Spring Life Releases

From our Sangha in Europe:

Here in County Clare, thirteen of us gathered and read prayer requests aloud before releasing more than 4'000 worms on the bank of the Bleach River at Orgyen Ling, followed by recitation of the liturgy Increasing Life and Prosperity. When checking on the worms after a short walk towards Lough Graney, we discovered that most had already disappeared safely into the earth.


From Pema Osel:

On Sunday, March 12, 2017 we celebrated Chotrul Duchen, the Festival of Miracles, but buying and releasing 250 lobsters from our usual pier in Portland, Maine. Five MSB students from Vermont drove to Portland to meet a local friend from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's sangha. We had to act quickly to keep the lobsters out of the cold and wind. New Meadows Lobster, the business that we've worked with since 2007, now has new ownership, and the young man we worked with was very kind to these particular lobsters. Instead of leaving them in crates that would expose them to the air, he put them in cardboard boxes. It appeared that all the lobsters survived the transition. After we finished the release, we recited Increasing Life and Prosperity and Shantideva's long dedication of merit. We concluded the activity by reading prayer requests by people who had contributed to the tsetar fund as well as some of our own.

 

And for nos sangha na Brasil: Our Center By the Sea

By Julia Sanderson and Mary Albrittain

We arrived at the Salvador airport the morning of March 2nd and were enthusiastically and lovingly greeted by a dozen of the Brazilian sangha.  The air was warm and damp – a sharp contrast to the climates we had just left back in the States.  They loaded us into cars and we all caravanned to our center Guna Norling. Traffic was heavy, and there was still evidence of Carnival in the form of parade stands and stages yet to be taken down.

Guna Norling itself is a beautiful space, built into the side of a hill just a few feet from the ocean.  Its story is a testament to devotion and elbow grease.  Even though the location is half way around the globe for most of us, it feels like all Mangala Shri Bhuti centers, as the blessings of the Longchen Nyingtik lineage are apparent. It was a full house around program time, buzzing with sangha activity!

The center is beautifully renovated and has four vertical floors.  The first floor holds the entry and community rooms. The second has the guest bedroom, dining room, and small kitchen where Sarah turns out consistently delicious (and enormous) meals three times a day with the help of her friend Rosie.  In the early morning we would sit out on the second floor balcony to watch the sun rise and the fishermen gather on the rocks. The third floor of the center is the shrine room. It is a little smaller than the shrine room at Phuntsok Choling, but the wall of windows and the uninterrupted view of the ocean make it feel twice as big. The fourth floor is the teacher’s residence, and occasionally sangha members do retreats there as well.

There was one day of rest, with a quick tour of old Salvador guided by our sangha brother Jiao. The four day Dechen Gyalmo drupcho began on Saturday. The drupcho itself was beautiful with very abundant offerings. Rinpoche gave a wonderful talk on the Protectors, and reminded us that “man’s power is limited, but Protector power is limitless.” He attributed much of the success and stability of Guna Norling to the strong presence of the Dakinis and that consistent connection to the Protectors.

In the evenings we drove with Rinpoche to one of several local shopping malls to get out and stretch our legs with a speed walk. 

After the drupcho and a day of rest, Guna Norling hosted the public talk at the center itself. Usually it happens in a rented space, so it was special this time to open the doors and let everyone in. The title of the talk was “What would the Buddha’s Message to the World Be?”  Rinpoche spoke about the causes and conditions that lead to happiness (virtuous deeds) and the causes and conditions that lead to unhappiness (unvirtuous deeds). It was an excellent turnout, and hopefully one of many more to come at the center. They used a Q&A format that entailed people writing their questions and passing them up to Ana Paula (our good friend and translator) to translate for Rinpoche. 

One of the most memorable events of the entire visit was the life release.  We got up early in the morning and drove to the local livestock market to purchase the animals to be freed on our sangha’s new piece of land, Jigme Tsetar Ling, or as the sangha sometimes likes to call it: “The Farm,” about an hour’s drive from the center. Rinpoche warned us at breakfast that it was important to stay focused at the task at hand once we were at the market– that while it would be very easy to have a strong emotional reaction to what we saw, it was more important to be precise with fulfilling our intention to purchase animals. The market is an intense environment.  We saw animals stacked in crowded cages on top of each other, some with their legs tied and lying on the ground waiting to be taken away for slaughter. The pens were crammed, filled with goats, birds, and rabbits. The smell was intense and unpleasant. The air was dusty and filled with the sounds of animals squawking and shrieking. We could not save the lives of all, but we ended up purchasing and releasing the following 269 lives:

25 goats

50 pigeons

52 chickens

35 roosters

20 parakeets

34 ducks

27 dangola chickens

8 tortoises      

4 turkeys

4 geese

2 peacocks

2 lovebirds and their 3 eggs

3 baby tortoises      

We then drove the hour or so to the farm and opened up the back of the trucks releasing the goats to run free, and all the crates of birds to fly or waddle to freedom. The caretaker had already set out buckets of grain and bales of hay and large tubs of water for the new residents. Several of the ducks immediately got into the water meant for drinking to give themselves a proper soak.  Sadly, a few of the animals were not strong enough and did not survive, but most of them did. It  was really something to witness. The whole experience – the market to the release – gave us firsthand experience of the Four Immeasurable contemplations that Rinpoche has guided us through over the years.

 

After the life release we drove back to Salvador and had lunch at a restaurant in the old part of town. We felt such an interesting mixture of deep joy in what we had been able to do, while also thinking of all the animals still in the market. It was and still is a profound teaching to sit with - the mixture of not being able to help them all, but being able to do what we can, while also embracing them all, and all beings suffering like them, with our prayers. This was a very direct experience of the need for our actions and prayers in the world. 

The last main event of our time in Brazil was the two-day MSB Brazil Shedra with the transmission and teachings on the Patience chapter of the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.  This was also held at Guna Norling for the first time rather than at a rented space. At the end of the program Rinpoche strongly encouraged the local sangha to get involved with service by helping Sarah and Aline with the care and upkeep of Guna Norling, their center.  He remarked that it is their responsibility as a group to inspire him and keep things going there.

Our visit to Brazil served to expand our understanding of the extensive view Rinpoche and the MSB sangha have created around the world. In this center by the sea, we see how expansive this activity is. Rinpoche and Jennifer’s visit once a year is so precious to the Brazil sangha and their activity. Just watching the choppons during the drupcho as they developed the precision and breadth of the practice brought joy to our hearts. We all worked together as one sangha to set up, participate, and clean up after the programs. Language is not a barrier when there is a clear heart and clear intention.

Sarah leads the sangha in life release once a month and generates immense merit for all of MSB and beings of all realms. Jigme Tsetar Ling is a poignant reminder that life is precious and we can free our minds as we free beings. 

  

May the merit of this Wheel Day contribute to the long life of Ven. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and all our precious teachers, to the establishment of Kunzang Orgyen Namdrol Ling, and to the enlightenment of all mother sentient beings.