Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Gyatrul Rinpoche is an unbelievably profound lama, and Tashi Choling is some kind of pure land, I'm sure. Everyonw should go there--it is so beautiful. It is common at monasteries where more than one terma traditions are practiced for the style of ritual to be made uniform. Gyatrul Rinpoche's centers do this, although I've noticed it getting less so over the years. Gyaltrul Rinpoche now refers who want to learn the Dudjom tradition, especially music and ritual to Lama Tharchin Rinpoche. Remember the 8 offering bowls we talked about? I think these kind of things come from Eastern Tibet, not from HH Dudjom Rinpoche's gompa in Kongpo.
What is a bell leader?
These days for Tersar pujas at TC (which is like 99% of what is openly practiced as a group there) they're adhering to the dril chog/nga chog thing with sadhanas, but for some reason it seems like that was only instituted a few yrs ago. I may be wrong. But it seemed like we used to all play the bell at the appropriate sections of every sadhana, and then I didn't go up there for a while and happened to read about the whole dril chog/nga chog thing, which I had been unfamiliar with, and then when I went back that's how they were doing things. This is at least what my memory is telling me.
I've never seen the congregation all play damaru at Orgyen Dorje Den. In general, the quality of music and ritual is just getting better and better there every year. Gyatrul Rinpoche really pushes people to improve their skills continually. Most recently they have been having Chopon classes. It is really just amazing what they are doing. I have a special appreciation for this , because to day I had a puja at my house and I tried to chopon in the Longchen Nyingthig style. It would be hard to over state how bad I was. It is really a huge undertaking to do more than one terma tradition according to it's own ritual traditions, like Gyatrul RInpoche's students do.
Gyatrul Rinpoche was a very good teacher for damaru back in the day, I'm not so sure he teaches this from the throne now, but when he was in the throne at just about every tsog (once again this was back in the day), he used to show me the difference between playing Palyul Dhomang style damaru with this really kind of "strange" twist to the wrist, kind of like a slight hesitation before you actually twist the wrist, I have never ever seen this anyplace else but when Rinpoche demonstrated this. If you did that style basically any place else, practitioners would look at you like you were pumping your damaru and couldn't get it quite started. I remember more than once he
did this with me, reminding me several times of that particular style.
I used to lead the pujas between the later 1980's and the mid 1990s there, for a period of quite a few years, all four high days included protectors as well, which were done very rapid fire, however, from experience Chagdud Gompa, which was not that far away by car, really can take the tempo to a very quick pace, when I would visit there Lama Inge had to remind me where we were sometimes they went so fast... however some parts of their sadhanas I had not actually seen before and at the time I couldn't quite explain that to anyone during the sadhana that I knew some of the texts and other parts were new to me.
You're right, it was rather an intensive training then, and as Pema Rigdzin said things can "change" up over the years... we were learning many sadhanas (for Ingies anyway) and also we were soaking up as much direct instruction from Rinpoche as possible, I didn't find it so easy to be Chupon when Rinpoche was in the throne, one can get a little nervous about timing, so I preferred being the umdse, and would kind of shy away from being the Chupon, but at that time everybody was encouraged to learn to Chupon.
Rinpoche is very kind, several times he would pass his own Chod drum down the isle to me so I would have a Chod drum to play, back then I didn't have a Chod drum, I had my own cymbals and bell & damraru but I hadn't bought a Chod drum right away for some reason, later I had a little one that a Nyingmapa Lama described as a "Kagyu" mini chod drum, this really was the same round shape as a chod drum (it was an old "antique" drum from Tibet) and was not a damaru but was just a little bigger than a damaru and totally
round and light weight for "travel". Finally when I did get the larger Chod drum, actually I wanted to learn Achi Choki Drolma's Chod, so when a Lama in Drikung Kagyu gave that empowerment I played the regular size drum, however, what I didn't realize until this thread is how I must have kind of "looked" to this Rinpoche when I also just kind of naturally played the bell & damaru along with him during the main sadhana (tsog),so I kind of went right along and kept pace with learning the bell and damaru right on into the sadhana practice later on that evening, this was Drikung style for the puja with tsog, it didn't occur to me that only the Vajra master may have been the one to play during that tsog, I don't know to this day, lol, I never saw a Drikungpa play the damaru this way, raising the arm way up, and starting in the top of the air with this "high above the head" rather outstreched arm (shaking the drum) then bringing the arm down to a mid way point and (shaking again) then kind of level and (shaking again a third time) and then the drum kind of goes out of his hand sideways, kind of just falling to one side out of the hand toward the end but still holding the "string", I was totally intrigued, and really wanted to learn "that"... lol he smiled at me and said "ah ha ha, playing the damaru too" ... it was ingrained in me that everybody played, so I looked for that in other places I went, and I kind of thought that was usually the way most "pujas" went... ah ha ha! so I just kind of thought generally that those that just didn't play must have had their reasons, so I thought it was just that people weren't perhaps learning those things or prefered not to play but just to chant, because actually that was how it was explained to me many years ago.
Now that I read this thread, I have realized that back maybe 8 years ago or so, I have done this at a Gelugpa center as well, I wanted to hear Gelek Rinpoche teach and he was going to do Lama Chodpa of Je Tsongkhapa after a teaching, I was very happy as this was my first time to do this sadhana, so he was teaching for several days, and I showed up and I had brought the instruments for the time of the Lama Chodpa and he actually gave the lung for Lama Chodpa before we did this, and when the puja began he indicated where to play with his lips, you may have seen Lamas do this where they guide you by "pursing" the lips to indicate when to play or when not to... lol, I was seated up front and he saw my instruments in front of me on the little table, even blessed my bell, and I was just kind of "ready to go" lol, just kind of thinking that the rest of the practitioners preferred to be non instrumental, so I was just really enjoying the coordinated effort with Rinpoche, now I think this is really quite funny, this instrumental duet that day, it was actually my first time to do "Lama Chodpa of Je Tsongkhapa" and it was totally instrumental, nobody said a thing about it afterward, it just seemed that both these times, I was just a guest, but both times the Lamas were so kind and really rather happy to interact making this effort, although only now I see it must have been a little "unusual" to have this happen, ah, ha ha....I can laugh at myself a bit, but thank goodness once again, this Gelugpa Rinpoche was so wonderful about it, and actually gave me instruction during the puja, especially he indicated to pick up the vajra when I was ringing the bell, at one point I was turning a page and kind of ringing and he indicated with his pursed lips and a nod to pick up the vajra. There were many students that had studied in those traditions with their respective Rinpoches for many years, and they just went about their business... and there were no indications that this wasn't just kind of "par for the course"...so I didn't think to much about it...he, he...
Generally, I suppose the playing with the Vajra master could go either way depending upon the "tradition" one's group follows, when I am with certain Dudjom Tersar Lamas, they have me playing rolmo along with the umdse, also bell and damaru, this I've done at Drollo retreat for example, generally I like to see what is done in more than one tradition, anyway, well, this turned into a long "story"....hope it had some "entertainment value" for somebody, lol