February 20, 2004

Dear people,

Here is Rinpoche’s 2004 schedule and descriptions of our recent visit to Sarnath and Dharmasala.


January 15th ­ 22nd 2004
Vajra Vidya Institue
Sarnath, India

Last year when the 17th Karmapa held the Kagyu conference, he suggested that each of the main Karma Kagyu monasteries adopt one of Marpa’s main practices. Thrangu Rinpoche’s Vajra Vidya monastery in Sarnath was given the Hevajra Mandala, which is one of the Non-dual tantric practices.

Thrangu Rinpoche had invited the Karmapa to give the empowerment for the Hevajra and extended an invitation to his students to attend in January 2004. Due to the Indian government not allowing the Karmapa to travel to Sarnath at this time, His Eminence Tai Situpa came instead and bestowed the empowerment to Thrangu Rinpoche’s monks and to students that came from Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Europe and the US. Because of Tai Situpa’s schedule, he was not able to stay for the drupchen. Tai Situpa Rinpoche did however take time for a fish release at the Ganges and also visited the Buddha’s relics at the Mahabodhi temple in Sarnath.

These events were filled with the sense of tradition that bridged past to the present. The compassion expressed by our lineage masters to all creatures seemed an expression of true human kindness. Their aspiration that all beings be released from eminent suffering was so evident in this ancient release ritual. The boat glided through the foggy atmosphere; blessed medicine was put in the containers that held over 200 mature catfish. They were then released into the waters with Tai Situ reaching into the container to get the ones that were caught inside the container. A treasure vase had been prepared by the Hong Kong students to give to the nagas or water spirits. The vase was ornate and gold and glittered with poignant beauty as Tai Situpa whirled it around and around releasing it into the air where it flew far and finally entered the water. This felt like an acknowledgment of connection to the beings of other realms.

During the following seven days of practice there was a steady stream of visitors including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The respect and tenderness between His Holiness and Rinpoche was an extraordinary sight.

There seemed to be so many things that had to always be taken care on a daily basis yet the monks, and Rinpoche always came when the drum rolled. The shrine room became the focus and the practice ritual became the form of wisdom manifesting.


Having traveled so far already, we decided to go and meet His Holiness Karmapa. After a 12-hour bus ride that was taken overnight through narrow and winding roads, we arrived at sunrise in upper Darmasala. We took a taxi to lower Darmasala the location of Gyuto Monastery and the present residence of His Holiness.

Our meeting with His Holiness was an experience that doesn’t happen very often. He is 19th years old yet there is something ageless in his bright and luminous presence. His words and counsel comes through with great clarity and wisdom.

He was shown pictures of Crestone and the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center under construction. As he looked at the pictures he expressed that the retreat center was going to be important for the future. He said that the location was similar to Tibet and that it held similar Blessings. His next statement would play over and over in our mind. “The practitioners that come to practice here will have inner realization.” As often as we have heard statements from the many teachers who have come to Crestone these words somehow rang with the inner meaning itself.The next day we returned for the public teaching. The room was filled with over four hundred Tibetans and a few Western students. Around two hundred of the Tibetans had recently arrived from Tibet. His Holiness Karmapa responded to these people with recognition of their situation and declared his support with such kindness.

Then he began his teaching. With unquestionable confidence and directness he told this audience that the most powerful being and mantra was Chenrezig and Om Mani Pedme Hum. He explained that they could not think that just repeating the mantra and counting the numbers was true practice. That what we had to do was identify our defilements first. When we identify our defilements then we can use the practice as the antidote to transform these defilements into wisdom. He explained that in order for the practice to be effective as an antidote we needed to recognize what our defilements were. He gave this explanation in several ways to emphasize the importance of transforming the defilements and that this came with identifying them in oneself. In order for the practice to be effective as an antidote this self-recognition of the defilements was necessary. His directness was in union with his compassion as well with uncompromising skillfulness.

We left with confidence ourselves and with the knowledge that the head of the Kargyu Lineage is taking his seat.

with Thrangu Rinpoche July 23 ­July 31st

This is to let everyone know that the teachings this year will be on the text, The Mirror of Mindfulness, the bardo teaching by Tsele Rangdrol. The teaching will be $300. Thrangu Rinpoche will be giving the Short Shitro and Vajrapani empowerments. The teachings will be from July 23rd to July 31st and the location will be at the White Eagle (a large motel which will house the participants, provide the space for Rinpoche’s teaching, and provide the food. We hope that most people will stay on site so that driving will be minimal. If you would like to pre-register you can send an email and we will keep a list going. We hope to have registration on Rinpoche’s website as well as the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center website and will notify people when it is up and running. We will send out registration materials in March after we get the cost for the accommodations and food.

All the Best,
Clark and Pat Johnson

We hope that the holidays were good and that the new year brings happiness to all.



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