Chenrezig Empowerment bestowed by Akong Tulku Rinpoche

commentary by Ken Holmes, unedited transcription

 

Kagyu Samye Dzong Chichester, April 2007

 

YouTube videos part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6 - part 7

 

Introduction

 

part 1

 

Very good evening to you all here. We have a lot to do in a short time. Tonight’s empowerment and talk is about compassion, which is at the very heart of Tibetan Buddhism. In the actual practice and development of compassion we try to make it something which is present, not just when we meditate but in everything we do in our lives. And especially in dharma talks, which is why we start by turning our loving care to all beings, and we think that we are all here through this hour this evening, for all of them in a very practical way. We think that by learning, by listening, by reflecting, by learning to be more open, caring people, then in the future actually we will have actually more to give to others and in particular we will have more clarity of mind, more strength of conviction and dignity of our purpose in life and loving care.

 

So I’d like you to try and stretch your minds out to think of all of the humans with whom we share this world, the animals; any type of conscious life you can imagine, and to try and dedicate our time together to all of their welfare. And while you are doing that I shall groan away in Tibetan and you won’t probably understand a word, but you can be thinking of those things.

 

San-gye chö dang cho-chyi cho-nam la

chang-chub bar-du da ni chab-su-chi.

Da-gi dzin-sok dzi-pe sö-nam chi

dro-la pen-chir san-gye dru-par sho.

I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Supreme Assembly from now until I attain enlightenment. By virtue of the goodness of my practice of generosity (and the other paramitas) may Buddhahood be achieved for the benefit of all beings.

 

Dag-lo chö-su dro-var, chin-chji lab-tu sol
chö lam-tu dro-var, chin-chi lab-tu sol

lam-chi trul-va shi-var, chin-chi lab-tu sol

trul-nang ye-she-su shar-var, chin-chi lab-tu sol.

 

Grant your blessing that my mind turns towards Dharma.

Grant your blessing that Dharma becomes the path.

Grant your blessing that delusion subsides by the path.

Grant your blessing that delusion appears as wisdom.

 

Pal-den tsa-ve la-ma rin-po-tshe

da-gi tsi-vor pe-de den-shu la

ka-drin chen-po go-ne tse-zung te

ku sung tu tsi ngö-drup tsal-du sol.

Most precious and resplendent root guru, seated on a lotus and moon throne above my head. I pray that you care for me with your great kindness and grant me all the physical, verbal and mental accomplishments (siddhi9 of enlightenment.

 

 

Overview – Compassion

 

Tonight’s talk is in three parts, three very short parts. The first is about compassion, the first is about the nature of what’s going to happen, later on Rinpoche comes and gives the empowerment and thirdly and mainly I take you through the empowerment we will receive this evening, so that you’ll understand some of the different things that are happening and in particular you’ll know what to do when the time comes, which is very important.

 

But first about compassion. Now, it’s quite embarrassing to talk to people about compassion, because I’m sure many of you are much more compassionate than I am. So who am I to tell you about compassion? We live in general in quite a few compassionate society and there has been some amazing changes in our world in the last twenty years, when we have developed an awareness, much more awareness than the rest of the planet, the people within our society. And I think in general we are moving in a more caring direction.

 

It’s not as I’m telling you about something you don’t know about. For instance when you come to Buddhism and you come to meditation, very often that is something totally new, it’s a total discovery. But compassion is something we all have, no-one is without compassion, but who here can say they have enough compassion? So we need more, don’t we, a lot more? There is no limit in how much compassion we need and in particular if one wants to liberate one’s mind, one’s life and if one wants that  beauty, clarity and nobility of being that the Buddha attained then compassion is really everything.

 

But the Buddha himself said: if I could take all of my teachings – and my gosh, there are so many of them – in 45 years a hundred books of teachings, if one could take all of those, put them into one thing, so that one could look at it on the palm of your hand saying: “That’s what’s it all about”, then it would be compassion, all about Buddhist training is opening up, strengthening development of compassion.

