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Mar 17
Thursday
Featured Stories, Mountain States
Boulder’s New Rigden Thangka
The Children of Shambhala perform the song, We are the Warriors, led by Bill Douglas.

The Children of Shambhala perform the song, We are the Warriors, led by Bill Douglas.

The new Primordial Ridgen thangka was unveiled on Shambhala Day in Boulder, and a celebration to commemorate its installation happened the following day, March 6th. Khandro Tseyang led Shambhala’s own Gesar Lingdro dance troupe for the occasion in their second-ever performance to date. Following that, the children of Shambhala touched the hearts of all present with the song, “We are the Warriors,” composed by the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo.

In his remarks, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche expressed his appreciation to master painter Cynthia Moku, whom he had personally requested to create the thangka as part of the renovation of the Boulder Shambhala Center shrine room. Cynthia Moku was appointed an Artist to the Kalapa Court in 2008 in a proclamation by the Sakyong that called the artistic tradition “a living jewel of the Kingdom of Shambhala” and “integral to Shambhala’s manifestation” of enlightened society. The thangka took her 15 months to create, working full-time in her studio in Boulder.

Gesar Lingdro performed to celebrate the Ridgen thangka's installation in Boulder.

Gesar Lingdro performed to celebrate the Ridgen thangka's installation in Boulder.

According to Cynthia Moku, this new Primordial Rigden thangka differs in several important ways from her earlier rendition, which hangs as a print in Shambhala Centres throughout the world. First and foremost, the Sakyong asked that the thangka include his father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in the form of the Dharmakaya Dorje Dradul. The two discussed the iconography at length, particularly the crown that the Dharmakaya Dorje Dradul wears — a white turban adorned with a jewel crown. He wears the robes of a dharmaraja with a pure white fur coat on top, and his hands are in meditation posture holding a flaming blue jewel.

The new Primordial Rigden thangka in the Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center.

The new Primordial Rigden thangka in the Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center.

Much larger than her previous rendition, the Primordial Ridgen in Boulder is also more translucent, luminous, and ephemeral. Cynthia Moku told the Shambhala Times that this effect was deliberate. While drawing his figure according to the proportions of a traditional seated Buddha, she rendered the face so that it emerges from the sun behind it and gave the Rigden’s robes soft edges that fade into its backdrop. Shiwa Okar also has a slightly different feel than her previous rendition — with much more of a sense of movement. Indeed, the clouds rolling beneath him transform into a dragon below. Thus, in the new thangka, the Ridgen is flanked by the Dharmaraja Dorje Dradul to his upper right and Shiwa Okar to his upper left with Buddha Shakyamuni at the top.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche tosses rice in blessing at the celebration for the new thangka.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche tosses rice in blessing at the celebration for the new thangka.

Another important difference is that the Rigden thangka in Boulder was blessed by the Sakyong when he emerged from his deep retreat, prior to its installation at the Shambhala Center. On the back of the thangka, he wrote seed syllables as is customary and signed his name as a special blessing.

Khandro Tseyang holding Jetsun Drukmo following the Gesar Lingdro.

Khandro Tseyang holding Jetsun Drukmo following the Gesar Lingdro.

The power of the new thangka and the Sakyong’s return from retreat are palpable in the Boulder Shanbhala Center. Even newcomers who participated in the Level I the following weekend remarked on the feeling in the building. The Level I, held on March 11-13, had a record 60 participants and took place in the newly renovated shrine room.

The Boulder community offer khatas in front of the new Ridgen thangka.

The Boulder community offer khatas in front of the new Ridgen thangka.

In response to a question from one curious Level I participant, Cynthia Moku described the thangka as a mirror that reflects back the brilliance of our own minds as we sit in meditation.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche blesses Cynthia Moku at the event.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche blesses Cynthia Moku at the event.

Many thanks to Marv Ross who shared his stunning photos from the Shambhala Day celebrations in this and other recent articles on the Shambhala Times.

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