Khenpo Jampa Rinpoche Invited to Speak on Multi-Faith Panel in Bellingham, WA

by Kim Abbey

 

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On April 13, 2013 Khenpo Jampa Rinpoche traveled north of Seattle, about a two hour drive, to Cornwall Church in Bellingham to speak to the congregation there. He and representatives of four other faiths were invited by the Pastor Bob Marvel to answer questions at the regular week-end services at the church.   The multi-faith panel  discussion was given at the Saturday 6:00 pm service and then repeated at the Sunday 9:00 am and 12:00 pm services.  
   
At each of these services about 400 people attended.  Cornwall Church is an evangelical Christian church first opened in Bellingham in 1900.  Since 1992, under Pastor Bob Marvel, the ministry has grown, including the education program.

The panel speakers came from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths.  Each speaker was asked to answer four questions:  What is God's role in your religion?  What is your faith's scripture and how was it written? How does your faith view the life and role of Jesus?  How does your faith view the afterlife? Each panelist was able to speak for about 5 minutes on each question.

 

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At each service, there was an atmosphere of mutual respect and of the love and compassion for each faith amongst the congregation.  Khenpo Jampa Rinpoche elucidated the main beliefs of the Buddhist faith with an open-hearted and gregarious enthusiasm. The congregation at Cornwall Church gained more knowledge and understanding of other faiths.

 

Chod Interview

with H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche
submitted by Wendy Becker

“The opening of the gates of Dharma
Is not an initiation of a deity transmission to the body;
It is an initiation of the ultimate meaning transmitted to the mind.” ~ Machig Labdron


WB:  How many lineages of Chod are there? What is your lineage?

HETYR: From the beginning we have to know who the founder of Chod Practice is and where it comes from.  In Tibetan language the meaning of the word “chod” translates “to cut” and here, in Tibetan Buddhism, Chod means, “to cut the ego”. Machig Labdron founded Chod which signifies a specific practice of the dharma.  She was born in Labchi in the year, 1015 and passed away 1153.  Although her birth name was Rinchen Dronme she was later renamed from her original name of Dronme and her place of birth in Labdron, to “the shining light of Lab” hence, the name “Labdron.” Her practice was inspired by “perfection of discriminating insight,” otherwise known as Prajnaparamita and spread into the Gelugpa and Kagyu schools. 

Three root gurus came before Machig Labdron: Yum Chenmo (Blessing Lineage), Vajradhara (Tantric Female Lineage), and Sakyamuni (Sutra Male Lineage) that was disseminated through Manjurishi, Dakini Sukhasiddhi, Nagarjuna, Lopon Aryadeva to Brahmin Aryadeva, Dampa Sangye, Sonam Lama, Kyosakya Yeshe, and Mara Sepo).  Machig Labdron received direct transmission from Yum Chenmo, Great Mother of Prajnaparamita and “constitutes an original specific system, both from a philosophical point of view and in terms of the methods of realization...” (Machig Labdron and the Foundations of Chod, by Jerome Edou; pp.79-88). 

From the three root gurus came three transmissions:

“The first main transmission came down from Dampa Sangye directly through Sonam Lama with precepts from the mahasiddha tradition as well as the Chod precepts connected with Prajnaparamita.  The latter tradition, obtained from the Brahmin, is referred to as the oral transmission lineage and is also known as the Sutra tradition.  The second transmission, the Vajrayana Chod, was directly revealed to Machig Labdron by Tara through visionary experiences and thus considered to be an emanation of the Great Mother Yum Chenmo, the Perfection of Wisdom, a wisdom dakini.  The third originated with Machig herself and consists of a corpus of teachings born from the previous two, combined with her own meditative experience” (Ibid as above, pp. 79-88). 

Also, the Ngingma tradition has Chod practice with masters like Jigme Lingpa. I have both both Ngingmapa and Gelugpa Chod lineages.




WB:  How many years have you practiced Chod?

HETYR:  Each time after I receive Chod empowerment and teachings, I practice Chod.  I especially practice, when my ego destroys my peaceful mind, and when there are more obstacles, stress or depression.

WB:  What is your most memorable experience with Chod?

HETYR: During their practice, the good practitioners can feel they are ready to give up everything they have and also feel countless sentient beings receiving what they have to give them.  But an ordinary person like myself only has my visualizations to offer, yet they have helped me to generate more feelings of relaxation and calm when there is struggle and stress.

