Well we recognise we have been a bit on the quiet front lately… We are spending a lot time in Christchurch at the moment and would like to take this opportunity to get together for a Tsok practice this coming Saturday which is the 25th Day according to the lunar calendar which is astrologically a significant day called Dakini Day. A Dakini is a tantric figure representing a female embodiment of enlightened energy. To learn more about essentially the meaning of this Tsok practice see here
Time & Date: Sat 4th May 2013, 11.30 am. There will be a short introduction to those new to the practice.
What to bring: A small plate of food or drink to offer & share. Customarily an assortment of food & drink is offered. Bring a container also to take home any leftovers. Also a cushion to sit on as we are a bit short of those here!
Place: 269 Mt Pleasant Rd. Head to the room underneath the main house, not the main house itself.
Please confirm back via email or phone/text to Mb: 0211162490
To celebrate the festive season we thought it would be nice to gather together and do a Tsok (Circle Gathering Feast Offering) practice together in the next coming Guru Rinpoche day, a powerful astrologically significant day, which conveniently falls on Saturday 22nd December. A short explanation to the practice will be given before the practice
Time & Date: Sat 22nd Dec 2012, 11 am. Try and arrive earlier to give yourself time to have a cuppa and relax a bit after the drive
What to bring: Some food or drink to offer & share. Customarily an assortment of food, alcohol and meat is offered.
Bring walking shoes & togs if you are keen to go down to the beach after and have a dip.
“All practices on the path to buddhahood are methods for gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom and for purifying our obscurations. These two processes of accumulation and purification go hand in hand; as we accumulate more merit and wisdom, our obscurations automatically diminish.
As we mentioned earlier, the Secret Mantra Vajrayana features countless skilful and powerful methods which, if they are practised in the proper way, can make the process of accumulation and purification incredibly swift and direct. One such method is the practice of tsok, which is primarily a practice of offering. It is not just a practice of offering however; it is also a powerful method for purifying our samaya. Sometimes it is said that the best method for purifying samaya is the fire offering, and tsok practice is the ‘inner fire offering.’ Tsok is a very rich practice with many layers of meaning, and it can be practised on various levels. It is said that as ordinary beings we are only able to imitate the real tsok practice, which is performed by the dakas and dakinis.
The Sanskrit word for tsok practice is ganachakra, which in Tibetan is ཚོགས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ་ tsok kyi khorlo. The word ཚོགས་, tsok means ‘an accumulation’ or ‘a gathering, an assembly or group’, and the word འཁོར་ལོ་, khorlo literally means ‘wheel.’ So the literal translation is something like ‘wheel of accumulation.’ According to the great master Jamgön Kongtrul, this term relates to the inner level of tsok practice, and the generation of vast ‘gatherings’ of bliss that are like ‘wheels’ which cut through the web of our deluded thoughts and tainted emotions.” ref Rigpa wiki
- Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Course at Raupo Bay Retreat -
- during Canterbury Show Weekend, Fri 16 Nov to Sun – 18 Nov -
- with Buddhist Teacher Jakob Leschly -
We can discover happiness and freedom beyond our ordinary limitations by working constructively with, and mastering, our present attitudes and actions. This mastery is neither exclusive to some people “who just have it”, nor is it due to supernatural powers. Rather, according to the Buddha, it comes from becoming aware of, and working with, our existing internal and external conditions. Buddhist knowledge and meditation provides the insight and freedom to work with these conditions.
Jakob will lead a three-day course over Canterbury Show Weekend offering a theoretical overview and practical application.
Buddhist Teacher Jakob Leschly
Jakob Leschly was appointed by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche as his resident teacher for Siddharthas Intent in Australia. He began his studies of Buddhism in 1974 and has studied with numerous great teachers, particularly Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Jakob completed a three year retreat in 1984, has since worked as a translator and interpreter as well as a philosophy and meditation instructor, also completing a BA in Tibetan Studies. He lives with his family in New South Wales.
The course will start at 10 am on Canterbury Show Day – Friday 16th Nov. Please aim to arrive at least by 9.40 am to give yourself some time to have a cuppa and settled after the long drive. If you would rather arrive the night before, this is fine also.
Friday 16th Nov – workshop sessions at 10 am & 3 pm. 7 pm – practice session
Saturday 17th Nov – practice from 7 am. Workshop sessions at 10 am & 3 pm. 7 pm – practice
Sunday 18th Nov – practice from 7 am, Closing session from 10 am.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner from 8am, 12.30 and 5.30 pm. Food will be mostly organic, let us know if you are veg or non veg on registration.
There will also be some free time to go for walks, enjoy the scenery, relax or have a soak in the spa.
The course will finish after lunch on Sunday. A little help with a quick tidy up before heading home would be appreciated. You are welcome to stay on for the rest of the day for informal arrangements.
There will be a rota system in place to help with food prep & dishes.
What to bring
Torch, good walking shoes, cushion to sit on (or let us know if you would prefer a chair), sunscreen & hat. Togs for the spa pool or a swim at the beach if you can brave the cold!
Bedding will be supplied in the bedrooms, you will need to bring pillow and sleeping bag if not in a room, to be confirmed at registration.
Your donation of $140 or $100 concessions will go towards course expenses. You can pay by cash, cheque or direct deposit. Please register and pay at earliest or at latest by 9th November.
Ngagpa Tenpa is a Tibetan refugee living in Melbourne, he is currently doing a Chö retreat in the gompa here.Chö (Wyl.gcod) (literally ‘cutting’), is known as the mendicants accumulation of merit.