 

If we had time I’d like to go around the room and ask what compassion means for you. Sometimes we do this in teachings, a very quick first thought, what’s compassion. We won’t do that, but if we did it I think you would find for most people compassion is a feeling. When you feel compassion, it’s a nice feeling, it’s a feeling of sympathy and care, and it’s mainly something you feel when you become aware of suffering. In Buddhism we define compassion in terms of suffering. It’s the mind’s response to suffering and we define it as a longing to be able to alleviated from suffering. And not only that, to be able to alleviate the causes of suffering, of future suffering.

 

And what I would like to present to you tonight is which you might not have thought about compassion and what is very, very strongly developed in the Buddhist teachings about compassion. When we look at suffering we split it into three areas and this means our compassion is three levels of response to those three areas.

 

Now the first one is very obvious. It’s when somebody is hurting, crying, physically they are in trouble or mentally they are distressed. Then this triggers in most good human beings a sort of response whenre you want to help. That’s really the first level of compassionate response, it’s triggered by the vision of suffering. I think that’s what most people’s idea of compassion is. Even the word com-passiote, to feel with the other. But there is a second level of suffering, where actually what you see doesn’t look bad at all. It has more of the smiley thing than L. It’s when it doesn’t look to us as if there is something wrong but the whole situation because of the very nature of existence is brewing up trouble for the future. That’s on aspect of it.

 

In general, if we look more carefully, then it’s the compassionate response that’s there, because we understand cause and effect. Now this is a very Buddhist notion. It’s based on reincarnation, the very way life works, it’s the what we are now because of what we did in the past and what we are doing now is going to create what we do in the future. Now from this point of view a simple example, if one reads about a terrible dictator who is depressing people in a country and we see buildings being bulldozed, people being tortured, we feel compassion for the victims. But a Buddhist would feel equal compassion for the dictator. Now that dictator might be having a world of time, be gathering the riches, what he or she does, whatever works… [end of tape 1]

 

part 2

 

[gap]… in other words, but for Buddhists, because we think about causality, then we think: my gosh, those people are suffering, how that person is going to suffer as a result of what he or she is doing! And I think this would have applied to a Christian as well, if you believe in afterlife, then you think – not only would you feel for the victims but you think: “My gosh, where is that aggressor taking himself with his actions?”

 

There is another side to this, too. It has to do with impermanence, when we cling to things. When we cling to things, at first something gives us a nice experience. We fall in love or we like a bit of a drink or something like that. Something gives a nice feeling. But once we start clinging to it, then things go wrong, So, relationships break down, people drink too much, all sorts of things happen. And for a wise person, who is seeing the beginning of it, the fun, the niceness, but who knows how the human mind works, how we get involved with things, how we have such hopes and fears, then already there is compassion, even though there is a smile on their face.

 

I don’t have too much time, but I’d like to give you a silly example, but I think it really puts a finger on it. It comes from my childhood, in the time after the war when the chocolates were rare, and my older brother coming home from his military service in Germany with bag full of beautiful box of chocolates. And I ate one, when nobody was looking, and two, and three. Sick as a rat as they say. Sick as a rat. Now a wise person, if they see a CCTV camera in there watching the child with the craving at Christmas, everything. But you know, because it’s inevitable, ten minutes later it’s going to end up in the loo, yak, like this. Now, it’s a silly example, but there are so many things in life where in trying to make ourselves happy we inspect getting ourselves in a lot of long term trouble. A wise mind sees that, feels compassion. Anyway, this second sort of compassion is a response, it’s called a compassion that comes through wisdom or the compassion that comes through dharma. We have more idea of what is going on.

 

The third sort of compassion is very, very deep. Most people can’t get it. It comes when we have profound and sacred experience, and we realize that actually every single human being has the possibility of that experience. When we touch the deep joy of meditation, the profound peace we can attain, when our mind opens up to the amazing blessing that’s possible. One realizes that the human life is most wonderful potential and then looks around and sees people hurting, crying in pain, in confusion, because they are not awakened to this treasure, then that is the deepest compassion. Then that just happens, and however deep your own experience is, then that deep is the compassion you have for everyone, who could have it but who have not yet uncovered it.

