Pathgate Sangha Pay Homage to the Kudung of HH Penor Rinpoche
During the month of April 2009, several groups of Pathgate students travelled to Namdroling Monastery to pay homage to the Kudung (Holy Body) of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. While they were there, each and every Pathgate student had the opportunity to join in one of the weekly offering of mandala and khatas (white silk scarf) made by Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche to the Kudung of HH Penor Rinpoche in the Zangdok Palri Temple and at the thrones of His Holiness in the Golden Temple. The strong scent of sandalwood fragrance permeating the air during the mandala offerings and even during khorwa (circumambulation) around the outside of the Zangdok Palri Temple was very obvious to the Pathgate students. This unmistaken fragrance is the true sign of the purity of His Holiness's enlightened qualities.
During their stay at Namdroling Monastery, every member of the Pathgate Sangha received from Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche a piece of His Holiness’ sacred robe which has the power to protect those who have strong faith in His Holiness from the harm of both human and non-human. Arrangement was also made so that they could pay respect to many Palyul Rinpoches at the monastery and receive advice from them.
HH Karma Kuchen Rinpoche advised one group of Pathgate students to use the time they have at the monastery to practice prayers, particularly the accumulation of the Prayer for the Swift Rebirth of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. To another group of students, he reminded them that Nyingmapa practice is about purifying the mind.
HE Gyangkhang Rinpoche, praised the devotion of the students who came to the monastery and advised them that it is very important to have strong aspiration to become a good Dharma practitioner.
Khenchen Pema Sherab explained to the students that it is our unfortunate karma that His Holiness is gone. However, one good thing is that we have received many teachings and guidance from His Holiness, who is a very great Lama. So it is important to keep the vows intact, preserve them and protect our samaya (word of honour). This is by far the most important task before us. Through His Holiness' clairvoyance, through his enlightened mind, he can see us and is aware of every thought that comes into our mind, even though His Holiness has passed into nirvana. If we wish to please His Holiness and to receive his blessing, it is vital that we should practise the path in accordance to the nectar-like teachings he has taught us. This is the best offering we can make to His Holiness. The best offering is not the offering of flowers or wealth but to practise the instructions His Holiness has given us. That is the main essence of the teaching as explained in the sutras.
With regard to the reincarnation of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Khenchen said that what he always feels in his heart is that if we want an unmistaken reincarnation of His Holiness, the most important thing is to keep our vows intact and to practise pure morality. If we preserve our vows and practise according to what His Holiness has taught us, then we will be blessed with an unmistaken reincarnation of His Holiness with all the enlightened qualities of the previous Penor Rinpoche. If we do not practise in accordance to the path, then there is no need for his reincarnation to come since our morality is not pure.
Even though we would have in name a reincarnation, he would not be able to serve the purpose of a great Lama. For an accomplished Lama to guide us perfectly, the students must have certain qualities. If we observe and protect the commitments we made, we will certainly be blessed with an unmistaken reincarnation of His Holiness. We have been most fortunate to have His Holiness as a teacher. Simply observe one of his many enlightened activities, and we will recognise how special a teacher he was. Therefore we should always be grateful for such good fortune and avoid causing degeneration to our vows. It is most important to remain in harmony with each other as followers of His Holiness – be friendly with each other, and help each other. This way, we will definitely be blessed with his reincarnation. Khenchen spoke also about Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche’s sponsorship of the two Shedra buildings and said that whatever he has spent will not go to waste because this is the enlightened activity of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.
To another group of students, Khenchen Pema Sherab spoke about the tendency over time to pay less attention to the vows and let things slip. But if we follow the vows then, with time, radiance will come from our mind and this will be of benefit to others.
Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso also stressed the importance of observing the vows. He told the Pathgate Sangha that one who has received the ordination vows and follows the vows properly for just one day in this time of Kaliyuga (age of degeneration) will generate more merits than one who observed the vows properly for the whole lifetime during the time of Lord Buddha.Afflictive emotions are very powerful during the time of Kaliyuga, so we shouldn’t follow them. We should always follow the teaching of Dharma. A scattered mind is what causes all the obscurations and obstacles we come to experience. We need the support of mindfulness and conscientiousness in watching the mind. Mindfulness and conscientiousness will protect our mind from negative emotion and without them we will follow our impulse and commit wrong action. Every problem we come to experience is caused by a scattered mind. Shantideva has spoken about this in his teaching on mindfulness. Khenchen said that his own master also spoke of the importance of having diligence and perseverance in mindfulness and conscientiousness.
Khenchen reiterated that we should always reflect on impermanence because no one is free from the effect of impermanence. If we do not practise, this precious opportunity of a human life will be lost at death. It is very important not to waste our time. The reason that we have a teacher in this life is due to the merits of our past action as well as the gathering together of all the right circumstances. So don’t waste this opportunity. Receive as much teaching as you can. It is very important to read the teaching and contemplate it, and become familiar with it. It is like the way we become familiar with our friends. As time goes on we will get to know them. So in the same way we should get to know the teaching. Then we need to become familiar with our mind. We also need to become familiar with the deities. This will make the visualisation clearer and be helpful to our practice. It is very important to work with the mind and not allow the mind to get scattered. Cultivate compassion and bodhicitta through meditation. It will prepare us to get to know the Dzogchen practice.
Khenpo Sangye Wangdi, the former Principal of the Shedra, advised the students that they should not try too hard in their practice; better to keep a relaxed mind. He encouraged them to develop a bodhicitta mind and then went on to elaborate the importance of dedication, for this is the cause for all beings to achieve enlightenment and the practice of the Bodhisattva. He reminded the students of the necessity to cultivate disgust with regard to samsara because there is no happiness anywhere in samsara. He also reminded the students of the importance to confess when they make mistakes.
Khenpo explained that in the practice of Mahayana, students must first generate compassion. Their practice should be very stable and focused on what they do. If they do it with a scattered mind, then there is no benefit at all. Whenever one gets distracted, one should bring one's mind back to oneself. If one does not dedicate, whatever virtue one generated will just cause one to be reborn in the fortunate realms and this will not liberate oneself or others. Khenpo reminded the students that patience is one of the most important qualities in Dharma practice. If one's practice doesn’t live up to one's expectation, just keep practising. One should not develop attachment to samsara or nirvana because attachment is a poison of afflictive emotion which will only bring suffering. We should strive to develop bodhicitta from the foundation of the Four Immeasurables and it will help us to attain the two-fold fulfilment for both ourselves and others.
Some Pathgate students also had the chance to visit the Junior School and the Namling Hospital. Both facilities were set up by HH Penor Rinpoche and both facilities have received funding and support provided by the Pathgate Partnership Programme over the course of many years.
At the Junior School which has 1600 pupils, the Pathgate students were welcome by the Principal at the newly renovated Conference Hall sponsored by funding provided by the Pathgate Partnership Programme. Great hospitality was bestowed on the Pathgate students and each received a gift from the faculty of the school.
At the Namling Hospital, Lopon Sonam and Lopon Nyima, the administrators of the hospital gave an account of the financial support they have received from Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche. The senior administrator, Lopon Nyima, told the students that Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche is not only known for helping the needy, more importantly, he has a pure mind. Lopon Nyima went on to explain that when you have a pure mind, you can go anywhere and you will not be affected by what is there. If your mind is not pure, no matter where you go, you will not be comfortable with yourself.
All the Pathgate students appreciate their good fortune to receive blessing from the Kudung of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Their time at the Namdroling Monastery was well spent and the discipline they displayed earned them praise from everyone they met. The high regard for Lama Dondrup Dorje Rinpoche at Namdroling Monastery was reflected by the fact that Pathgate students were invited to join in the puja inside the Zangdok Palri Temple which is reserved exclusively for Tulku, Khenpo, and Lama. Pathgate students were the only foreign students who were allowed to join in the puja inside the Zangdok Palri Temple during the forty-nine-day puja.