December 23rd, 2008 by Walker Blaine
Here is a picture of the shrine hall, the way it often looks after His Eminence has seated himself and just before the abhishekas begin. Today nearly fifty westerners were in the room. That number will swell a bit tomorrow when the final arrivals for the Dzogchen Retreat make their appearance. As you might have deduced, the Dzogchen retreat schedule took a bit of a turn when we learned about having the reading transmissions along with the empowerments. Prior to learning of the lungs the plan was to have morning talks for the westerners and abhishekas for everyone in the afternoons. However, now we’ll have morning reading transmissions, afternoon abhishekas and evening talks. People here for a short time have been encouraged to do their daily practice in the mornings.
The shrine room has been remarkably quiet since His Eminence spoke to us about the noise two days ago. Tibetan culture is impressive in the way it can work from the top down. We started with a general, ragged sense of quiet a few weeks ago. Then, in the last few days, things got out of hand with the occasional wandering toddler and an upswelling of chatter from the young monks and Tibetans on the veranda. While a disciplinary monk quietly walks the rows now and again, he is pretty light-handed. That is, until the situation crested and Namkha Rinpoche addressed the issue. Since then the rinpoches and senior teachers have become more direct, and the elders camped out on the veranda have been noticeably quieter. This process seems very much like how Trungpa Rinpoche worked with energy getting out of hand at his teaching programs. He would let it get to the point where everyone saw it without argument and then he’d abruptly cut in and start fresh.
I spliced six photos together to give you a sense of the layout of the shrine room from my seat. My apologies for the spots where movement makes things look odd. The shrine room has two rows of columns and the westerners fill in starting from the front of the left hand side. I took the photo from the last row of westerners, but more monastics fill in the space behind us. Toward the back of the room, the Tibetan lay sangha starts to fill in.
In the photo the big red curtain is drawn. This is because we have not seen the mandala yet. Mandala is a word that can refer to a complete representation of the world or the world itself. For example, we could talk about the mandala here at the Ripa House, the guesthouse where some of us live next to the monastery. This mandala would include guest house building , Jigme Namgyal our hardworking manager, Tashi and Suraj the cooks, the three young women from the village who help with chores , the various Ripa Sangha and Shambhala guests, and Tashi’s four month old puppy who barks a lot when he’s alone. All these make our world here.
In the case of an empowerment there are several mandalas, the most obvious one being on the shrine. At the Rinchen Terdzo several shrine mandalas are prepared before the start of each day. Each mandala is a symbolic representation of how the world appears to awakened mind. Just as there are there are as many ways to see the world as there are people, many different mandalas can depict an enlightened vision of the world.
In an elaborate empowerment the mandala is often concealed until after the teacher has symbolically entered the students into a particular mandala. At that point the shrine is revealed. Then the teacher explains the mandala in detail and brings the practitioners from the beginning to final stages of sacred outlook. An excellent explanation of this kind of shrine, practice and symbolism can be found in the presentations of the Vajrayogini mandala in Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s collection of essays, The Heart Of The Buddha.
December 17th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
Today we continued with the empowerments for practices related to the inner guru. Before I got to Orissa, I thought these practices would all be guru yogas—meditations where one visualizes the form of the teacher, such as Padmasambhava , and supplicates them for blessings. Such practices help increase the stability of the mind, along with opening one up to the qualities of the teacher, which in turn brings out one’s natural appreciation and devotion.
However, I have been surprised to see how many practices in the guru section of the Rinchen Terdzo are not guru yogas. There have been many yidam and protector practices bestowed on us within this section as well. Last night I learned that in these cases the yidam practices are written from the point of view of guru yoga; here the yidam is considered expressly as an aspect of Padmasambhava. Thus, the mantras for the yidams all have the mantras of Padmasambhava woven into them.
I’m starting to realize that the ordering of the Rinchen Terdzo isn’t simply a big list or a bunch of bins to pick things out from. The ordering of the entire treasury of empowerments, pointing out instructions, and reading transmissions is in itself a major teaching on the evolution of how to practice, moving from the most important thing, the teacher, and going out to the practices which rely more and more on confidence in one’s own buddha nature, or basic goodness, and finally into practices that recognize goodness as being immovably present in the world. I think this is another reason why giving and receiving the transmissions of the Rinchen Terdzo is such a big deal for lineage holders. It is a direct and subtle, deep and wide-ranging presentation of the path.