“It is a practice, based on the prajnaparamita, involving a visualization in which the physical body is offered as food to various guests, including evil forces or dangerous spirits, the purpose of which is to destroy or ‘cut’ the four maras and especially one’s own ego-clinging.” – ref: Rigpa wiki
The practice involves using a dhamaru (hand drum) moving in double time and a bell moving in single time. Also the thigh bone trumpet for calling the spirits to invite them to the offering. Have a look at the short video we made below.
The term Ngagpa refers to practicitioners (Ngagmo for feminine) whom wear a white robe over their shoulder and leave there hair uncut. Devoting significant time to retreat, they may live as a lay householder rather than a renunciate monk.
Ngagpa Tenpa will be here for a few more days, you can come out here and meet him if you have time.
I (Ron) was asked by a vajra brother to update the Rigpa Wiki page on Lama Gonpo and it inspired me to record a few words about the precious time I spent with him.
Lama Gonpo in his backyard, Clement Town, India
The first time I saw Lama Gonpo, he was standing on a small alley way between two houses – he looked so stately and wise – and he looked up the alley way, saw me and smiled in a way that seemed somehow special. It was 1974 in Clement Town, India. Just briefly glancing at him then while walking past, he left an indelible impression on me, although I did not know who it was at the time.
I was at that time trying to ascertain who could give me the complete teachings of Tsa Lung and the profound esoteric practices leading up to the highest Tantric practices. But in the back of my mind I kept the image of this tall Ngakpa that I had briefly seen. I went around and talked to the great masters that were around then, including the heads of the various sects and had gathered together a list of recommended lamas of which Lama Gonpo’s name was there amongst about 5 others. At that time I was with Choying Palmo, a beautiful English girl, when I met her she was practicing Mahamudra with the Kagyupas and after we got together she came with me to meet these great Lamas.
I was beginning the search for the masters that were on my list and when I went to see Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche, (who resided at the Nyingmapa Lama’s college near to where I was staying in Missouri, Queen of the Hills, India) he recommended to me that I go see Lama Gonpo who was staying half an hour walk away from there during the summer and in the winter down in the settlement which was a bus ride away. So together with Choying we walked straight up to his place and found him there, he was drawing various yoga positions, I asked him why he was drawing these yoga positions and he said that it was so he wouldn’t forget these wonderful sets of yoga movements. That very same day he agreed to teach us. These drawings I believe were the 21 yogas of Vairotsana that he spent the subsequent year teaching us. We were there altogether about 3 years – in ClementTown for winters and for summers in the “Queen of the hills”, Missouri – the British summer capital (they went there to get out of the heat).
We rented a place down the street from him and he would come and see us one day, then we would go and see him the next day and so saw him every day. He would always check to see if we had mastered all the things he had taught previously, before he gave us anything new. Later he told me that he gave us all the teachings, when we were there with him at that time. I had to sponsor a trip for him to go see the Dalai Lama so he could seek permission if he should be revealing the secret teachings of the higher tantric practices to this westerner, permission was given and it was at this time, I believe, that he was given a precious relic from the Dalai Lama – a phurba that Padmasambhava had hidden as a terma (treasure).
Some happenings in his front room:
I saw how Lama Gonpo would receive everybody, it didn’t matter to him what background they came from or what kind of person they were, he had no judgments whatsoever only pure vision and true sense of the compassion of equanimity. He didn’t reject anyone, he thought that everybody could be helped. Though if there were a lesson to be learned he could be extremely direct like in the case of this next story:
After he had agreed to plan to go to California with us, when the word got out some young Lamas from the big Monastery turned up at his house in ClementTown and requested with a Mandala offering to give teachings to them before he left and to pass on his special lineage and techniques. This amused Lama Gonpo to no end and he told them in his colloquial Tibetan that I understood well enough, that “in all the years I have been here no one has come around asking for these teachings and now that you have learned that I am teaching westerners and going to California, all of a sudden you come asking for my transmission, best you go back to your big monastery and get the teachings from your big Lama there.”
I was also there receiving teachings from him when a Khandroma came to visit. She was looking after the two young sons of Dungse Thinley Norbu, and brought them to the monastery there for their training. I was fascinated by the counters on the mala which he left her, she said they were miraculously produced from Sky Metal – metiriorite steel. They were minute and intricate, a dagger and tiku knife, very unique and ancient, predating any technology that could have produced them. So I purchased them and produced some replicas in silver that I still make today. Lama Tharchin was with her at the time but then left to start a centre near Santa Cruz, California.
Lama Gonpo in Ngakpa robes: This is in Clementown at the opening ceremony for the 3 month long Rinzin Terser retreat with Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche. Lama Gonpo gave teachings duing the lunch hours
An accomplished yogi:
Lama Gonpo attended what was reputedly the most famous of Tibet’s yoga colleges (Rab-Gon Ngak-Mang – “the place of many Tantrikas”) for mastering the ancient mystical powers – siddhis – where all the secret practices were taught in depth and pursued. I was told that for the end of one course at this yoga college they went to the deep holes dug in the ground behind the buildings, on a cold winters night the student would sit down at the bottom of the holes, and see how many wet blankets they could dry out in the one night. They do this by producing inner heat (tumo fire). They would also see how far that they could rise up above the hole, the idea was to see which one could raise up the highest. I was told that people standing at a distance away could see Lama Gonpo rising above, not just the other yogis, but also the row of buildings that were in front!
