Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India – This morning offerings and prayers for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama were made at the Tsuglagkhang, the Main Tibetan Temple, in Dharamsala.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama walking to the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India to attend a Long Life Offering Ceremony on November 30, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
His Holiness was met at the gate to his residence by the Ganden Tri Rinpoché and the Sharpa and Jangtsé Chöjés, who escorted him to the temple—each of them wearing his yellow pandit’s hat—while deep horns played and the mantra of Arya Tara was chanted. In the temple they took their seats. In the centre of the front row, facing His Holiness, sat Ganden Tri Rinpoché. To his left were the Jangtsé Chöjé and the Abbots of Sera-mé, Drepung Loseling, and Drepung Gomang. To his right sat the Sharpa Chöjé and the Abbots of Ganden Shartsé, Ganden Jangtsé and Sera-jé. They were joined in and around the temple by a congregation of about 4500.
To begin with there was a recitation of the ‘Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings’, the prayer composed by Trulshik Rinpoché that invokes the series of lives of Avalokiteshvara in India and Tibet, culminating in the line of Dalai Lamas.
“Today, my Dharma brothers and sisters are offering a long-life ceremony on my behalf,” His Holiness announced. “On this occasion arrangements have been made by Drepung Gomang Monastery and the Lhadhen Chotrul Monlam Chenmo Trust. I’ve made a point of bringing with me this photograph of the Chenrezig Wati Sangpo statue that stays in my residence.
“Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara is the patron deity of Tibet and I am someone who receives his blessing. I pray every day to this Wati Sangpo. As a representative of the body, speech and mind of Avalokiteshvara I work to fulfil his wishes. And I will continue to do so for the coming decades. Since you are making these prayers and offerings on my behalf today, and since Wati Sangpo is my refuge and guardian, I’ve brought this photograph of him here with me.
“The principal statue of Lokeshvara is in Lhasa, but as a result of certain circumstances this Wati Sangpo came to stay with me here. When I pray to him, I feel he smiles at me. Although he can’t walk or talk, he gives me his blessing and as Chenrezig’s representative, I am determined to fulfil his wishes.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama gesturing towards a photograph of the Chenrezig Wati Sangpo statue that he keeps in his residence during the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 30, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“Today, Tibetan lay-people and monastics are performing this ceremony based on White Tara. I appreciate the participation of both Drepung Gomang and the Lhadhen Chotrul Monlam Chenmo Trust.
“Tibetan Buddhism has come to be admired across the world and the monks of Drepung Gomang have contributed to this. As I was born in Amdo I feel a connection to this monastery. You have preserved the Buddha’s teachings through study and practice, not only reading and debating them, but also meditating on them within. I would like to request all the monks of Ganden, Sera, Drepung and Tashi Lhunpo, as well as the monks and nuns of the entire Himalayan Region, to keep up their study and practice. I will give you a lead for the next 10-20 years.
“Keep in mind the Buddha’s advice not to accept what he taught just on the basis of faith, but as a consequence of examining and investigating with the rigour that a goldsmith employs when testing the quality of gold. Learn to identity destructive emotions and tackle them. Take a logical approach. These are not just empty words for the extensive and profound teachings of the Buddha can bring us peace of mind.
“The complete teachings of the Buddha are only found amongst us Tibetans. Other countries preserve Buddhist traditions, but none of them employs the logical approach we received from the Nalanda Tradition.
“These days I’m up here in the north of India while many of you are in the south. We are physically far apart, but technology allows us easily to be in touch with each other.
Members of the audience inside the Main Tibetan Temple listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the Long Life Offering ceremony in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 30, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
“I urge you to keep up your study and practice, because there is a growing interest in Buddhism in China and other countries. In addition, scientists are paying closer attention to Buddhist psychology.
“As I said earlier, I’ve brought this picture of Wati Sangpo with me because he’s my boss. I clearly have a karmic connection with Chenrezig as was indicated by the three syllables manifest on the surface of Palden Lhamo’s lake. You refer to me as your leader, but I regard him as mine and receive inspiration from him day and night. His blessings flow through me.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has gathered here, but especially the monks of Drepung Gomang. As the verse in the ‘Clouds of Ambrosial Blessings’ suggests, I have a link to Drepung Gomang.
In the vicinity of the birthplace of the Jamgön Lama (Jé Tsongkhapa)
In Dhomey (Amdo), in a family that maintained
the traditions of the central region,
You were wondrously born at Taktser
In accord with Palden Lhamo’s prediction—to you we pray.”
Prayers to Arya Tara for His Holiness to live long were conducted. At the appropriate point the Ganden Tri Rinpoché approached His Holiness to give him the long-life wand and a printed copy of the tribute and request.
The Nechung Oracle in trance entering the Main Tibetan Temple during the Long Life Offering ceremony in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 30, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Shortly afterwards, the Nechung Oracle, who had been prepared in the Kalachakra Temple next door, came loping into the Tsuglagkhang. He saluted His Holiness, made presentations of the body, speech and mind of enlightenment and offered him a cup of black tea. He spoke to His Holiness, who listened quietly but intently, and offered silk scarves to the photograph of Chenrezig Wati Sangpo as well as the images of Guru Padmasambhava and One Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara. Then he drew Tri Rinpoché, the other Lamas and Abbots together before His Holiness in a gesture of pledging to serve the community.
The moment the trance came to an end the medium was carried out. A substantial ritual cake was presented to His Holiness and the procession of offerings began.
Ganden Tri Rinpoché offered a mandala and prayed that for the flourishing of the Dharma His Holiness may live a hundred aeons. ‘Kindly remain until cyclic existence is empty of sentient beings,” he entreated. The nectar of longevity and long-life pills were offered. Next was a presentation of the Seven Royal Emblems to symbolize His Holiness’s sovereignty over the Dharma. These were followed by an offering of the Eight Auspicious Substances.
Ganden Tri Rinpoché presenting offerings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the Long Life Offering ceremony at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala, HP, India on November 30, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor
Prayers for His Holiness’s long life by his two tutors, by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and others were chanted, followed by a prayer invoking the Dharma Protectors of Tibet, enjoining them to do their duty.
“I’ve done my best,” His Holiness remarked, “with no limits to my effort. When we said the one verse prayer—
In the heavenly realm of Tibet, surrounded by a chain of snow mountains,
The source of all happiness and help for beings
Is Tenzin Gyatso—Chenrezig in person—
May his life be secure for hundreds of aeons!
my eyes filled with tears. I thought about how there’s no need for us to fight. Whatever I’ve achieved I’ve done by talking to other people, which has pleased Wati Sangpo. For a moment I felt sad and tearful, but we Tibetans and people of the Himalayan Region have been firm in our pledge and kept our bond with each other. We have preserved the complete teaching of the Nalanda Tradition.
“With regard to the Dharma Protectors, they also follow my lead. The Nechung Oracle came here in trance. All of us, Dharma Protectors and human beings, have the same goal. Be happy and at ease.”
The proceedings were brought to a conclusion with a recitation of a ‘Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dharma’ composed by His Holiness. As he left the temple the congregation chanted the ‘Mig-tse-ma’ prayer to Jé Tsongkhapa.