When I reflect on this and some conversations I have had with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche here in Orissa, I can better see why he is receiving the Rinchen Terdzo. While he is very much a part of our Western heritage, he is also a part of the East’s. Even without his recognition as the rebirth of Mipham, one of the most important lamas in the Nyingma lineage, he is the son and lineage heir of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It was inevitable that the Sakyong return to Surmang Monastery, his father’s seat in Tibet and begin to offer whatever is necessary for the people there in his role as a traditional teacher; the hopes and expectations of him are very great. By receiving the Rinchen Terdzo, the Sakyong will be able to give whatever transmissions are requested of him when he is in Asia, and people will have confidence in him based on knowing that he upholds all the lineages of the Rinchen Terdzo.
For the West (and the East), the Sakyong is receiving a big part of what made his father who he was. In Born In Tibet Trungpa Rinpoche explains that the Rinchen Terdzo contains all the wisdom his guru received from the 10th Trungpa. Somehow the last living person able to pass that lineage on to the Sakyong is doing that here in Orissa today. For the Sakong this is a chance to absorb more of what made the Vidyadhara who he was in order to pass that on both to his students and to the next Sakyong.
December 16th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
A month or so before flying to India I heard that the something one needs at the Rinchen Terdzo besides the master giving the empowerments, the students receiving them, texts, shrines and so on is a good choppon. A choppon is a master of offerings. This person brings object from the shrine to the teacher and then from the teacher to the students. For example, the very first part of an empowerment is a symbolic purification of the students as they enter the environment. This is done through the recitation of a mantra and drinking water from a vase which symbolizes Vajrasattva, the buddha associated with purity as well as being the unity of all the buddhas. The choppon with take the vase around to the general assembly after the teacher gives some water to the main recipients and the choppon too. The choppon also takes care of the offerings on the shrine, replenishes the incense and so on. The Rinchen Terdzo is so complicated, changing shrines and icons so often, that eight choppons are needed here, one of whom is in charge of keeping track of where we are in the text.
Today we continued receiving abhishekas for the inner practices of the guru. I must confess that a huge computer malfunction severely slowed writing and preparations these last days and contributed to the effect of feeling totally lost about what was going on. This was inevitable given the complexity of things, I just didn’t know when we’d first get off track. Patricia and I got lost somewhere between today’s abhishekas having many unlisted sub-abhishekas and the fact that two of our empowerment lists didn’t agree. I recall a story Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche told a few years ago. He was attending a long series of empowerments given by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The Sakyong said the entire front row of lamas became lost about what part of the text they were in. They asked the choppon who looked at them and said he didn’t know either. This meant that the only person who knew what was going on was Khyentse Rinpoche. [Fortunately, the main thing at an empowerment is to see the teacher as the Buddha, relax and follow the teacher’s instructions about what to do next.]
Sometimes it seems like that we have that situation here when Kunam, the choppon in charge of the text, sorts through the various sections of an empowerment to find the right line for His Eminence to jump to. Tibetan pagination is not like English and often a text will say, ‘Finish as before’ or something like that. So you’ve got to be on the ball. His Eminence seems completely on the ball, but in need of more hands to keep up with what all that needs to be done. A few times each day he is will be directing choppons who’ve fallen behind in bringing this or that vase or icon. Overall the choppons are doing an amazing job, continually helping each other, and with great respect for His Eminence. Their sense of humor and light touch is evident as is their incredible precision about what needs to be done and, most importantly, when it needs to happen.
Within the section of the text that presents abhishekas for the inner practice of the guru, we have now reached the nirmanakaya guru, the aspect that is more focused on compassion. Tomorrow night the western students are hoping to have our first (of many, we think) briefing meeting with Jigme Rinpoche. It was supposed to happen tonight, but the abhishekas lasted two hours longer than expected—that is to say we went from one in the afternoon to eight at night.
December 16th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
December 12 – 14th
[Sorry to have been gone for a bit. There have been technical difficulties in the West and and the East.]
Over the past few days have passed through more of the empowerments in the Rinchen Terdzo related to practices of the guru. As I explained earlier, the first of the three roots, the root of blessings, is the guru. There are three types of practices here—outer practices which are generally supplications to the historical figure of Padmasambhava. We had one abhisheka only relating to this section, one from Chogyur Lingpa. The other two of the three groups are inner forms of the guru which are peaceful, and secret practices which are the wrathful form of compassion.