 

Now one of the other things I’d like to say about compassion is that compassion shouldn’t just be a feeling. In our western world we are very spoiled and just sitting comfortably at home and feeling compassion for the world isn’t compassion. If you don’t act on your compassion, it’s just a luxurious thought. It’s just sweet really, it’s not genuine, if you don’t act. So compassion in action is very important. In this town, anywhere you go there are people who are lonely, who are hungry, who need friendship, who need support, and so just sitting in one’s own comfort and letting them be in their discomfort in not very human, actually. So compassion is something that we need to really think about in depth. It’s not a feeling, it’s a reality of one’s life, where one is in fact more aware of what’s happening in our brothers and sisters who are the other human beings with whom we share this life. And we can’t just leave them to suffer. And the way we develop that in Buddhism is to try and feel for each and every being as though they were as dear to us as the very, very dearest person in our very own lives.

 

Now in the Tibetan system that was always mom, there was this think of every sentient being as your mother. In the west not everyone has easy experiences with their parents, so we have to say: we try to feel as dearly for each person as we do for the dearest person in our life. And then you just can’t leave it to happen. You can’t know that there is someone around the corner who needs help and just think: “Good, I feel sorry for them.” Sitting in your house and feel compassion isn’t compassion. So compassion in action is very important.

 

Now this moves us onto what’s happening this evening. We’re receiving an empowerment, and empowerment is what needs to happen so that we can do some of the more effective profound practices within Buddhism, within Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism and in those practices we actually become the living embodiment of compassion. We do this with using our imagination. We visualize, we visualize ourselves as perfect compassion.

 

To someone who is coming quite new to Tibetan Buddhism it’s full of all sorts of weird images, all sorts of things you didn’t grow up with, and they look, well, sometimes pretty over the top, don’t they, if you’ve seen some of them? Tonight we are receiving for instance the empowerment – it’s actually two empowerments in one. It’s what empowers you or entitles you to do the practice of Avalokiteshvara, Chenrezig, which is the main compassion practice, in two ways. One is the form which has four arms and one is the form which has thousand arms. So already that’s strange, isn’t it? Imagine that you have four arms.

 

Now why would you sit on a cushion and imagine that you got four or even a thousand arms – not to mention all of those heads? Why would you do that? If we talk about it in a simple way, then it is not really true, we would say it’s symbolic, but these practices they come from the great sacred purity that is timeless, they just come into the minds of very, very awakened beings as the very perfect and natural expression of compassion. And then because they have that vision, they turn that into a practice that we can do. And it’s very effective. I mean the main thing is it works. Actually the bottom-line is that. It works. It’s like my telephone number. I won’t give it to you, but if you had it, you just go beeb, beeb, beeb… and I’m on the other end.

 

Now why that should happen? That’s just a number. Had you dialed any other number you won’t get me. You dial that number, you are through to me. When we set our mind in the way that these visionaries have seen and we use our imagination and our own prayers and many other things in the right way, it attunes us to a compassion that we never experienced before. It opens a door to a compassion that can just grow and grow and grow.

 

When we look into that compassion we see it’s not just a woolly feeling of “I love everybody.” It’s a skill. We find that if we really want to live as a compassionate being, you need many skills. We have to be very generous and open, to give up yourself is one thing. You need patience, because helping people is not easy.  We need a great deal of patience to cope with all the frustration that comes with it.

 

part 3

 

One needs wisdom, because stupid help is no help. The wiser one is, the better one can help. In Buddhism one needs meditation, because that gives one depth that really gives one power to feel deeply what’s wrong with the other person, gives one lucidity and stability whereby instead of it being just human interaction you can listen in quietness and you can really feel what’s needed.

 

Many, many skills like this, and somehow they are all represented in what we visualize. That’s the beauty of it. So when we have four arms – our hands, it’s useful. We create, we touch, we feel the precious. So when we have four arms the way we reach out and touch and help beings is through four things: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity or impartiality. It’s impartiality that loves everyone the same. They are like our four main tools.

