Letter to Sangha Members from Lama Tharchin Rinpoche (2008)
My Dear Vajra Brothers and Sisters,
I want to express something from my heart. Probably you all know, but I want to tell you how my health is improving these days. This little pacemaker is working well for my heart. I also have a new diabetes doctor in Santa Barbara who’s been helping me so much with my general health and energy. And I have many dear heart friends who give me so much guidance and support with my health such as infusions and supplements. So these days while my time and energy are so much better than they’ve been in a long time, I’m trying to take the opportunity to do more teaching. In January we had both a nine-day Trekchöd Retreat followed shortly by a nine-day Ngöndro Retreat where I taught two sessions per day. The retreatants also had the chance to practice accumulations and meditate together. Next week I will be leading a Phowa retreat. I have also been able to spend more time with our precious three-year retreatants. I am so happy to be able to see so many of my Dharma friends again.
I also want to share thoughts on further extraordinary successful fruition with all of you. Since I came to the West nearly twenty-four years ago, due to the blessings of Dudjom father and son so many more amazing things have naturally manifested than I had thought possible. I would say that our positive karma is ripening. The Dudjom Tersar lineage is manifesting and growing quite amazingly. When the vast blessings from our lamas and great genuine heart effort and support of our sangha combine together, then even my limited capacity and effort can bring this kind of great result. Under the shade of the umbrella of our lord protector Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s compassion and with Lama Sonam’s incredible knowledge, Pema Osel Ling is truly a magical place of blessings. Following Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s guidance, Lama Sonam is putting 100% of his effort and pure heart energy here. Anyone who has visited knows that his activity is incredibly powerful and successful. We are extraordinarily fortunate to have him here. As the result of circumstances such as these, I feel truly encouraged. This Dharma foundation and land feel precious like my own father’s home, like my very life essence. I have put my life energy into this center and will continue to do so as long as I am able.
In the past I asked that more sangha be involved in membership and many of you responded to my heart request. My appreciation for that is deep. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together with Lama Sonam’s knowledge, care and effort, all of your support becomes truly meaningful. If you haven’t visited Pema Osel Ling in awhile, you would hardly recognize it, so many aspects have improved. I want to say thank you a hundred thousand times. Your support is never wasted – you can see its great result right in front of your eyes. I will dedicate all of your past support of material offering substances into the immaterial vast sky-like wisdom of dharmadhatu. That result will bring both temporary and long-term happiness for all of us. Lama Sonam and I are discussing many more wonderful plans for the future. If there is a little time leftover before I die, we can try to plant long-lasting Dharma in the West to flourish for future generations.
What I believe is that our members are my true family Dharma mandala. I love all of you greatly – much, much deeper than my ordinary physical family because we are connected in one wisdom mandala. That is the most meaningful. Together we’ve accomplished so many things so far, and there’s so much more we want to do. Your support makes it possible. For those of you who are now members, I want to say thank you.
Of course, Dharma activities will never be done. We have to continue with our efforts. Therefore, I’m requesting again that anyone who hasn’t yet become a member, please join with us. And for those of you who already are members please continue and “more please” if you can. I promise that none of your support will ever be wasted. It is truly meaningful, bringing both temporary and long-lasting happiness. I will pray and dedicate all of your support for this special Dharma mandala family so that your happiness and spiritual practice grows in this life and that we join together in the next life under Dudjom father and son’s blessings, in front of Guru Rinpoche in the pure land of the Copper-Colored Mountain.
I hope to see you all soon!
Truly from the bottom of my heart with much love and respect,
- Lama Tharchin
Talk to Sangha about Membership (2002)
Lama Tharchin Rinpoche spoke to the sangha about the importance of Vajrayana Foundation membership on Dakini Day, December 29, 2002. In his talk Rinpoche requested his students to assume responsibility for their Dharma center by pledging financial support, which would assure the center a steady base from which to flourish as a place where the Dudjom Tersar lineage is taught and practiced for generations to come.
At the time of Rinpoche’s talk the center was in financial straits. We are happy to report that, due in great part to the membership program, this is no longer the case, Vajrayana Foundation has developed a stronger financial base and under our teachers’ guidance is blossoming in many ways.
We wanted you to have access to Rinpoche’s talk because his words are still relevant today.
Thank you very much for coming tonight.
I was asked to teach Dharma by my teacher His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. Then his son, Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche, told me to stay in America to teach Dharma. I took this order from both my teachers seriously and that is why I put so much effort into establishing Pema Osel Ling. Initially the center was supported solely by Regina (DeCosse) and me. After that many sangha members, including Stephen (Farrow) and Susanne (Harte), added wood to the fire. Now we have this incredibly successful result.
