This is a truncated version of a full full week of teachings with His Holiness, the Chetsang Rinpoche and Drikung Kyabgon. The original teachings and most events centered around the Nairatmya practice, however there was more. I was on the team of organizers for the event, so I was extremely busy busy busy. Yet another STRETCHING week for Kirby. At least I am noticing my capacity is increasing, as well as my ability to speak my needs. Yay! Scroll to the end for a link to some awesome photos from friends.
Oh, and the name of this post comes from the day we (Charlottesville participants) had a group interview with His Holiness, some monks were playing frisbee on the lawn outside of His Holiness’ cottage and I joined in (we did not actually throw the frisbee with His Holiness).
His Holiness gave the Nairatmya blessing ceremony (wang), short sadhana transmission (lung) and vital instructions on the practice (tsi?) over the course of six days. Then we had the Nairatmya (Hevajra) fire puja – a major (extensive) fire offering ceremony on Friday and then Saturday was a full morning of Lama Chopa and Tsok offering feast, mandala offerings to His Holiness (included within) Long Life prayers – oh and there was a consecration of the stupa, statues and thangkas at TMC. Wow – very potent, expansive and an incredible opportunity to be with His Holiness.
I am not going to say much about the first six days, because you need to attend a highest yoga tantra wang (empowerment) / teachings from an authentic lama to hear Deity Yoga details, however I will mention other highlights.
I found His Holiness to be extremely compassionate, and what I knew about him before going into this week was that he was an unusually busy and productive man (which of course comes with the territory apparently for a Kyabgon Rinpoche) – spending his time collecting old, rare manuscripts, putting together multiple books and repairing “lost” teachings from the Drikung lineage, this is in addition to helping to build a large, beautiful and efficient center in Dehra Dun where the Drikung Seat in exile is now secure (Jangchub Ling, Kagyu College and the Songtsen Library). He gardens, travels the world teaching and offers refuge for all of us afflicted sentient beings… Wow! Then I started reading his biography (just out this year) and I learned how he does all this on very limited resources.
I stayed in a local farmhouse which TMC has rented on occasion, and I “managed” the lodging at that and another house for the week, in addition to tracking the registration and monies. Oof! Anyway… it was incredibly pleasant to be awakened to chickens (roosters) in the morning and luckily the weather was cool for 5 out of 8 days. There was a composting toilet – very cool and green (and somehow without any less-than-pleasant odors).
Most days took place at the Claggett Center in Buckeystown Maryland – a pleasant, spacious, beautiful-vista conference center. They provided us with vegetarian lunches and a large space to hold these teachings. I plan to add pictures here soon – the lamas made the shrine room (conference room) into a gorgeous Tibetan shrine – three huge Thankas (painted scrolls), the tall throne for His Holiness, and multiple large and colorful tormas. The sand mandala was kept in a gold-curtained area for most of the days until its dissolution on Thursday. The events were very moving, rich and full of good Dharma juice.
All totaled, about 200 people attended the first weekend (the grand empowerment) with about 80 people staying through the week for the teachings. Then on the second weekend at TMC, between 60 and 100 people attended the Fire Puja and the full Saturday.
Near the end of the Claggett Center events, there was a volunteer / board member recognition time, where about six people were recognized for outstanding effort and hard work. I was included in this gaggle. His Holiness signed a copy of his biography in gold and gave us copies, along with a beautiful signed photo of him under a rainbow – which was authentic from his visit to Arizona. That was incredibly moving to be recognized and given gifts from His Holiness – an emanation of Avalokitesvara.
The Fire Puja was the most extensive offering I have ever attended. This makes sense of course considering this was the first grand empowerment I have ever attended (nothing really special about it except there is a day of preparations first and then the next day is the actual empowerment). The fire puja took about three hours, and we all offered some of the special substances – including wheat, barley, kusha grass, dhurra grass, flour and many other substances. It was humorous and propitious to see two large tormas (ritual cakes) being offered and burned.
I was so happy to meet so many new faces in the North American Drikung Kagyu sangha (and other lineages too!). I did not know the majority of the participants at first. A very, very potent and positive week! May it continue and happen again for the benefit of many sentient beings!
To see some incredible photos from Saturday’s events (Long life prayers, mandala offering, Lama Chopa Tsok and Consecration of the Stupa), visit Chris Bonebreak’s pictures at:
Also you can visit the link on the right —–> for Angela Harkavy’s (Ani Chime) incredible photos. If you see any photos of the mandala in its golden tent, and you did not attend this event, you should probably avert your eyes (this is just a disclaimer to keep my samaya vows safe).