Dear Vajra Sangha,
Under the Open Umbrella initiative of the Druk Sakyong Wangmo, Diana Mukpo, we are delighted to announce that with the blessing of His Holiness Karmapa XVII, the Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche has consented to confer a Vajrayogini empowerment to our group of suitably prepared students. This request was initiated by the Kagyu ngöndro working group under the auspices of Lady Diana Mukpo’s Open Umbrella initiative. The purpose of this empowerment is to continue the transmission of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche of the Kagyu mahamudra path by making this practice available for present practitioners and for future generations.
We expect this empowerment to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in late May or early June 2024. The empowerment will be followed by five days of orientation to the full practice. This orientation will include an introduction to the Vidyadhara’s extensive oral instructions, as well as detailed teaching on all aspects of the practice. The orientation will conclude as usual with a complete practice of the sadhana including the self-empowerment and feast.
This teaching will empower students to practice this important yidam of the Kagyu mahamudra tradition. Starting in 1977, the Vidyadhara gave this empowerment ten times, every year of his remaining life, and he devoted countless hours with the translation committee and others to transmit this profound practice. Along with Chakrasamvara (given in 1986), this was the principal formal abhisheka into the anuttara-yoga tantra that the Vidyadhara gave.
ELIGIBILITY AND REQUIREMENTS FOR THE EMPOWERMENT
This empowerment is intended primarily for practitioners who have been working with the Kagyu ngöndro practice groups on Ocean and others who are engaged in accomplishing the Kagyu ngöndro by numbers or by time. (Prior to beginning ngöndro, they should have received the vajrayana pointing-out instruction. This is the tradition established by the Vidyadhara.)
While the audience is primarily practitioners within the Shambhala / Vajradhatu sangha and sanghas derived from the Vidyadhara’s inspiration, others may be admitted on request.
ELIGIBILITY to receive the empowerment.
Following the general tradition and the tradition of the Vidyadhara, students should have accomplished all or most of their ngöndro before receiving this empowerment. It has been our custom to require the completion of at least half of the guru yoga recitations,with a commitment to finish guru yoga before taking up a regular practice of the sadhana. However, you should try to attend the monthly online feasts as much as possible, even if you are not doing the Vajrayogini sadhana as a main practice yet.
GURU YOGA REQUIREMENT
If you have made a commitment to accomplish much less than the traditional 100,000 accumulation for each of the first three practices, you should accomplish at least 100,000 recitations (rather than the full million) of the “Karmapa khyenno” supplication. We recognize that our guidelines so far have been rather imprecise.
FOR THOSE DOING THE FULL/TRADITIONAL NGÖNDRO
Some of you have opted to do the full hundred thousand of each section of practice (and a million for guru yoga), and this is certainly praiseworthy. During the Vidyadhara’s lifetime, that was expected of everyone. In view of that significant commitment, we strongly encourage you to attend the empowerment in Spring 2024 even if you have not completed at least half of your guru yoga recitations.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE “FINISHED” YOUR MINIMUM NGÖNDRO REQUIREMENT
You have several options: You can continue to emphasize guru yoga. You can do sessions in which you emphasize all four practices equally. You can continue to concentrate singly on each one of the practices you want to deepen. In addition, if you have received Shambhala practices, it is good to do those. The Vidyadhara’s tradition for us was to practice the buddhist vajrayana and Shambhala practices in parallel.
MORE INFORMATION AND HOW TO APPLY
In the coming weeks, we will send more information about how to apply and where to ask questions.
WHAT YOU CAN READ IN PREPARATION
You might find it helpful to read the following essay in preparation for the empowerment:
“Sacred Outlook: The Practice of Vajrayogini” in The Heart of the Buddha by Chögyam Trungpa (Shambhala, 1991, pp. 132-170).
