In early April, there will be a remarkable opportunity to practice Chöd in the sacred enclave of Bhutan. We will learn practices and engage in them in a land of unique spiritual potency.
Bhutan is the last Vajrayana country in the world. Here, we meet the pure energies of Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal, Tontang Gyalpo, Pema Lingpa, PeGyal Lingpa and more, and sit where the yidams, dakinis, protectors dwell. This precious heritage has been preserved and nourished, and the living traditions remain vibrant and palpable. In spite of political, social, economic and cultural issues, not for below the surface, the pure dharma percolates and bubbles forth.
Over schedule, subject to minor change, looks like this:
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Go to Hotel Gangtey Palace, a great old mid-range hotel high on the hillside above the valley.
Empowerments & Transmissions (Lung). Group Meditation in LhaKang. Dinner in Paro or hotel.
Monday, April 4
Here is the golden stupa with the sacred remains of the great sage of our era, and one of Rinpoche’s teachers, Dilgo Khyentse. We will do the Chod confession (shakpa) and prayer to the four gates of MaChik
Built by Fist Kind of Tibet; pins down the famed Tibetan ogress at the left foot. One of the oldest lhakhangs in Bhutan. Great statues of 1000 armed Avalokiteshvara. Dilgo Khyesntse Rinpoche’s meditation area. We will also visit Tontang Gyalpo’s anceint Gompa and practice Chod there.
Tuesday, April 5
Built by the Shabdrung to celebrate victory over the Tibetan invaders (the Shabdrung story is incredible in every aspect). Vews of Jomolhari on the way there. Visit the ruins and practice there.Paro Dzong Cultural sites and also sacred (like everything in Bhutan!Depending on weather, transport and capability of the students, pilgrimage to the base or top of Taksang, Tiger’s Nest, and the speical MaChik temple.Ta Dzong Built in the 17th century, but now houses the National Museum
Wednesday, April 6
Hot stone bath Day of rest, or? The stone baths are not turned into a spa – they’re more like the traditional ones.
Thurs, April 7
Drive to Thimpu (90 minutes) and settle in at the Pema hotel and Thimpu orientation. Visit to Tashi Cho Dzong, the main “fort” and monastic complex of Thimpu. This is a magnificent, multi-faceted group of buildings and we will have permission to practice in one of the many temples there, and explore further. After this, we will visit other important Thimpu sights: the national Zoo, and School of (13 traditional) Arts and Crafts.
Fri, April 8
Precious Rosary of Chöd: Preparations
Drive to Thimpu (90 minutes) and settle in at the Pema hotel and Thimpu orientation. We will go to the open air market to get supplies for the upcoming Tsok, and then go off set up of shrine and Tsok offering at Memorial Chorten. We will learn torma-making from the ulitmate expert, Lama Pema!
Sat., April 9 & Sun, April 10
Precious Rosary of Chöd
Memorial Chorten, in the heart of Thimpu, will be the site of this all day Chod practice. The Chorten is a very popular spot for cirucmambulation and mantra, visited by hundreds of Bhutanese each day. Many local lamas will be in attendance, and this will be an important local event.
Mon., April 11
In the morning we will complete our walking tour of Thimpu. Then we will head to the samll temple across the river to the Zilukha Nunnery and Lhakhang. This is an ancient TongTang Gyalpo site, with possibly the largest gold statue dedicated to this great master. Previously a favorite spot of Kalu Rinpoche, the nuns regularly practice Chöd. We will perform the Kagyu Lujin with them, as well as our own practices, such as the DenTok Chikma, MaChik yidam practice.
On the edge of Thimpu, this is an extremely powerful site, where the Protectors of Bhutan entered into a rock dwelling. The tower is dark, one ascends through a steep ladder and the top floor houses the large statues of the three deities. We will do short protector practices here, and then longer practice in the adjacent lhakhang.
Tue., April 12
This 9,000 foot pass has a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys, and like all moutnian passes, is the abode of many local spirits and land deities. This is an ideal place to perfome the prayers of Sang, Lungta and Yangguk. Lunch somewhere. Return to Paro for overnight for those flying out on Wednesday.
Wed., April 13
Flight of those traveling back to Kathmandu, Delhi or home!
We travel 30 minutes outside Thimphu to this idyllic spot at a covered bridge over an incredibly beautiful tributary of the Thimphu river at the road head. We will lunch and meditate here. Another 30-45 minute walk up, we come to Cheri, the first monastery built in Bhutan by the Shabdrung and site of first 3 year retreat.
Thurs., April 14
Fri., April 15
Evening return to Paro for flight the next day.
Sat., April 16
Blessing send off by Rinpoche and the lamas. Flight back to one’s home country, with a deeper richer understanding of dharma.