The fame of Mindrolling is not in its difficulty. (laughs) It is in its authenticity. We don’t think it is unique; we call it a source – chungo – “the source”, which refers to ‘Where the river originates from’. Tibetan has a lot of metaphors that don’t translate quite so well into English like this.
Mindrolling is known for the Liturgies in particular. Not ‘unique’. It’s universal. “The source” – people misunderstand- it’s not where it came from – Mindrolling was only founded in 1676. There were many great masters before that. But there was great decline in teachings in 1400s, 1500s. Sadhanas practice became diluted. There was a lot of doing it for material gain. A lot of loud “HA HA HUM HUM!” to make it seem more magnificent. In Mindrolling, it’s subtle and majestic in its subtlety.
Terdag Lingpa was not one of the two great or five great tertons. He was known as great reviver. In central Tibet, he revived how sadhanas were done correctly. He had some of the most pure visions of the buddhasfields – even says in one text – “in celestial palace of lotus light…” actually talks about the gathering of the lotus light… it is said Terdag Lingpa is the umdze there.
Terdag Lingpa – his great learning and research – the beauty of it – simple, but notoriously difficulty – it was presupposed that people who do practices knew what they were dong. In Tibet at Mindrolling, you couldn’t even enter the shrine room unless you knew all the practices by heart. Vajrasattva, Ekajati, etc. Took 3-4 years to memorize these liturgies. By that time, you would actually learn it.
In the empowerment she just gave, it says “do the gec as is done” and other sections like that. Standards were assuming you knew all the parts.
All the nyingma lineages still come to Mindrolling to train in liturgies, ritual dances, and constructing Mandalas. A lot of simplicity- some people find our dances are boring. There’s a joke that a man came and looked in at the Mindrolling lama dance, and the dancer had his right leg raised. He left to go get tea and came back, and the dancer’s leg was just lowering. But the dances aren’t meant to be entertaining.
If there are 100 monks practicing together, chanting together, etc. it has to sound like 1 voice. I don’t want to sound like martial arts person, but doing mudras, must empty mind – not empty gaping hole mind, but not thinking “I am doing peckor mudra now.”
That oneness has to come out. In Mindrolling, we have very simple instruments. And simple looking tormas. A lot of people joke about our simpleness. But there is a sublime perfection in that simplicity. 100 drums sound like one.
In Tibet, when a famous Khenchen came to give rigzin terchod. Took many months. But that is partially because the assembly took breaks to do regularly scheduled drubchos. The Khenchen was sitting outside of shrine room listening to the assembly doing practice. Some were concerned that it was an embarrassing breach of protocol for a great Khenchen to just be sitting on the ground outside. But he explained that he found it so beautiful, he really wanted to just sit there and listen.
Our melodies are very beautiful too. 4 lines can take 10 minutes to recite.
Any learned master- as we say in India, “only the jeweler knows how to value a diamond. Others might mistake it for glass.”
With Trulshik Rinpoche, who just passed, there was a joke that “he couldn’t say anything without mentioning Mindrolling.” He had a box he carried with him everywhere. His prize possession was a letter from his guru saying it was up to him to preserve the vinaya. That and some photos of Mindrolling.
I feel some people are bedazzled by pomp, but we don’t have such things. We don’t use bell and dharmaru like a street performer making a monkey dance. (laughter) Her mother remembers HHMTR and Kabje Dudjom Rinpoche meeting talking for hours about dharma about “nobody could write like Terdag Lingpa!”
There are many good stories about Trulshik Rinpoche. I first saw him I remember in Bodhi Gaya. Same year Jamgon Kongtrol came for last time before he died. We were usually very formal with people meeting HHMTR. But then this Rinpoche came to door and said “Ha! I told you to take care of yourself! Now I am on 2 feet, and you are on a bed.” (laughter) He always pointed out “look how healthy I am! Also, I am older than you!” (laughter) He was a gentlemen, and very central Tibetan. The Khampas always used to say “all the great masters and Rinme movement came from Kham, “and people from Central Tibet used to say “People from Kham are barbarians, the don’t know how to eat.” Rinpoche was a pure vinaya holder, so he usually didn’t eat after mid-day. But at a formal dinner, he tasted a little of the food and later called cooks to say how great they were. He didn’t have to do that at all, but that was the kind of refined gentleman he was.
Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche got that title “Jetsun” from Rinpoche. He really loved my sister as he loved Mindrolling. He used to say about us “you are the aristocrats!” It was a sore point for him that she was just called “Khandro Rinpoche”. He would say repeatedly “she should be called ‘Jetsun’! ‘Khandro’ has no meaning. Now,’ Khandro’ is used for any wife of a teacher from Kham!” (laughter) So, the change in her name to “Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche” happened at 2007 at his command. He also wrote the “11th successive holder…” chant for HHMTR that we use at Lotus Garden. There are three such chants, including one written by HH Dalai Lama, but I felt this one was the most appropriate to translate into English first.
He was hilarious. Very eccentric, and Very fun. He also recognized Dilgo khentsye’s Yangzi. He made a joke about my marriage, that a daughter of Mindrolling should have “no marriage to Kham-pas!”. This is kind of like the regional rivalry between the North and the South in the US. He didn’t’ say about marrying someone from the South of the US though. (laughter)
Does anyone feel overwhelmed? It’s good to help new people, but you need to be careful, self-knowing wisdom is very good. I spoke to many of you yesterday. Realize what a treasure you have here. (The original 19th Century Rinme master) Mipham Rinpoche said in his final letter “I wasn’t born at the time of the 2 brothers”. Even Lochen Dharmashri, who was unexcelled in debate, even he found the liturgies difficult. (laughter) Here (at Lotus Garden), you have opportunity to learn things that great masters loved so much. Having such an opportunity should be a cause of celebration, not fear. Just do your best. Even in my own experiences – not personally, of course, but of what I’ve seen – the root, shoot, cause for realization is devotion. When you struggle with sadhana, always think of devotion. ‘When to Ring bell’ comes with time. Even the most unsuitable vessel can do the ringing right, but it won’t be of benefit. Memorization does help too.