First time at Benchen Krakow
If you are interested in Buddhism and are checking out practices in different traditions to decide which is the most suitable for you, Vajrayana practices may be a bit surprising to you.
Tibetan Buddhism, with its Vajrayana practices is most probably the kind of Buddhism, which can be most associated with religion. There are many rituals, an elaborate shrine and not only „working with the mind”, although we do also that. Chenrezig puja is a practice, which we do regularly together and it is open to everyone.
A puja is a ritual performed to connect with the real nature of our mind. It is symbolically expressed in the form of various deities. We express or respect and pray to them. During a puja, one chants or recites the text, repeats mantras, meditates and visualizes.
Chenrezig is considered to be the embodiment of great compassion of all Buddhas which appears in the form of this deity. Its four qualities are love, compassion, joy and impartiality. When we practice Chenrezig meditation, we develop these qualities in ourselves and we allow them to permeate our minds. This practice enables us to connect with the energy of boundless compassion, with the source of this compassion, or even to ourselves become its source.
If you are interested in joining this Vajrayana practice, you are welcome to come on the day when it is scheduled. However, it may be helpful if you make an appointment to come a little earlier for an introduction. If you wish to talk and find out more about Tibetan Buddhism and Karma Kamtsang tradition it is probably best, if you contact us in advance. You may also chose a day when we practice calm abiding meditation (shine in Tibetan). You are welcome to join the practice, however if you have any questions or are unsure of what we will be actually doing, contact us in advance.
Teachings given by our teachers are an excellent opportunity to find out more about Buddhism. Once a year we are visited by Sangter Rinpoche. Lama Rinchen visits us every few months. Sometimes we have the opportunity to invite other teachers from the Benchen tradition.
Some of the practices that we do together are open to everyone interested, as participating in them does not require having special transmissions. Everyone interested in Buddhism is welcome to join Chenrezig practice, calm abiding meditation and most of the teachings. However, if you wish to practice Buddhism more deeply, taking Refuge in the Three Jewels is the first step on the Buddhist path. Taking Refuge is also indispensable to receive further transmissions. If you have decided to start Buddhist practice, request a lama for the Refuge ceremony.
The next step is receiving an empowerment (Abhisheka). It is a special Vajrayana transmission, which authorizes to e=mediate on certain Yidams, meditation deities embodying the perfect qualities of Buddha.
Arriving at Benchen Kraków, you will find yourself in a Gompa, a place of meditation and religious practices. There is a shrine here and depictions of Buddhas and realized Masters. Therefore it is advised to act with a certain amount of respect. Mainly, be moderate in how you dress, even on a hot day.
Traditionally, entering a Gompa, one does three prostrations towards the shrine. However, if you have not taken refuge, you do not need to do this. Generally, one would sit on the floor, but if you cannot do that, you are welcome to use a chair. If your legs hurt, it is fine to change your position, however it is worth keeping in mind, not the stretch out your legs towards the shrine or Teacher. It is considered disrespectful in Tibetan culture. According to Tibetan tradition one should also not cross over another person. Be mindful, if you see someone needs to pass, make some room for them. It is also not advised to step over practice texts. When you are leaving the Gompa, do not prostrate – it is considered inauspicious.