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News from Nepal #2 – Gong Ter: the Great Preparations

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Gong Ter – the Great Preparations

It is with a friendly excitement, both warm and joyful, that the event is being prepared. It must be said that participants are now beginning to arrive from everywhere, and the little monks perform their tasks with great creativity.

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The monastery gets a makeover. Minimally affected by the earthquake in comparison to other sites, the damage that was sustained was neither to the strength or to the stability of the monastery itself. Although it has been refurbished, and repainted, the monastery is able to accommodate us now in safety, and all the great statues, such as Padmasambhava, Hayagriva and the Buddha were completely spared. Only the splendid paintings of the interior walls will have to be redone by specialized artists. Meanwhile, they are temporarily replaced by huge Tankhas representing the different manifestations of King Gesar of Ling. As the refurbishment is being completed, it is almost like finding the 2005 monastery, that of the inauguration from ten years ago. For their part, the monks are busy preparing for the Gong Ter. The monastery vibrates with their activity that is at once serene and relax.

The statues have kept all of their splendor … The smell and sight of fresh paint awakens and enlivens the colors … a team bonding session … the art of polishing the floor of the temple … and cleaning the lawn … a small moment of friendly relaxation … and then one cools off with a little water.

The Dallu valley close to Pharping. As you may have already read a few years ago in one of the older blog postings, the Dallu Valley near Pharping is an historic and powerful place … On the road leading to Tibet, Padmasambhava stopped first of all in Nepal. At that time, the country was going through a very difficult period, with many famines and suffering of all kinds. Negative spirits infested the Kathmandu valley, spreading their terrifying energies across the region. The arrival of Padmasambhava opened up a new era because he practiced Vajrakilaya in the cave of Asura to Pharping. If he chose this place, it is because it was the most powerful place to soothe the valley. Through this practice and its fulfillment, he subdued the naysayers and brought back harmony to the entire valley. The people came to live there, finding happiness and joy. Near this cave where Padmasambhava was in a three-year retreat are very special hills in which he recognized the eight auspicious symbols. Protected and surrounded by these hills, the Rigon Tashi Choling Monastery was built very close to them. Several great masters of the past had already predicted that the teachings of the “Taksham Cycle” would flourish there. To this prophecy were added the visions of Kyabje Anzin Rinpoche, the elder brother of Tertön Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche, as well as Rinpoche’s own visions, and finally the blessings of His Holiness Sangye Dorje Chatral Rinpoche, one of the last living Great Masters of the lineage of the Way of the Great Perfection (Longchen Nyinthig), and also considered to be one of the greatest Masters of Dzogchen. Fifteen years ago, the monastery then under construction was the only one in the valley, with here and there a few farmhouses surrounded by some poor crops. Today, the monasteries have sprung up like mushrooms, as well as nunneries. The number of houses is growing, slowly advancing on the flanks of the hills and in the small fields, and one can see vegetables growing, in much better health than in the past. It’s simple: the valley now has three hundred and forty houses while they were only sixty fifteen years ago. Decidedly, this powerful valley surrounded by auspicious hills is a great success.

 


A glimpse of the hills and buildings that are gaining ground … Some neighboring monasteries … Small family houses surrounded by their fields … The traditional dwellings alongside more modern buildings … The cows and goats are also a part of everyday life.

Rinpoche arrives. Today is Tuesday, and H.E. Terton Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche is due to arrive in the morning. He arrives with Dungsey Lhuntrul Dechen Gyurmey Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Most of those that are already there are preparing to welcome him, kata in hand. Superb auspicious signs were painted freehand on the floor. At the entrance of the monastery, a long line of monks is extended by another long file of Tibetans, and on the opposite side, are students of Shambhala. In the past few days, participants have come from all over. One hundred Tibetans from Pemaköe have arrived after three days of travel, and others have come from India, including of course Orissa, as well as additional Indian states. There are also some Nepalis who have now become Rinpoche’s students, and they will also be present. Bhutan, Taiwan and Malaysia complement the participants from the Asian continent … From the West, students from Canada and the United States are represented. Europe is also included, finally, with representation from Russia, Ukraine, Kalmykia, Germany, Spain, France, and Switzerland, etc. The Pharping monks represent a group of one hundred and thirty people, while those from central Orissa are another one hundred. In total, there are more than five hundred people from all over the world, speaking all languages,​​ and including all cultures, which are expected to participate from tomorrow onwards in the Gong Ter of His Eminence Tertön Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche. The transmissions that we will receive, along with their lungs, given by Dungsey Lhuntrul Dechen Gyurmey Rinpoche, represent all the Mind Treasures of His Eminence that have been discovered, to date, in this life. As a truly unique event, other high Lamas of other lineages will also be participating.

