Regular practices and Dharma teachings
ONCE A WEEK
According to the wish of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche, the main group practice performed in Benchen city centers is the Four-Armed Chenrezig puja. It develops compassion and leads the practitioner to Buddhahood.
Every meeting includes chanting the text together, reciting the mantra and meditating. We use the sadhana called „All Pervading Benefit of Beings: The Meditation and Recitation of the Great Compassionate One” composed by the Tibetan siddha Thangtong Gyalpo.
It is said that Thangtong Gyalpo lived an extraordinarily long life of over 120 years. He was an unprecedented social activist. In those times there were very few bridges joining the sides of vast Tibetan rivers, which made communication and transport extremely arduous. Thangtong Gyalpo built bridges and gained himself the nickname of the Iron Bridge Builder or Bridge Siddha. He also worked ceaselessly for the Dharma.
The root sadhana begins with going for Refuge and giving rise to Bodhichitta. During meditation, one not only chants the words, but also supports it with visualization, imagining what is described in the text. When taking Refuge we visualize in front of us the Refuge Jewels: all Gurus, Buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, Yidams, Dakinis and other. We go for Refuge to them and make a vow to develop Bodhichitta.
Bodhichitta means the desire and intention to lead all beings to Awakening, the state of full, unchangeable happiness. This intention should guide us through the Chenrezig practice. At this point one meditates that Chenrezig appears over one’s head as well as the head of every living being, who has just taken Refuge with us. Beginners may visualize Chenrezig only above their head, to keep the meditation simple.
We start from an image of a white lotos flower, which symbolizes renunciation, the desire of freedom. A mood disc, symbolizing relative bodhichitta, appears over the sun lotos. The perfect Four-Armed Chenrezig seats on the moon disc. He is embellished with silk garments and jewels.
Chenrezig, visualized on top of one’s head is not only a figure with a defined shape and color. First of all it is the focused energy of compassion of all Buddhas, as well as the reflection of our Guru. Chenrezig is inseparable from our Guru and embodies all Refuge Jewels and all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The energy of the combined compassion of all of them takes the form of Chenrezig.
As Chenrezig embodies the entire compassion of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas we are dealing with a very powerful energy, which emanates as multi-colored light. As sun rays which travel billions of kilometers to reach the Earth, the powerful light of love and compassion radiates from Chenrezig to reach all sentient beings. If we focus on this thought, our heart will definitely not remain unmoved. It can lead to a certain transformation of our attitude.
Engaging in Chenrezig practice basing on this affection, we have the chance to develop real, vivid compassion. This approach to practice is much more beneficial than pedantic visualization of each detail, which is helpful rather to painter and sculptors. We do not create a sculpture above our heads. Instead, we are trying to connect with the living compassionate energy.
The following part of the sadhana includes a prayer to Chenrezig. Here, we recite the text composed by Bhikshu Pema Karpo – the previous incarnation of Thangtong Gyalpo. This prayer was the main practice of Thangtong Gyalpo himself. Once again we recall in our minds Chenrezig sitting on top of our head. He is the embodiment of compassion of all Buddhas – we focus on this quality. It is not a person and not a deity, but a quality it represents. Let’s imagine that great compassion is now present above us. Especially during the prayer, we evoke great delight and respect. We let the compassion to fill us with joy. We think only about it and strive to achieve it.
This prayer, as well as our great joy and enthusiasm, inspires the Great Compassion of all Buddhas. Five-colored light emanates from Chenrezig’s body. It is stronger than before and permeates all worlds of the ten directions. It purifies all beings and the environment. It removes all potential calamities, pollution, all causes of diseases and the threats. Permeating the beings, it removes the inner sources of suffering, introducing them into the experience of Chenrezig’s Body, Speech and Mind.
At this point, we recite the six-syllable mantra of Chenrezig. There are numerous explanations of the meaning of this mantra. According to the most essential one, each syllable liberates all beings from each of the six realms in samsara.
When we finish reciting the mantra, Chenrezig melts with us. Our body, speech and mind, become the Awakened Body, Speech and Mind of Chenrezig. As water poured into water, we mix and become one with the compassion of all Buddhas.