WB:  Is Chod a deity practice or more like Tonglen?

HETYR: It is both. It is practice of Tonglen with the deity and to give more of everything. For instance you should give your happiness, your joy, your merit, your love, your compassion, your wisdom, your energy, your smile and physical body to free all sentient beings from suffering.

WB:  What is the symbolism/meaning of Chod Instruments?

HETYR:  The Bell represents wisdom.  The Vajra symbolizes method.   The   Drum beats to the wisdom of unborn emptiness and the two faces of the drum represent compassion and wisdom.  The Kangling is the symbol of selflessness.

WB: Is Machig Labdron a real person or a deity?

HETYR: She is real person, yes, but Tibetans believe she is a reincarnation of the Great Mother Prajnaparamita.

When Machig started to read the texts, she was able to complete twelve volumes in the time it took others to read four volumes. As she progressed on her studies she dedicated her tasks for the benefit of all beings to reach the Khecari realm of Sky-Goers (adapted from Ibid, pp 129-130).

WB:  Why practice in graveyards/cemeteries?

HETYR:  Because Buddhists believe that in those kinds of places, there is more spiritual energy.  In Tibet, when we practice near water on edge of lake, beach or rivers and mountains, it is called Chumig Gyatsa.  The Tibetan term is Nyensa, when practicing at different cemeteries or other haunted places. Chodpa.  But in Western countries, is easier to practice Chumig Gyatsa.  And, if someone can go to Tibet, India or Nepal, I think they can practice
Nyensa Chodpa.   

WB:  What is the purpose of Chod practice?

HETYR: To cultivate detachment, relax and generate more love and compassion. By gaining better understanding of all phenomena, you make yourself a Bodhisattva. When you become a less sensitive person vulnerable to getting angry, jealous, sad, depressed, or feeling need to isolate yourself or break up relationships with others you exist in the true nature of what you are.

WB:  Are there more auspicious times of the month/year to practice Chod?

HETYR:  Year and month don’t matter. But traditionally, practice during the night is best time in addition to Dakini days.

WB:  How does a student learn the practice of Chod?

HETYR:  First, you have to receive empowerment, transmission and teachings with your guru.  Then you go on to 108 practices. Additionally, you should study the story of Machig Labdron, the history of Chod, Lama lineage and texts.  I have composed two sets of practices for practitioners. One is An Abbreviated Chod Sadhana of Machig Labdron and the other the long one is A Complete Chod Sadhana of Machig Labdron. If people are very busy, the short sadhana is appropriate to practice while the long version is used for monthly practice and retreat.

5th Annual Live Animal Release

By Kristine Honda

On Saturday, April 6th, 2013, Sakya Monastery held its 5th annual live animal release in Anacortes.  His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, Dhungsey Zaya Rinpoche, Her Eminence Dagmo Kusho, and Venerable Khenpo Jampa Rinpoche presided over the ceremony in Anacortes.  Many people witnessed the miraculous and auspicious signs preceeding their arrival. Before the ceremony began, the weather in Anacortes was foreboding.  It was rainy, and cold with torrential downpours and gusts of wind threatening to make the event very uncomfortable for participants.  Just before Dagchen Rinpoche and entourage arrived, the rain and wind stopped and the skies became clear, blue, and sunny.  During the recitation of prayers, it actually became hot!

 

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The lamas and many Sakya Monastery members and friends recited Chenrezi mantra, Om Mani Padme Hung, the Aspiration of Samantabhadra, and long life Prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, H.E. Dagmo Kusho Sakya and the Khön lineage.  Merit was dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Sakya Family, the lamas, and to all sentient beings. 

Monastery members and friends generously donated $1370.  A total of 175 Dungeness crabs were released, including 4 donated by Black Rock Seafood. This practice was begun in 2009 with Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche and I releasing 55 crabs. We are extremely happy that now more than 3 times that amount has been released. We are so blessed to have Dagchen Rinpoche, Dagmo Kusho, the Sakya Family and monastery members participate. The owner of the crab supplier, Tony Franulovich, Jr, shared with us how since he has worked with us over the past 4 years, he has seen his business grow, and considers the animal release a great blessing.

 

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Thank you to everyone whose contributions helped save the Dungeness crabs from certain death.  Thanks to Eric Dulberg for helping to bring the tent and supplies and thanks to Trinidad for bringing his rowboat.  Thank you to our precious lamas for coming and blessing the crabs and everyone present with their presence and prayers. 