 


Some auspicious signs on which Rinpoche’s steps will alight … The wait is done under a blazing sun … Namkha Rinpoche, Lhuntrul Rinpoche, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche arrive, the official procession accompanies them … Followed by monks and participants … Then everyone leaves to complete the preparations.

Stay tuned for the next blog —
In Dharma friendship,

M.B., from  Ripa International Center

News from Nepal #1 – After the earthquake

29 September 2015, an adopted village

“My village” , Mero Gaon  (*)



Clinging to a mountainside at 1718 m altitude, this small village was destroyed in its totality by the April earthquake. It will be rebuilt thanks to the strong commitment of Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, by those close to him, and by student donors.

Mero Gaon

Through Rinpoche’s Inspiration

 It is through one of his Nepali students that Rinpoche learned of the misfortune of this small community of three hundred and fifty inhabitants, of which one hundred and fifty are children and young adults. Very soon after he arrived there, Rinpoche decided to help rebuild all the houses. Access to this village is rather difficult, and requires a long walk through the mountains, after a first rather uncomfortable approach by car. Once well on the way, here and there one observes a makeshift shelter that is next to a house that it is clear one should not enter because it could collapse at any time. Further, a tin and bamboo building replaces the small mountain school house at the edge of the implosion … We cross a pass and there on the other side of the mountain, we discover the village. The emergency shelters – made of tarpaulins, plastics, sheet metal, stone and all that could be found – are huddled against each other, as if to reassure, keep warm, and stay welded together in the face adversity. On the other side are tiny plots of terraced crops on which the villagers produce strawberries for sale, as well as corn and vegetables for consumption. A harvest that gives them an average only three months of food. And if, outside of these times, men do not find work, the family does not eat.

Rinpoche on the scene just after the earthquake … The only access to the village, the road by which everything is transported on the back of a man or woman … A fortunate house … The small temporary school … The village surrounded by terraces of crops … To the south in the distance, Kathmandu and its pollution.

A survival situation

. The whole community is Tamang, one of Nepal’s ethnic groups that are close to Sherpa and Tibetan cultures. And all the families are Buddhist, except for one that is Christian. Extremely poor, none of them has ever had the opportunity to go to school and the earthquake has placed them in a situation of extreme survival. The only positive: water. It is safe because it comes from a source situated a little further up the mountain. Some of the women recounted that when the earthquake happened, they were lucky to be outside, some started to cry out with shouts, while one of them fainted, and a little further on, a child was buried and died. All, without exception found themselves without a roof, without anything at all, in shock and isolated. Welcoming, solid, these villagers are facing the future and are now turning to rebuilding their homes, life resumes. One can note that Binay, the Nepalese engineer and project manager, has established with the villagers a spontaneous rapport, warm, friendly, almost like family, and he is incredibly well received. Listening, he hears their news, answers their questions, explains, and even manages to make them laugh. Nevertheless, two young women explain that they now know that the drama can recur at any moment and a dull fear stays there, lurking in the background.

One of the families who received us … Exchanges between Binay and some villagers …Some smiles of complicity and laughter around a photo … Two young women of the village … The children participate in their own way.

Reconstructing houses

. Very well thought out and designed by an architect and an engineer under the inspiration and impetus of Rinpoche, the project that starts under the responsibility and authority of Binay, is both simple and subtle, elaborate and deeply human. A typical house has been created and it is the villagers themselves who will ensure the construction of fifty five houses planned for all families. It will be free for them. The purchase of materials, transport, remuneration of the architect, engineer, and Binay, the project manager, are being borne by the donors. It was also under the authority of Binay that the village committee building sets priorities, checks the work, and monitors progress. Moral authority for the entire village, this committee is composed of eleven people – five women and six men – each representing five houses. The buildings will be provided by twenty villagers after they have undergone training on site in a yurt about to be installed. Alongside them, the rest of the people are helping. Women, children and adults, all are eager to build their houses and all are helping by cooking, carrying loads, supplying water to the workers, etc, with each participating according to their ability, age and strength.

