Home     Contact Us         Log in
Nov 11
Sakyong and Family, Shambhala News Service
With the Sakyong at the Kama Transmission

Rigon Tashi Choling monastery, Pharping, Nepal

by Nick Trautz, writing from Pharping, Nepal

As a stream of Tibetan villagers, monastics, and lamas files through the front gate of Rigon Tashi Choling monastery each chilly morning here at the edge of the Kathmandu valley, it is clear that something special is happening. In a rare conferral of the complete Nyingma lineage, His Eminence, Namkha Drimed Rinpoche is completing the work begun two years ago in Orissa, India as he grants the empowerments of the Kama lineage to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Having received pieces of this tradition from His Holiness, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the Sakyong has long wished to receive the entire transmission – a transmission that is now nearing completion here in the sacred valley of Pharping, Nepal.

Much like the Rinchen Terzod, the Kama transmission includes lung (reading transmission) and wang (empowerment ritual). By the completion of this thirty-day ceremony, the entire body of Kama scriptures (25 Tibetan volumes; the equivalent of several thousand pages of English) will be read aloud, and 39 empowerments will be conferred. While not as lengthy as the Rinchen Terzod, the complete Kama empowerment is given rarely – perhaps only once or twice in a generation, stretching back to the twelfth century. After this transmission was requested by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, news spread throughout the Tibetan Buddhist world, and Nyingma lamas, monastics and lay people have traveled from throughout Nepal, India, and the West to witness and receive these powerful teachings. It is particularly fitting that this empowerment is being given in Pharping: it is said to be in this very valley that Padmasambhava attained the enlightenment-form of Vajrakilaya before traveling to Tibet to plant the dharma there. The teachings that Padmasambhava brought to Tibet were the Kama lineage – tantric teachings given by eight great Indian mahasiddhas of the early vajrayana.

Each day begins early at the monastery as Tibetan horns bellow out over the valley in the misty dawn. By 6:00am, the main hall is filled with people, lamas sitting in the front rows of the hall with groups of monks, nuns, and lay people assembled behind. Most of us westerners sit along the interior wall of the monastery, glad to be able to rest our weary backs as we are not used to sitting long hours on the floor without the comfort of zabutons and gomdens! The interior space of the temple is adorned with spectacular images of buddhas, herukas, consorts, protectors, and their mandalas. Enormous statues of Dorje Trolo, Padmasambhava, and Hayagriva tower over the front of the hall. Above the central shrine stands a thirty-foot representation of Shakyamuni Buddha. These images convey the power of the lineage and the sacred world described in the vajrayana tradition. Early morning is particularly beautiful in the shrine hall, as sunlight streams in through the temple windows, filtering through clouds of fresh lhasang smoke.

There are fifteen tulkus in attendance, and thirty or so khenpos (monastic doctors of Buddhist philosophy) from several Nyingma institutions. Tulku Pema Rigzin, one of the eldest students of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, performs the reading transmission each morning: four hours of blisteringly fast reading interrupted only by a short breakfast and tea break. Listening to the lung is said to plant karmic seeds for future study and realization of these teachings.

Lunch follows each morning’s reading, and the temple hall quickly empties as the young monks and nuns scramble for the lunch line. Delicious food is served out of the monastery kitchen, eaten in the open air as people gather in small groups to chat. Since this is a sponsored event, breakfast, lunch and tea is generously offered to all participants. As one of the twenty or so westerners at the event, it has been enjoyable to take meals with the monks and Tibetan villagers, practicing each others’ languages and forging non-verbal friendships. Everyone seems so grateful to be part of this event, and the brilliant November sunshine and mountain views add to the feeling of good fortune at being here.