 

 

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The Sakya Monastery Tsa-Tsa Project

By Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche

Making Tsa-Tsas is a very important practice in Tibetan Buddhism.  Anyone can make­­ them, monks, nuns, or  laypersons of any age, even those with physical or mental  disabilities.  Making them is a very simple, but also very profound practice.  Different molds are used to produce small clay statues of deities, mantras, stupas, and various religious symbols.  Specific mantras are recited for each successive step in this process.  Some people knead the ashes of deceased loved ones and pets into their Tsa-Tsas. We Buddhists believe that enormous merit is accumulated in the making of even one Tsa-Tsa.

Once an auspicious day for Tsa-Tsa making has been determined, soil or clay is pressed into the molds, then carefully extracted and set aside for drying.  After the statues are dry and hard, they are sometimes painted. Then they are consecrated by a Lama. Traditionally, they are then placed inside a Stupa constructed specifically for the purpose. 

With the permission of H.H. Dagchen Rinpoche, we announced in the middle of last year that we were going to make Tsa-Tsas at Sakya Monastery.  Many people contributed donations for the purchase of supplies.  Chuck Pettis kindly contributed a number of molds, Kathleen Ramm ordered additional ones, and our Treasurer, Gillian Teichert, who is a potter, ordered the clay. Over a dozen people showed up on the auspicious day, including three children, and we spent the better part of two days working hard until well over a thousand Tsa-Tsas had been created!  A special thanks is owed to those like Syrinda Sharpe, Kirsten Throneberry and her children, Peter Ober, and others who participated from beginning until end.

Once the Tsa-Tsas had been made, it took weeks for our Tsa-Tsas to dry, even in our furnace room!  Painting each one individually turned out to be an even greater challenge, since the paint released noxious fumes, so everything had to be done outside.  We owe great thanks to Dale Johnson and Kim Abbey, who had the patience to coordinate people and materials under Seattle’s notoriously unpredictable skies.  At this point we are very, very close to the finish line, and I want to thank all who have contributed to this long-drawn-out project from the bottom of my heart.  When we are finished, I shall dedicate all the accumulated merit to World Peace, the spreading of Buddha-Dharma, the long life of our spiritual leaders, and the rebirth of our deceased loved ones in higher realms. 

New Years Long Life Ceremony for His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche

By Adrienne Chan


The Tibetan astrological calendar is based on a twelve year animal cycle: mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog and boar.  The Chinese lunar calendar recognizes similar twelve animal years.

According to Tibetan culture, a female will experience obstacles on her specific birth year and the year following it.  On the other hand, for a man obstacles are experienced on his birth year and the year before it.

Year 2013 represents the year of the Snake.  Since His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (Dagchen Rinpoche) was born in the year of the Snake, his obstacle years are 2012 and 2013.  Thus, last year many special prayers were recited to help remove obstacles and extend the long life of our beloved Head Lama.  Last year the following Long Life Prayer services and Tenshug ceremonies were sponsored in Seattle: January 1, 2012-- patron:Ven. Migyur Rinpoche;  April 10, 2012 Gyap-shi Puja-- patron: Sakya Monastery; and June 1- 2, 2012 prayers & Tenshug-- patron:Tho Lu.  During Dagchen Rinpoche’s October to mid-December 2012 Asian teaching tour, prayers and tenshug ceremonies were also offered to him. There were 5 tenshugs offered in Taiwan, 3 in Hong Kong and 7 in India.  The largest tenshug was held at Dzongsar Chokyi Lodro College,India—thousands of  monks and lay persons were in attendance. (for details on  the various 2012 prayers and tenshug ceremonies, view the “2012 Sakya Monastery Chronicles” online).

 

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Before Dagchen Rinpoche embarked on his 2012 Asian tour, Ven. Tulku Yeshi consulted the Tibetan Astrological calendar and determined that January 6-8, 2013 would be auspicious days for Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life prayers and a tenshug ceremony to be held in Seattle.  Gillian Teichert, Tho Luu and Adrienne Chan were honored to sponsor that event.

