Author – Alexandra
Namo Gurubye! Namo Buddhaya! Namo Dharmaya! Namo Sanghaya!
Once again, Heruka Boulder Sangha was delighted to receive HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche for the weekend of February 14 – 16th in Boulder, Colorado. Over the course of 3-full days, Rinpoche shared Dharma teachings and Empowerment in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions and effortlessly planted and renewed the seed of Buddha Dharma and fierce compassion within our hearts and the growing mandala of the Heruka Boulder Sangha. It was a powerful and peaceful weekend shared & experienced together, a vast treasure of teachings and memories to carry in our heart and practice for the benefit & liberation of countless beings upon our path.
The journey began as Rinpoche landed on Thursday afternoon and was happily greeted by local practitioners with flowers, khatas, and our joyful and grateful hearts. We were again immediately taken over by the presence and peacefulness of Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche, a gentle reminder and deep loving witness of the qualities and essence of our dearest Teacher. We departed for Boulder and were warmly welcomed by Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown of Naropa University, where Rinpoche shared teachings on the history of the Sakya tradition & lineage to her graduate class studying for their Masters in Buddhist philosophy. With happy students offering khatas, their respect and attentiveness, Rinpoche was well received and invited back again and again for more teachings; an initial seed bearing the potential of many more gatherings, may this be the first of many more teachings at Naropa! Later that evening, Rinpoche shared teachings and practices on mindfulness meditation based on his book ‘Tibetan Zen’ at dear Dharma sister Melissa’s beautiful home. Many new students came for this gathering, and Rinpoche elegantly gave concise explanations to support our understanding and discernment of what mindfulness is and its application in our daily life and how this relates to Zen meditation and the preliminary Dzogchen practices of mind training. When we find ourselves conflicted and experiencing afflictive emotions and disempowering thoughts, Rinpoche encouraged us to practice two things: To look deeply at the root of what is causing this feeling of discomfort, separation and suffering, as in to examine the details of the experience, which we will find is empty with no power or form; a lesson to investigate our view and perception of what is truly arising. Secondly and simply, Rinpoche encouraged to let the emotions and thoughts arise and fall away without further thought, interpretation or fabrication. Perhaps simultaneously and spontaneously occurring, we may come to find through practice that these afflictions and distractions have no solid ground. It was a humorous, insightful and lovely first evening spent together as Dharma family, sharing delicious vegetarian foods and affectionate words, and a warm, loving connection that carried throughout the weekend Dharma teachings.
“Be detailed in your observation. Forget the past and start a new Dharma life, right now. Listen carefully and Open your Heart” – TY Rinpoche
We began our empowerment weekend on Friday morning, where we were welcomed to Boulder Valley Ngakpa House by dear Lama Pema & his beautiful wife Khandro-la. It was an immense blessing to practice and connect in this space as it provided a stable and strong container for the weekend teachings and empowerments. Rinpoche gave empowerment and instruction for Senge Dongma, the Lion-Face Wisdom Dakini of Timeless Awareness in the Sakyapa tradition and lineage of the 13 Golden Dharmas on this day, which happened to be Valentines day. To receive these blessings of the wrathful and secret Dakini on a day celebrating love and relationships was sweetly auspicious, as was it humorous in ways of the warm laughter of the dark Dakini. Rinpoche explained how the practice of Simhamukha is especially useful and appropriate for clearing pervasive obstacles in our path and Dharma practice by cutting through negativities and the three poisons (i.e., ignorance, attachment & anger). As well, Rinpoche delicately shared how the practice and wisdom of the Dakini helps to support our understanding and discernment of obstacles that do arise, both outer and inner. A fierce and wrathful emanation of all the Buddhas in the 10 directions, the practice of Simhamukha protects practitioners on the Dharma path in order to benefit sentient beings and to carry, embody and share the Buddha Dharma in this world.
On Saturday morning, Rinpoche bestowed empowerment & instruction for Amitayus-Hayagriva Long-Life practice in the lineage of the Great Mahasiddha and mind-emanation of Guru Rinpoche, Thangtong Gyalpo, the King of the Empty Plain. With the current state of affairs relating to mental and physical illness and disease, as well as climate changes and the collective karma ripening all over the world that is arising in contrasting ways that we face today in this degenerate age, the blessing of a long, healthy and happy Dharma life becomes so very needed and critical for our practice and the successful proliferation of the Buddha Dharma today in this moment and moving forward.
