Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Fesitval Begins

Yesterday morning, Acharya Simon Luna died suddenly from a heart attack. Unfortunately, I was not at the Festival last afternoon, and didn't personally hear about it until later from Debbie Coats. There is a beautiful tribute and description in the Shambhala News Service that describes the events and tells about Acharya Luna's remarkable life. Walter Fordham is working on a longer tribute for the Chronicles.

I'm now going to backtrack two rather long days ago to where the Festival opened with a traditional lhasang. The juniper poured into the sky in billowing white clouds
as we chanted the long offering in English, followed by an even longer one lead by His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche in Tibetan. All together, I'd say the lhasang itself lasted over an hour. Long enough that we could open up to the sky and practice and come back to ground and the beginning.

After the lhasang, we all filed in to the chapel, now shri
ne room, and listened to the Sakyong speak His Holiness Penor Rinpoche's worrisome illness and his commitment to coming next year to bestow the Sakyong Wangmo empowerment on Khandro Tsemo Tseyang. The Sakyong also spoke on the focus on the joining together of family that this festival represents -- not only the two amazingly intimate connection of the Mukpo and Ripa families, but the joining of our the Ripa family with our wild and wonderful sangha through the practices of Gesar of Ling.

In the afternoon, translator Mark Nowakowski gave a short explanation of our new practice, in which we begin by arising as White Tara providing a context of compassion from which to call upon Protector Gesar. We maintain that container of compassion throughout the practice. So I guess you could say it's a joining of the feminine space of compassion with the masculine skillful means of Gesar. Well, you had to have been there for any details.

After Mark spoke, His Eminence entered in a procession with the Sakyong, Sakyong-Wangmo-in-Waiting, and the Ripa family lead by Sopa Choling monks sounding the Tibetan horns.

His Eminence had a huge smile on, as he discoursed on the connections between the Mukpo and Ripa clans with Gesar of ling. He began by describing his first visions at the age of eight (Tibetan years) of a deity who accompanied him like a shadow -- with white skin and white clothes.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche later told him that this was Aka Werma (phonetic spelling), who is no different from Shiwa Okar, who we are familiar with in our Werma practice.

His Eminence requested of Trungpa Rinpoche that he write a Gesar of Ling practice, which he did and is the one we will be practicing in the days to come. I won't go into all the details here as it's part of a transmission that you had to have been there to have heard.

One very interesting part, however, which I think I can share (thought not spell, so I won't use the given names) is that the connection between the Mukpo family and Ripa's actually goes all the way back to the time of Gesar of Ling, when in previous lives, His Eminence was Gesar's elder brother, Trungpa Rinpoche was that brother's son (i.e., Gesar's nephew), and the Sakyong was Gesar's advisor and war chief, Denma.

Another connection between then and now, was between His Eminence's grandfather, (Shakya Shrii) and Mipham the Great, who was, as His Holiness, Penor Rinpoche said, the rebirth of Denma, and, as we know, the previous incarnation of our Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Well, after all that -- and more, His Eminence gave us the lung for the practice and then introduced us to a new longevity supplication of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche requested by Tseyang Palmo (the Sakyong's new wife) at

"the especially sacred place where Padmakara and his consort accomplished the deathless vajrakaya, at a large gathering of dharma brothers and sisters headed by myself, the fifth holder of the Ripa Ladrang, Namkha Drimed Rabjam, and Sakyhong Mipham Rinpoche, at a break during a long-life practice."

Well, that's probably enough boggling of the mind for this post. I now must get ready for today's events: the abhisheka for the practice of Yeshe Tsogyal (Padmasambhava's real life consort) and what will no doubt be a wonderful garden party at the Kalapa Court this afternoon.

Yrs in the dharma,

Fearless Wildflower, correspondent for the Chronicles


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