 

So that’s why we visualize ourselves with four arms, and everything what we visualize in that way shows us the ethics, the right ethics of our conduct, the patience, the meditation and so on. All of these skills together and in particular when we meditate on Chenrezig, which is tonight’s one, you have a beautiful, kind, smiling face.

 

Now, not just training in that is a marvelous thing in itself, we don’t go through life miserable, cynical, critical, we don’t look other people like “byah”, like this, we look on everyone and we train in this face when we meditate, we become the Buddha. Your face has all the relaxation, the kindness, the peace, looking with eyes, looking with eyes filled with loving care and wisdom that understands. Just training in that part is marvelous thing, and as we do the whole visualization, everything has meaning, everything is part of this very, very perfect jigsaw puzzle of this thing we call compassion with all of its living skills.

 

Now you are very fortunate this evening. The person who is giving this empowerment is himself really the embodiment of compassion. I think if you know anything about Akong Rinpoche’s humanitarian work; through him tens of thousands of children  have an education, thousands and thousands of people have been saved from poverty, from sickness, so he is not a lama just sitting down saying I feel compassionate and it’s nice. He is somebody whose life is a living wonderful example of actually giving yourself and becoming a servant of the world. So I think we are very fortunate.

 

Now empowerment is something we need in order to do the practice. But that having been said the way that Akong Rinpoche gives the empowerments, they are open to everyone, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. That’s what we call a blessing. It means if you feel by contacting, by meeting up with him, with this Tibetan lineage which he really represents, if you feel there’s some spiritual goodness, then that’s all there is. You come here tonight, there is a ceremony, a meeting and let’s hope that some goodness comes through it.

 

Apart from that an empowerment is actually what entitles you to practice and it needs somebody who holds – you know, when there was this first original vision of Chenrezig as the embodiment of compassion, that was passed on from the person who had it to their main disciples, and they passed it on to their main disciples. We have a pure lineage through time with the whole meaning. And in the depth of this practice as they maintain through the centuries until Akong Rinpoche and the other masters today who hold it.

 

Now, amongst other things they hold a key. We all have compassion and a potential for compassion within ourselves. But somehow when you receive an empowerment, it opens up the key. So when you do the practice, it actually bears fruit and if you did the same technique and practice without the empowerment, somehow it doesn’t work so well. This is why we need to receive an empowerment from a pure lineage, from a good lineage master.

 

Tonight the empowerment ceremony is based on a thousand-armed, eleven-headed form of Chenrezig, which is special to a practice we call nyungne, which is a two-day practice with fasting, particularly useful for laypeople with busy lives, who can’t just go off and devote their life to spirituality, but can go for two days and have a total spiritual immersion in this practice which is based on generosity, compassion. Very excellent practice that we do in some of our centres.

 

Now the empowerment is for that, but at the same time it’s also the empowerment you need if you are going to do the very widespread practice called Droden Khachabma – the Four-Arm Chenrezig, which we do almost  in all our Tibetan Buddhist centres in the UK and in other countries. So it’s very much for people like by one get one through! It’s two for the price of one. It’s two things together. That’s very, very wonderful.  So it’s an empowerment in that sense, and the way the empowerment works is through your openness and receptivity on your side and through the fact that the Lama who gives it really is what we call a lineage-holder, in themselves and they have the realization and they have received this transmission from their teacher, who got it from his teacher as a pure and unbroken line from the Buddha. So from this side of the stage things are fine and quite what it gives to you, besides the fact that it empowers you to do the practice and turns the keys, the key in the lock…

 

part 4

 

…whether it actually brings you in the moment of big blessing, depends a lot on your openness. And in particular the way we receive the empowerment is by visualizing what we are receiving the empowerment for. So I take you through the ceremony so you know what’s going on.

