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Archive for the ‘Teachers and teachings’ Category

I just recently got back from a trip to Pittsburgh, PA.  It is closer to Charlottesville than I was thinking, so I will try to head up there once a year if it is easy.

On Saturday there was an empowerment by H.E. Tritsab Rinpoche (Chenrezig).  That day was a lot of driving, so I kind of collapsed after that session.  I filled in as make-shift attendant.  My friend who I went up there with is from India – he does months of meditation retreats at a time (he is a bit of a dedicated yogi).  So I was the low man on the totem pole and I was happy to fill in as cook.

Saturday was at a beautiful church about 20 minutes away from the Dharma center.  At least 40 people attended – quite a nice crowd, an interesting blend of new-comers and experienced practitioners, and older and younger attendees.

Sunday was a bit more of a special practice.  His Eminence, Tritsab Rinpoche, is actually a highly regarded Lama.  Way back (like 600 years or so), an earlier incarnation of his was one of the lineage Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu.  And at that time, Rinpoche had a literal face-to-face with the Dharma protectress Achi Chokyi Drolma.  Tritsab Rinpoche was given a small scroll that had Dakini script on it (meaning he received a terma or a treasure text).  The current Rinpoche said that that lineage holder could not actually decipher the scroll – but that when he meditated, the words to the practice came to him.  Therefore it was more of a mind terma (I think).  Also, it is a little complicated in that this is a pure Drikung Kagyu practice – most termas are from the Nyingma tradition, having been hidden by Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal.

Anyway, on Sunday we got the Terma Achi empowerment.  This was held in the Dharma center (see below) and about 25 people showed up for this.  Great group, a little tight, and warm (because Rinpoche speaks quietly, we had to turn off the air conditioner!).  I did not have a seat 😦   until Khenpo said, you sit up here with me.  So I was literally front and center for this empowerment.  I appreciated how Khenpo had Rinpoche do all the technical details for the empowerment – he actually poured water from the sacred vase onto our heads, just a few drops.  There was a delicious pot luck lunch which most of the attendees stayed for.

Then in the afternoon, we did the Terma Achi practice.  I had heard of this before, but had never done the practice.  It is most fascinating because we can take Achi Chokyi Drolma as Lama (Guru), Yidam (deity) and Dharma protector (Dharmapala) and these are all included in the practice.  This is a short practice, so we finished early.

Then members of the center took the four of us to Mount Washington.  By the way, Pittsburgh is a very interesting city geographically – with the rivers and valleys and hills and tunnels, it would be a nightmare for a city planner (just saying!).  Also, I heard a quote I liked: “Pittsburgh is the city where you can’t get there from here.”

And it turns out that evening, that quote could not have been more accurate!  There was a gay pride parade downtown, and the Penguins were about to win the Stanley Cup (hockey tournament) and there was a big concert downtown as well.  On top of that, many of the roads were under construction.  So after driving around in circles for about half an hour, we finally found a way across the bridge to get to Mount Washington.  [side note: being stuck in a car with a serious retreatant and 2 authentic Tibetan lamas, even when lost and driving around frivolously, is still remarkably enjoyable!]

Mount Washington is a large hill (and I guess neighborhood name as well) that overlooks Downtown Pittsburgh.  It was quite beautiful – seeing the 3 rivers coming together, looking down on the concert and the parade and the sky scrapers.  It was well worth the journey!  Plus we had dinner up there as well, so we got to see the city as the sun was setting.

Monday, we went to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  This was actually a great experience.  As we were walking in, Khenpo Choephel, being a tougher Khenpo (which means Abbot) told us to chant mantras for the animals’ liberation and freedom from suffering.  He suggested we do Chenrezig or Vajrasattva mantras.  Therefore, at least for the first 30 – 60 minutes, I was mindful about how the animals’ might be suffering (although for the most part, the animals looked to be well taken care of).

There is an aquarium in the zoo as well, so we stayed for close to four hours total (including a long relaxing lunch).

I’m not quite sure, but I think we had some curious karma going on as a group (the four of us – Kirby, Ryan, Khenpo C and His Eminence) because on Monday we got stuck on a tight road that road construction forced us to detour onto.  I was literally pinned in (as a car) as I waited for several large trucks and garbage truck to creep by, praying they would not scrape the side of my fenders!  So Sunday we had driving obstacles, along with Monday.  It took us about 30 minutes extra to get to the zoo.  Which was fine!  I had great company around me in the car  🙂

Khenpo Choephel reminds me of a solid, modest, serious practitioner and teacher.  I suspect he has great levels of realization (and as a Dharma practitioner, I do my best to see him as Vajradhara or primordial Buddha).