There he was initiated into the yogas including the yogas with the use of secret instruments and items enabling one to go onto the higher stages of tantra, practicing with a consort, and as Lama had many consorts over the years and only volunteeringly produced one son over many decades of practice this attests his mastery of tantric discipline. There were only a few that were familiar with these practices let alone many that actually accomplished them.
As a teacher he would continually test your patience and faith making sure one never became too comfortable, in order to diminish ego and develop inner strength so as to actualize the Dharma. He really was an emanation of Vimalamitra (whom spent thirteen years in Tibet, and then, promising to return to Tibet every hundred years as an emanation to further the Clear Light teaching of Dzogpachenpo…)
With sangha, Lama Gonpo in the middle, Gyaltrul Rinpoche in front.
Time in California:
I repeatedly requested Lama Gonpo to come to California over the year, then Sange Khandro (Nancy Gustafson), whom was with Gyatrul Rinpoche, also was expressing interest in inviting him as well, so eventually he was persuaded. So off we went to their house in Berkeley, California. We stayed there for a while and then rented our own 3 story, turreted, Queen Anne house with 9 official bedrooms and working gas lights, at one time we were averaging 35 residents staying in that house, all living together, with Lama Gonpo in the master bedroom. It was one of the most rewarding and unrepeatable times, even though I had to put off my practice retreat which was devastating to me at the time.
I remember this story about the trip to the Alameda Flea Market that was described in this blog, how Lama Gonpo expressed how after all the people had left the market for the day then the ghosts that were there came out in the same location to set up their stalls and have their own flea market.
He humbly displayed his clairvoyance a few times like this, making it sound like a regular normal activity and nothing special at all. One time he told me that there was an Indian girl that came to him and stayed with him in his room for a while during the day, but he said no one else in the house noticed her or could see her, only him, so he had determined that she must have been some sort of dakini.
Dzogchen retreat at the Russian River
Once I had found out that the price of gold was rising quite substantially I told Lama Gonpo that we had invested some money in gold stocks, he said that’s very interesting. Then later while we were in a Dzogchen Yeshe Lama retreat in the mountains in Oregon where there was no phone, he announced that this was a bad idea that we were in danger of losing lots of money. But, alas by the time I got to a phone we had lost all the considerable profit that had been gained. The story is just another example of how he could see things in perspective even though he didn’t know about the stock market, but too bad cell phones hadn’t been invented yet!
When Lama Gonpo was in his summer residence in Missouri, India he stayed next door to the apartment of his sponsor’s family. The wife had TB and so did the grandparents and they were coughing all the time. They refused to be tested or take proper treatment because if they did then there would be stigma attached like that they would most definitely have it if they choose to believe it. So they choose to ignore it instead. Then for immigration, when going to America, he was found to have been exposed to TB so he was required to take a course of antibiotics. After leaving America, in India and Nepal on his way to Tibet he associated with the same people and later in Tibet got sick. Choying Palmo got him on another course of TB medication. He got well again and stopped the course without completing it. Then he of course it came back and he became worse and eventually it got the better of him. I kicked myself for not finding a more fruitful and acceptable situation for him in America so he would not get sick, and would stay there. But I was not wise or skillful enough at the time.
He was a great Tantrika that behaved spontaneously in different ways that would benefit different types of people, to me he was just like the great Mahasiddhas from India and Tibet embodying the “crazy wisdom”, appearing sometimes angry and sometimes shocking or antagonizing to his students, he would do what ever it took in order to liberate them. Whilst at the same time catering to others in an ordinary way always with deepest compassion and care.
so have not written for a while so will give a brief run down of adventures since New Year.
We visited to the old town in Dehli and I would recommend for anyone who is visiting to go there, but pick a day when feeling brave and prepared for all senses to be bamboozled as sights, sounds & smells are overwhealming yet incredible because of that. Also we visited to the Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also another UNESCO World Heritage Site. These medieval Hindu and Jain temples are found in groups all over the small city and were said to be at the pinicle of indian archetecture. Famous though for the erotic (or romantic, depending on perspective!) sculptures that depict stories of ancient parties, festivals and life on the outsides of the temples. It is said that the karma sutra on the outside of Hindu temples portray that once seeing the deity one is supposed to leave their sexual desires outside the temple before entering. The sculptures though were exisite with perfect curvy bodies , one guide (the strategy was to subtely take photos besides groups that had bought guides and evesdrop inconspiciously) said it was because they did yoga and ate good food everyday, and the problem with nowdays is that while we still enjoy good food, people dont have time to exercise everyday !
Then while walking the streets, all young Indian kids are always very interested in you – “what is your country”, “what is you name”, “do you have biscuit”, “do you have pen”… but a couple of young boys with no shoes took me on a tour of the local old town. It was very interesting as they still have class society there, as we moved through the narrow streets you could reconise that you were entering into a new class by the small hump on the road. They showed me the wells that were near empty as they are lacking water this winter, and the cow patties used for burning on fires and insulating roofs.
HH Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya
The whole of Bodhgaya was packed with foreigners and monks that came from all over, all guest houses put their prices up by 4 times every year reaping in the rewards from this annual course. Apparantly Richard Gere had also come along but I didnt run into him. I did though by chance happen to say hello and hold the hand of HH Dalai Lama to help him down a step or two as he was getting into his car
Was great to spend the week listening to this impressive speaker and charismatic leader, along with giving commentary to some buddhist texts he really stresses for people to be aware of the situation in Tibet, that the human rights situation is detiriorating with heavy controls and continued torture and violence, there is said to be one army officer for every 10 people now and any foreign reporting is forbidden. Exploitation of Tibets minerals and the much bigger concern of survival of Tibetan culture is as stake as the Chinese government increasingly encourages Han Chinese to migrate there for higher wages, pushing the Tibetans out. HH Dalai Lama tells the public to please visit there ourselves, and check out the situation for ourselves objectively. And if we don’t think that there are these problems he will stop talking about it. But it is interesting to talk to the Tibetans and they each have their own story. I also met one Tibetan Human Rights Activist living in Sweden, he said that governments were presented a list of Chinese spies that operated in each country, apparantly USA and Australia evicted theirs straight away but alas in NZ we didnt do anything, at least officially as far as he knows. He has been thretened a few times and cannot be in contact with his family.
Lived here in the backstreets close to the ghats on the holy river ganges. One can stroll along the river and see the many sadhus washing themselves in the (extremly polluted) holy water. Also hindu funerals are performed here, where they burn bodies by the river.
Visited to Saranath the deer park where Buddha first taught the Dharma - The 8 Fold Path & The 4 Noble Truths. There is also a small museum that hosts many artifacts from ruins that were excavated from the Ashoka period.
Back to Bodhgaya
Dujom Rinpoche wearing Ngakpa robes
This time a longer stay of 10 days. The Nyingma (the old school) moelam was really impressive with around 9000 monks and nuns, including a whole section full of Ngapas & Ngagmos (non monastic yogis & yoginis) and around 250 tulkus. Also an inspiring line up of masters such as the new Dujom Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Mingling Khenchen Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and more. One evening as the sun was going down the Ngagmos gathered together and performed the famous chod (practice for cutting through the ego) ceremony. Many people gathered to watch this enchanting practice absorbed in the airy tune accompanied by darmaru (hand drum) and bell. The darmaru is held in the right hand to a single beat with the left hand operating the bell in double time, I tried this once and my brain can not cope!
I met with Rabjam Rinpoche (the successor of Dilgo Kyenste Rinpoche of Sechen monestary) a couple of times he has promised to come teach in NZ some time next year so watch this space…. !
Buddha in "lion posture" at Rajgir
Then also visited to Rajgir – Vulture Peak Mountain where Buddha gave the prajnaparamita and also to the ruins of Nalanda University – “one of the first great universities in ancient history”. This was a day bus tour that I went on with the whole bus full of Nepali mountain people. They sang heart felt songs all the way and the ladies high, strong cries in these songs bought a tear to my eye was really wonderful songs and told them I will now go find a CD.
The section is 670 square metres on a hilly but excellent building platform with major road access. Wonderful natural rock formations and fresh clean air. $165k negotiable. We are willing to negotiate finance options, builders terms etc.
View from the section for sale
The spacious wide views over the ocean can only reflect many good impressions on the mind to the fortunate ones who become the owners!!!
Just spent a week on Ngondro (preliminary practices) retreat at Deer Park Institute, Bir at 1700 metres, the foothills of the himalayas. A quiet and small town with a few monasteries around. They run the institute according to eco friendly principles of recycle, reuse, solar power heating etc. Is really refreshing to be there to see that something is actually happening in India as the problems with plastic waste, rubbish and air quality is a huge mess. Daily we had teachings from Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche, an impressive young tulku of Sonam Sangpo.
Huge Guru Rinpoche statue overlooking the whole valley
Together with friends we took a 3 hr taxi ride to Rewalshar where the famous lake of Tso Pema is -” One version of a legend has it that the king of Mandi had Padmasambhava burnt alive after rumours that the Guru had attempted to teach his daughter the Dharma, which was not accepted then. The pyre burned for a full week, with great clouds of black smoke arising from it, but after a week, a lake appeared at the spot where he was burnt and Padmasambhava manifested himself as a 16 year old boy from within a lotus in the middle of the lake. The king, repenting his actions, married his daughter with Padmasambhava. It was from Tso Pema that Padmasambhava went to Tibet to spread Vajrayana Buddhism” (extract from wiki).
There are also a few caves where Padmasambhava & Mandarava (his Indian consort) meditated… also each leaving behind their footprints & a headprint of Padmasambhava in nearby rocks. In the same area is also a cave where Ron retreated for some time, he drew me a map of how to find it, but I think things may have changed a bit over the years, and not enought time to find it… but is a beautiful and inspiring spot so may have to venture back there. Very fast drive on the high windey road back, the 21 yr old taxi driver was chuffed to make it back in 2 1/2 hrs.
Now in McLeod Ganj, above Dharamsala where the tibetan government in exile and the H.H Dalai Lama’s residence is located – 2000 metres high, again fresh air and great views. Lucky for me K came a few days earlier with an assignment to find friends to party with tonight, sounds like she not only found friends but had a few propositions from Indian admirers also… good going Daisy girl….
I have a few on my list of Lama’s that I would really like to meet, and by chance within 3 days I very nearly met 3 of them…. it was a fun adventure.