 

Quite briefly. This is not a very complicated empowerment. All the empowerments start with an opening section, what we call the creation of a sacred and protected space. And so we feel that this school hall – it is a school hall, isn’t it – this school hall becomes a very pure and protected place. Now whomever you are sitting next to, whatever you feel about them through the whole course of the empowerment, we try to feel love and sympathy and respect for all of us gathered here, and we feel that we can relax with each other.

 

What the Lama does at the beginning of the ceremony is: with the strength of his mind creates, it’s like a protective sphere. Now the reason we make this protective sphere is because you know, some of us, if you are like me, if you’ve lived a bit, we have damaged our hearts. We have opened up and it has not always been successful. We are a bit weary of opening up and being receptive, ‘cause you never know what’s coming in. So the idea is that you feel during the empowerment there’s no disturbing negative energy coming in from the outside that can trouble you. And here you can relax with the other people you are with and with the Lama and become receptive to the transmission of this empowerment.

 

part 5

 

So the Lama’s first duty is to create this feeling of sacred space and protected space. Then, if you know it, together with the Lama you do the Vajrasattva-mantra, which is a mantra of purification, so we feel ourselves that we are going through sort of washing ourselves, so that we move into a clean, new space. Then the attendant Tsering Tashi will offer piles of rice, which symbolize offering the universe to the guru for the empowerment.

 

Now the real meaning of this is the following: the world is full of objects, most of them junk. Useful junk, but you know, it comes, it goes, it’s impermanent. It’s just things. There are some wonderful things in this universe, but they are all just things. So we imagine we have really the most marvelous things in the whole cosmos, and the feeling we should have is: even if I had all of that I would give it very, very willingly to receive this practice, because this practice will make me more loving, compassionate, wise person, and that is worth more than anything. In our modern world we are beleaguered with things, things have become so important. We are the slaves of objects. They are clever objects, but we spend so much time looking at them, looking after them, protecting them, insuring them; things have become too important.

 

So we feel that even the most wonderful things are not worth as much as real compassion. So we feel that we are offering the mandala of the universe in order to [get] this gift of teachings about how to develop our loving kind hearts.

 

Then after that Rinpoche will talk a bit in Tibetan, he chants, and what he is telling us is actually the history of this practice, how it started, how it has travelled through time, through a lineage of Lamas until the present day, and what he will be saying is that there are many, many practices about compassion in Buddhism. So many of them wet to Tibet in the 8th century onwards. On all the various levels of tantra or vajrayana we find specialized practices for compassion. But this particular one is very potent. He is talking here about the one we use for the nyungne-practice. It comes from a lady practitioner, who was a nun.

 

The story is fantastic. We don’t have the time for it today, but she was a princess who became a nun. She was a princess who developed leprosy, she became a nun, a recluse, and she had most marvelous and profound spiritual experiences, and then developed those experiences until she was enlightened. And she gave us this practice and it has been passed down through time.

 

Her name in Tibetan is Gelongma Palmo or in Sanskrit Bikshuni Lakshmi, and it’s this tradition of her practice that Rinpoche is empowering us for this evening. At one point he will ask us to repeat some Tibetan which is a request for the empowerment. We repeat things in Tibetan in general because that’s the way it has been done for centuries. He feels confident that the transmission through time in Tibetan language has been pure. If we do it in English, who knows? Maybe okay, maybe not. So we are playing safe, we are doing it in Tibetan, because it’s fine to do it. So he’ll ask you to repeat in Tibetan the request.

 

And then, because this practice belongs to what we call Vajrayana, visualizations, mantras and so on, then all of Vajrayana Buddhism has to be founded in the good, loving, kind heart called the Bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism. So we need to remind of our Mahayana Buddhism of our promise that we are making in that Buddhism, to dedicate our lives to the welfare of all other beings. And that in itself is good heart of the bodhisattva, has to be based in the ethics, in the understanding of cause and effect and so on of the Buddhism, that we find all over the world. So for that we need in particular to remind ourselves of our refuge. So what we do to remind, we do the prayers of Refuge and Bodhicitta and also Prayer for the Seven Branch prayer, as we are preparing our mind for empowerment.

