This is the traditional ancient Tibetan Bön refuge prayer that you chant before every meditation session. With it, I supplicate my sublime Buddhist teacher, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who passed away in 1996, and I haven’t forgotten him for even one day. What I would give to see his golden face of kindness again, but when we sing this, I remember. I was living in Nepal and studying with him as well as studying Tibetan Art. He was a seasoned yogic meditation master, and did many years in solitary retreat. When I was in the room with him, his presence was overwhelming, indescribable compassion, love and magic. Just being around him showed us all what brightness was within us.
At the end of his life, he was ill for awhile, and we were not permitted to see him but we could go upstairs to his outside balcony at his nunnery and every morning and his nun attendant would open up the curtains in the window and Rinpoche would look at each one of us and hold his hand up and offer us prayers. There was no one there that was not crying, we so longed to see him and we could only see him through that window. He passed away one evening and from what I understand he asked one of the nuns for his hat and set up straight he breathed out and went into a deep meditation state called tukdam.
I was staying in Nepal at Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s guest house, and at about 7:30 in the morning, I got a knock on my door from one of the monks. He said to me that your teacher has passed away but they’re asking for people to not go up there because there could be a lot of chaos. I think I was in shock and I went to go take a shower and as I was taking a shower I just broke down and slid from the shower onto the floor in cried without console. I had a Tibetan boyfriend that had a motorcycle and I asked him please take me up there right away. It turned out that because I was a student, they permitted me to just sit and meditate by the body and pay my last respects and we sat there all day and into the evening. Many western students were there with him, in the early morning, and he was sitting straight up in meditation posture. We meditated with him for about 10 hours, with a clear morning mist-less mountain sky which was unusual for Nepal. The sky stayed cloudless, even until the evening, the stars were so bright and we sat outside. At the end of his tukdam, there were some magical signs, but you can read about that elsewhere. It was not sad because the space was so densely filled with blessings, that I felt closer to him than ever. It was funny, being there on the night he passed away was the first time I ever realized that what he showed us existed within us. I think I was a bit codependent and believed that the warmth and openness that I felt around him only came from him, it wasn’t until this last teaching that I received by being there at his side, that I realized I had access to it, the enlightened heart/ mind of the Buddha at every moment, if we were to just settle down and see. What a gift!
He never harmed me or anyone, there was no slave and ownership guru command and control. It saddens me that there are Lamas and clergy out there that do use their position to hurt others, under the auspices of something so powerful and beautiful, but mine never did. I only knew him for four years, but was fortunate enough to have spent about 200 precious hours with him, at his feet. Now, when I’m feeling sad or have self doubt, I call on what I remember from our time. My main Buddhist community is dissolving and sometimes I feel alone, sanghaless like a masterless Ronin, but with this song, and my treasured retreat practice, I can remember him. May everyone connect to something truly benevolent and wholesome, to uncover the power and magic that resides dormant in our human heart. May all beings not only be free from suffering, but shine~ light is indeed, our birthright.
Guru Yoga or Lama’i Nalyor
We sing this song with devotion and longing to call upon our teacher to ultimately connect with her or his awakened mind, heart and warmth within ourselves.
CHI TSUK DE WA CHHEN POI PHO DRANG DU
In the palace of great bliss above the crown of my head
DRIN CHHEN TSA WE LAMA LA SOL WA DEP
I pray to you benevolent root teacher
SAN GYE SEM SU TON PA RIN PO CHHE
Precious one who is the embodiment of Buddha Nature
RANG NGO RANG GI SHE PAR JIN GYI LOP
Bless me that I may recognize my own true nature.
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