Belongings, furniture are stored as possible … … Inside, one tries to manage as best as one can but the gas shortage does not help … Cooking is done on a wood fire that rests against a wall that still stands, but that will be soon dismantled to recover the stones … A consolidated “roof” … A model of future houses … The yurt which will train twenty people before laying the first stone.

And the children?

 The day of our visit, they are there around the adults. Some make contact with a smile, others are serious and stand a little behind. All observe and listen carefully to what is happening, and what is being said, and that is translated into Nepali by Binay. And when adults laugh at one of his words, they also laugh. The younger ones seem to have rediscovered the pleasure of playing, but the games are loaded with meaning. What does one make, for example, of the little girl, who witnessed the disappearance of her village, and who has already had the experience of the soil giving way under her feet? And, well one designs their new home on the floor, some stones turning into the kitchen where meals are prepared and the vegetables cooked. But above all, one is careful to leave their shoes at the entrance so as not to soil their new home. Touching, endearing … Paradoxically, it will be for me who writes these blogs, the most shocking moment of the day. This silent scene, naive and innocent, sums up the drama that has played out here in Nepal.

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For these girls diving into their home and their imaginary kitchen, the rest of the world no longer seems to exist

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Upcoming blogs on the Gong Ter…..

Friendly regards and see you soon

, M.B.


(*) Mero Gaon- “my village” in Tibetan – has as its mission the rebuilding of Nepalese villages affected by the earthquake in order to allow people to return to a normal life and to support their basic needs.

More information – make a donation: info@ripaladrang.org / info@merogaon.org and the foundation’s website: http://www.ripaladrang.org

 




 

Winter 2014 – A beautiful retreat on the Ngöndro practice from the Taksham lineage

To refresh and deepen our understanding of Ngöndro, to advance in our accumulations, to strengthen our connection to Dharma and Our Teachers; these were the aims of these few days of happiness with Dungsey Lhuntrul Dechen Gyurmey Rinpoche and Lama Kunam.

How many of us have said, “Huh Ngöndro again? But I have already received a transmission, followed a retreat … I have been all around the subject … After all I’ve almost finished the prostrations, the hardest part. What more could I learn?” To the point that some students decided not to come.

Too Bad! This retreat was a new gateway to the profound nature of the Taksham Ngöndro, a breath of clarification, accompanied by individual accumulations and group practice. It was an opportunity of intensive work for those who wished and also an opportune occasion for Dungsey Lhuntrul Rinpoche to remind us each morning about the importance of listening to teachings with the right motivation, to turn our mind towards Dharma for the benefit of others and to never forget the power of devotion and trust in Our Masters and the Dharma. Those who already know Lhuntrul Rinpoche re-encountered with joy the strength of his presence, his simplicity and his spontaneity. In the afternoon there was time for questions with Lama Kunam, Dorje Lopon Kunzang Namgyal, who dazzled us all and Marcus, who translated the transmissions and the question and answer sessions from Tibetan to English. Without him, we wouldn‘t have had access to the subtleties of the Taksham Ngöndro transmitted by Lhuntrul Rinpoche, nor to the brilliant answers, erudite and yet so clear from Lama Kunam. On December 31st, we ended the year with a light offering for world peace. Lhuntrul Rinpoche lit the first candle from which all others lit theirs.

The snow fell heavily just before our arrival, transfiguring everything. Prayer flags were found frozen in acrobatic positions by the accumulation of snowflakes and the cold. The thickness of our beautiful bodhi leaf was multiplied tenfold and our little Buddha statue turned into a Russian Tsar with a large collar and a fur hat of snow! Tables and benches on which we take our meals or a coffee just lazing under the sun in the summer were also transformed. Now no-one had any desire to even approach them. But the beauty and magic of the surroundings of our retreat also had their downside as it was necessary to remove the snow daily so that we could have a path on which we could put our feet. The most courageous trudged through once or twice a day with the thick white layer being renewed again and again, slowing our movements. And a big job it was. Only the horses and sheep continued to spend their days outside, unperturbed. The horses used their ‘shoes’ to scrape away the snow to reveal the grass underneath and the sheep who are naturally well-equipped against the cold, seemed totally unaware of the change in temperature.

