Blog Archives

A Great Journey and a Memorable Hayagriva Drupchö

June 2019, Buryatia, Season Two

One could say that this second trip to Buryatia took place under the auspices of Hayagriva. Nature displayed her wrathful aspects, we went through some”hayagrivesque” episodes, and we received rains of blessings … A beautiful and long RIPA adventure has been experienced there, that is for sure.

At the Moscow RIPA Center

Located in a lively and active university district, the RIPA center is a reflection of its environment: young, alive, brimming with energy, dynamism and life. RIPA students are at home, as are visitors who are warmly welcomed. Spread over four levels, the center has converted its basement into accommodations: a dormitory, kitchen, dining room, showers and toilets, everything is simple, well done, practical and pleasant. At this moment, about twenty monks from Nepal and Orissa live there for a while. They will leave soon with us for Buryatia. The slightly elevated ground floor leads to the small self-service and the large teaching and practice room. The first floor includes rooms rented to external speakers for consultations related to wellness and personal development, Tibetan medicine, etc. On the top floor, there is a large and beautiful Gompa … But one must comment on the remarkable entry: on each side of the small staircase, the visitor is greeted by a double row of photos of our teachers and events of the RIPA lineage throughout the world: inaugurations, international meetings, the RIPA family, snapshots of life in the monasteries of Orissa and Nepal, little monks…. This entry imbues us instantly with the atmosphere of our community around the world and the presence of our teachers there is palpable.

Photo slideshow captions 1
The RIPA logo in Russian on this large luminous mirror, the clear water that flows there sings like a spring … The monks look at the photos of the entrance … Information on Ripa Awerness Meditation and the activities of the center, the superb fresco of Gesar done by a renowned Bhutanese artist … The little self-service and one of its tasting tables … The monks’ corner … Who discover the markets of Moscow … And of course have participated in football matches with young Russians.

Fish blessed by Lhuntrul Rinpoche find life again

1,500 kgs of fish caught for sale and consumption were bought by RIPA students to save them from a certain death. Transported in containers on the banks of a large nautical center in Moscow, we participate in a ceremony for them under the inspiration of Lhuntrul Rinpoche, before releasing them. Some are unfortunately already dead because it must be said that they have just spent more than 24 hours in containers whose water capacity is insufficient to keep them all alive. However a large majority of them will be saved. And it is so moving to see these fish, some of which had become totally inert for some time, to resuscitate slowly. First a movement of the fins is barely perceptible, then, timidly their mouths “suck” the water, their source of life, and their body comes alive, finally, as they sink back into their natural element. During this return to life, we imagine them as having been already gone and dead, and with their revival they certainly appear a little lost, so that spontaneously tenderness emerges from the depths of our hearts, as we cannot but be touched by the suffering they have experienced. Supported and accompanied by the rituals of a Master, this practice – which goes back to the origins of Buddhism – opens the door for better reincarnations. By helping them to break free from their karma, fish will have every opportunity to reincarnate as humans in a future life.

Photo captions slide 2
Everyone surrounds Lhuntrul Rinpoche at the nautical center … One of the three containers of 500 kg each … Rinpoche blesses the fish … Everyone participates in launching the fish back into the water … Many of us do not hesitate to jump into the water … Others do it involuntarily! … Some handsome swimmers from the nautical center offered to participate … The monks are of course in the first line.

To Buryatia via Irkoustk

Irkutsk is the capital of the Eastern District of Siberia on the west coast of Lake Baikal. The duration of the flight from Moscow to Irkutsk will give you a little idea of the distance and extent of the territory of the Russian Federation, the trip lasts between five and a half or six and a half hours, depending on the flights. After a short walk in the city, we leave by bus to Buryatia and we stop at Arshan, in the west of this part of the country, after a seven hour drive. Arshan means “healing water” in Buryat, because of its famous hot springs; it is also known for its Datsan (gompa in Buryat), the former residence of a great lama who was one of the teachers of a previous Dalai Lama … It is here that Jigme Rinpoche and Lhuntrul Rinpoche will guide a practice of Medicine Buddha. The small temple is packed, and finding a place, even an uncomfortable one, is not easy. We depart early the next morning for a long day on the bus. Destination: Orlik, where the Hayagriva Drupchö will take place. On the way, Our Rinpoches are invited to lead a smoke offering practice. Many villagers arrive, and whole families come to be blessed. Then a final departure for Orlik, where we will arrive at about eight o’clock at night.

