Message from the Spiritual Director
Hello and many Dharma greetings to you all.
I send this as the greeting for the Fire Rooster Tibetan New Year (LOSAR). Since the last issue of Clear Mind Newsletter, you have been kept informed through emails about our unceasing Dharma activities at the centre. Over the past year, we had two surprise visits by Khenchen Tsultim Lodro from Larung Gar and Drupsing Rinpoche of Pokhara. Both received a warm welcome from all who attended their teachings hosted by our centre with such a short notice - thanks to the modern technology of emails!
This year, in SIBA, our centre in East Gippsland, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the annual Ten Day Calm Abiding Meditation in September, followed by the Train the Trainer Meditation Teacher Course. I travelled to new places I have not taught at before throughout East Gippsland - opening the door for many to meet the Dharma.
Furthermore, at Virupa Retreat Centre we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the founding of Rongton Buddhist College on the auspicious day of 'Lhabab Duechen' - marking the Descent of the Buddha from Triyatrimsha Heaven. The Tibetan community in Canberra and also Nowra came to support the event. Colourful Mongolian yurts were on display at Virupa, adding much to the ambience of the celebration. Mr. Lhakpa Tsoko, HH Dalai Lama's representative and Ven. Thich Quang Ba also gave speeches at the event.
Our weekly classes and practice sessions have been maintained throughout the past year by the executive committee and other members both with and without my presence. Thanks to Joseph Frawley for co-ordinating this. The meditation classes, philosophy classes, and Tibetan language classes continue like a fine established tradition.
Earlier this year, we had our biggest retreat, the annual White Tara and Family Retreat. This year it became even more family orientated when we saw the wedding celebration of our dear Jampal-la with Yue, both of whose family came to SIBA to celebrate the important day.
Thanks to all residents at SIBA and Virupa, who look after the centres, perform daily Green Tara puja, answer all the questions and provide support to people who come to do short or long personal retreats. Our sister centres across Australia and New Zealand maintain inspiring regular Dharma activities. Maintaining the Dharma activities for all these years prove that we are a no-nonsense Dharma community. The democratically elected executive committee meet once a month to plan, organise and execute these activities with great harmony and friendship. I express my deep gratitude to all.
We celebrated Kyabje Chogye Trichen Rinpoche's 10th anniversary with a Sixteen Arhat Puja where three long term members of our Society spoke of their fond memories of the precious time spent in meeting Chogye Rinpoche. Our most precious Gurus Kyabje Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, HH Sakya Trizin and His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche have all visited our centres and gave teachings and empowerments. We stand firm to uphold and support their teachings for the benefit of all sentient beings.
In the beginning of March 2017, 21 of us from Australia and NZ went to Puruwala to attend the Grand Enthronement Ceremony of the 42nd Sakya Trizin. His Eminence Ratna Vajra Rinpoche has taken on this most important role. HH Sakya Trizin announced this new system so that all the qualified members of the Khon family have the opportunity to take on this position.
The raging fire in Carwoola last month came so close to the edge of Virupa retreat huts that all residents and three retreatants were evacuated. Thanks to the blessings of Green Tara, water bombing aircraft, quick thinking residents and RFS fire fighters, Virupa as a place of worship and peace was left untouched. We realise how fragile everything is, in the face and force of nature. One of the retreatants, Tenzin Phil, quickly went back into retreat stating how fortunate it is to have a space dedicated for practice in this age. Yes, indeed may all come to utilise these facilities and deepen your practices for the benefit of all sentient beings. We have our annual Vajrayogini, Ngondro, Hevajra and all retreats lined up. So take the opportunity to rock up at these sessions.
May you turn to Dharma - not to drama!
~ Lama Choedak Rinpoche, March 2017