Also, you might like, from the Profound Treasury, Volume 3: Chapter 26, The Mandala of the Five Buddha Families; Chapter 38, Visualization and Sadhana Practice; Chapter 50, Devotion, The Essential Prerequisite for Mahamudra.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche is a master of the Kagyu order. He studied with some of the most distinguished masters of the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions and received teachings from many outstanding masters, including the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Thrangu Rinpoche, Dodrupchen Rinpoche, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Since 1990 he has been traveling and teaching Buddhism and meditation at more than 50 Universities, Institutes, and Buddhist Centres in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and Asia. He has taught for several years at Naropa University in Boulder, and most recently in Halifax. Rinpoche is the Official Representative of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa for Europe and the Founder of Karmapa Foundation Europe. Rinpoche is extremely knowledgeable and with his excellent command of the English language, he is able to transmit teachings in a remarkably accessible way, infused with his characteristic warmth and sense of humour. For more on Rinpoche and his activities see this link: https://bodhicharya.org/ringu-tulku/
With devotion to the Practice Lineage,
Dorje Loppön Lodrö Dorje (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Larry Mermelstein, Nalanda Translation Committee (email@example.com)
Here is the background of the announcement above.
The teachings and practices held within the Vajradhatu and Shambhala sangha arose from the extraordinary dharma activity of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Our community and its practice centers grew because of his activity, along with the dedication of several thousand highly inspired and committed student-practitioners, and later through the efforts of the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and his students. It has been further supported by the active participation of eminent masters of the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions, in particular the sixteenth Karmapa and his Regents, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, among others. Because these masters recognized the groundbreaking work of the Vidyadhara, they poured mainstream Kagyu and Nyingma transmissions into our sangha over almost three decades, until the mid-2000s. Through all these efforts, we, the inheritors of the Vidyadhara’s life’s work, have a wealth of dharma resources.
In order to promote the continuation of these teachings, as we announced in the spring of 2021, under the auspices of the Druk Sakyong Wangmo, Lady Diana Mukpo, and the Open Umbrella initiative, we mean to offer support to practitioners who wish to continue both the buddhist vajrayana and the Shambhala teachings of the Druk Sakyong. We realize that many of you may not be aware of what we have been doing, since initially we responded mainly to people who contacted us directly via the OpenTorii@gmail.com mailing list.
- Over the past two and a half years, over one hundred and twenty well-prepared students received vajrayana pointing out from the Dorje Loppon and are now actively doing the Kagyu ngöndro. We conducted a fifth transmission meeting this October 2023.
- We are providing periodic teachings and ngöndro transmissions to support the journey forward. These can be found on ocean.chronicleproject.com, under the Practice section, in the “Kagyu Ngondro Practice Group”.
- There is a Kagyu ngöndro practice group meeting on Ocean ChronicleProject.com every Sunday at 1 pm Eastern time and a group of about 20-30 enthusiastic students gather there regularly for group practice and discussion.
- In addition to the new group of Kagyu ngöndro practitioners, there are quite a number of Rigden ngöndro practitioners who are now also undertaking the Kagyu ngöndro.
- As the practice of this group proceeds, we have been arranging for a qualified lineage holder to confer the Vajrayogini abhisheka. As we are happy to announce above, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, with the blessing and request of His Holiness Karmapa, has consented to offer this.
These new tantra students and their mentors had been requesting this transmission in order to further their practice and study of the Kagyu vajrayana path. These transmission meetings arose somewhat organically and were not advertised other than to those who responded to the Open Torii announcements and by word of mouth at a number of centers. Note that Open Umbrella is an independent initiative, however, we are collaborating with the Practice and Education arm of Shambhala Global Services when appropriate.
If you are interested in this initiative, either as a mentor for entering students or as someone interested in the Kagyu and Nyingma vajrayana practice, you can contact any of those below for further information.
Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Mermelstein email@example.com
Juanita Evans firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Evans email@example.com
Layth Matthews firstname.lastname@example.org
Derek Kolleeny email@example.com