Photo captions slide 3

At the southern part of eastern Siberia, Buryatia is located on the east coast of Lake Baikal. Its borders are common with the district of Irkutsk and the small Buddhist republic of Tuva in the west, Mongolia in the south and the Chita region in the east … Embarking in Moscow for a night flight … Arshan, practice of Sangye Menla in the small Datsan … Blessings by our teachers … Photos at the end of the ceremony with some of the participants and the monks … The local people … Offering of smoke on the path of Orlik … And the queue to receive the blessings of Jigme Rinpoche.

Drupchö in Orlik

Imagine yourself in the middle of nature, in the middle of immense spaces, surrounded by hills and mountains. One can truly breathe, we feel our hearts open and our bodies expand; the Buryats explain to us that we are on pure land. The small gompa in the shape of a yurt, which was inaugurated three years ago, is too small to accommodate all the participants of the Drupchö; so, the friends of the Buryat community decided to install an adjoining large marquee, on the meadow. Built entirely by their own hands, they traveled miles to cut and bring back a few dozen tree trunks with which the frame was built and then covered with blue-green plastic. This is where we will spend our days, from 6:30 in the morning until the evening. We can say that this drupchö seemed to have a green theme: green meadows, green surrounding hills, our green restaurant in the middle of nowhere, (certainly a big army tent from the last war!), and the green reflections on our bodies when we are under the tent.

Photo captions slide 4
The beautiful gompa in the shape of a yurt … The Drupchö marquee… During the breaks, we recover from the time difference … We get the vertebrae back in place … Even the sacred daily dances are tinged with green … Our “green” restaurant … At table for the good dishes prepared by Victoria and Baatak … Jigme Rinpoche and Lhuntrul Rinpoche share our dinner one evening … 7:30, first break, we warm up with the fire that heats the water for the tea … Grand luxury: toasted bread over a wood fire, moreover, all the cooking is guaranteed to be by a wood fire, and we can tell! … Outdoor washbasins in the greenery … On the last day, the drupchö starts at 4am (we wake up at 3am!)… Those who read Russian or Tibetan follow the text by the light of their smartphone … Blessings at the end of Drupchö … The marquee is full. Outside, a small crowd waits in the rain before entering. According to the “experts,“ we are between 300 and 400 … Last night in the small Orlik restaurant.

We inaugurate the statue of Gesar of Ling

In 2016, during his first visit, Jigme Rinpoche announced his wish to place a statue of Gesar of Ling in a very special and particular place, in the middle of nature. Thanks to our offerings, one of the best artists in the country has created a beautiful 120 cm tall statue. After a few hours of an incredible journey filled with adventures, where our cars confronted the unleashed elements, we participate in a powerful inauguration, despite the rain and an icy glacial wind that makes life difficult for the indispensable fire for the smoke offering. But rain or not, Jigme Rinpoche and Lhuntrul Rinpoche bless the statue, and Ki-Ki-So-So’s fly to the sky, having first crossed a forest of umbrellas….

Photo captions slide 5
The statue of Gesar … Hard, hard to light the fire … The monks keep smiling … Offering smoke, rain, cold and wind, a mixture rather chilling, but our hearts are hot … Jigme Rinpoche opens the offering of smoke … Photo of the monastic family RIPA … Shamanic site on the way back.