Pharping valley

The afternoon proceedings begin precisely at one o’clock each day as a procession consisting of His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Gyeltrul Jigme Rinpoche, Lhunpu Tulku (both sons of Namkha Drimed Rinpoche), and Tulku Kunshab (His Eminence’s nephew) enter the shrine hall led by costumed gyaling players. His Eminence takes his seat on a majestic throne at the front of the hall, and begins the preparations for the daily wangs (empowerments). The Sakyong sits on an honorary throne to His Eminence’s right, and the Ripa family, including the Sakyong Wangmo, Khandro Tseyang, sit to His Eminence’s left. A group of eight Tulkus sits on lower cushions behind the Sakyong. This group of thirteen lineage holders, in addition to the family of Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, are considered the main recipients of the empowerments. For the rest of us in the assembly, we sit quietly, enjoying the sacred environment and experiencing the powerful living presence of the lineage. Lhunpu Tulku, who gives short teachings to the western students each evening, encourages us to spend the empowerment sessions cultivating our devotion to the gurus of the lineage, and appreciating our fortune for the karmic seeds that will be planted when receiving these teachings.

Up to five empowerments are given each afternoon, the full collection tracing the vajrayana path through the outer and inner tantras. The Sakyong has remarked that His Eminence is giving each empowerment particularly thoroughly, making sure that the vows of each initiation are carefully recited and that each participant is blessed by every ritual implement. At the end of each afternoon, all the empowerment implements are distributed to the tulkus, who proceed through the crowd blessing each person in the assembly and conferring the collected empowerments of that day. Even Jetsun Drukmo (who is busy practicing her first steady steps!) is brought in to receive the empowerment blessings. This is clearly the moment that most participants have been waiting for, and an ecstatic surge of devotional energy ripples through the crowd as the Sakyong and tulkus pass by. It is interesting and inspiring to witness the pure devotion of the Tibetan lay people who arrive before dawn and spend the entire day at the monastery, happy to receive blessings of the lineage. Families with young children camp out in the back of the shrine hall, chatting and snacking while the children take turns sitting on everyone’s laps. This is clearly an important social event for these exiled Tibetans, a connection to their cultural heritage.

Lama Kunzang

One of the most eagerly awaited parts of the day is the afternoon tea ceremony. Halfway through the conferral of the day’s empowerments, salt tea and kapse(Tibetan or Nepali cookie snacks) are served to the assembly. While the crowd enjoys these tasty treats, the names of patrons who have contributed to the offering are read aloud, along with well-wishes and prayers for the health of His Eminence, his family, and the Sakyong. Traditionally, this is one of the most important events held at a Tibetan monastery, connecting the monastery to the wider Buddhist community through reciprocal offerings of support and blessings. At the end of the Kama transmission, patrons from the Shambhala community will be recognized in this way, and a special ritual will also be performed for the benefit of those who struggle with obstacles, are ill, or have recently passed away.

The Sakyong has remarked that the reception of these empowerments will provide a strong foundation from which to move forward in presenting the Shambhala dharma. That the Sakyong has requested this transmission while deeply engaged in this busy and historic time of the full propagation of Shambhala teachings speaks to the importance of the lineage, and Rinpoche has mentioned that he receives these transmissions with love for our community. We are fortunate, indeed, at being able to participate, whether in Nepal or from afar, in this historic transmission of these powerful teachings of wisdom and compassion.

Nick Trautz is a Shambhalian visiting Nepal for his graduate research at Harvard Divinity School. Photos are courtesy of him.

Post Tags: , , ,
2 responses to “ With the Sakyong at the Kama Transmission ”
  1. Lulu strongheartv
    Nov 17, 2011

    Great article! Thanks for sharing

  2. Sandy Brooks
    Nov 13, 2011

    Thank you Mr. Trautz for this beautiful commentary of the Kama Transmission and the gift of feeling a part of this historic event.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

Website Development by Blue Mandala using Wordpress MU.
All content and source Copyright © 1994-2022. Shambhala International (Vajradhatu), Shambhala, Shambhala Meditation Center, Shambhala Training, Shambhala Center and Way of Shambhala are registered service marks of Shambhala USA
Privacy Policy
Translate »