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Sangyum Anniversary Recollection

By Sangyum Drukmo Tinkar

May 10th, 2010 was the twenty-fifth anniversary of my Sangyum ceremony. Inspired by my dear friend, Laura Simms, I’ve compiled a little sangha history in the spirit of celebration.

In 1985 the Vidyadhara, Venerable Trungpa Rinpoche had recently returned to Boulder from a wild and memorable year-long retreat in Mill Village, Nova Scotia. He was full of new inspirations, one in particular, feminine principle. Empowering seven women over that year, we were to serve as his eyes and ears and to share in the inner court of his mandala. The month of May was a Sangyum Ceremony triathlon, with full-blown court regalia every Wednesday and Friday for two weeks in a row on the 8th, 10th, 15th and 17th. The last three empowerments occurred in June and August, with the final ceremony culminating in winter.

Conducted in the Tenno Room of his home, The Kalapa Court, Rinpoche’s love for ritual and ceremony was in full bloom. Lady Diana Mukpo and Lady Lila Rich were the preceptors. For each ceremony, he suited himself appropriately. On May 10th he wore his White Cloud Uniform, while at other empowerments he wore traditional Japanese Hakama, or a wool, olive drab military suit, or his White Abhisheka Uniform. We complimented his dress with suits in a variety of colors at his request.

Spontaneous poetry was written together by the Druk Sakyong and the Sangyum-to-be. Oral examinations were administered by Lady Diana to both the Druk Sakyong and Sangyum. Each ceremony included examinations on the Six Ways of Ruling as well as additional exam questions. By the fourth ceremony, the atmosphere was getting really familiar and playful thus his question: “Why did you pick me?” to Drukmo Wangmo evoked ripples of laughter. I thought, “No fair, I fumbled through the difference between relative and absolute ashe!”

Love, calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa

Love, calligraphy by Chogyam Trungpa

Strokes were executed, chants recited, oaths taken, white katas offered. Sake was toasted from square wooden Japanese cups. Laughter and intimidation arose as spontaneous discourses were appointed to some unsuspecting soul, and a kiss concluded each ordeal before being lead out in procession by Japanese Gagaku music. Elegant receptions prepared by his cook, Shari Vogler, followed with the signing of official documents, food, drink, more toasts, and overall merriment at Trungpa Rinpoche’s latest vision and inspiration.

This ceremony was like a dream echoing something both strange and familiar of ancestral times past. At the juncture of this event, my life took an irreversible turn onto a road I didn’t have a map for and continues to unfold today. Inducted as part of Trungpa Rinpoche’s retinue, a Midwestern girl from a sleepy suburb in Ohio hesitantly became Drukmo Tinkar, a potential female warrior. Along with many other unsuspecting students, I was given responsibilities to care for some of the precious seeds of wisdom Trungpa Rinpoche so urgently wanted to plant. A vast job, he employed his motley assortment of students to help him prepare the soil for the seeds of an awakened society. Succeeded by his heart son, Mipham Rinpoche, our current Sakyong, the vision of Shambhala continues to blossom.

“The essence of devotion and compassion is actually the same: it is a kind of love. Whether feeling is directed toward enlightened pure beings or ordinary impure beings, whether it is devotion or compassion, the essence remains the same: at the moment the mind is laid bare of thoughts, the empty essence dawns nakedly and can be directly perceived.”

The Dzogchen Primer

In honor of the feminine principle in both women and in men
And to my Sangyum Sister Dragon Ladies…

Cynde Grieve, Drukmo Yudra
Wendy Freidman, Drukmo Wangmo
Leslie Hays, Drukmo Dashen
Agness Au, Drukmo Seri

and to Karen Lavin, Drukmo Dawa
and to Ciel Turzanski, Drukmo Nyima
who have both moved on from this life.

Cheerful Anniversary!

Love from Drukmo Tinkar

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1 response to “ Sangyum Anniversary Recollection ”
  1. Imogen Hayman
    May 18, 2010

    WOW! I took refuge with Tai Situ Rinpoche in, I think it was 1992. I lived at Samye Ling fir three years and ‘ Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’ is in my opinion, one of the best books ever written. Thank You fir sharing your awesome experience. I would LOVE to come to S.M.C. Sometime…..OM AH HUNG!

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