All-powerful nature

The uninterrupted manifestation of natural elements is inherent in continental climates such as Buryatia. This time we were served! Cold, wind, rain, biblical storms … Almost all of our stay took place under the auspices of the unleashed elements. We settle down at 6:30 in the morning on the damp carpets of a tent naturally cooled by the night, cross the meadow turned into a marsh to get to meals, toilets, and we push our shoes through beautiful thick mud to enter our little Hotel; there were very interesting and almost daily experiences … Not to mention the rivers overflowing their banks that cut us off several times, and confronted us at times with little complications that added to our travel. The following photos will give you an overview of our daily life.

Photo captions slide 6
A new storm is preparing to break… On the way to the inauguration of the statue one of our cars sinks into the water that has submerged the road. The second is surrounded by water, impossible to leave … The good will recover tree trunks and all that will allow the bus to get out of its rut … The roads are submerged by the rising water … So much so that you have to climb a path to find the road where it is again drivable, that is far away … The monks have repatriated urgently in our small hotel because of the floods, they sleep and have lunch “at home.” We spend an unforeseen morning, amused, happy and animated to prepare their meal … Even though it is summer time there remains here and there large patches of ice. Some places never thaw.

Ulan-Udé

Last stage of our adventure: Ulan-Udé, capital of Buryatia. The bus trip lasts … A dozen hours! The day after our arrival, Jigme Rinpoche is invited with Lhuntrul Rinpoche to inaugurate a small temple in the middle of nature half an hour from the city. We go there. The invitation comes from Danzan, a young Buriat Lama whose wish is to establish a temple for lay practitioners in the tradition of Nyingma yogis and especially the RIPA lineage. He had invited Jigme Rinpoche to come and bless the site three years ago. The beginning of the ceremony is marked by the arrival of two horsemen sporting the banner of Gesar of Ling. The sacred Tibetan dances are remarkably performed by the monks on a sloping ground, undulating, improbable and copiously sprinkled by fresh and massive showers. Then the day ends with a small concert of traditional Buryat music. Two young musicians of high level play on a distant cousin of the superb cello. As usual, the participants are numerous and the new wooden temple will not be able to contain all of them. Many will attend the ceremony from the outdoor terrace while looking through the windows.

Photo captions slideshow 7
Our Rinpoches welcomed by Lama Danzan … At the entrance to the small temple … The two riders bearing the banner of Gesar of Ling … The art of blessing his representation of Padmasambhava at a distance … We receive the blessings and we photograph … Offering of smoke … The festivities … Superb sacred dances … Buryat art ends the day …

Photo album

Stunning wooden houses of Irkutsk … Traditional Siberian house … XXL conch for the Drupchö … Outdoor cooking for the drupchö … Wooden kitchen next to the small temple inaugurated … And its annex where we boil the water … Sites of shamanic offerings reputedly loaded with a particular energy … The toilets on the road of the journey … How to protect oneself from the sun … And finally: the same big signs all over the planet.

At the heart of RIPA meditation

December 2018 / January 2019 – End of the year in our Swiss center

A new winter retreat in meditation? We were all waiting for it. For five days, the center will bring together all cultures, languages and continents. A happy reunion that confirms this feeling of belonging to a large family without borders.

Away from the hurly burly comotion and nicely seated on one`s cushion

Our ordinary mind is constantly agitated, disturbed, and full of uncertainty and emotion. Troubled, confused, it opens the door to uncertainty, stress, sadness, anguish. And this leads us straight to suffering. Intuitively, we know this and we are looking for a solution. That is why more than one hundred and fifty of us are here this winter with Rinpoche, sitting on our cushion, ready for adventure.

Rinpoche explains: “During these few days, we will try to be totally present here, free from all the inhibitions, the preoccupations of life, and its turbulence, and we will try to be totally open, receptive, and comfortable.” Then, before we get into our first practice, he says : “Imagine a cushion, just a cushion that needs a body, someone to sit on it. This body needs to breathe. And this breathing body needs to be in a state of alertness, vigilance, attention, and the spirit of awakening. We all have a body, we all breathe, and we all possess this potential of the spirit of full awareness. Meditation is therefore accessible to each of us at all times.

