A heartfelt thank you to one and all for making the visit of H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and the consecration of Vajra Dakini an enormous success. About 250 people gathered from all over the world to attend the consecration. It was inspiring to see the fruition of so many prayers and thousands of volunteer hours
On September 7, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang and his entourage arrived at Vajra Dakini Nunnery in Lincoln, Vermont, and was warmly welcomed by Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo, Changlochen Rinpoche, Khenmo Nyima Drolma, and Mr. Tamding Tsering, the representative of Tibetan Association of Vermont.
On September 8, Vajra Dakini Nunnery hosted a Tashi Sojong (auspicious poshada, a repairing and purifying ceremony for monastic vows) ceremony, kicking off the weekend’s activities. This was the first Sojong performed by Drikung Kagyu practitioners in the United States, and the text was translated for the consecration of Vajra Dakini Nunnery.
In the afternoon, Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang met with a group of Western nuns and responded to their questions with directions for future development of the monastic traditions. In the course of the discussion, he encouraged the nunnery to offer the practice of taking temporary monastic ordination, such as is found in the Theravada tradition. One outcome of the meeting was His Holiness’s direction that they work under the direction of Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche to create booklets of practical guidelines for people preparing for ordination as a monk or nun, for monastics maintaining the Vinaya after ordination, and for lay sangha relating to the ordained.
On September 9, His Holiness had lunch at the Peace Village with Ven. Dhyani, holder of the Native American Ywahoo lineage and founder of the Sunray Meditation Society. Ven. Dhyani is a spiritual teacher with an international following who first met His Holiness in the early 1980s. Since 1987, her students have peacefully practiced Drikung Kagyu practices together with their Native American traditions, each tradition supporting the other. After lunch, Ven. Dhyani led His Holiness to the sacred Fire Circle at the Peace Village, where the community worships, and the two of them talked at length, sharing their spiritual knowledge.
In the evening, His Holiness gave a public talk at the Peace Village temple, entitled “Compassion: Our Mind’s True Nature.” The theme of his talk was the power of mind. His Holiness talked at length about love, compassion, bodhichitta, emptiness, and interdependence. Illustrating the power of great compassion, His Holiness told the story of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s miraculous cure from leprosy through practicing compassion, right before his enlightenment at Echung Cave in Tibet.
On September 11, His Holiness started the day by performing cleansing and consecration ceremonies, including opening the eyes, for a statue of the White Tara crafted for the nunnery by Maurice Lowe. This was followed by the consecration ceremony of Vajra Dakini Nunnery. Local dignitaries and representatives of several religious faiths, and about 250 people gathered for the ceremonies. After short words by Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo, Changlochen Rinpoche, Bante Bhikku Bodhi, Rev. David Wood, and Khenmo Nyima Drolma welcoming the first Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in the US, His Holiness gave the keynote address.
He began his speech by going back to the dawn of human history and describing the origins of human beings in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, and then mankind’s migration out of Africa and around the world. From this history, His Holiness concluded that all humans are connected and perhaps the idea of sharing cultures and learning from each other is not anything new. He then described that each country in the world is the product of it’s own history, traditions, and cultural background. Thus it is understandable that different religious traditions would arise in different locations, and this is actually a necessary quality: a flower garden with more varieties of blooms is more beautiful. From the relative point of view, different religious traditions have arisen to meet differing needs, but from the ultimate view, they all share the same truth. His Holiness then addressed the practices of the Vinaya, explaining that their goal is to counteract and vanquish the afflictive emotions and at the same time train and pacify one’s conduct. His Holiness used the example of begging for alms in the Buddha’s time, as a way to simultaneously refrain oneself on its 9th anniversary. It was a fitting end to a successful inauguration. from wrong livelihood while at the same time giving others the opportunity to practice charity. His Holiness ended his remarks with the wish that through like practices at Vajra Dakini Nunnery, peace may spread in society and violence may be lessened.
The ceremony ended with five minutes of silence and prayers to commemorate the dead of 9/11
Later that afternoon, to the blowing of conches and with flags flying and a horse leading the way, the life-sized White Tara statue that His Holiness had consecrated that morning was carried in a parade to her shrine in the Sunray Peace Village. Serenaded by the Vermont Ukulele Society, the crowd offered katas to the newly ensconced Tara.
Also that afternoon, Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang gave a speech to the more than one hundred members of the Tibetan community who had attended the nunnery inauguration. As he has in other cities on his tour, he spoke about the need to safeguard one’s cultural traditions in a new environment and the proper way to educate one’s children.
On September 12, His Holiness gave a White Tara empowerment at Vajra Dakini Nunnery in morning. In the afternoon, the festivities came to a close as Vajra Dakini Nunnery, led by Khenmo Nyima Drolma, made an elaborate mandala offering and prayers for His Holiness’s long life.
Photos by Paule French