The last part of our practice is dedicating the merit and wishing that all beings attain the level of Noble Chenrezig.
(Explanations based on teachings given by His Holiness Karmapa in 2015 in Germany, edited based on www.17karmapa.pl).
ONCE A MONTH
„Protecting life – practice that brings longevity and multiplies wellbeing” is commonly known as the practice of purchasing and releasing the animals, which otherwise would certainly be killed.
As it is said in the introduction of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s text: “By preventing birds, fish (…) or other beings from being killed you prolong your own life, even if it was supposed to be short for some reasons. Moreover, acting in such a way brings unimaginable benefits. (…) Generally speaking, it means that, with a noble motivation, first of all, we protect the animals which we own. We neither kill them, nor sell them to other people, but we care for them. It is sufficient to act in this way, dedicating merit and praying for them at the same time, to achieve the right goal.”
Performing the practice of releasing animals is often joined with actual releasing into the river, fish purchased in breeding farms or freeing birds or rodents purchased in pet shops and laboratories. However, while practicing at the Centre we focus on praying. Such method of practice was recommended to us by Sangter Rinpoche.
The purchase and release of animals which are going to be killed is noble. But it is also very harmful to the ecosystems, in which these animals are being put. Unfortunately, they are very sick and spread unusual diseases, caused by human and by living in breeding farms. Releasing these animals into the environment, which would normally be their natural habitat, leads to the infection and often death of entire ecosystem. Unfortunately, for this reason we can’t release animals every month. But, whenever it will be possible to hand the animals over to a sanctuary or to release them in a safe place, we will do so.
Open to everyone. We encourage first-timers to get in touch prior to coming.
In October 2018 we started a series of talks for everyone who is interested in learning about the theoretical basics of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. The series of lectures will be based on the great Gampopa’s text “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation - Holy Dharma which is like a Wish-fulfilling Gem.”
Gampopa, the disciple of yogi Milarepa, is the founder of our lineage, Dakpo Kagyu, which combines the teachings of the Kadampa gradual path with the teachings of the immediate path of Mahamudra. “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation” describes the gradual path to Enlightment from the point of view of the Third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, or the teachings on the intrinsic Buddha nature.
The lectures will be taking place once a month. Each talk is a separate and complete module, so one can attend the whole seminar or participate in any chosen lecture.
ONCE IN A WHILE
The practice of calm abiding (Tib. shine, Sansk. siamatha) is the first and extremely important phase of meditation. It uses techniques of focusing the mind on one object, which lead to calming the mind and which are the basis for all other practices and lead to insight.
There are eight stages of shine meditation, which is about calming the mind. First we concentrate on an object, we go through the first four stages, and then we practice shine without object. Mind calms down more and more, emotions are pacified, gross conceptual thinking ceases, later on subtle conceptual thinking also disappears, and finally one reaches the highest level, called samadhi, when the mind rests in itself without any distraction. It is not nihilistic emptiness though. Mind is not distracted, no thoughts arise, but this state is accompanied by three main experiences.
First, there is no conceptual thinking; one attains the so called “state beyond thinking”. Second, one experiences unusual, profound bliss, felt by body and mind. Third, one experiences unusual clarity of mind and is able to understand things that one did not understand before, hear from a very long distance, see through things, know what others think, know others’ minds.
This is the end of what one can accomplish through this meditation and the maximum that can be achieved while remaining in samsara, in conditioned existence. If someone will reach truly great stability in shine meditation and will maintain it at the moment of death, one will be able to stay in such a state for a very long time.
The ritual of offering fragrant smoke is a commonly known practice of Tibetan Buddhism. It is often performed in order to remove obstacles in new places, where people will be practicing, as an offering for ghosts and other beings inhabiting these places. It is also often performed in order to consecrate, for example, prayer flags. Generally it is said, that Riwo Sangchö practice brings prosperity. This is also a practice that leads to realizing ultimate wisdom, because it efficiently accumulates merit and purifies negativities.
At our Centre we use the text “Mountain fragrant smoke offering from Rigdzin Sokdrup,terma”. This is a terma hidden by Guru Rinpoche and found in the 17th century by Terton Namkha Jigme, who is know as the one, who brought Dharma to Sikkim..