Session after session, we train to feel the right position of our body, sitting cross-legged, back straight, shoulders wide open …  Then we focus our attention on the breath, the breathing, in order to finally enter into meditative practice… And it works! As the days go by, the eyes light up, the smiles become more generous, more open, and an atmosphere of beneficial softness settles in. It seems that we receive Rinpoche’s message when he urges us to : “develop a positive attitude, and generate joy in our heart, so that the benefit of our meditation is addressed to all beings and not only to ourselves.

And all this in total silence … Such rest, such peace and such relief!

Photo captions: Rinpoche is about arrive, and we are waiting for him, with katas deployed and hearts open… whole days in the room that is full like eggs in a carton … During the breaks, everyone takes advantage in his own way in order to relax and in so doing presents to our view surprising positions…  Funny … Tender … Baroque … Vipassana Walking Meditation with vintage slippers! … Total silence yes, but with tenderness, smiles and joy … Last day: the questions waiting for Rinpoche fill the cardboard box … Impossible to answer everything!

The future RIPA instructors are getting ready

How can the benefits of R.A.M. (Ripa Awareness Meditation) and its depth be made available to the widest possible audience? How can it be opened to all, including totally secular people who do not feel drawn towards Buddhism? This is precisely what Jigme Rinpoche is gradually putting in place by expanding the training of future instructors for this very special meditation, because it combines the ancient tradition of Buddhism with the additional link to our unique lineage and its blessings.

Why are the Buddha’s teachings, 2600 years old, still alive? Why do they touch us and help us so much? This is simply because they are universal and their transmission has never been interrupted. Moreover, through the current generation of our RIPA lineage, this living transmission is ensured by authentic realized Masters and the lineage.

It is therefore a great opportunity for future instructors – and a great responsibility as well – to receive these teachings to transmit them.  This winter, the training of meditation instructors was attended by a good thirty participants, many of whom were new. Rinpoche particularly emphasized several points: personal and daily practice is essential. He warned of the risks of ego “trips” that could arise, and of the importance of being sincere and authentic in one’s practice, motivation and intentions. He insisted on the importance of this emerging community of instructors, on the mutual respect that all must have amongst themselves, and on a sense of shared benevolence because, he said :  “these aspects will one day be felt by the future beneficiaries.” Before the participants can in the future guide meditations on behalf of our lineage, they will have received a certificate (which will validate that common criteria have been established, such as academic training, theoretical training, and personal competency, including: validation of practice quality, time spent in training, personal practice hours accomplished, etc.). All this is will be complemented by an ethical charter currently being developed.

The opinion of several participants: “Rinpoche has given us a treasure that we will have to nourish and grow, while preserving it, but also without appropriating it.

At the same time, Rinpoche commissioned Lama Tenzin to provide training and instruction in all aspects of Sadhana Practice (Dharmaseva). This time, the training focused on Umze training for certain practices, learning the musical accompaniement (drums, rolmos etc.), and chupin training, including the making of several kinds of tormas.

(*) Ripa. Awareness. Meditation.

Photo captions: Rinpoche opens the session for the instructors … The atmosphere is studious … With moments of relaxation … Geneviève, in charge of the R.A.M. training under Rinpoche’s guidance … Family photo at the end of the session …On the Dharmaseva side, Lama Tenzin is in charge of the training … He explains … Gives instructions … and listens to help everyone to improve … And another family photo to close the session.

Supported by an international team, our center flourishes

A veritable ship launched on the open sea just a few years ago, our center is confirmed in its vocation of openness. In addition to the RIPA students from all over the world, who come together for our summer and winter retreats, the “outside” groups are more and more numerous in “choosing” us to organize their activities. They appreciate the atmosphere of the place, its peace and the serenity that emerges from being there. They say that the energy they feel helps them in the activities for which they came. The coming of famous personalities like Mathieu Ricard or Alan Wallace attracts a new and greater public who in turn discover this site “where one feels so well” and “where one is so well received.” So much so that some participants at our last retreat met Rinpoche for the first time this winter. They first discovered the center through another activity.


