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It feels like it has been over a month since I last posted here. I have been busy with school and especially with organizing this upcoming Mahakala weekend with Drupon Thinley Ningpo. The Sangha (Buddhist group) I am a part of also updated our contact lists which I was an integral part of, so along with school and teaching my class, I have had very little spare time. However, here is a post on some of my teachers. I thank my karma every day for every opportunity to study and practice Dharma and especially to attend these qualified teachers.
I took refuge from Khenchen Rinpoche, Konchog Gyaltsen in 2006. I attended the TMC’s Spring Retreat – I met Khenchen, Drupon Thinley Ningpo and Khenpo Tsultrim along with the many modest (yet profound) practitioners who attended along side. Khenchen might be best known for his work with Gampopa’s book, the Jewel Ornament of Liberation. During this retreat, Khenchen covered several chapters of it. Hearing it from him, I was so fortunate to come to the understanding that Buddhahood is possible in one lifetime – not just something vague and abstract – with diligent practice here and now, we can become Buddhas (- Wow!). <Revised 3/26/10 – I have little to no wisdom when it comes to this process – but I became aware of the actual possibility of Buddhahood in a lifetime.> Rinpoche, through the incredible text, spelled out the steps required (not that I am any closer to doing so).
I have attended multiple teachings by the Drupon, Khenpo Tsultrim Tenzin, Khenpo Choephel and other qualified, respected teachers. I have a hypothesis which I need to test a little more before coming to any conclusions. It is this – more often than not, a Lama has a specific name for a reason. For instance, Khenpo Tsultrim teaches and emphasizes moral ethics quite often in the topics and texts he chooses to teach. And, his name, Tsultrim, means ethical behavior or discipline. I would say the same holds true for Khenchen – Gyaltsen means victory banner. Khenchen is very modest and soft spoken, but his wisdom and compassion are incredibly vivid even if he is in a crowd and profound – providing a model for living and practicing the Dharma. I would say his spreading the Dharma with wisdom and compassion is a victory banner for the rest of us, a shining example of what a lifetime of Dharma practice can achieve.
Khenpo Tsultrim (see previous post for a picture) and the Drupon have been in the U.S. since 2001, so their English is pretty good. In fact, Khenpo teaches in English quite often. It is such a great blessing to have teachers who are pursuing and enthusiastic about speaking the native language. (I think it might be more difficult for older Lamas to learn a new language well.) Khenpo Choephel has studied with some of the great masters of Tibet, having been the Umze, or chant leader of the Drigung Til monastery in Tibet. As Umze, he has memorized hundreds of texts and practices, leading rituals along with the daily prayers. His gentle, unassuming presence and his profound, humble wisdom are very evident despite his just starting out with the English language. He arrived in the U.S. in late 2007. I believe that when he learns English well, he will have incredible results in reaching people and promoting the Dharma. He is already doing a lot – Khenpo Choephel led us this past Winter in conducting the Mani Drupchen retreat.
When I asked Khenchen about my various psychological patterns (some of which I would do without if I could), every answer was the same. For instance, “I have a tendency to be pleasing and to be overly sensitive to other’s needs and energy, what can I do about this?” He said, “practice Dharma.” I asked him several questions, in a similar vein and this was his answer to every one of them – “practice Dharma.” So I leave you with the answer to how does one free themselves from suffering? “Just practice Dharma.” Of course, in order to do this appropriately, it helps to have a qualified teacher.
This was hastily written by M. Kirby Moore, March of 2009.