 

So we take refuge, which means we place our confidence in enlightened beings, in their teaching, we give rise to the noble heart of the bodhisattva, turning our loving care towards all beings, the we do the Seven Branch Prayer, which brings great positivity of mind.

 

And then we make another request. This time we are asking for this particular empowerment. The first request is more like asking the teacher: “Please give me an empowerment, give me an initiation.” The second request is: “Please give me this initiation for the Bikshuni Lakshmi practice of nyungne.” And then we remove to the empowerment itself.

 

part 6

 

Empowerment

 

It’s in three parts. The first part takes place in what we call the bumpa. It looks like Aladdin’s lamp, if you are not used to it. It’s a pot with very long spout and today probably has flowers on top, it varies. But anyway, it takes place within the bumpa. In the actual empowerment we try our best to visualize the three things transformed. This is what really enables the transmission to come to us. We try to imagine that we are ourselves transformed. The Lama who gives the empowerment transforms and the objects of the empowerment transform all into sacred objects and they transform into Chenrezig.

 

So first we visualize that we are ourselves and the Lama become Chenrezig. Now the description of Chenrezig is very complicated, there is not even time to read through it, and if I read through it, you wouldn’t remember a thing probably, but try imagine yourself if you know Chenrezig, as Chenrezig. If you don’t know Chenrezig, you can imagine that you become a perfectly enlightened being whose presence is the very presence of compassion, perfect compassion, enlightened compassion.  And in particular if you know how to visualize Chenrezig, we imagine that in three places we have three lights: white one for the forehead, red one in the throat, blue one in the heart, and these are the very essence of our body, speech and mind.

 

And from those places white light and red light and blue light radiates out through the cosmos requesting all the enlightened beings to send their power and their blessing, so that this place, our own body, everything is filled with their own real compassion, and that returns in the form of many, many forms of Chenrezig, some large, some small. And they fall like snow dissolving into a lake. So it’s like all of the buddhas send their compassion in a form of buddhas and these dissolve into us and into the vajramaster, which is Akong Rinpoche, and into the object of empowerment filling them with the body, speech and mind blessing of enlightened beings.

 

Then once we’ve done that, then Rinpoche first gives us the bumpa, the vase empowerment, and you do this by holding up the bumpa and reciting in Tibetan. Now if you can, you imagine that that pot is a perfect microcosm, in which is Chenrezig, Buddha of compassion, and as Rinpoche holds it up that the nectar of compassion comes from that Buddha and that the vase pours water onto the top up your head.

 

The water which is in the vase fills up your body with purity and compassion and then it overflows from the top of your head. On your head is the crown of the Five Buddha Families and the compassion overflows to all beings. So if you can, you imagine that while Rinpoche is actually holding up the vase. And it’s that part of the empowerment that empowers you afterwards to do the visualization of Chenrezig.

 

We think of it as something which purifies our past errors we made with our body, all the damage we have done with our bodies to ourselves or to others. We think an empowerment is like a new start. A great purification that gives us a new fresh start. So that’s for the body.

 

The next part of the empowerment, the second part, is the speech empowerment. This is mainly the transmission of the mantra, and Rinpoche does this by turning a crystal rosary, turning the beads in outward direction. And he will give you the transmission of two mantras, the one for the nyungne-practice and the one for the regular practice. Now if you can, you can imagine that the very power and the presence of the mantra is actually in Rinpoche’s heart, and the power of the mantra in the form of syllables of the mantra comes up and out through his mouth and into your mouth and down to your heart, and that’s how you receive the speech transmission of the mantra. So it’s like a whole garland of letters, the very feeling of which is something very sacred and compassionate and that comes from his heart to your heart through the mouth.

 

part 7

 

In a similar way we think there is a fresh start with our speech, it purifies our past errors of speech, and it empowers us to use the mantra of Chenrezig.

