Appreciating the Heart of Transmission
Today I found myself on the upper floors of the monastery during the mid-afternoon break between the empowerments. It’s a pleasant place to visit and there is a spacious gallery that looks down on the shrine room below through big glass windows. I’d come looking to ask a question of Jigme Rinpoche, but suddenly a kusung appeared and said “the Sakyong can see you now”—they must have thought I was seeking an audience with the Sakyong. It’s a natural mistake since all the main dignitaries are staying on the same floor of the monastery.
Seizing my good fortune after a moment of surprise, I went into the Sakyong’s small audience chamber. He was seated on a small couch, relaxing during the brief break. Every time I’ve had a chance to speak with Rinpoche since the start of the Rinchen Terdzo, I’ve found him to be content, happy, and eager to chat a bit about one point or another. One meeting last week dwelled on his excitement about the Rigden Lineage tree. He must have talked about it for twenty minutes while he showed me photos of the artist, Noedup Rongae’s, sketches and photos of the Rigden statues he encountered in the Gesar palace he visited in Tibet (he mentioned the Tibetan statues were more nirmanakaya in manifestation than what will be in the thangka.)
On this occasion, the Sakyong chatted briefly with me about how the Rinchen Terdzo was progressing. Toward the end of our conversation, the Sakyong said, “He’s crying.” Not knowing what Rinpoche meant, I asked. The Sakyong told me that the last two days, His Eminence had been crying sometimes during the abhishekas. During one abhisheka yesterday, they paused to wait for two minutes while His Holiness wept. A moment after telling me this Sakyong had to return to the empowerments. I stood there speechless and contemplated what His Eminence has been through and how much he is giving of his heart to the Sakyong, his family and the Ripa and Shambhala communities at this time.
The other day the Sakyong remarked that His Eminence, given his age, is probably thinking about many things we are not aware of during the empowerments. This seems worthy of reflection, as we sit on the edge of a major point of transition from the last generation of great teachers who left Tibet in the 50s and 60s and the present generation who have entered a world very different from their predecessors’. As the importance of this transition becomes more and more vivid, I often find myself making the aspiration that the Sakyong absorb as much as possible during this retreat without obstruction.