One of the abhishekas from this section was related to The Seven Chapters. Last night I noticed it is in the Ripa Monastery Chant book. The monastery found several new copies for the Tibetan reading westerners to share and we got them yesterday. There are about seventy or eighty chants in the book, and what’s chanted changes every day, so we have to set about the task of getting pointers from young monks. Generally at the end of the day there are supplications for the long life of the teachers. These include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Jigme Rinpoche and so on. Prayers for the longevity of His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche happen throughout the day.
The other type of chant we do at the end of the day is an aspiration . Chants like these express wishes for the well being of everyone both in life and at the time of death, for the strength and spread of the teachings, for health and harmony for all communities, good weather, healthy crops, etc. In short, this kind of chant is for everything possible to go well. One chant we do often is The King Of Aspirations, The Aspiration For Noble Excellent Conduct, the first ten verses of which are included in the Vajrayogini Sadhana.
The chanting speed here is really, really fast. Only one or two of the Tibetan speakers in our group can keep up with the monks verbally. Most everything is in meter and with someone clicking the side of a muffled hand bell to keep up the pace. The Tibetan language is quite terse as well, so even if you can keep up, keeping up with the meaning is another matter. It’s kind of challenge and my goal is to shoot for the first two to four syllables of a line and then move on. The best approach in my experience is memorization. I am not sure many of the English speaking Tibetans would fare much better in the West chanting with us racing through our own liturgies.
After the empowerment related to the outer guru practices, we moved to the inner practices, those more related to the guru from the inner point of view. Traditionally ‘inner’ is said to be what we can feel physically or internally as opposed to an experience everyone shares. For example, I feel my indigestion; nobody else does because it is an inner experience. With respect to these type of practices, we are not talking about a vague emotionalism like ‘I feel very good about so and so,’ but instead we are talking about meditations that help develop confidence that the wisdom and sanity of the teacher is also at the core of one’s own being. These particular practices get divided into three areas of emphasis—the three kayas. This is a big topic, but suffice it to say that some of the empowerments bring out the essence, the ultimate aspect of emptiness as the inner teacher; others bring out the aspect of the luminous nature of this essence, and the third group emphasizes the compassionate display of the guru. Empowerments for this latter group will continue for some days.
On the 13th, in middle of the afternoon there was a sudden commotion on the veranda. No inside one knew what it was and the whole room hushed a bit. Usually the only cause for a wave of quiet is Namkha Drimed Rinpoche coming to a moment of meditation in the text. But this time even His Eminence was quiet and everyone was slowly shifting around to look. For a moment I wondered if someone had died or had a seizure. After about 10 seconds of staring to adjust to the bright light outside the building I could see that there was growing wave of movement outside. People were getting up. There was a swarm of bees sweeping through the crowd on the porch and very quickly everyone began running in the shrine room with doors were being slammed everywhere. Total pandemonium! Namkha Drimed Rinpoche started to laugh quite heartily. The adventure with the bees continued through the afternoon until a sensible Tibetan layman filled a censer with lots of broken incense and made a big smoky offering to wave around the porch.
During these days Jigme Rinpoche wrote a long letter to be sent out to the Ripa sangha and this will be posted on this blog shortly. Helping type this letter I was called to the shrine room a few times and brought up on stage to sit beside Jigme Rinpoche to review the text during the morning lungs. If you haven’t guessed by now, it is sometimes a bit boring in the shrine room and any unusual events in the empowerments—related or not—rapidly get the attention of everyone in the room. The close inspection by the Tibetans, particularly the lay Tibetans when I have to weave through there groups to get to a meeting, makes me realize they are trying to figure the westerners out just as we are trying to make sense of them. In many ways our cultures as well as approaches to practice are quite different.
December 16th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
Today we finished the abhishekas for the sadhanas combing the three roots and moved to the empowerments for the sadhanas related to the guru, the source of blessings. This section is divided into many parts starting with the outer practices, supplications to Padmasambhava as an outer figure. There was one empowerment related to this section, drawn from the very famous terma cycle discovered by Chogyur Lingpa, the Barche Kunsel, Eliminating All Obstacles. Students of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, whose reincarnation was enthroned last month, will be familiar with this text. Receiving the Barche Kunsel was particularly significant for Jamgon Kongtrul the Great because at this time he recognized Chogyur Lingpa to be Guru Rinpoche in person. Around that time in his life, Jamgon Kongtrul was afflicted by a form of seemingly incurable leprosy affecting his eye. Chogyur Lingpa gave him a meditation practice to do for this and the disease disappeared with no medical explanation.