 

The third part is the mind empowerment. This is actually given – Rinpoche holds up with a card with a little flower painted on it. One thing that Chenrezig holds is a flower, a lotus flower. And actually we imagine when he holds that up, that it’s a whole flow of various attributes that the thousand-armed form of Chenrezig holds. There is a flow of all these different things that he holds to ourselves, and it’s like all the various skills of compassion, all the things that you need, the patience, the power, the friendship for people. All of the many skills of compassion are transmitted to us. It’s like a rain of lotus flowers and all the things that Chenrezig holds.

 

Now this is actually the mind transmission, this symbolizes the compassionate heart, the compassionate mind of Chenrezig, which is transmitted to us from the vajramaster. And that enables us to meditate on the deepest nature of compassion, which is sunyata or voidness. We think that it purifies all of our past mistakes of mind and gives a fresh start with our mind to move forward from this evening onwards, with a compassionate relationship to everyone, and in particular one that will never harm anybody again.

 

Really. Moments like empowerments, they are terrific times when you can make yourself a promise; the very essence of the Buddhist teaching is non-harm. In one way or another we all harm, hurt other beings, even if it’s just spraying roses, killing mosquitoes. People who live with each other – often the people you love the most are the ones you hurt the most with your speech, we say things that are not kind. Empowerments are wonderful times to think: “I don’t want to be like that anymore. I want to act with nobility, dignity and finesse, and be truly compassionate, kind human being.” So, if you can, that would be marvelous.

 

Now, really, I think I’ve used up most of my time, but there is little bit time for questions, if you have any. Oh, let me tell you about the empowerment itself. Sorry, it’s very important. When you come up, Rinpoche gives three stages of empowerment by holding up the objects, and if you can, you imagine, you visualize the transmission coming from those objects. Then at the end we all come up in a line one by one to actually receive the physical contact with those objects of transmission.

 

Now usually when we do this, we come up with offerings, and very often it’s a white scarf, one of these Tibetan white scarves, which is a symbol of the purity of one’s own mind and being. So if you come up and you have a scarf, then someone will very nicely relieve you from that scarf. In some ceremonies you get the scarf back, in empowerment you don’t. You actually offer it and you give it.

 

So when you come up, you can offer your scarf, and then Rinpoche will touch the bumpa – this pot – onto your head, so you lean your head forward little bit. He will touch the bumpa on the head. And then you pour little bit of the content, which is sort of saffron water type thing, which if you remember from the empowerment is the body-blessing of all buddhas. It’s the one that fills you up with nectar of compassion and wisdom and overflows from the top of your head. So, if you can remember that, that’s good. But usually we put our hands like this to receive the liquid, sometimes you get a few drops, sometimes rather a lot, so usually you need to slurp, get it quickly, otherwise it starts dripping on the floor.

 

So we come up, you bend your head for the blessing of the bumpa, and then offer your hands like this, you get a few drops of the content of the bumpa, which you drink. That’s the main thing, you drink it. It has become a habit in the empowerment that people wipe off the rest on top of their head as a blessing, but it’s not part of the ceremony. Just people do that.

 

Now probably with the bumpa will be the rosary, the mala, that Rinpoche uses to transmit the speech blessing, and also the little card, which’s the mind blessing. So that’s mainly how we receive contact with the objects. You come up, bend your head, offer your hands, and then I think afterwards once you move on, you’ll be given what we call a blessing cord. These are cords which come from the very head of our tradition, His Holiness the Karmapa, and he consecrated them and blessed them, and that’s what Rinpoche will be giving to you I think after the empowerment.

 

Any questions? Okay, good. Thank you very, very much. I hope you enjoy this evening ceremony and it means something for you, but more than anything else I really hope that it develops your compassion, because compassionate life will give you more joy than anything in this universe. Actually when we give ourselves to others we don’t give ourselves at all, we gain, and those who live in compassion are really happy human beings. And I hope this evening helps you along that journey to compassion whichever way you are following. Thank you so much.

 

Om mani peme hung hri, om mani peme hung hri…

 

Video by Planetfrog productions 2007

 

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