Consecration of Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche's relics

Tyn y Gors, North Wales & online

The consecration rituals for the ashes of Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche and their enshrining in stupas will take place 11th-13th September 2024.

More information and registration options will be available nearer the time.

Lama Shenpen extends this invitation to all students of her husband and teacher Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche:

I am inviting all student of Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche to participate in the consecration rituals for his ashes and their enshrining in stupas, to take place 11th-13th September 2024 at 'Shikling', as Khenpo Rinpoche named Tyn y Gors.

The rituals will be conducted by Choje Lama Puntsok who consecrated the Stupa at the Hermitage of the Awakened Heart in 2011. In consultation with Longchen’s Mandala Mother, Rigdzin Shikpo's other sangyum (consort), I have asked a number of eminent Lamas about the proper way to consecrate the ashes of a Dzogchen master such as Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche. All my informants suggested the best person to ask was Lama Phuntsok since he is very experienced in performing the time-honoured rituals of our lineage. We are most fortunate in that he has very kindly agreed to make a special trip from Nepal in September to perform the rituals for us.

Rinpoche's ashes will be prepared and then placed inside two stupas. One copper 3ft tall copper stupa will abide at Shikling (Tyn y Gors), and a smaller portable stupa will be taken to Rigdzin Shikpo's residence at Beechey Avenue in Oxford.

The ceremonies will happen from 11th  - 13th September and will include prayers and celebrations by Rigdzin Shikpo’s students in the Longchen Foundation and the Awakened Heart Sangha.

The power of a Dharma occasion like this is augmented by the faith and participation of many people. Your contribution in spirit and in kind serves to further empower the mandala of Awakening centred on the relics and the stupas containing them. They become the vehicles of Rinpoche's ongoing presence.

For greatest effect an extensive team of helpers is needed for 2 weeks from the 2nd-16th September. There will be all kinds of tasks - hosting Lamas, driving, cooking, building, cleaning, rituals, welcoming guests, you name it. If you're able to come and help, especially for a week or more, please email Jonathan at [email protected]moc.liamg@wahsfjnahtanoj

A sum somewhere in the region of £25,000 will be needed to cover all the various expenses including a generous donation to Lama Phuntsok in gratitude for his coming all this way to perform these rituals for us. A further email with details of how you can contribute will come soon.

At the funeral last year we raised about £4,500 for small stupas for people to put on their shrines. Subsequently I discovered this is advised against since it could create obstacles to Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche’s further activity. It is best to keep the ashes in one or two special places where they can be a powerful focus for the devotion of his students and followers. I apologise for this confusion and I hope that everyone who donated is happy for the fund’s raised to be used to consecrate the two stupas now planned. 

Lama Shenpen offers the following explanation of the importance of Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche's relics:

Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche was regarded as a realised Dzogchen master by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche even before he did a three year retreat in the back bedroom of his Oxford semi in 1989. The Vidyadara Trungpa Rinpoche and HH Khyentse Rinpoche had already asked him to establish a Dzogchen practice group called Longchen Foundation. Ringu Tulku Rinpoche often refers to him as a Dzogchen Master and as a good friend of his with whom he loved to converse about Dharma and mathematics.

When Rigdzin Shikpo explained the meditation experiences he was having to the Vidyadara Trungpa Rinpoche at the end of his visit to Seminary in Canada (1981), Rinpoche said that they showed that he was 200% connected to himself.

Khenpo Rinpoche said that he had given Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche the whole of his Dharma teaching, omitting nothing. In other words it was one full vessel pouring its contents into another. Various other Lamas including Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche admired the strength of Rigdzin Shikpo’s samaya with Trungpa Rinpoche and his student’s faith in him. This is traditionally regarded as a sign of the greatness of a teacher.

We have been so fortunate to have been able to meet and learn from such a master and to be in possession of his legacy in terms of writings and recorded materials and his relics. His students now have the opportunity to continue to teach from what they have received through his adishtana and their own devotion, connection, study and practice. May all his students work together harmoniously to preserve and pass on these teachings and the connection to the adishtana of his lineage for generations to come.

Any mandala manifests on the basis of mysterious connections that cannot be accessed through analysis and conceptual thought. Yet the connections form our world and it’s our misperception and failure to relate to these connections that lead to the endless experience of samsara. Awakening is to recognise the significance of all our connections. In Tibetan this is called tendrel and is often translated as auspicious connections. Stupas, rituals, relics, pilgrimage and our faith and connections with the Guru and each other create auspicious connections that hasten our Enlightenment and that of all beings.

The world of manifestation is not separate from mind. That’s not to say everything is mind as opposed to material. It’s saying what is material and what is mind are not different – they are reality and cannot be separated.

To think of relics as merely ashes, as just material isn’t true. When Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche was alive they were him and they still are him. What could that possibly mean?

Every point in space interpenetrates every other – none is separate. If everything were indeed impermanent then nothing would carry over to the present. What we imagine we are seeing is what’s impermanent and unreal – gone like a dream. They are a mistaken perception that we have laid over the real, ungraspable, mysterious connections that are Reality. In other words Totality is without separation - it’s not in time. Take a rock which has millions, if not billions of years of history. If all that had gone there would be no record and in fact no stone at all. The stone is like a visible manifestation of billions of connections that have never gone anywhere.

The relics of a person are the same, they are their whole mandala through countless lives in the past and those to come. If we respect these relics as the centre of their mandala then we are engaging and empowering that mandala and it is empowering us.

We empower the relics through time honoured ritual actions and place them in a stupa (or stupas). This creates a mandala structure that we can empower by focusing on it with faith and ritual activities. The more people that focus on it with faith the more its adishtana is activated, its reality is accessed and can enter us and our own reality. Ritual is magic. Even just to prostrate to a stupa or shrine has magical power; it’s not just that it has a psychological effect. It is far more than that.

The universe is not separate from mind or beings – it’s nothing more or less than beings and their worlds. When people look out into the vastness of the universe and say it makes them feel small, it’s because they are trying to look at it as separate from themselves. It's neither all “out there” nor all “in here” – it's without inside and outside. It’s really hard to sustain such a view. Momentarily we can intuit it, but it takes a great deal of training (purification, faith, prayer etc.) to realise it ( to really make it real for ourselves), rather than simply leaving it as a mere flash experience.

So enshrining Rigdzin Shikpo’s relics in a stupa is in fact a cosmic act – a ritual act , in other words it is magic. It creates a mandala that we can enter and empower. We can open to its power and influence, which is to open to the whole interpenetrating universe of all Buddhas and their realms. Rigdzin Shikpo understood this when he said he wanted his relics in a stupa. His presence will be there. His wishes, his adishtana and pranidanas for the Awakening of all beings will be there.

Here is a recording of a teaching Rigdzin Shikpo gave on the significance of stupas at the occasion of the consecration of the stupa at the Hermitage: