Lama's Full Moon letter July 2023

Tyn y Gors, Longchen, and next year

Thu 06 Jul 2023

Tyn y Gors and Longchen

Since Rigdzin Shikpo Rinpoche’s funeral last month I've had a lot on my mind in terms of the probate for his estate, and talking to Jonathan, who is acting as my attorney about that. I've gone to Ty'n y Gors several times now, taking the opportunity to do prayers there because it feels like a very sacred place in many ways. I’ve also been setting up a team of people to look after it, including Sudhana, who has agreed to go and live there as a permanent caretaker. It’s good to have a resident there for the purpose of insurance and so on. The Longchen Foundation students are also continuing to use it for retreat, and strangely, with my permission now rather than Rigdzin Shikpo’s. 

I have been thinking about how to make use of the place and how to create a situation where its future as a sacred place is sustainable. I'm in communication with Sally, the Mandala Mother of the Longchen Foundation, Tobi and others to start thinking about how to best secure its future. Pat, a senior Longchen student who lives close by in Pwhelli, who has been looking after the retreatants when they come, is also part of the team alongside Sudhana, myself, Jonathan and Tobi - who is also from Longchen and who is a very important part of the Ty'n y Gors management team. A lot of work needs to be done there. I've been over there having a look at what needs to be done most urgently and Mike, Mebar's husband, is keen to help us with that. You'll hear more gradually what the plan is for the place and how available it will be for us to use and how we will want to use it. 

It's been very heartening to have much more contact now with the Longchen Foundation since the funeral, and even being invited to the Ghanachakra at the end of the retreats they are doing there. We are arranging a meeting to discuss the plans for RS's ashes and the Stupa at Ty'n y Gors, and its future as well. I've also been in touch with Francesca Fremantle and asked her if she would give some teaching to the Awakened Heart Sangha and she's agreed to that. Alan is talking to her now about firming up when that might be. So that's another bit of positive news and a bit more of the interchange between the Longchen Foundation and the Awakened Heart Sangha that both sides are really welcoming. I've also been in touch with Lama Phunstok in Nepal about how to prepare Rigdzin Shikpo's ashes in order to put them into a Stupa, perhaps we'll be able to do that next summer. But we first need to discuss various ideas for that with Mandala Mother and the Longchen senior students.  So there's been a lot going on in my life and the month has gone by very fast.

Recent activities

I'm also getting moving on the Mandala Principle book again. We took a break from it over the last six months to reconsider how to go about it.

I've been able to spend a few days down at Ty Pren and to have a swim in the sea, and have also gone down to Criccieth a few times. I think the best news of this month is that my energy is much better. I don't know what brought that about; maybe it’s the homoeopathy, maybe it's the vitamins B and A, maybe it's the vertigo medicine I started taking under the GP’s recommendation or maybe it's just the increased energy exchange with the Longchen Foundation, which has been really good for my spirits. Anyway, the good news is that I am picking up and let's hope it continues. I look forward to the DHB retreat that's coming up this week and other events that are happening over the summer.

We celebrated the solstice with a fine fire and smoke offering puja in the afternoon. After that I went down to Ty'n y Gors with Sudhana and Eli and we did another smoke offering there, and that felt very auspicious.

The solstice also marked the final 6 months of Dashon’s retreat. I've been going to see him more often this month to discuss what his last six months of practice would consist of, and to pass on some teachings from Rigdzin Shikpo that I've never passed on before, which felt very auspicious. 

Next year

I'm also planning for next year's theme, which is to focus on death and preparing ourselves for our own death. Dawa and her team and the rest of the curriculum group will be able to talk about how to develop that theme for next year. This year’s theme, the Vaster Vision, is very much connected to being able to make the right kind of pranidhanas at the time of our death. It depends on what we think of the future. If we don't believe in future lives, for example, then there's no point in making pranidhanas or even taking refuge, or the Bodhisattva vow. So it's all connected to the pranidhana theme of next year. I have just started discussing this with Katie and Lama Agnes, and how it all relates to the theme of Vaster Vision for this year.  Obviously, we've only been able to scratch the surface of each of the LAH areas, even though we are devoting a year to each of them. But we're talking about a lifetime of practice and spiral learning around the themes of the DHB and THB.

Khandro Rinpoche

Tomorrow, I'm going to be visiting Lama Rabzang’s centre, Palpung, in South Wales, because Her Holiness Khandro Rinpoche will be there and she's always so very kind to me, and wants to help me in any way she can.  I would like her advice about the possibilities for the Stupa for Rigdzin Shikpo’s ashes, and eventually for my own.  I have already made an appointment to speak with her as soon as I arrive!

She will be teaching from a Dzogchen text called Samantabhadra's Pranidhana (not the sutra one called the Samantabhadracharya Pranidhana that we often recite). Karl taught it at Tekchokling one year, and again in detail over a few months on-line.  It is a good text for us to adopt in the AHS at some point – so that we have textual backup for the style of teaching in AHS which is very Dzogchen in inspiration and flavour.

Thank you everybody who comes regularly to join us for practice sessions in the shrine room and online. We all find it very supportive and heartening to see you all on screen and feel that sense of meditating together, which over time builds a sense of a constant practice Mandala and we can dedicate the day’s practice together at the end of each day.

Thank you everyone who is keeping up their practice whether online or not. The world needs it so much .

With much love,

Shenpen