I am back in the east, in Nepal, in Pharping. Two months have already passed. Of course I had intended to post a new entry much earlier, but on the one hand the Shedra, as usual, keeps me busy and on the other hand I did write something, just somewhere else. What has happened so far? Right at the beginning we had the good fortune to receive instructions by Tsoknyi Rinpoche, son of the great Dzogchen yogi Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and close friend of Sogyal Rinpoche. On this occasion even Mr. Richard Gere came to Pharping and joined us in our little class room for Rinpoche's teachings. You can find a more extensive report on this event, and on the very relevant advice that Tsoknyi Rinpoche gave, as well as on a few other happenings here.
The annual Losar Group Photo
At the end of January I made my way up to Nagi Gompa, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's hermitage in the mountains north of Kathmandu. Like every year, at that time, the resident nuns and the lamas, among them this year Tulku Urgyen's incarnation Urgyen Jigme Rabsel Dawa, who had 'returned' to Nagi Gompa after 14 years, performed the Ngakso Drupchen. Also present were Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's sons Tsikey Chokling and Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, as well as Chokling Rinpoche's son and older brother of Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Phakchok Rinpoche. I spent the night in the shrine hall where a few nuns and other practitioners continued the practice throughout the night. On the following day, which began at 3 am, the lamas distributed the siddhi substances. Even though it was not possible for me to attend the whole drupchen, at least on that day I was able to be there, at this amazing place.
Lamas distributing the siddhis substances
It has now been three weeks since the new Tibetan year, the Iron Tiger Year, 2137, has begun. And it was three weeks ago that I left the hills of our village and went down to Kathmandu. It was the week of our Losar break, the Tibetan New Year's eve. Instead of spending some relaxing days in the valley, I was involved in activities which had me spending time with some of the teachers who are close to Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa. That was exciting but also tiring, since it mainly took place in the bustle of Boudha, the quasi-Tibetan quarter of the capital. And on top of that I was also involved in organizing the visit of my teacher. Just before Rinpoche arrived, I took the opportunity to travel to the east of the city, close to Swayambhunath, where Tsoknyi and Mingyur Rinpoche taught on Loving Kindness and Compassion. Unfortunately I was not able to attend more than one of the three days of teachings, but that was already very inspiring.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche teaching at Ösel Ling
The visit of Sogyal Rinpoche to Kathmandu was mainly due to one event: The opening ceremony of 'Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Centennial Celebrations'. The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of the 20th century and one of the root teachers of Sogyal Rinpoche. Many of the greatest and most important Tibetan Buddhist teachers alive made their way to Shechen Monastery in Boudha to participate in this very special event! Please click here for a report on this event, and here for my photo gallery.
Khyenste Yangsi Rinpoche during the celebration
Sogyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Namdrol, host of the Rigpa Shedra East
This first post would be incomplete if I didn't write some words about the everyday life in the Shedra. Khenpo Sonam Tobden teaches on the Introduction to the Middle Way, Chandrakirti's treatise on Nagarjuna's Root Verses on the Middle Way. Even though I attend the class, I don't put much emphasis on home studies with regard to it. Instead I focus on Tibetan this year, and so I spend my time mainly working with different Tibetan texts and also going much more into the modern colloqiual Tibetan with the help of our lovely tutor Jigme-la as well as Khenpo himself. There is some process I would say... Altogether I spend less time in classes and more in my room, I enjoy it, hehe! Of course, self-discipline is required when doing things on your own! One of my favorite distractions from my regular studies, luckily a fruitful one, is my world of Dharma photography. If you are interested in the results, have a look at my new online photo website or at my facebook photos.
To conclude: the Buddhist teachings emphasize the fact that everything is linked to everything else, and that, by realizing this, our view of things and events as well as our actions with regard to others and ourselves, need to be permeated by gratitude and an attitude of love and compassion. So, in accordance with that, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my precious teacher Sogyal Rinpoche and all those people who made and make it possible that I am here and able to do what I do. On this occasion I would like to thank especially those who support me financially. You know who you are. I feel very blessed! May all your help enable me to give back what I have learned and understood over the years to as many sentient beings as possible.