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 :

“Impressive dances … Terrifying masks … Some of us receive a real shock … We are carried away by the movements … And we can even be surprised to” dance “internally, without moving. ”

Happy monks!

Slideshow 4 :

“Family photo at the end of retreat … Excursion day in the Swiss mountains … Short break during the day … Lama Tenzin films swimming … One of the young monks very much likes the cows that make him feel well … Lunch in the open air ; on the menu: eggs and rosti, the Swiss national dish made of grated potatoes roasted with onions … Departure approaches, and one has to pack one’s bags. The masks of the sacred dances are packed, the Drupchö texts are packed in a heavy suitcase … All this luggage will accompany the monks to Moscow and Kalmykia where two other Drupchös guided by Lhuntrul Rinpoche are planned … ”

Slideshow 5 :

“The Lingdrö dances, are also the occasion of a day of festivities for all … In the center, the good corners are not lacking for the meal break … The students offer dances, songs, sketches, skits … And even a very joyous collective dance … Karma Shedrup appreciates the quality of Laurent’s sound system … And trains Carlo in the subtlety of instrument playing and the easing of the fingers … The monks are interested in the photos taken by Michèle Z … All the children are visibly happy here, the activities are not lacking, and the ideas neither ”

See you soon for another blog !