Our retreat ended in meditation with a Guru Rinpoche Tsok which included the traditional festive party. There was singing from West Side Story, Michael Jackson, a Reggae rather revisited, Bella Ciao and Viva Liberta in Italian plus a song in Tibetan with singers from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Russia. The atmosphere really warmed up as all the students began to sway on their cushions in time to the rhythms, taking each other by the shoulders and joining in the singing. Lhuntrul Rinpoche was delighted, even taking photos of the singers. That’s it; it’s all over and the first departures quickly began. Newcomers attending the retreat for the first time were a bit under shock. One of them with his eyes filled with tears kept repeating, “I’m happy, I’m happy.”

Ngondro Weekend with Lama Tenzin at the RIC

Ngondro Weekend on “Guru Yoga” with Lama Tenzin at the RIC, 2014

Blazing sunshine from the East, on the morning of Lama Tenzin’s arrival from India, proved to be a most auspicious sign. Truly, the path to Enlightenment seemed clearly in view! We awaited his instructions with attentiveness and joy…

The instructions Lama Tenzin gave helped us to better understand the “Guru Yoga” section of accumulation of the Ngondro. In essence, it is through the practice of Guru Yoga that one is directly shown the nature of mind by one’s teacher. We practiced together as a group on this section of the Ngondro (even if we were not quite there yet in our own practice). It was truly amazing to feel how the space itself felt infused with the blessings of being in retreat, in such a short time! We had succeeded in invoking the presence of our teachers, and the benefits of faith, trust and devotion, as well as the power of samaya, and group practice, were felt by all. Somehow sharing our space with another visiting group during the weekend became a lovely exchange, and all felt the warmth of our practices – a wonderful display of peace and harmony. And more importantly, we were most happy to have Lama Tenzin with us at the RIC, and we look forward to seeing him again soon!

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During the weekend itself, an unusual parallel program with the SLR was running at the same time. Called “The World is Sound,” we were joined during mealtimes with a very happy group of musicians, whose open hearts, healthful outlook (there were a number of vegans, and most started their day with group yoga and mediation sessions), and embrace of life through being present to sound was quite beautiful. Some of them joined us in our “Old Gompa” at the end, to understand our practice as well.

17th.-19th. October 2014 at the International RIPA Center – YOGOM

 

YOGOM inspired by Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche … Brilliant!

This yoga/meditation provides a gentle, subtle and in-depth exploration of one’s body in connection with the mind. One can say that it is the best prelude for the practices recommended by Our Masters: practise it as much as you like!

A knee a little too stretched, a foot not well-placed, the pelvis slightly tilted…. nothing escapes the watchful eye of François. He helps us to progress, to refine our sensations, to discover the harmony in our postures without ever forcing, tightening or tensing. Is there a small pain, an unpleasant point manifesting in the knees, the shoulder blades, the back, the quadriceps? We need to become mindful and to be aware of whatever happens. “We need to find the right effort, that will allow us to maintain a relaxed posture without forcing,” explains François. Because one of our problems is that we tend to force our movements and this is a serious obstacle in our progress to having an awareness of our body in relation to our mind.

During the session, we work naturally with the breath in association with the movements and the postures. We also attempt several series of exercises which focus only on the breath, when we concentrate in particular on the circulation of air as we inhale and exhale. The breath is fundamental because it is directly connected to the emotions, to the vital aspect of the flow of the blood and to the rhythm of the heart. The breath is fundamental in order to clear the subtle channels. The breath is life; it is the heart of everything. It is not necessary to specify that after these exercises, the sequences of meditation will become intense and deep. We remember then what Gyétrul Jigmé Rinpoché taught us about shine meditation: “When we inhale we can feel the air entering and penetrating the deepest part of ourselves even and we are able to establish the connection between body and mind simply by being aware. There is nothing to do and everything is completely opened. We can simply be – be present-in this opening “.