I go to Sundarijal, about 20 mins from where I was staying in Boedha. There there is the monestry of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche. I go into the office and introduce myself and ask to meet with Khetsun Sanpo Rinpoche. They sit me down, chat for a while and I meet some students who new Ron from his days in Misourie, India and I show them a few photos of our place in New Zealand. Then they say sorry Kim but Rinpoche passed away 1 week ago… It was a surprise. .. He had problems with the kidney, at 90 years old and was sick for around 2 weeks. He spent 2 days in meditation and then left. They said I can go to the room where they have the body kept in a box (upright as is still in meditation posture). They leave it there while they do some pujas (ceremonies) and decide what to do with the body. When a great Lama dies it is a very special thing indeed. It is not really like they are not there anymore, as I discussed with his students over lunch afterwards, it is more like they are everywhere. And when I was in the room with this Lama that had just recently died, you could really feel something like that, it is pretty convincing of something that is not an ordinary death. Really interesting.
nuns cleaning the inside of the monestary
Then by chance when speaking to one old yogi from Sth Africa that was at the monestry, I asked if he knew the whearabouts of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche (the eldest son of Dujom Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma school). He said, yes well he is actually now in Parping (Nth of Kathmandu), so I jumped on the bus and off I went. The Ani Gompa (nunnery) where he had been giving teahings was totally exquisite, with bright chandelies, huge golden statues and fine detailed Tibetan artwork on the walls. I stayed for 2 nights and joined in to the nightly puja with the many people who had gatherd there. But alas Rinpoche had come down from where he was working upstairs for teachings the previous week and then had gotten a flu so did not come down for the pujas. I talked at length though to his American wife, whom also remembers Ron well and made some offerings to Rinpoche through her in the customary manner.
Then again by chance I was talking to some students there and they told me they were working at the house of 96 year old famous Dzogchen master H.H. Chatrul Rinpoche, also in Parping. Rinpoche is now too old and does not meet anybody, but his daughter, Semo Saraswati-La, is a well respected teacher in her old right and met her, made offerings and showed her my photos of NZ. She liked the pictures of our flowers and asked for some seeds as she has a lovely garden there. So will get some delivered to her.
So was very inspiring time anyway even if I did not actually meet these teachers in person, some connection was made and it was a pretty cool wee adventure…
From Bodhgaya I jumped on a bus with 5 new friends from Russia, then need to change twice more to go to Kathmandu, Nepal. The local busses here certainly wouldn’t be allowed on our roads in New Zealand but they told me it was a “new” bus. Lucky for me I had picked up a small cushion to sit on, as the seat didn’t have much padding, and my mum always in her good wisdom had given me a blow up travel pillow that hugs round the neck which is perfect for these journeys as the bus bumps along and swerves round cars and corners.
Only I vomited out the door for the duration of the 1st leg of the journey, bus driver doesn’t like to stop for these trivial matters of foreigners with week stomachs. But I think it was something I ate and the bumpy ride did not help. Then when we stopped the russians gave me some natural substance mixed with water that look and tasted like dirt, then again vomited once but for the rest of the journey I was fine, they told me it absorbs bacteria in the stomach. 2 days later I got it again, only this time out the other end. again Russians to save the day, “Kim, look we are not sick” they tell me as they take their daily shot of vodka before lunch, so I join them and then have some plain rice and veges to settle the stomach and have been right ever since. think is the best travel tip ever and may have to write to Lonely Planet about it.
So we arrive into Boedha, a tibetan colony where there is another very famous stupa - “a monument of world peace” the Tibetan’s explain in simplistic terms. But this one when later was analysed showed the architecture and construction taking into account all astrological elements was said to predate the science and mathematical thinking of the early greeks. Here i had a room with a window opening directly to the stupa and woke up to the sounds of bells tingling and the soft mumbles of mantras as the early risers walked around the stupa in the customary clockwise direction.
One of my new Russian friends has spent every winter here for the last 4 years and we spent days exploring the town and surrounding valley. The old hindu & buddhist places around, cool markets and shops, caves where famous yogi’s meditated. Parping where there is 2 caves of Guru Rinpoche one of which he has left his hand print in the stone outside the cave entrance. The story goes that one of Guru Rinpoche’s students loved seeing the cave so much with the indications of Padmasambhava’s presence that he slapped the stone and left his hand imprint. I examined it in detail – I don’t see how it could be a carving…
Spent 8 nights here, the place where Buddha attained enlightenment and where many say is like the spiritual centre of the universe. It is a pretty dynamic spot with remains of Hindu graveyards and monuments, muslim graveyards and loud prayers to allah over the loudspeaker and then each of the Buddhist traditions represented with temples of Thai, Vietnamese, Bangledesh, Japan, Bhutan, Sikim, India and many for each of the Tibetan schools all littered around the great Maha Bodhi stupa. There is a sea of colour with red robed Tibetan monks and nuns, yellow robed Theravaden monks and nuns and then a few wearing white for the pure land sect (mostly Japanese), each singing their chants, sutras and mantras in different styles and language arounding to their culture. All respect each others way and seem to be in harmony with one another.
HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje
So with probably at least a thousand, most in red robes along with around 200 hundred foreigners we sat for the week under the bodhi tree beside the Mahabodhi stupa and sang one famous aspirational wishes text from Manjushi (disciple of the Buddha) along with teachings on the text everyday from Sharmapa. Stupas are said to be special places and to be beside them and doing Kora (cicumabulations) is bringing a lot of merit and where everything in mind becomes stronger so by making alteristic wishes it gives power to steer lifes direction on a meaningful path and helps in losing our clinging to ego or self, ultimately having less problems and taking things less seriously with more capacity to be happy and just be useful for others.
In the mornings and afternoon the monks bought round tea and bread. Together with the two little monks (14 years old) from Dera Dun monestary, we saved up our bread and went and fed the huge catfish in the pond next to the stupa…
As soon as you are out of the gate to the great stupa however there is dirt, dust, pollution, noise, begging and a lot of poverty… there are many charitable organisations doing an excellent job with getting the kids of the street however
not enough desks so the younger ones have to sit on the floor
and one day my French friend (and room mate for the stay) and I hopped on the back of motorbikes with 2 India guys and went off road (through dirt streets in small villages, dodging chickens, kids and goats on the way) to visit one school. There is 150 kids and 5 teachers. The smallest ones sit on a tarp outside and they obediently recited there times tables for us. The next lot have a classroom but only enough desks for half of them, so half were on the floor. Then the oldest ones had another room and all had desks, they sang for us the Indian national anthem and Sophie, a professional singer, sang for them “Amazing Grace”, which was exquisite but they wanted to hear Michael Jackson and we know the words or the have the grooves…
We talked at length to the head teacher, his father donated the land for the school. Their strategy in getting kids off the streets and in to school is by going first to their parents and try their best to convince them that the kids should be in school and comfort them with the fact that it is free, along with food and clothing. However many parents refuse as the kids are bringing home food and money by begging. But after talking to many of the older kids, who told their personal story of being taken off the streets and put into schools when they were 10 was really reassuring, they were educated, well mannered and in turn were doing their best in getting the young kids off the streets.
Then back on the bikes and up the dirt road to some hills where we went to visit one cave where it is said that Buddha spent some time after he had left his royal palace. It was in this area where he was practicing for some years fasting and asceticism. But after some time he realised its futility, that by fasting and mortifying the flesh it will not bring him enlightenment or divine knowledge and walked to Bodhgaya where he sat under the Bodhi tree. Later he taught the Great Middle Way giving one example to a disciple that played a violin (or whatever the old fashioned equivalent was) and explained that the strings cannot be too loose or too tight, they need to be just right in order to play well.
so was lets say an “interesting experience” on the train to Gaya. Thousands of people all on the platform going different dirrections and pushing to get on the train with many carring huge amounts of baggage on their heads, then got caught in a bit of a stampede for 20 mins, where could not move and admittedly heart was racing with the thought of what would happen if fell down but was with my new french friends and eventually there was a way out of the crowd and left the scavangers to jump through the windows of the train to get in. crazy. but once in all train ride was fun, talked all night to a young muslim girls who was an English teacher and quizzed her on her opinion of arranged marriages and such like was interesting, she was very liberal and open.
so dehli lets say is pretty “interesting” dogs are everywhere, a family on pigs in the park, cows hanging about in residential areas, people walking there goats, roads are manic and admidst the rickshaws, cars, trucks, pedistrians and cyclists one elephant strolling mightely down the main road, didnt seem to respond to the beeps to move so people can get past. and reflected that maybe they may have a better transport system than us because actually the traffic flows very well, no stopping at red lights all the time like in the west, there is few dozen near misses in a single journey however and wouldnt like to see the road toll statistics…
at Kibi 40 from the 3 year retreat centre in lebost, France arrived. Many have completed the retreat (a few i think twice) , mostly monks and nuns. France was established early on by Gendun Rinpoche sent by the 16th Karmapa. One guy lived for 5 years at the foot of Le Graf skiing every day- which is where I spent the most awesomest day skiing ever. and wanted to know all about Nz skiing.
then probably around 40 more monks, big and little ones from Ladahk, Nth India, it is one of the highest villages and they say is -20 and they can’t grown any vegetables throughout the winter. despite it all they are incredibly joyous and joking constantly. They are speaking English very well.
arrived in KIBI (Karmapa International Buddhist Institute) yesterday, everyone is busy painting the intricate symbols and pictures on the outside of the large temple.
I bumped into Sharmapa (the red hat lama of tibet, he holds the Kagyu lineage after the Karmapa passes and then recognises the next Karmapa) he remembered me from a time when he stayed at the London centre and said come by at 10 this morning, so I did and we had a nice chat he said he likes kiwi people we are very easygoing. He will start a Boddhipath centre in Auckland. He also told me how he was in Auckland and at that time the people took him to the hill where when the Maori die they turn back and pay respects to their ancestors and then pass on, something like that anyway, he knows more about it than I do so someone can enlighten me on the details!
Then also a personal meeting with H.H.Karmapa have not seen him in a few years and seems stronger and more powerful energy. Gave him one of Rons hand made little buddha statues, he said was lovely, is very good merit to make them and was pleased.
so cool to meet these impressive masters for blessing for good trip
have been having a great time in Sydney with Sam, Maddie, Marcus and LT… we are now off to an exhitbition at the art gallery titled “Indian Summer” featuring many yogi & yogini’s as inspiration for my trip…
Have just jotted down this travel plan to my family. Mostly this is meant to be a “spiritual pilgrimige” in Vajrayana (diamond way or thunderbolt vehicle) Buddhism everything seems to be defined on 3 levels: outer, inner & secret. So on the outer level this will be a visit to Buddhist pilgrimige spots, innerly by taking the teachings from the head to the heart by holding the “highest view” and through meditation retreats, and secret – where I meet teachers and get instructions or maybe have some “ah ha” experiences, momments of little realisations…
Arrive Sydney Fri 13th Nov at 4.40 pm, stay with brother Sam & his girlfriend Maddie depart Sydney 19th Nov at 4.55 pm
Arrive Dehli 2.20 am on 20th Nov. Getting picked up from the airport by a driver from the hotel I have booked at mojukatela- the tibetan colony in Dehli stay 1 night there
Stay few days at KIBI in dehli – Karmapa International Buddhist Institute
Go with them to Bodgaya (where Buddha attained enlightenment) for the Kagyu Moenlam 26 Nov – 1 Dec, a meeting with all the great teachers of the Karma kagyu lineage, to pray for world peace
And go to some of the places outlined in my book – Buddhist power places of Kathmandu valley seek out other “scientific” explanations of how yogis managed to leave handprints on rocks for my father Noel… he seems unconvinced with the fact that yogi’s can just do these things!
16th Dec meet up with one of my best friends Kiriana aka “Daisy Girl” back in dehli… thats where all the trouble starts!
We will go to see the Taj Mahal, ride camels in the desert, will be doing a Ngondro (preliminary practices) retreat over Christmas and NY at Deer Park we have 2 missions that we have accepted:
1) deliver a camera from Pema Lama (to be collected in Sydney) to his sister in Dharamasala
2) go to Ron’s cave and see the nuns living there now and check if the electricity is still all working ok that he installed (and find the footprint left by a yogi on a nearby rock – actually this is the instruction on how to find the cave) then likely to visit varanasi and a few places around there. Then Kiriana goes home mid Jan.
I stay in Bodgaya for Nyingma Moenlam (meeting of the great teachers of Nyingma lineage) 16 – 23 Jan.
Then other planned events to make:
Lama Ole is teaching at KIBI, Dehli 24 – 26th Jan
So thought I would try to write small updates on this website here about my pilgramige tour to Nth India and Nepal, that way could include some photos too. Well thats the good intention anyway so see how it goes.
I leave NZ on the 13th of November to visit Sam & Maddie in Sydney and then on the 20th of November I fly to Dehli. I arrive there at 2.20 am but have arranged for a driver from the hostel where I have booked to come and pick me up, great! Otherwise was slightly hesistant in arriving to Dehli as have heard all the stories about getting swamped by taxi drivers demanding they take me some where…. but no now don’t have to worry about that, I am sure it all will go according to plan The hostel I booked is Wongden House located in the new Tibetan colony district of Dehli, Ron suggested to go there and would feel like home. So I look forward to some mo mo’s…..
Anyways now lets see if I can work out how to use this blogging thingy me jiggy … till later
Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche arrives with his wife Kunsang on Wednesday 26th August and will stay through till 1st September 2009. He will give teachings as the Nyingma Buddhist Centre on Thursday night followed by a 4 day Tibetan Yoga Retreat, including an empowerment at Raupo Bay Retreat. All is suitable for new comers. See all details below.
Lama Pema Dorje is from a yogi family from a Tibetan area of Nepal, called Dolpo. He was born in 1942, on the banks of the Ganges river in Rishi Kesh, India, and was later recognized as a tulku of an accomplished Indian acharya. Rinpoche received teachings and empowerments from many of the great teachers of his day, such as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, and Kunsang Dorje Rinpoche. As a youth he practiced the Throma Nakmo cycle of Dudjom Lingpa extensively, which he received from Golok Sertar Rinpoche of Mt.Kailash. He met his main root teacher, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, at age 17. Rinpoche received the entire Dudjom Tersar from him, and practiced it extensively. Rinpoche is a master of tsa lung and Dzog Chen.
He travels extensively. He has a wife, Kunsang, three sons and one daughter. His wife’s father, Uthog Tsomchung Rinpoche, is a Lonchen Nyingthig lineage holder. Her mother, Choje Zangmo’s family was from the Drigung Kagyu tradition.
More about his inspiring history and teaching experience can be found here.
Thursday 27th of August, 6.30 pm – Spiritual Advice: Responses to questions from the noble woman Yeshe Tsogyal (the consort of Guru Rinpoche).
This will be held in the downstairs meditation room at the Nyingma Buddhist Centre, 269 Mt Pleasant Road, Christchurch.
RETREAT: TIBETAN YOGA WITH WHITE TARA EMPOWERMENT
Friday 28th Aug – Monday 31st Aug
Venue: To held at the Tibetan Gompa at Raupo Bay Banks Pennisula.
Join Lama Pema Dorje Rinpoche for a relaxing retreat on the longevity yoga practice called the Chime Palter. This practice combines a meditation on White Tara with a gentle physical training practice that relies on Padampa Sangye. Rinpoche became aware that Buddhists who adopt a meditative lifestyle can become weak, stiff, and unhealthy from prolonged sitting, and often turn to yoga practices from outside our tradition for help. For this reason he prayed that he could develop an outer yoga, suitable for all levels of practitioners, based on the knowledge he has gained from a lifetime of engagement with the secret advanced yogic disciplines of the Nyingma tradition. Based on this aspiration, he composed a concise and easy practice that will not only help with stiffness, but also increase longevity and improve one’s meditation if practiced with regularly. The benefits also include reduced sickness, increased clarity, and purification of hindrances and obscurations
Friday 28th Aug
Arrive any time on Friday if earlier then you will have some time to settle in or help set up.
