At Yak Gompa
January 19th 2009
In the 1958 Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was invited by Yak Tulku Rinpoche to bestow the Rinchen Terdzo at Yak Monastery in Eastern Tibet. This was the first of two meetings between Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Namkha Drimed Rinpoche. The second happened while during their escape from Tibet when they met at Nyemo. Given the connections historical and inner contemplative connections between them, it is clear they would have liked more time together.
Looking at the Sakyong’s relationship with his Eminence during the last six and a half weeks, I see that relationship between the teacher and the primary disciple during a lineage transmission abhisheka is powerful and intimate. It must have been like this somehow at Yak Monastery. The communication coming to the Sakyong from Namkha Drimed Rinpoche is very specific, filled with love and precision. Having received some abhishekas over the years, I can say that while this is also the case when receiving an abhisheka in the assembly, there seems to be a different quality to being empowered to transfer the lineage to the next generation. Everything is vividly being given to the Sakyong.
I spent a little time clarifying the relationship between the Ripas and the Trungpas. If we step back a generation or two we find that the Tenth Trungpa, Chokyi Nyinje (1875-1938), was a root guru to His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche’s father, Drubwang Jigme Tsewang Chokdrup Rinpoche (1891-1954). The tenth Trungpa, the predecessor to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was a renowned meditator. The Tenth Trungpa spent a lot of time with Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, but he was only 25 years old when Jamgon Kongtrul passed away. This may have been why the Tenth Trungpa requested Drubwang Ngedon Rinpoche (1844-1901) grandfather to his Eminence, to bestow the Rinchen Terdzo on him. Exactly why the 10th Trungpa wanted this particular lineage remains an intriguing mystery.
The Ripa-Trungpa connection was what made Namkha Drimed Rinpoche feel that receiving the Rinchen Terdzo from Chogyam Trungpa was very important. Their meeting at Yak Gompa in 1959 started a relationship which both wanted more time for. The chaos brought by the arrival of the Chinese in Tibet destabilized everything. It amazes me that something as complex as the Rinchen Terdzo could have been completed at all during that troubled era. Reading through Trungpa Rinpoche’s description of the Rinchen Terdzo in Born In Tibet gives one a sense of the undercurrent of pain, fear and tragedy that was in the background of everyone’s minds.
There are a few highlights to the connection between His Eminence and Trungpa Rinpoche at this time. His Eminence has said that during those abhishekas he perceived Trungpa Rinpoche as a bodhisattva. This means that he perceived him in a pure way, not as an ordinary person. This is a general instruction to anyone receiving an empowerment; one has to do one’s best to let go of one’s usual habits of seeing the world, and try to see it as a sacred realm. This is also the outcome of realizing the meaning of the practices bestowed in an empowerment. A stable recognition of basic goodness, of our buddha nature, will result in purifying our perceptions and allow us to become much more effective in helping others. His Eminence however, is being humble in his description of how he perceived Trungpa Rinpoche. I think he was actually experiencing pure perception and seeing Trungpa Rinpoche as a realized being. Namkha Drimed Rinpoche was not an ordinary student, struggling to remind himself to stay in a good frame of mind.
While receiving the Rinchen Terdzo in 1959 Namkha Drimed Rinpoche became very ill, so ill in fact that Yak Tulku Rinpoche, the host for the event, feared the empowerments would have to stop. It would have been dangerous to delay anything given the political situation. Already the schedule was being pushed to the brink (starting an hour and a half earlier than we are now, and going hours later into the night). Yak Tulku Rinpoche went to get Trungpa Rinpoche at this time and brought him to Namkha Drimed Rinpoche’s room. He asked Trungpa Rinpoche use his phurba to bless Namkha Rinpoche. A phurba is a three-sided metal dagger, a symbol of the simultaneous penetration of the poisons of passion, aggression and ignorance by the dagger of awareness.
This phurba was not ordinary. It a terma object that was very precious to Trungpa Rinpoche. The other day Jigme Rinpoche explained, ‘The phurba that my father saw was bronze which is usually what terma objects are made of. My father said it was very powerful, and it was very dark, very old. At the same time it had a lot of ziji [Tib. brilliance, confidence]. It was about twelve inches long. It was probably one of the most important objects Trungpa Rinpoche had at that time.’ After this blessing, Namkha Rinpoche had a dream of the dharma protectors pulling demons away from him and he became well quite rapidly.
Today we continued with the Avalokiteshvara empowerments. Sometimes it is a bit boring in the shrine room. As I mentioned a few weeks back, this is actually a good thing because the peak experience of ‘receiving a blessing’ has become less and less of an internal drama. The consequence of this is getting the chance to slow down, relax and look a little more closely one’s mind and the world.