At the end of the seminar, we exchanged our experiences: “It is the third time for me to participate in a yogom session and each time I notice that there is a physical improvement, in particular in regard to my joints. Even so, I still continue to practice yoga regularly. ” … “After my first seminar last year, my osteopath immediately noticed progress although I had not mentioned anything about doing yogom.” … “This session brought a big relief in my back, shoulders and hips and I feel more flexible.” “The theoretical explanations regarding what takes place in the various postures are very interesting and enlightening.” … “I feel a very strong link between the yogom and the meditation we do with Rinpoche.“…. “One has the the impression of discovering simultaneously the beauty and the kindness of one’s body.

Following this intense session, some of us wanted us to know more about François. He is a long-time student of Jigme Rinpoche and he trained in Kundalini Yoga with Yogi Bajan for around ten years.  He then took a special course for the training of teachers of yoga, encouraged by Gerard Arnaud, the founder of of the FFY (French Federation of Yoga). François is now a certified teacher and he has been awarded the diploma of the FFY which demonstrates that he has completed five hundred hours of advanced training. (This diploma is recognized by the American Federation of Yoga and authorizes those who have received it to teach Hatha and Vinyasa yoga as well as Pranayama and meditation in all English-speaking countries). François teaches regularly within the framework of the FFY where he has been in charge of leading conferences for the last ten years, in particular in regard to yoga and the philosophy of yoga. In 2013, “Allo Docteur” (Hello Doctor) a medical program broadcast on France 5 and led by Marina Carrère d’ Encausse and Dr Michel Cimès, called on to him to take part and to speak about the method of using the breath in yoga during a broadcast on the theme of ‘Breath and its Benefits’.

For several years now, Rinpoche has had the vision of his students learning yogom and he requested François to be in charge of teaching it to the Ripa students. Rinpoche considered that it would help his students to be very comfortable in their bodies before they entered the practices of Ngöndro. The creation of this technique required two and a half years working together with Rinpoche. It is also at the request of Our Master that the practice of yogom is now open for anyone who wishes to learn it and not only for the students of Ripa. Slowly but surely, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche’s vision is being realised and other sessions will be organized in 2015. So the next time there is a session on yogom, do not hesitate to participate!

Yours Sincerely in the Dharma

The team of the International Center of Ripa

Dec 2013 — Jan 2014: Dzogchen Retreat

RIC in Winter

The first Dzogchen retreat in complete silence was a pure delight!

The few days of spiritual immersion, absent of the mundane, opened the doors to a great adventure and gave us a succession of small and large joys: the most joyful being the news that His Eminence is in good health.

The adventure began with a colourful surprise of considerable size for some students: complete silence 24/7. Very quickly we found that the experience was conclusive: this silence calmed us, making us lighter, airier as it were. It was in this beautiful atmosphere that Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche told us that His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche is well and that this coming summer we will have the opportunity to directly receive transmissions of his Termas that he discovered as a Tertön in this lifetime. This will be a unique event, already recognised as exceptional, with the participation of teachers from other Lineages. More good news was that Lhuntrul Dechen Gyurmey Rinpoche was also with us, and many of us verified that our connection with him is rooted and ever growing. His teachings in Europe next Spring are already long-awaited.

The few days working with our teachers were interspersed with a succession of moments of happiness and joy. On the evening of 31 December, for example, candles were offered carrying our wishes for peace in the world. The first two candles were lit by our Masters and became the ‘source’ of light connecting all offerings into a single large light. On January 1, a huge auspicious rainbow appeared in the sky. There were days when the Center was wrapped in morning mist. It was magical and the large bodhi leaf -our symbol- was covered in frost and took on an unreal appearance while reflecting the sun’s rays.

At the end of the retreat the Center emptied out quickly. A handful of diehards chose to stay to clear out, clean up and rearrange the gym, meeting rooms, large dining-room etc. The atmosphere was lovely, relaxed, family-like, even intimate and motivated us despite the huge work to do. But we were rewarded a hundredfold by a pleasant surprise and a rain of blessings when Rinpoche joined us for the Medicine Buddha puja. Next time if your heart says yes‘, don’t hesitate to stay and help clean up the Center with us. The presence of our Masters carries us throughout and this too is a pure delight!

Michèle for RIPA International Center.

Translation: Frances and Michèle S. for English

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