Dear Heart Sangha,
This time is the saddest for our lives because our lord protector, Samantabhadra in human form, Kyabje Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, temporarily left his body. There is nothing sadder than this in the world from a relative point of view. But ultimately, Rinpoche’s wisdom and compassion has never left us. His omniscient wisdom and compassion are always holding us within our hearts. But even Rinpoche temporarily leaving his physical body is most painful. He is the sun around which the four continents revolve, and now temporarily this sun has set. We are like small children, immature and undeveloped in the qualities of our path – our meditation and realization. We are like orphans, little babies left behind without our parents to care for us.
What can we do then to again have our parents return? We can keep pure samaya and do practice continuously, accumulate positive karma, recite Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s rebirth prayer, and do Vajrasattva practice since Dungse Rinpoche and Vajrasattva are in fact inseparable. We can keep our pure samaya practice clear and stainless like a mirror. That way Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s emanation will reflect in the clear mirror of our pure mind.
On a physical level it is not realistic for us to expect that Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche can stay with us forever. His passing into parinirvana is a teaching on impermanence. It can help us to remove our lazy habit, always thinking we will have time to practice later, later. By meditating on impermanence we can accomplish our practice. We have to remember that we did receive Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s incredible teachings, which are unlike those of any other teacher. Rinpoche gave us the essence of his Kuntuzangpo wisdom mind directly in the palm of our hands. We did receive this precious gift from him. Our job then, what we are responsible for, is to keep Rinpoche’s blessings warm in our heart without forgetting them. We can heat them up and keep his wisdom mind alive and inseparable with our own mind. That is what is truly reliable. From that ultimate point of view, we don’t have any separation with Rinpoche. That connection will last forever within our hearts. Please keep that.
Normally when something sad happens, our feeling lasts for just this moment, then later we forget. But until we reach enlightenment, we must not forget Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s wisdom – we must keep it within our heart. That is truly reliable. That is actually what practice is. How much is possible, please go to your nearby Dharma center or join with your sangha for tsok each month on Guru Rinpoche Day, Dakini Day, Full Moon and New Moon days, and on half-moon days (Tibetan 8th and 22nd). If possible, I recommend doing Vajrasattva practice on these holy days right now because Dungse Rinpoche asked us to do this. Meanwhile, please do either longer or shorter Vajrasattva practice, mixing and merging your mind with Rinpoche’s wisdom mind. Please do that.
This year, due to our incredible sadness, we are not celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year). On the tenth day of the new year (March 3rd) is Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s cremation in Bhutan. On that day in particular, I highly recommend local lamas and sangha come together at Pema Osel Ling to do Vajrasattva Dorsem Lama Chopa tsok together. That is my highest recommendation instead of having a Losar celebration. Please put your energy and focus on Vajrasattva practice on that day in particular.
Due to Garab Rinpoche’s kindness, Lama Sonam and I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel with Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche’s ku-dung (holy body) wherever it has gone, from California to New York and Bhutan. After the cremation we will come back and practice together. Also we are not able to get together to practice at Gutor time before Losar this year. But I recommend that individually people do Vajrakilaya practice. Don’t worry about doing the extensive me-lay activities, but just the regular Vajrakilaya sadhana and tsok. People can do this individually at home or as a group, whichever is convenient.
At the same time, please do any or all of the rebirth prayers by Garab Dorje Rinpoche, Yangsi Dudjom Rinpoche, or Semo Yeshe. Also please pray for the long lives of Dungse Rinpoche’s physical sons and daughters: Garab Dorje Rinpoche, Jampal Dorje Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Se-Ugyen, Semo Kalsang, Semo Yeshe, and Semo Pema. We are so fortunate to have all of Rinpoche’s children to guide and lead us during this difficult time so we are not totally lost.
I love all of you so much from my heart because we are vajra brothers and sisters. We drink the same nectar of empowerments, teachings, and transmissions from the same lama and same practice. Anyone who is a vajra brother and sister means that we have no separation until reaching enlightenment. Lama Sonam and I will pray for all of us on cremation day, whether you are physically present or not. With faith and devotion we will merge in one mandala. Yangsi Dudjom Rinpoche will lead our practice, and many lamas, yogis and yoginis will be there with us. Don’t think that you are there with us or not. We are bound together inseparably in one mandala with Dudjom father and son, assembling together in Guru Rinpoche’s pure land of the Copper-Colored Mountain. I am making this aspiration prayer and dedication again and again.
Lama Tharchin and Lama Sonam