The lungs for this section of the Rinchen Terdzo contain a very famous terma, set of supplications known as The Seven Chapters. One section of this text is already well known to the Shambhala community as it is has been popularized by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche as the ‘Guru Rinpoche Song’. A prose translation of this can be found in the supplications for the long Vajrakilaya sadhana as well as in public translations. The Seven Chapters in their entirety are included Sogyal Rinpoche’s beautiful two-language publication of all the major Nyingma supplications titled (I think) A Great Rain Of Blessings. At the end of the day we moved to a preliminary abhisheka for the next series of empowerments related to the guru, the inner practices.
Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1870) is one of the most remarkable figures in the Rime movement of the 19th century. He was friend as well as both teacher and student to Jamgon Kongtrul the Great who put the Rinchen Terdzo together, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo who traveled all over Tibet to gather the many nearly extinct termas and transmissions included in the collection. In Chogyur Lingpa early years he studied extensively with Drukpa and Kagyu masters as well as with teachers from Surmang.
Throughout his life Chogyur Lingpa experienced many visions, direct experiences deities, and performed many miracles. One amazing about thing about him was that he revealed many termas in full view, sometimes in front of hundreds of people. On one occasion he flew to the ceiling of a cave and publically removed objects from solid rock. On another he pulled a vajra, a ritual scepter, half-way out of solid rock leaving in part way in so people could see what was happening.
Chogyur Lingpa was very renowned during his lifetime and many of his termas are included in the Rinchen Terdzo. He upheld and transmitted most of the kama lineages, discovered many terma objects and medicines including more than one hundred statues of Guru Rinpoche and relics belonging to the Indian siddhas, spread a large number of rediscovered termas (yangters), revealed mind termas (termas that arise solely in the mind of the terton), had pure visions of the deities, recalled his former lives and transmitted teachings from those lives with great clarity, and could visit Padmasambhava in a pure realm and converse with him as though in person. In short, he was one of the most amazing people you could ever hope to meet. At the time of his passing in 1870 there were many signs, including earthquakes and rainbows.
December 12th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
Today we continued the series of empowerments that relate to sadhanas combining three roots combined into one deity. Later we will have empowerments related to each of the three roots individually. The three roots are the guru, the yidam or meditational deity, and the dakini or protector. In the Nyingma school the third root is the dakini. In the Kagyu school the third root is the protector or dharmapala. The Rinchen Terdzo has sections for each one later on in the text.
In the tantric approach of relating to a teacher, the guru is the root of blessings. Wisdom in the Buddhist tradition is transmitted from person to person. The teacher is someone who has already walked the path and thus knows mind and the world from top to bottom. Having done that, the teacher possesses an enormous amount of understanding, ability and compassion for others. From that perspective the teacher is the root of blessings. Without a person-to-person connection there is no way to move forward. Connecting with a fully realized being is the best way to move toward complete realization.
A yidam is a visualized deity that is an expression of one’s fully realized nature. There are hundreds of yidams presented in the Rinchen Terdzo. Visualizing a yidam is one of the many methods in vajrayana or tantric Buddhism to help our purify our perceptions of ourselves and the world. Usually we see the world in a somewhat limited way based strongly and unconsciously on our habits. For example, if there is someone we don’t like walking in our room, the gap between simply seeing someone without bias and seeing someone with dislike is almost non-existent. It happens so fast that our feeling of dislike and the person walking in the room don’t appear to be separate. This binding of basic perceptions, emotions and ideas about others can drive us into a lot of difficult situations without any rational judgment.
Training in the yidam is a way of separating neurotic habits from unbiased perception. In contrast to sitting while meditating on the breath there is a lot of color and excitement to this style of meditation initially. But gradually one comes to see that the visualized deity is an expression of one’s own natural sanity or basic goodness. It is a training that brings one back to earth, rather than an imaginary world. That coming back to earth may carry its own richness because of how strangely one’s perceptions had been coloring the world in the first place. The yidam is called the source of accomplishment. It accomplishes the basic sanity, kindness, ability and love that one recognizes in the guru.
The third root is the dakini or protector. Dakini is the name for feminine environmental energy that is inseparably bound with to wisdom. Dakinis are depicted iconographically in feminine form. Protectors can be either masculine or feminine. Dakinis and protectors are the energy that both nurtures us and protects us from straying from the path. Like yidams, and ultimately speaking, the guru they are nothing more than our own mind. They are not external to us.