6 pm: Dinner
7 – 9 pm: Introduction to Tibetan Yoga and about empowerments
Saturday 29th Aug
8.30 am: Breakfast
10 am – 12 noon: Presentation of Tantric ritual items and Questions and Answers
12. 30: Lunch
3 pm – 5 pm: White Tara Empowerment
6 pm: Dinner
Sunday 30th Aug
10 am – 12 noon: Practice session
12. 30: Lunch
3 – 5 pm: Practice session
Monday 31st Aug
10 am – 12 noon: Practice session
12. 30: Lunch
Cleaning and return back to Christchurch
Cooking is to be shared between all participants at the retreat, you will need to specify which meal you want to be in charge of when you register. Also please let us know dietary requirements and if vegetarian.
We can car pool to save on petrol costs to and from Christchurch. Let us know if you need a ride or have a car with spare seats available when you register.
110 Mc Hales Road
Take the road to Akaroa from Christchurch, have a pit stop at Little River, there is a great kiwiana art gallery and cafe there. Carry on up the top of the hill, but don’t go down to Akaroa!! Go along the road the winds along the top of hill and turn down to the left to Little Akaloa. Go down the rollercoaster road, turning right towards Chorlton (on the way to OkainsBay) when you hit Little Akaloa bay. Carry on for 10 mins untill you get to chorlton, don’t miss it, only a few houses there! You will see two large letterboxes on the right and McHales Road is on the left. Go down the gravel road, through a farm gate (don’t forget to close behind you), you will RaupoBay retreat at the end of the road through a wooden gate.
The following will take place at the Nyingma Buddhist Centre, 269 Mt Pleasant Road, Christchurch
Weekend course Sat 11th – Sun 12th July - HOW TIBETAN BUDDHIST TECHNIQUES CAN HELP YOU IN YOUR LIFE.
Saturday 11th July, 10 am, Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, followed by lunch (no cost).
2 pm, The indespensible sources of invaluable assistance for liberation and enlightenment – the 3 jewels and the 3 roots
Sunday 12th July, 10 am, Meditation/ View / Conduct, followed by lunch (no cost)
2pm, The Life Story of Guru Rinpoche – Tales of India’s greatest tantric yogi, renowned as the “2nd Buddha”, who completed the teachings of Shakyumuni Buddha and bought the Vajrayana Dharma to Tibet.
Friday 17th July, Dakini (Female Sky Goer) Day – Tsok Practice including explanation into the meaning of Dakini
We appreciated you confirming what events of above you will be joining in on, it helps with preparations. All the above is suitable for new comers.
About Lama Ngawang:
Ngawang Phuntsok was born in Golok a remote region in Eastern Tibet. When he was a small child he gave up eating meat after having witnessed an animal being killed for its flesh. He also had a remarkable love of giving to those less fortunate than himself. Thus he was known for his compassion.
When he was 10 years old his parents agreed to allow him to become a monk. When he entered the monastic order at Denang Monastery, which was his family’s home monastery, he immeadiately began practising the Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro (preliminary practices) under the guidance of his first teacher Tulku Kadag Rinpoche. He remained at Denang Gonpa for 2 years in which time he completed the Ngondro and gained mastery of Tibetan Buddhist text reading and writing.
Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche
His uncle, who was the senior master at Denang Gonpa, decided to take him to the Shedra or philosophy school at Talang Gonpa where he studied the traditional philosophy curriculum for the next 6 years including receiving the entire Rinchen Terdzod together with many other empowerments from the head of the Kathok Lineage, HH Moktsa Rinpoche. During this time Ngawang Phuntsok availed himself of every opportunity to go to see Khenpo Munsel, the peerless Dzogchen master, the Great Wish Fulfilling Jewel, one of the two foremost students of the Great Khenpo NgakChung, in order to receive teachings and instruction on Dzogchen, which were more precious to him, than life itself. He received the rarely bestowed Nyingthig Yabzhi from the incomparable Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok whilst he was still at Talang Shedra, shortly thereafter he decided to leave the monastery.
From a very young age he had wanted to pursue a life of meditation but because his family was very poor he did not have the means to do this. So when he was 18 years old he decided to run away to the mountains where his family would not be able to find him and he therefore would not be a burden on them. With his cousin Kalzang Geleg who was similarly minded, he walked to Lhasa. From there they went to Guru Rinpoche and Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal’s meditation cave at Yarlung Sherdrak where they meditated for 6 months. After this they travelled on foot to Mt Kailash where they did meditation retreat at various holy caves including that of Milarepafor the next 3 years. Even though they were close to death at times due to the bitter cold and hunger verging on starvation, their resolve to follow the examples set by the great meditation masters of the past was such, that they never contemplated breaking their retreat.
His teacher - Chadral Sangye Dorje
After they finished their 3 year retreat they escaped to Nepal, walking for 29 days over the Himalayas. Ngawang Phuntsok had a deep longing to do 3 year retreat under the direction of the supreme Dzogchen master Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche , who, together with Khenpo Munsel had been named by Khenpo Ngakchung himself, as his two foremost students. Chadral Sangye Dorje accepted Ngawang Phuntsok as his student and agreed to put him into 3 year retreat. He did his retreat at Yangleshod, a Guru Rinpoche Holy place in Parping, Nepal. He successfully accomplished his retreat and was awarded the title Dorje Lopon together with the special hat signifying his status. This title is only bestowed on a select few of those who complete retreat under Chadral Rinpoche. Before coming to Australia, he spent a further 10 years near Chadral Rinpoche many of those years were spent in solitary meditation.
Ngawang Phuntsok follows faithfully in the footsteps of his great masters, adhering to their advice and to their methods, not being swayed by worldly considerations to give teachings and empowerments to those who have not prepared their minds in the time honoured way to receive them.
The above is an abridged version of his biography.