Rinpoche Returns on Lhosar
Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche’s one-year solitary retreat was successfully completed on Lhosar, the Tibetan New Year. Radiant, peaceful and smiling, one could see that Rinpoche had come into himself after a year in prayer and practice for the benefit of all sentient beings. Upon his arrival, there was a ceremony to welcome him and hundreds of people came to greet him and celebrate his return. Rinpoche spoke in the monastery briefly, sharing in simple words some of his experiences and expressing his deep gratitude towards his own Guru and father, His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rabjam Rinpoche. He also reminded us of the importance of the Lama in our lives and how their blessings are so essential to understanding the nature of mind. His words were met with open minds and hearts.
“We all feel compassion when we see our family or friends in distress, and even animals feel compassion when they see their offspring in pain. Our compassion is our Buddha seed or Buddha nature, our potential to become a Buddha. It is because all living beings possess this seed that they will all eventually become Buddhas.”
French group explores Orissa with Rinpoche
Seventy-eight individuals from France who wished to visit and explore the monastery in Odisha, to meet the Ripa teachers and attend some teachings were present to welcome Jigme Rinpoche back from his retreat. He promised he would take them through Orissa, leading them through a number of ancient Buddhist sites, explaining to them the beauty and the history of each. The group of pilgrims arrived around the March 6, eager to spend time with Rinpoche and embrace his teachings. They spent four days in Bhubaneshwar and visited Shanti Stupa, where the great Kalinga war was fought. During the war, the King realized how much blood was shed, gave up his weapons and chose to become a monk rather than continue the senseless killing.
After visiting Shanti Stupa, Rinpoche gave a brief discourse on Compassion, concern for others and the essential nature of these ideas on following the path. They also visited Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, where Vajrayana Buddhism has prevailed since the 2nd century. Many ruins from that time cover the landscape and to walk through this history with Rinpoche was a magical experience filled with love and compassion. This visit was followed by a teaching that evening on devotion and faith. The following day the pilgrimage went to Gopalpur and then headed to Jeeranga, Ripa Ladrang’s Monastery in Odisha, where Rinpoche would later join them.
“Compassion is the very essence of a spiritual life, and the main practice of those who have devoted their lives to attain enlightenment.”
Crowds and ceremony greeted Rinpoche’s arrival at the Monastery
Spending a few days in Nepal, Rinpoche arrived at Jeeranga on March 10th. The French group, villagers and others came in advance of his arrival to welcome him to the monastery and prepare for his stay.
Multitudes of local villagers came to receive him with an incredibly beautiful ceremony, lining the roads to the monastery and sharing in the experience. Suma Chander, who was present for the procession, said “People on motorcycles with flags and others on foot walked with him in a wonderful procession of joy. Once inside he took the throne, gave a small talk on his personal experiences in the past year and ended by expressing gratitude and thanks to all. Many people made mandala offerings to wish auspiciousness, joy and goodwill. He then gave katas to everyone, giving them a blessing as well as greeting them.”
“Compassion is the root of the Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is the root of Buddha because all Buddhas are born from compassion. It is the root of Dharma because Buddhas give Dharma teachings motivated solely by compassion for others. It is the root of Sangha, because it is by listening to and practicing Dharma teachings given out of compassion that we become Sangha.”
Empowerments at the Monastery
In the Gesar temple after his arrival, Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche gave talks to all who gathered there on topics such as the meaning of refuge. He shared his personal experiences and during this time, the entire community attended empowerments and teachings in the main chambers.
This was a wonderful time for the whole community to be present at the monastery because of the numerous teachings being shared with various communities by all three of the Lamas. This nine-day cycle of empowerments ended with a long life empowerment and a butter lamp ceremony, which went into the late hours of the night, with great appreciation for the tradition. The weeklong pilgrimage trip by the French group ended with a beautiful dinner organized by the Ripa monks and joined by the Lamas. After the French group left, there were prayers, as well as the Cham dance (a traditional and spiritual dance that involves stomping down all the negativities for the current year and years to come). At the end, everyone felt incredibly blessed, elated, and thankful for this beautiful experience.
“Through meditation we can extend and deepen our compassion until it transforms into the mind of great compassion – the wish to protect all living beings without exception from their suffering. By improving this mind of great compassion, it will eventually transform into the compassion of a Buddha, which actually has the power to protect all living beings.”
The Pure Water Project
The Pure Water Project is moving forward with new initiatives. Two villages, consisting of 350 people each, now have bore wells with greater access to clean water. The villages are overjoyed and enthusiastic to work in partnership with the Pure Water project group toward securing an overhead tank with piping. This is a wonderful opportunity for the local community to get involved and lobby the government for funds to pursue an overhead tank and a sign supported by Ripa Ladrang – Pure Water Project group.
Suma Chander visited both sites. “I was very impressed,” she said, “when a women who was the head of the local Panchayat government, told me that if Ripa Ladrang can help them (the villagers) construct an overhead tank, the villagers would help pay for the motor. She felt empowered to pursue this, no matter what the obstacles. Because of these successes in helping people better their own lives, Ripa Ladrang is ready to take the next step in the development of the Pure Water Project.” The next steps involve overhead water tanks and working in larger villages, consisting of over 7,000 people.
“So in a single line, true universal compassion is Dharma. It is what motivates us to achieve the state of Buddhahood not for ourselves but to alleviate the suffering of all beings. It is only with this motivation and complete faith, that we can achieve the state of Buddhahood, peace and unconditional love for all.”