Dukngal Rangdrol Drupcho Held in Japan

    Late in April members of MSBJ gathered at Tashi Chöling, our mountain center on the Izu Peninsula, to prepare for our fourth annual drupchö, the first event of Kongtrul Rinpoche's spring visit to Japan. When Rinpoche arrived on the evening of the 28th, preparations were almost complete.   

This year’s drupchö was to be something new for us. In the past we had held Rigdzin Düpa and Déchen Gyalmo drupchös, based on sadhana practices we were already familiar with, but the drupchö this year would be devoted to practice of the Dukngal Rangdröl Sadhana, a sadhana of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. 

This was to be the first time a drupchö of this kind would be held either in Japan or in the greater MSB mandala. An empowerment to practice the sadhana was conducted on April 29, and the drupchö itself began on April 30 and continued through Receiving the Siddhis on May 3. Before beginning the empowerment, Rinpoche explained that the Dukgnal Rangdröl or Avalokiteshvara sadhana is from the Longchen Nyingtik cycle of practices and teachings discovered as mind terma by Rigdzin Jigmé Lingpa. Specifically, Dukngal Rangdröl is a peaceful yidam practice and one of the sadhanas of the Three Roots, the other two roots being represented in our practice by the Lama Rigdzin Düpa and Yumka Déchen Gyalmo sadhanas that were the focus of our earlier drupchös.    

Rinpoche noted that Avalokiteshvara holds special significance for Tibetans. Many of Tibet’s rulers and teachers were emanations of Avalokiteshvara, including the first Dharma King, Songtsen Gampo, but the connection to Arya Avalokiteshvara is felt to run even deeper, as reflected in the story of Tibet’s origin. This story traces the Tibetan race to offspring of the union between a male monkey and a rock goddess, the one an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, and the other an emanation of Tara, who herself arose from one of Avalokiteshvara's tears of compassion. In this sense, Rinpoche said, “Tibet was known as a land of Avalokiteshvara, and Tibetans are known as devotees of Avalokiteshvara.” He pointed out that the situation is similar in Japan, where the connection to Avalokiteshvara is also strong. The affinity of the Japanese people for Avalokiteshvara can be seen, he said, in the fact that in Japan “any village has a temple, and most are Avalokiteshvara temples, or there is one nearby.” 

Following the empowerment and drupchö, Rinpoche led us, on May 4, in our annual life release practice, held this year in the town of Yumigahama, on the coast far below Tashi Chöling. Amid rather dramatic waves and wind, we released many lobsters and shellfish into the Pacific with prayers for their well-being and freedom from rebirth in the lower realms.
     The other major event of the visit was Rinpoche's annual teaching program, held May 7-8 at Tashi Gachil, our center in the eastern hills of Kyoto. As he has for the past several years, Rinpoche continued his teaching on Arya Maitreya's Mahayana Uttaratantra Shastra, this year completing his commentary on the kham (‘element’) chapter of the text. During the program, Rinpoche also conducted Refuge and Bodhisattva Vows, and on the final afternoon, a Sangha Ceremony. 

The weekend program concluded with a garden party at Tashi Gachil celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the foundation of our group, and our formation this year as a 'general incorporated association' under Japanese law, the first step toward eventually acquiring status as a recognized religious organization in Japan. After the party, we adjourned indoors for a moving slideshow, assembled by Oka-san, showing many memorable moments from Rinpoche's yearly visits since 2001. This was followed by performances of music, classical Japanese song, and improvisational dance.

We are extremely grateful to Kongtrul Rinpoche for his unceasing kindness and support over so many years, and look forward to deepening our understanding and practice of Dharma so that our group's activities, and we ourselves, will reflect the Longchen Nyingtik teachings in a genuine way.