The center is quite interesting though.  It is in a poorer neighborhood, but the neighbors are awesome, friendly, diverse and a few are curious about the Buddhadharma.  The house itself is very narrow – so there are only 3 rooms per level.  Ryan and I stayed on the 3rd floor, which was a little unfinished, which was completely fine!  I was just happy to have a bed and a roof over my head!  The nice thing about the location though is that the members were able to buy the house right out, meaning no debt to worry about.  They did have to put in about 1000 hours of labor over 3 months though as it was a serious fixer-upper.  But it gets the job done.  It has a beautiful shrine room with dozens of thangkas (Tibetan scroll paintings of deities and lineage lamas and Dharma guardians, etc).

I am very satisfied with my trip to Pittsburgh and I would go back in a heartbeat.  I received several impromptu Tibetan language instruction sessions as my Tibetan is okay (I probably speak at a 1st grade level, whereas I comprehend at a 6th grade level).  They were very happy to assist me and point out words that I was getting mistaken.  Plus, Khenpo even gave me a transmission of a specific practice at 11:11 pm on the night before we were about to leave – I had asked him for it a day earlier, but we hadn’t had time.

Oh – and the funny thing was, Khenpo is big into watching the local sports.  Apparently Pittsburgh is a huge sports city (which makes sense), and they have even gotten a Tibetan lama hooked on hockey and basketball!

Thank you for reading!

~km

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I just returned from a weekend with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon, Chetsang Rinpoche.  I will post pictures soon (hopefully).

I am in the midst of one of the busiest times of my life as I prep to enter nursing school this summer and in the fall.  My next day off with nothing on my to-do list might not be until August…  Ugh!

And in the midst of that busyness, I set things aside and went to sit with H.H.D.K. and about a dozen monks and nuns.  It was a great turn out – at least 100 people were there most days.  And for the Great Drikung Phowa on Saturday, there may have been 200 people (with a lot of local Tibetans attending).

I received the Amitabha empowerment (or at least His Holiness gave this empowerment, not sure if my mind was cogent enough to actually receive it).  We did a lot of Amitabha practice (mantra recitation with sadhana practice).  Then there was the Drikung Phowa Chenmo and an Amitayus sand mandala which was dissolved on Sunday.

Pretty amazing!  Fairly rapidly I settled down into a clear, aligned state where I did not need to “do” or “fix” or “create” anything.  To be honest, the first two days of retreat were a little tough – body aches and pains, mind was distracted and wanted out, and I watched my resistance slowly melt away.  Sitting in that potent energetic mandala of His Holiness and other highly realized Lamas was special indeed.

And now I feel more motivated and clear about everything on my plate at present.  (And there is a bunch…)

Please wish me luck with finding balance!

And may all sentient beings put the causes of happiness into place, leading to greater peace and harmony.

Thank you for reading,

KM

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Drupon Thinley Ningpo (Florida)

We are very blessed to have the revered retreat master, Drupon Thinley Ningpo returning to the Charlottesville area.  He will give teachings, bestow the Green Tara empowerment and conduct interviews in Charlottesville and Yogaville during the weekend of November 21st – 23rd.

Friday evening will be an introductory teaching from 7 – 9 pm in Charlottesville.  He will give the Green Tara blessing empowerment Saturday morning in C’ville.  There will be an afternoon teaching, also in town.  Then he will talk on the topic of Bodhicitta at Yogaville Saturday evening.  For more info, call Kirby at 434.465.0603 or email the address below:

Drupon Rinpoche’s Full Bio is here

You can also email cvilledharma [at] gmail [dot] com for further info

We hope to see you at this event!

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I recently purchased Garchen Rinpoche’s biography, or Book One anyway.  I am slowly reading through it, and thoroughly enjoying it.  I just want to share some of Gar Rinpoche’s advice.  I should mention that I believe this is incredibly wise advise, but each individual is unique in our karmic predispositions, so I would recommend seeking a spiritual teacher you resonate with before taking major action (or inaction!) on these words.

From page 24, The Lama of Many Lifetimes, book one:

“If you are truly my student, … then you will not generate hatred and anger even toward a person who comes to kill me.  If you do, then I will have failed as your teacher!  If it is his karma to kill and my karma to die, so be it, but as Garchen Rinpoche’s student, you must not lose your Bodhicitta and must continue to develop love and compassion for this person.”