For me, the best example of protector was given by Trungpa Rinpoche in his teachings on mind training, teachings on developing compassion in through the mahayana tradition of lojong. He said the protectors speaking to you are like when one is totally involved in anger at a friend, and then accidentally slams a door on one’s own hand. It’s like that. We have environmental energy reminding us of wisdom and keeping us out of trouble all the time if we are willing to train ourselves to be open to the messages. Training in these kinds of practices helps open us up to that more and more. The sole aim of protector or dakini energy is to support beneficial activity. Therefore the dakinis and protectors are known as the root of activity.
The topic of the three roots is very detailed and subtle. Just as a good novel can present a tremendous wealth of detail and richness about the lives of its characters, so the teachings on the three roots present an amazing amount of detail and richness about our experience and the mind. The difference is that the tantric teachings are a living experience rooted in devotion to the teacher as the source of blessings. The teacher can then present us with the methods to progressively enter a more natural and open connection with the world.
As for the empowerments we received today, were revealed by a terton named Shikpo Lingpa. I haven’t found out much about him yet. Some of the empowerments were for main practices, and some for branch practices such as a torma empowerment. It was a bit hard to tell what was what, and we were happy to learn that Jigme Rinpoche would like to start briefing the western students every few days about what is coming up.
December 8th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
Here is a preliminary list of the empowerments and lungs for the Rinchen Terdzo. Over time, we will connect this with the overview of tantric practices in the Nyingma and the lives of some of the major tertons as the events here unfold. Here are the first couple of days the empowerments that the Sakyong, Khandro Tseyang and other recipients of the Rinchen Terdzo have received.
5 December, 2008
1) Greatly Expanding Buddha Activity: Empowerment for Vajrasattva by Mindrol Lingpa
smin gling rdor sems kyi dbang phrin las rab rgyas
Author: Jamgon Kongtrul
‘jam mgon kong sprul
2) Self-Liberating Doubt: The Preliminary Empowerment of the Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities] by Karma Lingpa
kar gling zhi khro dbang gi sta gon the tshom rang grol
Author: Jamgon Kongtrul
‘jam mgon kong sprul
1) Completely Clarifying Appearances: The Root Instructions for Vajrasattva
rdor sems rtsa khrid rab gsal snang ba
Author: Lochen Dharma Shri
lo chen dharma shr’i
2) Authentic Mandala of Luminosity: Instructions for the Four Appearances of the Completion Stage
rdzogs rim snang bzhi’i khrid mngon sum ‘od gsal ‘khor lo
Author: Lochen Dharma Shri
lo chen dharma shr’i
3) Self-Liberating the Illusion of Self: Instructions for Dreaming
rmi lam gyi khrid nying ‘phrul rang grol
Author: Lochen Dharma Shri
lo chen dharma shr’i
4) Liberating Confused Thoughts into Space: Chod Instructions
gcod khrid ‘khrul rtog dbyings grol
Author: Lochen Dharma Shri
lo chen dharma shr’i
5) The Quick Path of Samanthabhadra (alt: ‘Completely Excellent’); Chod Instructions
‘pho ba’i man ngag kun bzang myur lam
Author: Trinle Chodron
phrin las chos sgron
6 December, 2008
1) Self-Liberating Whatever You Meet: The Middle-Length Empowerment for Karma Lingpa’s Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities]
kar gling zhi khro’i dbang ‘bring po ‘brel tshad rang grol
Author: Jamgon Kongtrul
’jam mgon kong sprul
2) Purposeful Contact (?): The Torma Empowerment for Karma Lingpa’s Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities]
kar gling zhi khro’i gtor dbang reg pa don ldan
Author: Chagme Raga
chags med r’a ga
3) Empowerment for Karma Lingpa’s Gathering of Peaceful and Wrathful [Deities] in the tradition of Mindroling
kar gling zhi khro khrom krug smin lugs dbang
Author: Lochen Dharma Shri
lo chen dharma shr’i
4) Essence of Luminosity: An Empowerment for The Peaceful And Wrathful [Deities] of The Bindu of Liberation (RY: grol thig zhi khro is a terma from Sherab Oser–a bonpo terton)
grol tig zhi khro dbang ‘od gsal snying po
Author: Jamyang Khyentse
‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse
December 7th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
December 6th 2008
Today’s abhishekas were all related to the peaceful and wrathful deities of the bardo, the interval between life and death. From the biggest perspective we are constantly in the place between existence and non-existence. However, it’s more usual to talk about the bardo as gap between this life and the next.
