A few things I learned after attending a full weekend empowerment with a sublime master…
I got to renew refuge and bodhisattva vows with Garchen Rinpoche, which is also so very precious. There is a story that when Rinpoche left Tibet for the first time in 1980, when he was in the Dalai Lama’s presence, instead of requesting a high tantric initiation, all he wanted was to renew his Bodhisattva vows. I think this shows his innate humility and desire to be of service. He is not paying lip service at any time, even when his disciples aren’t around and (in case you did not notice) I think Garchen Rinpoche is the real deal in terms of being a spiritual master one can rely on to escape from this samsara existence of dissatisfaction and suffering.
First, I heard Garchen Rinpoche allude to the fact that he is going to pass away at some point. Usually, when older Lamas start mentioning that, it is good to pay attention. And this brought up a scary thought: most of my heart teachers are over the age of 65 – Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and Garchen Rinpoche (yikes!). And why stop there, the Dalai Lama is in his 70’s also… Therefore it is time for me to get my butt in gear. Back in 2006 / 2007, when I first met with precious Drikung Lamas, I practiced like my hair was on fire and I apparently earned some results. However, due to many factors, over the past few years I feel like I have been half-assing my spiritual practice. Sure my practice has shifted, but let’s be honest, getting into college basketball 100 % for a few weeks means whatever my spiritual practice is, it is suffering 😛
Second, in a similar vein to the above thought, I need to maintain my Tibetan language better. There were opportunities galore to practice Tibetan and I puttered along like a tortoise at the Kentucky Derby… Ugh! Thankfully my new living situation puts me three blocks away from Tibetan vendors who WANT to chat with me in Tibetan. What am I waiting for?
Third, politics are pervasive, even in a spiritual community. I asked several board members of a spiritual organization (anonymity here is good) why they were flying in a Lama to teach in the DC area when another Lama, in the same lineage, lives nearby. Why don’t they ask him to teach? They could save some money on the plane tickets and they might save a little jet fuel at the same time. But no, they said the Lama I suggested was not from one of Garchen’s monasteries. Oh. I guess that must matter enough. I guess we should start splitting hairs and add yet another Kagyu sub-lineage (as if there were not enough of these already).
Fourth, whether or not my mundane family members understand the reason I must continually attend Dharma teachings or not, I go to them to recharge and rekindle a flame of inspiration and devotion. I saw many friends who I had not seen in months and I got to spend time in Garchen Rinpoche’s precious mandala of energetic loving-kindness. He would not have to say anything for me to be learning. And I would still pay to bask in his gentle and loving presence!
Overall I am very happy to receive these blessings and I’m sure once I settle back down at home here that I will be even more grateful for the positive shifts I intend to effect in my life. Yay!
Thanks for reading!