“If someone for whom you care as lovingly as your child ends up wronging you, harming you, hurting you, beating you or abusing you, it does not matter, you resolutely must not forsake your Bodhicitta!  Your body is what you will shed at the end of this life, but the equanimous love in your midstream is what you want to protect and bring with you throughout lifetimes.”

I’m not sure I would pass this test, as I see Garchen Rinpoche as such a precious being (yes, I might be attached to his living longer and spreading the Dharma).

Anywho, just passing along an incredible reminder from one of the Buddhist Saints.  Thank you for reading.

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This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore.  Reproduction without permission is prohibited.  Thank you for visiting!

Tashi Choeling ShrineSo I just complete a two day “retreat” on Avalokitesvara or Chenrezig in Tibetan.  Chenrezig is the manifestation of Buddha Shakyamuni’s compassion or put another way, Chenrezig is a Buddha of Compassion himself.  Chenrezig means to see all beings equally, without bias.  I’m going to add that I suspect he views all beings with unsurpassable compassion as well.

This retreat took place at Tashi Choeling Buddhist Center in Charlottesville, Va.  This center is south of town on a fun-named road called Fiddlesticks Lane.  Fitting I think that we seek to peel apart our deluded perception (to see the true nature of reality) at Fiddlesticks.  Anyway, Khenpo Nawang Dorje is the resident monk at Tashi Choeling.  He is a skilled and knowledgeable teacher, able to answer all of our questions and give teachings via a translator.

The format for this retreat was to teach on the meaning of the six syllable mantra on Friday night.  The mantra is Om Mani Pemme Hum (in Tibetan) it is slightly different in Sanskrit – Om Mani Padme Hung.  Each syllable has to do with Chenrezig’s cleansing one of the realms of samsara – the hell realms, the hungry ghost realms, the animal realms, etc.  He cleanses the afflictive emotions of each realm (supposedly).  And each time we chant the mantra with devotion, another Chenrezig is created, going out into the world to offer healing and compassion to all beings. Manjushri Thangka at Tashi Choeling

Saturday was a full day – Jai Nang (permission blessing ceremony) or brief empowerment / initiation; then Khenpo la taught on the text we would practice that afternoon.  After lunch we did practice and then we did a Dharma protectors practice – very potent. I loved it!  I needed a nap afterwards, which was perfect.

Then Sunday we did an hour of the sadhana practice (a text for practicing Dharma) and then offered a feast to the wisdom beings or we had a “Dharma party” to use Khenpo’s words.  The blessed feast is called a Tsok.  Then that was the completion of the weekend.  I am glad I attended.  After working for nearly 18 months straight, I had been missing many Dharma teachings.  For me, I have a strong connection with the Dharma, and it is sort of my medicine.  If my mind stream is getting toxic or clouded over, a Dharma teaching is all I need to imprint on virtuous teachers and cleanse my mind stream.  Ahhh…

Thank you for reading!  And may all beings know themselves to have all that they need and rest in that.  By the way, you can visit Tashi Choeling’s website at http://www.tcbci.org

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This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore.  Reproduction without permission is prohibited.  Please visit Kirby’s website at http://www.mkirbymoore.com (link on right also) to support his business and blogging efforts.  Thank you for visiting!

Driving up to NOVA to see Garchen Rinpoche. Abridged version (slow typer on iPad).

Started out early, not a morning person these days. Misjudged the 30 to 40 traffics lights on 29 north, afraid of being late, argh! Arrive to park next to my friend David from NYC, ahhh, that’s better.

Morning talk on Buddhanature. So precious. Garchen Rinpoche is one of the most sublime beings I have ever attended. He has no text in front of him, just spontaneous realization. Two hours of a potent and general talk on how to realize our innate Buddhanature – what is it? Where is it? What is mind? How do we purify our deep habit of grasping at a self? It takes a long time and lots of perseverance. I slip in and out of meditative samadhi. Stuff is happening in my body – probably just being in Rinpoche’s presence is moving, shifting, healing, melting parts of me which had become rigid, contracted, frozen. Ahhhhhh….