To cope with the growing number of associations and user groups installed for a few days or weeks, the center team is here! Dynamic, effective, it is the image of our RIPA community: open, diverse and international. Begoña the director, and Lluis the chef, are Spanish. Antje, head of the hospitality sector is German but comes from France where she lived for many years, Helen who attends Begoña in Marketing is Swiss. Alongside the permanent staff: Gabriela, Swiss too, comes four days a week and supports everything concerning accommodation … And it is a huge job! Finally, let us not forget Vladimir and Sasha, two volunteers who come periodically from Russia and help out … with anything! From breakfast and meal preparation, to the layout and transformation of the rooms according to the activities of the groups that follow one after the other, you can see them everywhere! All without exception are students of our RIPA teachers and bring warmth, friendship and openness in their contact and associations with others.


Gently, the center builds its image and its renown, in a few years the liner will reach its cruising speed.

Photo captions : This great warm ocean liner that illuminates the winter nights is Our Center… Begoña, its director, ensures with dynamism and determination its expansion and radiance… Antje and Helen, right and left arm of Begoña… All three are non-stop on the bridge… Lluis, great master of our meals with Marie who regularly helps … Gabriela, pillar of laundry and bedding and all that concerns accommodation … Vladimir and Sacha faithful intermittent volunteers from RIPA Russia. Without them, nothing can run smoothly! … The entire team does an incredible amount of work, down to the last detail… So much so that we even find a festive table on 1st of January… And for 150 people!

Photo album

Photo captions: The younger generations always follow retreat in their own way… And participate in common daily tasks if they wish… Always faithful to the post, Laurent, “sound memory” of the teachings… Dharma cat, nice cat!… The future instructors finish their training with a “party.” We sing, we drink a little, but good wine, we laugh … And we say to one another “see you soon,” under the mischievous eye of Lama Tenzin, and the kind smile of the Ripa teachers and the Dalai Lama.

 

Our international community gathered for a great summer retreat

July / August 2018: Grand RIPA Retreat in Our Swiss International Center

Back in Europe after a one year retreat, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche offers us a great opportunity to gather once again. For three weeks, our international spiritual community finds its three RIPA Masters together….

Life, death and rebirth: a Buddhist perspective

From the depth of my practice, my retreat gave me the opportunity to think of you, to pray for all, and to develop even more discipline.” This is how Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche returns to us for this first week on the Bardo of death. He adds, “It has also given me a deep understanding of the difference between study and practice. The experience of practice is deeper, as one is beyond analysis, thought, and interpretation. You become free since this experience offers no basis for input or fixation. One becomes free from all judgment and all opinion.” And he further adds, “If we are serious about our spiritual journey, we should really engage in this profound experience to see how much practice makes the difference ….” There is no question of daring to summarize here in a few lines a whole week of exceptional teachings. Rinpoche was inspired by The Bardo Thödöl – The Tibetan Book of the Dead – composed by Padmasambhava in the 8th century, written by Yeshe Tsogyal, and discovered in the 14th century by Karma Lingpa ; this work is a great testament to the ancient wisdom of the Far East. Rinpoche’s introduction will give you just a quick overview: “I have just returned from Orissa (*), where I visited several elderly people who are approaching death. Among them, a lady I’ve known since I was a child. She is almost 90 years old and very close to her departure. I was very surprised to see her so conscious and calm. She told me how much she no longer had any attachment, neither to her family, nor to her children, nor to her house, nor even to her body… She is very relaxed, totally ready to leave… And death is something universal. So it is good to understand this period of death and the bardo in order to prepare ourselves and to help others in this most important period of our lives, at the end of our lives.