The January 6 & 7 Long Life religious prayer services for Dagchen Rinpoche were especially exciting, for along with our resident lamas (Khenpo Jampa, Tulku Yeshi, Lama Migmar), Dagchen Rinpoche’s grandsons H.E. Avi Rinpoche, H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche and their teachers Yongzing Tashi Nyima and Yongzing Kungsang (all who reside in India) and grandson H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and his attendant monk Tashi Tenzin (both who reside in Nepal) participated in the services.  On those days the Monastery was permeated with the sounds of spiritual chanting, horns, cymbals, large drums, bells, hand drums, etc.  Joining the religious ensemble were Jetsun Chime Gyatso, Dagmo Kusho, Magnthu Gyatso, and other Monastery members.

The January 8th  Tenshug event was even more memorable, as all of Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho’s sons (Minzu Rinpoche, Ani Rinpoche, Mati Rinpoche, Zaya Rinpoche, Sadu Rinpoche), all of their grandsons (Ananda Rinpoche,  Avikrita Rinpoche, Abhaya Rinpoche, Asanga Rinpoche), 5 of their grandughters (Jetsumas), 2 of Dagchen Rinpoche’s sisters (Jetsumas) and all of their sons’ wives or Dagmos were in attendance. Specifically, Minzu Rinpoche and his wife, Dagmo Carol flew in from California.  Ananda Rinpoche flew in from Vietnam.

Highlights of the Tenshug ceremony included Ven. Khenpo Jampa leading the service;

 

 


 


Ven. Tulku Yeshi Gyatso sharing a brief biography of H.H. JD Sakya;

 

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HE Avikrita Rinpoche describing the complete 37 mandala offering; H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche reciting an explanation of the Body, Speech & Mind offering; HE Asanga Rinpoche requesting to H.H. JD Sakya that he live long; and H.H. JD Sakya’s  response that he would live as long as he could teach.  We were all ecstatic to hear that H.H. JD Sakya and the Sakya teaching would long endure!

 

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The ceremony continued with the 7 and 8 auspicious offerings by Jetsuma & Dagmos.
 
Mandala offerings were then offered to Dagchen Rinpoche from the following groups:  Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang, Sakya Monastery, Tibetan Association of Washington,
Sakya Heritage Foundation, Children’s Dharma School, Vietnam Sakya Center, Virupa Educational Institute, Earth Sanctuary, Nalanda Institure of Olympia, Tingkhye family,  Gaga family, and Kunga Tseten from New York.

After the mandala offerings, a good wishes letter honoring H.H. JD Sakya from Khenpo Kalsang of Sakya Tsechen Kunchab Ling, NY, was read to the sangha.

Also on that special day, Dagchen Rinpoche’s two new great-grandson (3 month old  twins: Dhungsey Nyima,  Dhungsey Dawa) were also introduced.  They are the sons of Ananda Rinpoche and Amanda.  

The holy day concluded with a delicious lunch followed by traditional Khampa dancing and Tibetan songs.  We merrily celebrated the Long Life of H. H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya.  

Entryway to the Dharma - Downloadable Translation

By Dr. Jeffrey Schoening

Entryway to the Dharma (PDF) introduces the reader to the Buddha's teachings. The text was written by the second Sakya founding lama, son of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Precious Teaching Master Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), in 1167/1168 CE. The text combines the author's concise prose with many quotations from Indian Buddhist sutras and treatises. Here is presented a translation of the first half of the text. The translation includes explanatory footnotes and endnotes concerning the texts being quoted.  

The second pdf document contains a Glossary and a List of Names (PDF). The Glossary entries are bolded the first time they appear in the translation. The List of Names includes Quoted Texts, People, and Places. After each entry, its location in the text is given by using the Thematic Subdivision of the text; these Subdivisions are similar to a table of content and are found at the beginning of the text, before the translation.

The main body of the text has three general points introducing the Buddha Dharma and then five specific points explaining the practice of the Dharma and its history. The three general points concerning the Dharma are its Essential Nature, Purpose, and Divisions. The five specific points are Dharma, Spiritual Friend, Hearing (i.e. study), Benefits, and Removing Doubts. The last point, Removing Doubts, has four parts and makes up the bulk of the treatise. These are the four questions addressed by the four points, respectively: How are beings freed from suffering? Does this path have faults? Who teaches this path? How was it transmitted?

The translation concludes with the awakening of the Buddha through his defeat of Mara.

The translation of the section on the Teacher benefited from the suggestions made by Jeffrey Bennett, Tom Linder, and William Sternhagen in my Classical Literary Tibetan class.

 

 

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