Rinchen Terdzo

Padmasambhava and Mandarava

January 4th, 2009 by Walker Blaine

The image to the left is a photograph of a shoe print of Padmasambhava. This imprint was left in a cave in North India at a sacred place named Tso Pema, Lotus Lake. Padmasambhava practiced here for a time with his Indian consort, Mandarava seen in the photo at the right. Her statue and a similar one of Yeshe Tsogyal stand in front of the large statue of Padmasambhava in the shrine room here in Orissa.

Hidden Energy

December 31st, 2008 by Walker Blaine

December 30th 2008

Jigme Rinpoche gave a bit of an introduction to his talk last night by saying the wrathful guru practices are about getting into the hidden corners of the mind, places we don’t always look at, and he said this energy is unpredictable. As he talked about this and I considered my experience of late, I had to admit that my mental gossip for the last three days had been a bit wilder and more shocking than usual, as have my dreams. Two days ago I dreamed of being on my death-bed with sangha members practicing in my room. I was sad to be leaving this world and the memory of this dream lingered throughout the day and provoked me to open up more.

Today’s abhishekas were for Guru Trakpo and Dorje Trollo, two very wrathful forms of Padmasambhava. Dorje Trollo is a central feature of the Vidyadhara’s terma, The Sadhana of Mahamudra, discovered in Bhutan at Taktsang, the cave retreat place Padmasambhava practiced at before entering Tibet. Fans of this sadhana (practiced every new and full moon at Shambhala Centers everywhere) will be delighted to know that we said the mantra HUM HUM HUM a great many times during the day. One of the Dorje Trollo empowerments was written by the Fifth Dalai Lama whose name I am now fond of seeing on the daily empowerment lists.

It’s very busy here, so this is a very short entry. We are look forward to the day after tomorrow which will be a day off. However, what a day off will actually mean here is still a mystery.

Frescos in the Shrine Room

December 26th, 2008 by Walker Blaine

Here are three photos related to the following post.

The five and nine manifestations of Padmasambhava can be seen in one large fresco, and the Wheel Of Life in a second. Shakyamuni Buddha’s statue, the center piece of the shrine room, is framed by the six other buddhas, the three preceeding buddhas of this age, and the three buddhas from the three prior kalpas.

Padmasambhava is Everywhere

December 26th, 2008 by Walker Blaine

December 24th 2004

We resumed having morning fog after a few days of clear skies. The reading transmissions start to broadcast on the speakers outside the monastery each day at 6:40 and our little valley fills with the voice of Lhuntrul Rinpoche. The logic is that people can hear the lungs wherever they are working and therefore don’t need to be in the shrine room. There is a speaker in the old monastery building so the westerners practicing there from 9 to 11:30 can hear the lung too.

I have learned a bit more about Lhuntrul Rinpoche who will teach for two nights starting tomorrow. He will speak on the nine yanas or paths, the graded presentation of understanding and practice laid out in the Nyingma tradition. The Rinchen Terdzo is a systematic presentation of the last three yanas (mahayoga, anuyoga and atiyoga.) Rinpoche’s talks will put things in context.

Lhuntrul Rinpoche is about 32 years old, the second son of Namkha Drimed Rinpoche and his wife, Khandro Chime who arrived a few days ago. Lhuntrul Rinpoche, sometimes called Lhunpo Rinpoche, studied for nine years at His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s monastic college at Namdroling Monastery in Mysor, India. He has received the Rinchen Terdzo three times before. He is noticeably joyful during the ceremonies here, playful with the lamas as he brings them this or that icon during the empowerments, and he has the look of someone who practices a great deal. He divides his time between Toronto and Asia.

This afternoon we had a record 12 abhishekas in one day. They were divided into two groups plus the start of a third set, all part of the series of fifty terma practices related to Padmasambhava and the Seven Line Prayer. I’ve typed the prayer below, but it is missing a crucial bit of punctuation at the end of every line. I was unable to kern the font for a ‘tertsek,’ commonly called a terma mark. This mark shows a line break in a terma. The tersek usually appears as a pair of stacked circles with a horizontal line between them. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse’s tertsek look like the Tibetan letter A missing the first stroke of the letter.]

In the Northwest of the land of Uddiyana,
On a blooming lotus flower,
You have attained supreme, wondrous siddhi.
You are renowned as Padmakara,
Surrounded by your retinue of many dakinis.
We practice following your example.
Please approach and grant your blessing.

Translated by the Nalanda Translation Committee.