(* State of the Indian Federation on the Bay of Bengal where one of the monasteries of the RIPA lineage is located)

Slideshow 1 :

“Practices and rituals are accompanied by the monks … Offerings of Our Teachers and lamas to H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche at the end of the retreat … Then each of us receives a blessing … The tormas of the rituals are all prepared by the monks, a real work of art … How to put one’s zen well? – a learning session … Atmosphere, atmosphere: candle, bell and dorje … As usual, children lead their lives on their own, caressed by the energy of the teachers, practices, and rituals … “

Lingdro dances in connection with Gesar of Ling …

The second week takes us to the Drupchö (Great Achievement in Tibetan) of Yeshe Tsogyal. A Drupchö is one of the most elaborate forms of Vajrayana practice. It is an exceptional opportunity to immerse one’s self – body, speech and mind – in spiritual experience. We have been discovering and deepening this Drupchö for several years. And it opens up an unlimited field for us to access the experience Rinpoche is talking about. The last week will be reserved for another Drupchö, that of Hayagriva. It is a great discovery for many of us, especially since it is a wrathful deity … An unlimited field of practice and experience. This year, the whole retreat is enriched with dances: Lingdrö dances and sacred dances. Lama Tenzin presents the first: “Ling is all that relates to King Gesar of Ling and Drö means dance,” he adds: “If no one knows the origin of the melodies, we are sure that the poems were composed by Ju Mipham Rinpoche in the 19th century. And all that Mipham has created and written is based on facts from earlier Tibetan history such as that of King Gesar of Ling. At the time of Gesar, every victory was celebrated by dances, archery competitions, and so on. At that time, singing, dancing, participating in festivities were part of the events of life… ” Lama Tenzin continues : ” The Lingdrö dances have a total of fifteen chapters. The first is a dance of offerings to the Guru, Yidam, Dakini, Dharma Protectors, Gesar himself, and his own protectors. In another chapter the dance invites Gesar and all male deities to bless the place, while all the female deities are invited from elsewhere, etc. The first chapter, for example, is an offering to the divinities of wisdom, so we dance with a kata.” In the past, H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche had presented this fundamental aspect of Lingdrö dances to us as follows: “These dances are linked to the awakened activities of King Gesar… They are not ordinary dances… They are practices that help us to overcome the difficulties we face on the path of awakening, they support us in our progress.”

Slideshow 2:

“The Tibetan community of Switzerland always participates. Coming to receive the blessings of the RIPA Masters, they offer us these Lingdrö dances. The day of festivities will bring together more than three hundred people in total … the dances of women and men answer each other … Moment of waiting and anticipation with the children before the dancers “enter the stage”…” King Gesar” is ready… Lama Tenzin too… And as always the children are busy, which does not prevent them from admiring the “show”. “

… And the “Cham” dances, manifestations of the sacred

When we celebrate a Drupchö, obstacles arise created by negative spirits and the Deities represented by terrifying masks remove obstacles and negative energies. This tradition of sacred dances has the particular objective of repelling them. The feminine and masculine deities are represented. But the big difference between the Lingdrö and the “Cham” dances is that the first ones are considered as dances of this world, while the latter ones are the dances of the divinities of wisdom themselves. Everything is in direct relation with Dharma, and they are also defined as dances of liberation by sight. We are not talking here of definitive liberation, but of a momentary liberation: the spectacle reduces the impact of our negative emotions and frees us for a moment from the certainty that what we see is reality whereas it is only an illusory appearance. Everything manifests itself differently and a subtle relationship is established between the practitioner and the divinity. It is said that the Cham has great power in itself, it is said that dancing the cham is the best way to purify the body in particular. The sacred dances we attend each evening during Hayagriva’s Drupchö are part of the traditions of Taksham and Pema Lingpa. And those who attended these dances will tell you in particular how impressively Lhuntrul Rinpoche became Dörje Drollö. On other nights, the female and male deities unfold and imbue us with another energy. All these dances are remarkably performed by the monks who came especially from the RIPA monasteries.

Slideshow 3 :