There were four separate empowerments given. Three of them were based on the revelations of the terton Karma Lingpa. Karma Lingpa was born in the first half of the fourteenth century, the child of an accomplished Nyingma master. He started to reveal termas about the peaceful and wrathful deities when he was fifteen years old. The last empowerment was based on the revelations of a Bon terton, Trangpo Sherap Oser.
Karma Lingpa’s most well-known text is called Great Liberation By Hearing During The Intermediate State. Intermediate state is the English for the Tibetan word ‘bardo’ which refers specifically to the time when one’s life is ending. The title is most well known in the West as The Tibetan Book Of The Dead. It is a series of instructions to be read to someone who is dying in order to help them relate to the experience of death in a clear, relaxed and open manner in order to attain enlightenment or at the very least a good rebirth.
The peaceful and wrathful deities are a big part of the experience of death. It is said that one has internal visions in a certain part of the death process. These visions at first appear peaceful and kind, later there appear more ferocious and challenging forms. The important point here is that all the deities are appearances arising from one’s own mind. They are not external. If one is confident in this at the time of death these peaceful and wrathful appearances are self-liberated—they dissolve into the mind from which they came.
December 6th, 2008 by Walker Blaine
December 5th 2008
Today the Rinchen Terdzo opened.
When the Rinchen Terdzo opened this afternoon at the monastery, the westerners were seated in their own section to the left of the monks as you face the shrine. There is a wide black marble stage and a high throne on which Namkha Drimed Rinpoche sits giving the initiations, or in Tibetan wang. To his left, seated on a very low seat is the Sakyong. And behind the Sakyong are the Ripas. Behind them, about 40 times bigger than life is the Buddha, Shakyamuni with golden hands large enough to hold any of us. To the Buddha’s left is a 1000 armed, white standing Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. To the left is Padmasambhava.
His Eminence entered with a procession of Tibetan horns followed by the Sakyong and the rest the dignitaries. Then His Eminence sat down and gave a brief explanation of the lineage of transmission of the Rinchen Terdzo from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye to himself. He also spoke about the auspiciousness of the situation for the monastery and lay community—that the monastery is about to open and at the same time it is hosting Rinchen Terdzo, the collection of all the main termas in the Nyingma lineage. There was much more said, but this is what I gathered from a friend who understands Tibetan.
The lineage to Namkha Drimed Rinpoche is from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye to Sechen Gyaltsap who then passed it to Sechen Kongtrul who then gave the empowerments to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Then Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave the empowerments twice in his life. The second time he bestowed the Rinchen Terdzo he was eighteen. He offered it at Yak Gompa in Tibet. There were two principle recipients of the abhishekas, Yak Tulku Rinpoche and His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche. This is an extraordinary coincidence. One could not hope for a better person to give the Rinchen Terdzo to the Sakyong other than the Vidhyadhara himself.
As it turns out, we are receiving the abhishekas almost immediately. There were two—or rather one and a half bestowed today. The first one was a Vajrasattva empowerment. Vajrasattva is known as the embodiment of all the deities, all the buddhas. And so this particular empowerment for a Vajrasattva practice discovered by the terton Minling Terchen was symbolically the start of the whole cycle of teachings, and one that contained them all.
The half abhisheka was a preliminary for a peaceful and wrathful deity practice by Karma Lingpa. Karma Lingpa is very famous for his book, the Tibetan Book of the Dead as it is known in English. The ‘half’ part is that one is preliminarily were one is blessed and obstacles are symbolically removed, and then the next day one returns for the next part of the empowerment ritual. Often with this kind of two-day empowerment one is asked to look at one’s dreams and see if there are any auspicious signs.
As we get settled, we’ll be posting a regular listing of the empowerments as well as an explanation of the structure of the Rinchen Terdzo. This will give a chance to understand more about how the dharma is transmitted in the vajrayana, and particularly in the Nyingma. This is one of the Sakyong’s wishes for this blog, that there is an on-going flow of information about what is happening here and how it pertains to the dharma and all of us.
Then there were several reading transmissions on such topics as Vajrasattva practice, completion stage practice, luminosity, dream and chod practice. All of this was in Tibetan, and all these instructions are very important within the Nyingma and other lineages. More to follow on the authors as well as the titles of the texts.