On Sunday, Rinpoche gave transmission and teachings on verses from the Manjushri Namasangiti tantra, a text that is considered to be one the most advanced teachings given by Shakyamuni Buddha; and although a relatively concise explication comprised of 160-verses, it represents the pinnacle of all the Buddha’s teachings and points to the essence of practice and completion. These teachings were received and requested by the Great Bodhisattva and protector Vajrapani on top of a mountain where the Buddha gave the first tantric discourse. Previously, Rinpoche explained that there will be thousands of Buddhas in this kalpa, but only three will give teachings in the Vajrayana tradition. Again, it becomes very clear that the good fortune of the Dharma and the Great Compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas has come to us in this lifetime, and there is no time to wait or delay practice. Rinpoche began speaking of discriminating wisdom and the importance to contemplate and meditate on the meaning of the teachings, the essence. The three Lords or Bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Manjushri and Vajrapani, represent the compassion, wisdom and power of all the Buddhas and are inseparable from the Buddha, Rinpoche explained. Compassion is the foundation, the essence of pure view, Wisdom is the method to benefit and help others, and Power to accomplish and liberate sentient beings from suffering. These three roots – the view, the wisdom and power represent the three refuges of practice and liberation. Beginning on verse 17, Rinpoche elegantly explained the importance and significance of the vajra & bell for Vajrayana practitioners and how these tantric implements carry all the tantric teachings and elements of Vajrayana. Rinpoche said that Vajrapani is the “Chief” that holds the vajra, the indestructible wisdom of the tantric teachings, he is the ‘speaker of the tantric house’.
Rinpoche then gave transmission for Manjushri practice, the Great Bodhisattva of Wisdom. We began reciting the 7-limbed prayer and Rinpoche explained the importance of studying and practicing this prayer as much as possible. The nature of the seven-limbed practice (i.e., prostrations, offerings, confession, rejoicing, requesting to teach, requesting to live long, and dedication) provides the antidotes to mental obstacles and causes of negative karma (e.g., pride, attachment, ignorance, jealousy). For example, prostrations help pacify pride, offerings promote generosity and reduce self-cherishing and attachment, and rejoicing for others destroys jealousy. With these antidotes and specific practices, we gain the ability to skillfully and mindfully transform personal obstacles into an ocean of perfect qualities.
On Monday morning, Rinpoche kindly held interviews with local sangha practitioners to answer questions about our practice, life and progress on the path. To have this one-on-one time with Rinpoche was so helpful and transformative for many, as it gave us students the opportunity to connect deeply and privately with a genuine and authentic Dharma Teacher. Following these interviews, Rinpoche was invited to a local Tibetan Gallery where we planned & planted seeds for future Dharma gatherings and retreats, and many blessings and artifacts were shared, such as Thangtong Gyalpo’s walking stick and sword! A very unexpected and auspicious occurrence, Rinpoche gave blessings to local sangha practitioners and we were able to see and feel these implements in a way that triggered deep & great reverence, devotion and faith in all the Masters and lineage holders that have walked the Dharma path before us with Great accomplishment and spiritual power. After this meeting, we departed for the Hot Springs and soaked in warm mineral waters and sang songs and reflected quietly together for some time, simply enjoying each other’s company and wisdom as we relaxed and began to integrate and reflect upon the magical weekend we had all shared together with Rinpoche.
In these moments it becomes vastly clear to love, cherish and support others as much as we can each day. Our weekend with H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche went by so quickly, an impermanent dream of temporary wakefulness filled with immeasurable blessings, wisdom and benefit. We give thanks and are so grateful to Rinpoche for visiting and sharing his wisdom and precious Dharma teachings with Heruka Boulder sangha and us young practitioners on the path once again. May the Dharma activity of our most precious Teacher forever be auspicious and supported, I pray these virtues increase and spread like wildfire! May our sangha and all sangha’s and teachers of the Dharma, Great Love, Compassion and transcendent luminous Wisdom shine undiminished, stand indestructible and be a cause for immeasurable benefit and transformation for all mother-sentient beings throughout the Universe, I give thanks to the sangha, our beloved Teacher and the perfect teachings!