Long-Life Offering Ceremony and Avalokiteshvara Permission July 12, 2017
Disket, Nubra Valley, J&K, India – Thiksey Rinpoche met His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he arrived at the Disket Monastery teaching ground this morning and escorted him to his throne. Before taking his seat, His Holiness spent a couple of minutes listening to the nuns who were debating. He announced that he would be giving the permission to practise ‘Avalokiteshvara Who Liberates Beings from All Unfortunate Rebirths’ and that he would conduct the necessary preparations, while the Nubra community made a Long-Life Offering to him.
After recitations of a Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni, the Heart Sutra and the Praise to the Seventeen Nalanda Masters the Chant-master began the Long-Life Offering according to rites from the sutra tradition upheld at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. It was based on prayers to the Sixteen Arhats, the Elders who promised to protect the doctrine of Buddha Shakyamuni.
When the Long-Life Offering was complete, His Holiness explained that the Avalokiteshvara permission he was about to give derived from the visions of Tagphu Dorje Chang. He remarked that Mitrayogi, who accomplished his practice in dependence on a similar Khasarpani Avalokiteshvara, had received empowerments and blessings from Avalokiteshvara himself, and Tagphu Dorje Chang had visions of the great yogi as well.
“I received the collection of Tagphu’s visionary teachings from Tagdag Rinpoche when I was young,” reported His Holiness. “And I did the required retreat during which I collected 600,000 six-syllable mantras. It’s said that each time you receive this permission it eliminates one rebirth in the lower realms.
“It may be appropriate if I tell you about a dream I had concerning Avalokiteshvara. Many years ago I was already living in Dharamsala and it was shortly before the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution. I dreamt I was in the Lhasa Jokhang, standing before an eleven-headed, thousand armed statue of Avalokiteshvara. He beckoned to me with his eyes and I stepped forward and embraced him. He told me not to be discouraged but to keep on working as well as I could. Shortly afterwards the Cultural Revolution broke out and this statue was one of those destroyed. Fragments of it, including some of the heads, made their way to me in Dharamsala and are now kept safely in the temple there.
“The people of Tibet and Ladakh have a special link with Avalokiteshvara and I decided to give this permission as the necessary preliminary to Mitrayogi’s ‘Three Essential Points’ that I plan to teach tomorrow. These points relate to how to practise in this life, close to the time of death and in the intermediate state. Elderly people often seek my blessings, but since there’s not much I can do for them, I thought that through these practices they might help themselves. As the Buddha said—‘You are your own master’. You need to be diligent and fulfil the goal.”
Before beginning to give the permission, His Holiness led those in the crowd who were interested in taking the precepts of lay-practitioners, the upasaka and upasaki vows, thereby securing the four-fold Sangha of monks, nuns and lay-practitioners. He followed this with a ceremony to generate the aspirational awakening mind of bodhichitta.
Once the permission was over, His Holiness resumed reading from the ‘Stages of Meditation’, during which he touched on the nature of suffering, conventional and ultimate bodhichitta, calm abiding and special insight, and concluded with the verse of dedication at the end.
He introduced the ‘Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas’ as a text composed in the 14th century by the Tibetan scholar, Thogme Sangpo, renowned as a bodhisattva and a contemporary of Butön Rinchen Drub. It is said that due to the power of his bodhichitta wild animals, including a wolf, lived peaceably around his hermitage at Ngulchu. His Holiness read the first verses that describe the practices of a person of initial capacity saying that he would read the remainder tomorrow.
A light rain fell as His Holiness left the teaching ground for Camp Champa where Thiksey Rinpoche invited him for lunch in the vicinity of Disket town. Residents gathered outside their houses to welcome him as he arrived and to see him off as he returned to the Disket Monastery Phodrang.