This short chant is among the most well known supplications in Tibetan Buddhism. It was written by the dakinis, female wisdom deities, to call Padmasambhava when the early Buddhist university, Nalanda, was threatened 500 arrogant religious extremists who were also skilled in black magic. In that era, feuds were settled on the debating ground with the loser and his or her followers obligated to switch to the winner’s philosophical position. The extremists were not above using magic to achieve their aims. Padmasambhava was renowned for his learning along with the magical force of his meditative attainment. The scholars of Nalanda supplicated with this chant, and Padmasambhava saved the monastery.

Later, when Padmasambhava arrived in Tibet, he gave this chant to King Trisong Detsen and his subjects. The Seven Line Supplication is included with many termas, often at the start. I have heard it sung by His Eminence dozens of times during the past three weeks. Often it appears in the section of the empowerment where the deity is first invoked. It is everywhere because Padmasambhava is the main author of the termas.

The other day an exasperated friend said something like, “What is it with this tradition? Everything is all about Padmasambhava.” It’s really true. Padmasambhava’s presence is overwhelming, unstoppable and unavoidable. We sit in a shrine room modeled after Padmasambhava’s pure realm, Copper Colored Mountain. The 800 of us sing his mantras at the end of the day. We were asked at the start of the Rinchen Terdzo to commit to saying his manta 100,000 times. These last few weeks we’ve listened to and open to terma after terma written for dozens of manifestations of him. He’s everywhere.

In such a situation one is forced to contemplate why this man, an Indian, is so revered by the Tibetans. They cry out to the Buddha, but they cry out to him a lot louder. I think this is because Padmasambhava really, really cherished the Tibetans, and in turn they took on and protected the Buddhist tantric teachings which were soon to vanish from India. Padmasambhava first made sure the dharma was secure at the start in Tibet, and then did everything he could to make sure the Buddhist teachings would survive as long as possible through the terma teachings.

I confess that I too hadn’t really gotten the point that without Padmasambhava we would not have the tantric teachings, we wouldn’t have terma, we would not have the Shambhala Teachings, and we would not have our two Sakyongs. So supplicating Padmasambava begins to seem like watering the roots of a huge tree, nurturing that connection as much as possible, and asking it to grow, protect and nourish everyone in the midst of this chaotic and difficult life.

Padmasambhava Statue

December 24th, 2008 by Walker Blaine

Padmasambhava and Tormas

December 11th, 2008 by Walker Blaine

The Lungs Begin

December 7th, 2008 by Walker Blaine

This morning Dungse Lhuntrul Dechen Gyurme Rinpoche also known as Tulku Lhuntrul Rinpoche began the reading transmissions. These start in the morning at 6:30 sharp. Everything is pretty tightly timed to keep the events on track. Last night there was an announcement that there’d be an empowerment this morning so everyone is here, the lay community included though the crowd might have been a tiny bit thinner than last night. As it turned out there was no abhisheka, but a lot of reading.

His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche entered in and I expected him to take the throne center stage, but he went off to the right side of the room, behind a large red curtain that surrounds the shine being used for the empowerments. I realized that His Eminence has to do the liturgy for every meditation practice that he will bestow in the afternoon and that was why he has to be in the room during the lungs. His son, Tulku Lhuntrul Rinpoche soon took his own seat on a low throne placed in front of the (empty for the morning) main throne and started the reading transmissions after some brief remarks included an explanation of the three lineages of transmission through which he received the lungs himself. One of them, I heard, was from Tenga Rinpoche who gave the lungs several years ago when the previous Kalu Rinpoche was bestowing the Rinchen Terdzod.

Most mornings I will be working on the blog and practicing but today it seemed good to go and get the flavor of things is like. Just as the Sakyong offered the mandala for the wangs, the Sakyong Wangmo offered the mandala, the symbolic offering of one’s whole world, in order to receive the lungs, the reading transmissions. In the west we are used to making a formal offering like this with a tall arrangement of rice being piled during the liturgy describing all the very best things one could offer in order receive the teachings. Here we are using a permanent representation of that kind of offering,  a round plate symbolizing the ground and upon it five golden heaps symbolizing the world and its inhabitants.

The lungs today are several life histories of Padmasambhava, the teacher who firmly established Buddhism in Tibet through his incredible yogic powers and insight, and also the stories of the lives of all the tertons. Padmasambhava is a very remarkable figure. He entered Tibet in the 7th century and is a great inspiration to many practitioners, particularly Tibetans because without him these teachings would not have survived to the present day. Padmasambhava planted the terma teachings in order that they be discovered at times when the dharma was weakening. And this event, the Rinchen Terdzod, is a kind of celebration of all the gathered termas as well as bringing them forward into the present.