The scene was the Auspicious Cloud Monastery in Haymarket Cirginia, a little north of Warrenton. It is incredibly serene there! Big vast open sky. Many statues of seated Buddhas, standing Bodhisattvas, a female Buddha on a lotus surrounded by pools of water. And a large Shakyamuni Buddha in a pavilion out in a field. To get to him, one must walk through a promenade of outdoor lotus lamps. Being there in Rinpoche’s mandala, it truly felt like a pure realm. Plus they provided us with delicious vegetarian Vietnamese food! Yummy!

I got to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones, as it has been a year since I have done Dharma outside of C’ville. And actually, since I usually do the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick Maryland, there were mostly people I had not met before. Plus there was a good number of Vietnamese people with their translator too! Wow!

The afternoon was questions and answers. I was full of good food, so at first my body was sitting in meditation posture with ease. Toward the end though, I could not stay comfortable. I should have brought my own cushion and blanket (note to self…). 🙂

Garchen Rinpoche gave out a copy of the Great Perfection of Samanthabhadra’s Aspirations otherwise known as the King of Aspiration prayer. Then when I offered my khata, he gave me a copy of the little yellow 37 Bodhisattva practices booklet. That man is so kind and precious, it is beyond words… Many people cried as they received blessings from him. I wanted to.

Thank you for reading.

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Who’d’ve thunk it? Going on a Buddhist pilgrimage in North Carolina… Well that’s right! One does not instantly think of Buddhism when N.C. is mentioned. But I am here to attend teachings by Khenpo Choephel at Urban Dharma in Asheville NC. And to rest down in the midst of everything!

Picking up Khenpo from the Charlotte Airport, I drive with him to Black Mountain just outside of A’ville. In the car, Khenpo tells me stories of Drikung Khandros (women dakinis or extraordinary Buddhist practitioners) in Tibet who helped with the rebuilding of nunneries which had been destroyed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution. We chat a little about the Vajrayogini Mandala which is supposedly surrounding the Drikung Thil monastery in Tibet (China). Khenpo is presently the resident teacher of the Pittsburgh Ratnashri Sangha, so I ask him about that center and city. Khenpo reminds me that it is good to slow down as he requests we stop for coffee and a relaxing pit stop at a Dunkin Donuts. I’m not sure the North Carolinians knew what to do with a Buddhist monk – one guy kept asking him why he wasn’t wearing sandals? But everyone was very nice to our teacher.

On Saturday we received Phowa teachings from Khenpo at the Urban Dharma Center. See my next post for more about Urban Dharma. We had a crowd of about 25 as this teaching was pretty much invitation only, but it was still a great day. We had a pot luck dinner on Saturday night. Then Khenpo made tormas (ritual offering cakes) for Sunday’s activities. While he was making tormas, I got a car-tour of downtown Asheville as I would be driving Khenpo the following morning – early – and they did not want us getting lost. 🙂 At least not more lost than I already was.

I was Khenpo’s unqualified attendant of sorts. I settled into this role with ease however as it was my intention to come down to NC to rest – I already volunteer with two other centers, so I did not want to start the trend of burning myself out at a third one! On Saturday, all that meant was making sure Khenpo’s hot water was always full and hot, and then making certain everyone knew that he was a vegetarian for the dinner. On Sunday though, it was fun to attend the Khenpo as he did a self-empowerment.

Sunday was an empowerment of Amitayus – the Buddha of longevity. When Lamas give empowerments, they must first generate the deity in themselves in a pre-ritual. Therefore we got to UD early on Sunday and finished the preparations – with a long life empowerment there are actually quite a few miscellaneous things required: long life pills (small dough balls which are colored red), long life vase, a long life banner (an arrow wrapped in colorful ribbons) and more. There is symbolism to all these ritual items but it would be best to let an expert speak about it! I was happy though to sit near Khenpo as he went through the preparations. See the picture below for a close up of the Long Life Pills and the Long Life Vase.

Then empowerment (blessing ceremony of sorts) went well. This was the official public opening of Urban Dharma and apparently many people found out about the teachings. And who would not want a long life empowerment, seriously? You mean I can just sit there, do some visualizations, receive a long life pill and then I receive blessings that can possibly extinguish obstacles to a long life? Count me in! Actually it is a bit more complicated than that – all empowerments have what are called samayas – or commitments – which we agree to abide by with receiving the empowerment and sure enough, there were some samayas with this one as well. Samayas are secret though – ask a qualified Lama about them if you are truly interested.

After the empowerment we went out to eat lunch and then I hopped on the (wrong) road to head back home. More on that in the next post.

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