blessing line, a time for individual offerings to all the teachers from everyone in the community. The monks were very clever about this in terms of crowd control. They barred the door to the shrine room shut so that all 700 or 800 of us inside could move through the line before the next 700 or 800 people were let in the room. During this time, every one of us passed before His Eminence, the Sakyong, Lhuntrul Rinpoche, Jigme Rinpoche and Tulku Kunkhab Rinpoche who were all seated behind high piles of white khatas and envelopes of monetary offerings from the community. At the very end of the row of teachers stood various monastic officials and President Reoch giving out protection cords, commemorative books in Tibetan, and other keepsakes to mark the ceremonial end to the empowerments.
As I write all of this back in the west I am sad. Often it is said that there is no way to really repay the kindness of the teacher, there’s no way to show adequate thanks to a person who shows you the path and the genuine truth of reality. It seemed that even with all the formal praises and the offerings, a line of gifts that took dozens of people nearly an hour to give, we had not really done any justice to what His Eminence had given us. He has spent his entire life training and meditating to benefit others and during the three months of the Rinchen Terdzo he unreservedly gave every single moment of his time and heart to the Sakyong and everyone assembled, never thinking of himself. His kindness and generosity continues to amaze me. May his life be long and healthy and all his wishes be fulfilled.