The Conclusion After the Conclusion

Blessing Line on the Final Day  

Blessing Line on the Final Day

March 5th and 6th 

[The events in this post occurred after the ceremonial conclusion of the Rinchen Terdzo posted above. There were a few more empowerments to be given after we closed on an astrologically appropriate day. There is more information in the February 28th to March 3rd entry.]

The last days in Orissa were very hot. The heat in India starts in March on the eastern coast and slowly moves its way west toward Delhi and Mumbai before the start of the summer’s monsoons. News reports said it was over 40 Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit in the coastal city of Bhubaneswar early in the week. In the shrine room we got used to the afternoon wind blowing through like hot air coming from a dryer’s exhaust vent. 

After the ceremonial closing of the Rinchen Terdzo on the 4th, most of the lay community attending the empowerments departed. There were still about 20 or 30 who remained along with the monastics and the westerners who weren’t forced to leave by schedule or frozen return flight tickets. As I sat in the more quiet and peaceful shrine room during the last empowerments, I was struck by a feeling of affection and love. Things were dissolving and at the same time there was such appreciation for and by everyone. In the final days people seemed to glow. The change in schedule gave those who remained an easier time of letting go of the experience than during the day of final ceremonies earlier in the week

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Last Blessings

As things wound down, the monastery slipped into a new routine, probably the closest thing to ‘normal’ that such an institution can have. The young monks had a bit more room to run around during the breaks, and I was pleased to see a Tibetan layman, a gardener, spraying a hose after one or another of the red robed boys in the mid-day heat. It felt much like the ending of a major seminary in the West, a mixture of sadness at the impermanence of a wondrous world, and relief at the end of a great effort.

The Sakyong was very generous with his time at the end of the Rinchen Terdzo, and I was able to meet with him twice more before departing . He said that it was very rare to see a Tibetan settlement in such a cohesive situation as during the Rinchen Terdzo and final empowerments. Often, when big events happen at one monastery in larger communities there are still other other activities happening at the neighboring monasteries. But here in Orissa everyone joined in. He said that the Rinchen Terdzo would have a big effect later; people had never seen a situation like it in Orissa before.

Lhuntrul Rinpoche on the Final Day. Photograph by Christoph Schoenherr.

Lhuntrul Rinpoche on the Final Day. Photograph by Christoph Schoenherr.

The last session of the empowerments was quite poignant. Everything was the last—the last time we took refuge with Eminence together, the last censer being brought around by the chopon, the last moments. In the end, after we’d dedicated the merit and finished the closing chants, His Eminence simply stood up and left the room smiling. He gave us a wave goodbye as he has done often throughout our time together. It was as though everything had come and gone like a dream, and now there was no reason to hang on to anything even if it was sad to finally say goodbye.

The Rinchen Terzo gave a deep glimpse into the Tibetan culture and community. In the final blessing line during the concluding ceremonies on March 4th I noticed a woman with a tiny baby in her arms. I asked her if it was the child of Thonga, the canteen manager, and she said it was another baby. The whole wheel of life proceeded around the Rinchen Terdzo with babies being born and family members passing away during the three months of ceremonies. And that wheel of life, along with the blessings of devotion and faith in the dharma has brought the Rinchen Terdzo to us today. May its practices and wisdom nurture not only the East but also the West in many centuries to come.

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