Damcho Rinpoche arrives at Shambhala Centre in Halifax. Photo by Marvin Moore.
Into the Rockies
After the weekend program in Boulder, the party journeyed to Shambhala Mountain Center, where the Sakyong was at the midpoint of teaching a Vajra Assembly program to nearly 200 tantrikas. A large welcoming reception was held in the main shrine tent, where everyone on the land was able to present khatas and receive the blessings of the lamas, again in a very intimate, personal way. The party was then escorted to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, where Mipham Rinpoche gave them a personal tour. They moved in to the ranch house at Red Feather, which became like a Tibetan base camp for quite a coterie, including Lady Konchok and Lama Pejal; their son, Gyurme Dorje; Lama Pejal’s brother, who was visiting the U.S. for the first time; Lama Tsultrim from New Orleans, who assisted with translation; and a Tibetan cook from Denver.
The teaching began the next day, July 8, with a talk by Karma Senge Rinpoche on Light Rays of the Sun and Moon, an autobiographical doha by the Vidyadhara about his life and that of his teacher Khenpo Gangshar, which we translated and published in time for the stupa consecration in 2001. There were a number of stories about previous Trungpa tülkus, especially the fourth, who was extremely famous and the root guru of Karma Chagme, another very important master. After three hours, we were just getting to the more interesting sections, though many in the audience began to feel that the last hour had become something like they imagined our translation meetings to be. For Karma Senge Rinpoche, time seemed to have no meaning. For most of the rest of us, we hungered for dinner, and so we stopped at that point. We hope that Rinpoche will continue this exposition on his return, as he obviously filled in many details that were unknown to us.
Karma Senge Rinpoche gave a talk the next morning to the Shambhala Mountain Center staff and another talk that evening for the Vajra Assembly on hearing, contemplating, meditating, and bodhichitta, as well as a lung on the short Chakrasamvara sadhana from the Surmang Hearing Lineage. The lamas did a lengthy puja during the cremation of Larry Laughlin, a long-time sangha member, in the afternoon.
July 10 was an amazing display of teaching and devotion with Karma Senge Rinpoche. In the morning, he visited sadhakas practicing in the stupa. The entire time was devoted to questions and answers, all of which were quite good and clearly based on practice and experience, and Rinpoche’s replies were to the point and helpful. But after about an hour, a very penetrating and heartfelt question about devotion ignited a blaze and our rocket ship began to lift off, continuing in that way for the rest of our session. Karma Senge Rinpoche’s presence is simple, one pointed, and very responsive to what is presented to him, and his reference point, while obviously fairly traditional, can become very penetrating.
What happened in the afternoon, however, in our last formal teaching session at SMC with Karma Senge Rinpoche, open to the entire vajra assembly, was beyond any expectation, even for those who had been moved by his visit to Boulder the previous week. He had been requested to give a lung on the guru yoga to the Vidyadhara, which he had already taught twice in Boulder. Here, he launched into a lengthy discourse about Trungpa Rinpoche’s previous emanations, his aspect as a tertön, and how and where he discovered terma, especially in the prophesied (by Guru Rinpoche) sacred mountain in Kyere. Much of this is summarized in an essay that begins the table of contents of the collected works, which we’ve been translating, by Tulku Ugyen Tendzin (a close friend and student of the Vidyadhara). However Karma Senge Rinpoche said much much more than that, including a number of stories about certain terma discoveries (see the following article concerning Trungpa Rinpoche’s early days as a tertön).
The question period occasioned an extremely emotional exchange between Rinpoche and a participant, who expressed beautifully what most of us were feeling: our appreciation for his incredible devotion to the work of collecting the Vidyadhara’s teachings, and how he was bringing him back to us. (He also explained how his own birth had been prophesied by the Vidyadhara just as he was leaving Tibet, quoting the actual text and what it signified.) When asked about how our world was for him—having just made such a huge journey, coming from such a different reality, and so forth—Karma Senge Rinpoche was moved to tears as he expressed his joy at meeting so many students of the Vidyadhara, he not having had the good karma to have done so himself, seeing us all as completely part of his family. The shrine tent was completely sobbing away; I don’t know how our translator, Sarah Harding, was able to convey anything being expressed back and forth, amidst her own tears welling up. And it continued from there.
The party remained for another few days, participating in the annual stupa event and spending more time with the Sakyong and family. They returned to Boulder for a couple days, during which time Damchö Rinpoche conferred a long-life abhisheka, which he repeated in San Francisco and Halifax. Karma Senge Rinpoche gave a few more lungs, most of which were also given in Halifax. They spent over two weeks in Colorado before departing for a five-day visit to the Bay area.
The Final Legs of the Journey: California and Halifax
Lyndon Comstock, Bay Area visit coordinator, reported that the visit there went extremely well, with extensive teachings on the guru yoga and Surmang Hearing Lineage being offered to the tantrikas and a series of talks for everyone by Karma Senge Rinpoche. He gave an overview of the entire path to a full house at the Berkeley Shambhala Center, and offered a very moving song during a Sadhana of Mahamudra feast. Gesar Mukpo composed a spontaneous poem too. Gesar was very involved with this visit—remaining with them almost all of the time. Karma Senge Rinpoche spoke of the wondrous qualities of Trungpa Rinpoche, discovering terma from the age of eight. In San Francisco, Damchö Rinpoche spoke about his brother in response to a question after one teaching session, and a special fund-raising event was held there for the nunnery at Weyching that Karma Senge Rinpoche founded. Michael Lewis was the principal translator, with several local Tibetans (Dechen, Lobsang, and Nima) providing much assistance.