Reasons to Connect

I have been thinking about the importance of making a material offering to this event. The Sakyong created an interesting context for the Rinchen Terdzo when he chose to leave a portion of the sponsorship open so that as many people as possible could participate. It would have been easier to ask a few major donors to help with the amount he and the Sakyong Wangmo, along with Shambhala International, had pledged to sponsor the Rinchen Terdzo. The event could have been paid for, so to speak, before Rinpoche and Khandro Tseyang left for India. But he chose a different route.

I see several interwoven reasons for making a personal, material connection with the Rinchen Terdzo. In Asia, Hindus and Buddhists alike will go to a temple and make offerings without a second thought, in order to link themselves with whatever goodness is going on there. Often it is just a few rupies, hardly anything. It’s a generally accepted truth that a personal connection with virtue will produce something within us while simultaneously doing something of value in the world. Even a small offering can have a big effect.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche explained that the realization of Shambhala would be collective, not individual. We collectively realize enlightened society as a world for others to enter as we develop wisdom, love, generosity and other virtues in ourselves. This being the case, the Sakyong left the gates open for as many people as possible to enter and help raise Padmasambhava’s victory banner here in Orissa. The intention is that this banner will be unfurled in Shambhala, and raised again and again by present and future Sakyongs for the benefit of the earth, the teachings and all beings.

As should be clear by now, the Rinchen Terdzo is not a collection of every terma ever discovered. It is made up of vital termas that were on the verge of extinction in Jamgon Kongtrul’s day, and of the major termas that are well known and effective in bringing about realization. The major terma lineages that have survived to the present day are kept in their full forms by their respective lineages and lineage holders. The Rinchen Terdzo presents some of the essential practices from these lineages. Other lineages are not included in the collection. Several of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s surviving terma cycles are still maintained in Tibet, but none of them are found in the Rinchen Terdzo.

However, the Rinchen Terdzo, it seems to me, is a special collection because it is held and nurtured by many lineages in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly within the Kagyu and Nyingma. The brilliance of Jamgon Kongtrul and his teacher Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s foresight in preserving the heart termas of Tibetan Buddhism just prior to a period of decline and destruction is nothing short of miraculous. Everyone takes care of the ancient lineages because they are like the roots of a tree planted by Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal and the other teachers who hid the terma teachings. The popular lineages, the Konchog Chidu, the Longchen Nyingtig and so on, are like sap running everywhere in the tree. From this tree extends the many branches, leaves and fruits of the individual traditions. By nurturing this tree we nurture the roots and blood of both our own family and the countless other families sustained by the terma teachings.

For students of the Sakyong and his father, the crowning jewel of the termas, the young fruit ripening in the sun, is the Shambhala terma. Honoring and strengthening the Rinchen Terdzo strengths both the ground out of which the Shambhala teachings have grown, and the ground of the vajrayana dharma. The vajrayana was preserved in Tibet after its disappearance in India due to the kindness and foresight of Padmasambhava. In the beginning Padmasambhava was called to Tibet because no one else had the strength to make sure the teachings would take hold in Tibet. For centuries, the terma teachings he planted have continued to revitalize the dharma. Without taking care of the roots, there is no way for a tree to grow. The terma teachings of Tibet have provided a context for the Shambhala terma to arise in this world. The terma tradition is the inheritance and support for Shambhala.

Trungpa Rinpoche once said that the dharma in the West would not be firmly established for three generations. I used to think this had to do something with the sangha at large, and would occasionally try to figure out which older students had grandchildren. But seeing the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo together and hearing the occasional murmurs of, “When will they have children?” has made the meaning of the Vidyadhara’s words clear. Tertons often have a family lineage to carry forward what they’ve done. The Sakyong is working to gather everything he can from his father into himself so that whatever made Trungpa Rinpoche the source of Shambhala will be carried into the next generation with all possible strength and blessings. At the same time, the Sakyong is receiving a lineage that the Tibetan world sees is essential for him to possess.

By leaving an open gateway for participation, the Sakyong has given everyone a way to connect themselves to a major transmission important to Trungpa Rinpoche, the lineage of the Sakyongs of Shambhala, and the Tibetan Buddhist world at large. It doesn’t matter how much is offered. What matters is making a personal connection along with an aspiration for the dharma and all its teachers. In giving a gift, we help support His Emimnence, his monastery and these empowerments. In the bigger picture, we are nurturing the vajrayana, particularly the terma tradition. By sponsoring the Rinchen Terdzo we strengthen the tree that helped ripen Shambhala and the lineage of Sakyongs, the tree that supports the New Treasures of His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, the tree that is a support for the all the terma traditions in the Tibetan tradition. Whatever we give and whatever part of the tree is closest to us, it’s best to link it with vast aspirations for peace and harmony in the world.

While I have written this for readers in Shambhala, I am aware that students of His Eminence and Jigme Rinpoche along with people outside any of these sanghas are reading this blog. I want to apologize to those of you from ‘away’ that this entry is mostly written to one group. At the same time, I want to encourage everyone outside Shambhala to make a connection if you feel an interest in furthering what is happening here.

If I had my wish, it would be that as many people as possible could give something, even it were just a cup of tea, to support this event. I feel like we are on a dock pulling a huge ship towards the West, a ship that holds all kinds of amazing teachers, teachings, and traditions. Every one of them provides some kind of support for the teachings of the Buddha to arise now in this world, in this time that so desperately cries for a bigger vision. Please lend a hand and an aspiration to mix our lives with the Rinchen Terdzo, a key part of the journey of the Shambhala and Tibetan Buddhism into the modern world.

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