Today is the full moon of the month of Vaisakh in the Buddhist Lunar Calendar, and is celebrated as the anniversary of the Buddha Shakyamuni's birth, death and enlightenment. As such, it is considered to be the most holy day in the annual Buddhist ritual calendar. Although the Tibetans consider this day (Saga Dawa'i Tsewa Jo Nga) to be next month, let us not split hairs and yell out a hearty Buddha Saranam Gacchami (I go for refuge in the Buddha) if we feel so inclined, like the marching school kids have been this afternoon:
This morning for the full moon, we performed a feast offering ceremony at the monastery in Chapagaon. It was the first time many of the young monks participated in this particular ceremony, or even attended it. They requested me to sponsor it, and I heartily agreed, $60USD well spent, if you ask me, as I have a connection with the ritual: the Lama's Heartpractice Which Dispels All Obstacles, the Essence of Enlightened Activity (bla ma tugs sgrub bar che kun gsal sphrin las snying po gshugs), a short version of an offering feast to the protectors and dakinis combined with an essential tantric practice involving the meditation and recitation of Guru Rinpoche, Avalokitesvara (Compassion) and Amitayus (Long-life).
Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche (The Precious Master), was the historical Tantric super-adept who is credited with bringing the esoteric form of Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th Century. Many rituals in the school of the Earlier Translations (Nyingma) involve visualizations of him, who is considered to be inseparable with the Buddha and one's own teacher.
One of our twelve year olds, Jigme, reading prayers this morning in assembly.
A local Chapagaoni sitting calmly in meditation during this morning's rituals.
IN OTHER CHAPAGAON GOMPA NEWS, last week His Eminence Phagchog Rinpoche spent the night at the monastery. He had a nice opportunity to interact with the monks: Rinpoche gave some teaching, made offerings to the assembly, and had time to watch some evening futbol matches.
Phagchog Rinpoche meeting with the monks.
Phagchog Rinpoche chatting with the monks.
We also developed plans to give specialized language training to monks that show promise as translators for the future. We have selected two for Newari and Nepali language, two for Chinese, two for English, two for French, two for Spanish and two for German. It will be a challenge to find suitable teachers that can come to Chapagaon for the monks, but we will work hard now to plant the seed of these languages in their young minds, so that in the future they can become expert translators. That said, if anyone wants to come and live out in Chapagaon Nepal for a while as a specialized language instructor you are most welcome!