When I was fourteen years old a treasure revealer predicted that the Tiger year of 1998 would be an obstacle year for me. Under Kyabje Rinpoche’s direction, I did retreat for that one year and during this time had the opportunity to think about impermanence in general and as it applied to my life. If I were to die suddenly, I thought, I would not want this Dharma center to disappear and be lost forever. I next envisioned Pema Osel Ling as remaining for a long time to come --- a long-lasting ocean of Dharma --- where teachers would teach and where generation upon generations of people would come for teachings and practice. And I wanted this Dharma center to remain totally dedicated to the Dudjom Tersar lineage, not out of sectarianism, but because this lineage is the most profound and direct for this time. Not only does it suit peoples’ mental capacities but, more profoundly, it completely contains all 84,000 teachings as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni and the 640,000 Great Perfection tantras as well. Nothing is missing.
If I were to die, I would not want you to think that Pema Osel Ling is just a piece of land and nothing more. I would not want you to drop it like that. I would want you to take your commitment to this Dharma center seriously --- it belongs to each and every one of you! Just as the sun belongs to everyone who has the time to sit in it, so Pema Osel Ling belongs to anyone who has the time to practice and who has the desire to receive teachings. This is a very important Dharma center because it holds the life of the Dharma --- outwardly (with the ritual aspect), inwardly (with the teachings) and secretly (with the practice of those who wish to reach enlightenment including the three-year retreat).
Therefore, I want each of you to demonstrate your involvement with this Dharma center by taking responsibility. When you say “Vajrayana Foundation”don’t put it over there as separate from you. Each of you are the Vajrayana Foundation sangha. I want this to be the enthronement of your taking responsibility. That’s my wish. If I live, I’m satisfied if all of you do that. If I’m dead, I’m satisfied. You don’t have to do anything but take care of the center. That’s number one.
One way of demonstrating responsibility is by joining the Vajrayana Foundation’s membership program. I want each of you to take responsibility for membership. Membership is very important because by becoming a member each of you can add a little piece of wood to the pile and it will become a big pile. Or each person can take away one piece of wood and there will be nothing. That’s why I want us to pull our energy together.
While the basic foundation of Vajrayana Foundation is incredibly strong, powerful and very alive, the temporary circumstance is that we have debts. If these debts continue we won’t have this land --- there will be no place for gathering and no teachers to give teachings.
This land is a holy place --- I planted incredibly holy material on this land. The blessings and mind of HH Dudjom Rinpoche as well completely pour into this land and Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche has also blessed this land many times through teachings and empowerments. Everything’s done --- you don’t need to go on pilgrimage to India and Nepal.
We also have the supports of the body, speech and mind for practice. We have the Guru Rinpoche statue for the body aspect, which is “liberation through seeing.” You can practice in front of the Guru Rinpoche statue, make a prayer and it becomes true; you can make confession and pacify your negative karma; you can dedicate in front of it and the merit multiplies – it is that holy. This is because Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche sculpted this statue with his own hands, and when it was finished he said that it did not need to be consecrated. This was because his wisdom body, speech and mind had completely consecrated it as he was sculpting it.
In support of speech we have the texts. And on the mind level, outwardly, we have the support of a beautiful stupa [ -- now we have nine Stupas] built to precise proportion and filled with 100,000 Dorje Drolod tsa tsas and relics from Mindroling Trichen Rinpoche, Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche and many other lamas. Inwardly everyone’s practice is the support of the mind. We have a drubdra (3-year retreat). I also request sangha to practice and they do. It is amazing! I trust the sangha and the sangha trusts me. There is this incredible special connection with the sangha due to practice --- daily practice, monthly practice and Drupchen and Vajrakilaya each year. This land is so full of blessings.
Maybe you see membership as costing too much money but just compare the cost and result of filling this little mouth over one single lifetime of this precious life to supporting the center through membership. The money spent on membership is just like putting a drop of water into the ocean that is Pema Osel Ling. Until this ocean has exhausted itself your drops last with it, kind of merge with it. Then the lamas’ can dedicate your material aspect into the wisdom immaterial, inexhaustible aspect. How valuable is that? Think about it and compare the cost of this short life in one single lifetime with serving the Dharma forever. That virtue will last until you attain enlightenment. And after you reach enlightenment, you have the responsibility to liberate all sentient beings until samsara becomes empty. With this perspective, membership is not really an unreasonable request. I want all of you to think that way. Thank you.