One of the many rainbows that often appear above our RIPA International Center
Blog – August 17th, 2021
Summer 2021- Lojong Retreat, Yeshe Tsogyel and Gesar Enrichment with Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche
Seeing Rinpoche “in real life,” discovering Lojong through him, receiving his rains of blessings during two Drupchös, no words can express our joy. Zoomed-in friends and absent friends, we missed you. But we did not miss the pleasure of such an intimate retreat that offered us great moments. Next time, come.
Finally a retreat in the presence of Jigme Rinpoche. It has been a year and a half since most of us have participated in one onsite, but fortunately the pandemic has passed us by. And although throughout this period our teachers did not let us go, although they maintained the teachings and the practices at a distance, although they carried us, not at arm’s length but “at heart’s length,” these meetings by interposed screens cannot compare to the happiness of their presence, that of feeling their goodness, their radiance, there, very close to us day and night. Zoom does not allow us this total and beneficial immersion. On the spot, we take advantage of it, we “refuel”, we recharge. This time again, the virus limits the number of people present, we will be at most fifty. But the crowd of Zoomers is there, connected from all the continents, each one facing his screen. In total, this retreat will have up to two hundred participants. About Lojong, Rinpoche explains: “These difficulties that we face in these difficult times are an opportunity to train our mind, to learn more about ourselves, to take stock of our capacities of kindness, attention to others and our ability to take care of them”… “With its instructions on meditation and then on post-meditation (or meditation in our daily life), Lojong is the result of a very long tradition solidly established by an uninterrupted transmission. However, if one does not feel this process with the heart, then it becomes just an intellectual philosophical reading ». This is followed by the two Drupchös which take us first to Yeshe Tsogyel and then on to Gesar. At the end of Yeshe Tsogyel’s Drupchö, Rinpoche surprised us by expressing his satisfaction. He adds, “Now we can really talk about Sangha. Also, I think this time we did not practice only for ourselves, but for all those people who are suffering in the world or who have died in these very troubled times. With all those who joined from a distance, it was great ». And he concludes: “Once again, my thanks to everyone but – the show must go on! – we’re not done yet. My best wishes and good luck!”
“Rinpoche teaches … Daily distribution of the superb tsok … Lama Tenzin answers our questions … Johanna, 9 months old, with her mother and Cristina, she takes refuge, then tastes her first feast … Last day: path strewn with flowers for Rinpoche … And finally our festivities: Chloe dances, Samten sings, Carlo animates the show, Pascal as a clown, creative singing from our German friends and a grand finale of a jazzy Broadway-style show.”
The Tibetan Community Join Us with their Beneficial Presence
Another form of the transmission of this living tradition is the presence and participation of the Tibetan community in Switzerland, which will manifest itself this year in two ways. For the first time, a camp of young Tibetans from Switzerland and Liechtenstein will stay a few days. Children as well as teenagers come to participate, they are about fifty, and very alive! They are here to discover and rediscover their roots, their culture, their country, its history and its traditions. On the program: discovery of the Tibetan language, yoga, Tibetan history and legends, introduction to traditional dances, instruments and songs, Tibetan language classes, in short, everything that allows them to re-establish the link with their heritage. One morning, while we are immersed in the Drupchö of Yeshe Tsogyel, they settle in for a long time at our side. Imagine the scene: a group of Westerners immersed in a long intense practice coming from the depths of Tibetan Buddhism, observed by a group of young Tibetans born very far from their country, educated in the West in search of their culture and their roots. It is the world upside down! When the camp is over, the young people are welcomed back into the heart of our practice and Rinpoche addresses them in Tibetan. Each one offers him his kata and receives in return a small diploma. This camp is a success, from now on they will come back every year. Finally, it is the turn of the friends of the Tibetan community of Orissa living in Switzerland to offer their contribution. They celebrate the end of the Drupchö of Gesar by presenting to us some of the Lingdrö dances, which together retrace the epic of King Gesar of Ling in Tibet. These dances – which H.E. Namkha Rinpoche has reminded us of their primordial importance on several occasions – are real practices. This was also said by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche who has also insisted on their importance.
The Tibetan Community Joins Us with their Beneficial Presence
“The young people of the camp with us in the Gompa … They welcome Rinpoche … They listen to him … the drawing contest … handing over of katas … Each one has his diploma … participants of the camp under the announcement ? No, our sangha! … Water blessing ceremony … Tibetan dances … And again one of our rainbows appeared after all the ceremonies were over”.
Technology at the Service of Tradition ?
“Tradition is not the cult of ashes but the preservation of fire.” This is how Gustav Mahler – one of our greatest Western composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – described the inspiration that is passed on from generation to generation. He was talking about music and culture, but it is certainly even more true when it comes to the spiritual path. Jigme Rinpoche said in his conclusion: “Everything went well, and it also shows that we continue to succeed in keeping this tradition alive, to which I attribute great importance. H.E. Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche has also always been very attentive and concerned about the maintenance of this living tradition, especially the Drupchös and Drupchens, which take place in this center. He always sends his blessings.“And what does technology have to do with all this? On the positive side, it erases distances, one can connect from any point on the globe. However, it represents an insurmountable obstacle for some students. They explain that it is virtual, disembodied, that it prevents them from feeling truly connected and in contact, that they remain passive like in front of a television. During his very first teachings in Europe 25 years ago, while he was observing us recording on our prehistoric tapes, Rinpoche told us with a smirk: “This is just metal and technology.” Finally there are the “moods” of this technology! The sound or the image suddenly stops and the harmonious flow of the teaching is broken. Rinpoche’s voice seems to come from twenty thousand leagues under the sea, from another galaxy, parasites run through the connections, we do not understand anything anymore, no sound comes out of the microphone and everything stops. Obviously the installation is a real spider’s web: the communications leave and arrive from Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Vietnam, Mauritius. And they have to be modified according to whether they are Rinpoche’s teaching in English or Lama Tenzin’s questions and answers in Tibetan. Add to this a few bugs, a little mishandling, a battery that we forgot to change or recharge, a disconnected connection, and with the slightest grain of sand everything goes haywire. The technical team is restless, searching, desperate, finds the breakdown, fixes it … When leaving us, Rinpoche puts his kata on the camera lens. This is for the benefit of the Zoomers of course, but as he has understood everything, it is sure that it is also a wink to the technology.
Technology at the Service of Tradition ?
“Computers, cameras, cameras rub shoulders with the throne and musical instruments witnessing the history of Tibetan Buddhism … The sound control … Lama Tenzin on Zoom … Olga translates into Russian … in search of a breakdown … … finally found … the thread of the teaching resumes … Exchanges between the participants and Zoomers via the screen … Maria waits for the sound to come back to sing a very imaginative text … Rinpoche left by placing a kata on the camera for the benefit of those facing him through their screen …”
“Flowers, one of the big jobs … The preparation of the daily tsok, a big job too … Last touches before the Lingdrö dances … The ceremony of blessings by water also wets the floor … there is always something to do too, we are active between the two sessions … Good friends relax together : Lluis and his son Giain … The break after tsok … A quiet and reflective meeting to discover and discuss new teaching themes … The corner of the Spanish … And again a rainbow, this one circular and complete, around the sun, appears after the end of our retreat.”