Recollections Of Boulder Retreat 2017
Written by Sarah Hampton
Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche has just returned to Seattle from five days of teachings in Boulder, CO. The sangha is so full of joy and inspiration after this retreat. Rinpoche has been incredibly kind to offer many days of precious teachings, loving guidance, and profound explanations.
Rinpoche arrived to Denver International Airport on June 16th, a sunny Friday afternoon. A dedicated group of sangha were there to greet him at the airport and accompany him to an early dinner before teachings began. Friday evening was full of anticipation as thirty students arrived to the beautiful Boulder Valley Ngakpa House to receive the Orgyen Menla empowerment. Rinpoche gave an inspiring talk about the meaning of receiving empowerments as well as the importance of rigorous practice of the preliminaries with an emphasis on infusing all practice with deep compassion. His transmission and explanation of the Orgyen Menla empowerment left all the students in a state of bliss and inspired devotion.
Saturday morning began with a homecooked breakfast, restful conversation, and refreshing walk with a view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Teachings began at 10am and the full day was devoted to a text of Dzogchen teachings by the Tibetan master Patrul Rinpoche. The name of the text was “Herein dwells that which is called the “Self- liberating Mind”, The profound skillful means which is the Buddhahood of the Great Perfection”. Rinpoche spoke in depth on the importance of developing Bodhicitta, as well introducing and giving explanation about the practices of Trekcho and Togal. He gave very insightful explanation of the text and instruction about overcoming obstacles to meditation practice. The students all appreciated his loving guidance and were so happy to receive these incredible teachings. For two hours following the day’s teachings Rinpoche generously held private interviews which were then followed by a home cooked meal with sangha.
Sunday morning at 10am we were blessed to receive the Guru Rinpoche Empowerment from our beloved teacher. His incredible devotion could be felt by everyone in the room as he transmitted the empowerment. The afternoon was filled with the transmission of healing mantras of many different deities. Rinpoche transmitted these mantras and gave explanations about how they could be used for healing various ailments of body and mind. These were followed by the oral transmission of the text from Patrul Rinpoche as well as the Orgyen Menla and Guru Rinpoche empowerments. Sunday evening was wrapped up with private interviews and a long walk in the refreshing summer air.
Monday morning began out in the fresh morning air with light conversation over coffee & tea. Preparations were made for our pilgrimage journey to Crestone and after a lovely breakfast we began the four hour journey over the pristine Colorado mountains. We made a couple brief stops for coffee and at a lookout where Rinpoche pointed out a three peaked mountain that was a stunning representation of Guru Rinpoche and two Dakinis. We arrived in Crestone around 1:30 pm and went out for lunch at a local café before returning to the retreat home for a rest. After a quiet reprieve, bustling preparations began for the Dakini Day Tsok. Our dear sangha member Tenzin blessed us with a delicious meal of Tibetan thanthuk before we sat down to learn and celebrate. Rinpoche began with an oral transmission of the “Longchen Nyingthig Root Sadhana of the Mother Tsogyal, the Queen of Great Bliss”. After receiving this beautiful transmission, we began the practice as a group, joining voices with great joy and devotion. The Tsok was abundant and blessed by celebratory song, dance, and music. Our celebration continued into the evening both inside and under the beautiful desert sky. Everyone felt the great gift of spending this devotional time together.
On Tuesday morning, we all woke to a beautiful day and Rinpoche felt it was an auspicious time. Breakfast was shared and we immediately began preparing to visit the local stupas. We left around 8:30am to visit Tulky Urgyen’s Enlightenment Stupa. The bright white and gold of the stupa stood out gleamingly against the desert tones. After offering prostrations, incense, and circumambulations, Rinpoche pointed out a beautiful rainbow around the sun. There, in front of this blessed place, Rinpoche gave the transmission of the Manjushri Namsamgiti followed by generously offering Bodhisattva and Ngakpa vows to the sangha. Everyone was greatly inspired and experienced a renewal of great devotion and dedication to the path. We did circumambulations and reflected on the teachings and vows we had just received. Next we drove up to Tashi Gomang, the 16th Karmapa’s Stupa. This stupa stands up on the edge of the mountain where you can look out over the vast valley, ringed by snow-tipped mountains. Rinpoche offered some stories about the 16th Karmapa before we began our practice. We sat facing outwards over this incredible expanse of blue skies and earth as we received instruction and sat in meditation generating Bodhicitta. There was a light wind sending the rings of prayer flags flying and mirroring the great energy and joy of each student’s heart. On our drive down the mountain we stopped briefly to pay homage at a small Naga shrine next to a rushing stream. The mosquitos urged us onwards and we soon set off to our next destination. Our last visit of the day was to Choying Dzong; Gangteng Tulku’s Gompa. It was a welcoming and peaceful retreat center with a very beautiful shrine space. Rinpoche pointed out the abundance of precious Dharma texts that reside there. We lingered there for several minutes, offering prostrations at the shrine and resting in reflection. As we left this incredible retreat space and drove towards the house we were filled with inspired thoughts of a future space for Heruka’s Boulder/Denver sangha. We stopped at our retreat house once more to have a light lunch followed by a flurry of packing and preparations for the journey home. The drive home was gifted with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valley, and a distinct sweetness that accompanies leaving such a precious spiritual space. We arrived back in Boulder around 6pm after which Rinpoche joined sangha members in a dinner out for Pho. Afterwards, Rinpoche had the pleasure of visiting a virtual reality center where he created stunning 3D mantra paintings. The remainder of the evening was spent in rest and preparation for the next mornings flight home to Seattle.
We are truly grateful for the precious time spent with Rinpoche studying and practicing under his loving guidance. We look forward to seeing him again soon and send our love to Sangha around the world.