7th – 19th October 2015

The Gong Ter transmissions are given in their entirety, a first.

Lamas from other lineages, disciples, and Tibetan students are not mistaken, all came in numbers to receive these mind treasures of His Eminence. During the concluding days there are between two-thousand-five-hundred and three-thousand participants.

The Initiations. Each morning we begin at 7 am with the lungs given by Lhuntrul Rinpoche. The lungs are the oral transmission of the written Gong Ter. The initiations given in the afternoon by His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche do not include these texts. Thus to receive all of the Gong Ter, is to receive both the lungs and the wangs, except under the express authorization or decision of the Master Tertön to “lighten” the program in some cases, or for some students. Through a modulated and occasionally special tone, at times serious, sometimes more sharp, and often fast, the voice of Lhuntrul Rinpoche carries us. Unable to analyze the reasons, the lungs “impart their effect on us.” In the afternoon, His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche transmits the initiations at 13:30. During the course of these two weeks, we receive successively Guru Rinpoche, Dorje Dröllo, Vajra Kilaya, Vajrasattva, Wrathful Gesar, Pacifying Gesar, Wrathful Gesar and Protectors, Gesar Drala, etc. One thing is certain: if, at this pace, some of us feel a certain physical fatigue at some moments, we are really all “recharged” and full of energy thereafter!

The sublime H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche during transmissions … Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, Lhuntrul Rinpoche, the young Anzin Rinpoche, the tulkus and the great Lamas receive the initiations first before transmitting them to the larger gathering … A large screen allows those who are unable to sit inside to follow every moment … Everywhere there is profound devotion … The lungs given by Lhuntrul Rinpoche … And on one evening there is a surprise teaching given by Dungsey Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche in the smaller Gesar temple on the second floor.

In the temple. Our days unfold in an atmosphere of intense devotion, and equally, an encounter of cultures and languages incredibly, and quite incomprehensibly, diverse. It is a veritable Tower of Babel, however – unlike that of the Old Testament – it is one that unites us and binds us all … However this devotion does not mean silence – far from it! Our days are often animated and accompanied by the background noise generated by the distribution of tea, along with chapatis, followed by the collection of used cups. Not to mention the conversations of the Tibetan women, who decidedly and truly enjoy talking! A first herbal tea is served to us in the early morning to prevent colds, coughs, bronchitis and other cold-related infections, due to drafts, and the season. Then comes the salted butter tea in the morning with freshly baked and still warm chapatis. In the afternoon, we are entitled to a chai, accompanied by biscuits. And this general distribution in the temple and outside takes … a little bit of time … Remember that we are really very many!

Sunbeams in the temple … The tea service begins with the Ripa teachers and the distinguished guests … The chapatis follow … The use of prayer wheels by the old … as well as new generations … Photos, perspectives … Regardless, everyone now takes official images or souvenir photos … The morning lungs amongst family and between generations.

Each one must make their own arrangements. With this impressive a number of participants, it is difficult to find a place, and even more so, to keep it. The spaces planned for the monks and nuns, those for the students, and finally those for the Tibetans have been defined, however the boundaries become blurred, as each wishes to get as close as possible to the front of the room. In the morning, it is better to arrive very early to secure one’s small space, that is reduced every day, as well as to save some places for friends. From 6am on, there are already many people, especially as the Tibetans get up even earlier to accumulate mantras, circumambulating the Gompa before the lungs. As for accommodation, things are not simple either. The one-hundred-and-sixty Western students were divided into several “guest houses” that are not always very close by. Several buses bringing the Tibetans arrive in the morning and then drive them back again in the evening to their own accommodations. Finally, a huge tent has been pitched close the monastery to allow especially the Tibetans from Pemaköe to be able to sleep somewhere. Obviously, the entire logistics developed by the monastery takes on impressive proportions, sometimes supplemented by original individual solutions …

During breaks, the seats of some Western students excite the curiosity of some nuns and small monks who test them out with pleasure … start of one of the long lines for lunch and there are many … Dozens of impressive pots are necessary to prepare hundreds of meals … Lunch on the grass … Row of open air sinks in a series … the RIPA café meets with great success and fascinates the little monks … Short nap on the grass, at the base of the stairs, in temple, and on the courtyard… Medical emergencies on the flagstone path… The large communal tent … Then the individual camping plot discoveries in the monastery garden, at the neighbors, or outright on the roof of a house.
The offerings made to the monastery are announced in the temple … One prepares to receive the blessings … The children benefit merrily with their “special” status … Night on the temple … The valley before dawn … Gesar of Ling riding his trusty steed Perpö, in the background, the great mandala upon which the Tibetans place their small daily offerings.

Yours in the Dharma, M.B.