In October 2023, the sangha of Vajrayana practitioners joyfully gathered at Minling Lotus Garden to receive teachings and transmissions from Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche. The first part of the program, the Practice Intensive, opened on October 30th, 2023, with a body, speech, and mind offering to Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche. With great kindness, Rinpoche bestowed teachings and transmissions to monks, nuns, and lay practitioners from many countries around the world.
In this second year of the Practice Intensive, Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche bestowed profound instructions on the Uncommon Preliminaries. In addition to the teachings, this practice retreat included the chö gar, or dharma encampment, where students received teachings and then took them immediately into practice with daily sessions as well as full days of practice. In this practice environment, students connected in a direct way with the teachings, bringing together both the view and methods without separation. Great emphasis was placed on bringing forth the accomplishment of practice through the supreme methods of devotion and diligence.
On November 4th, the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month, the gathered sangha marked the auspicious day of Lhabab Duchen (Buddha’s descent from the deva realms) with a day of practice in the chö gar. This was followed by the sangha making offerings of lamps at the Buddha Park and recitations of prayers with sincere aspirations that the Buddhadharma continue to flourish.
In a seamless transition, the next section of teachings began on November 14th, building on the foundation of the Practice Intensive. Students continued practices in the chö gar, while receiving daily teachings from Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche. With clear elucidation and great compassion, Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche bestowed teachings to the gathered assembly.
On November 22nd, the 10th day of the tenth month, the sangha celebrated the birthday of Minling Jetsün Dechen Paldrön. This auspicious day was marked with prayers and offerings dedicated to the long life and continued vast dharma activities of Minling Jetsünla. The sangha performed the Ridgzin Thugthig sadhana and made offerings of mandala and body, speech and mind with heartfelt gratitude and devotion.
On the full moon day of November 27th, 2023, the sangha performed the Minling Dorsem sadhana as a concluding offering for this section of the retreat. Joining together all that had been taught throughout the retreat, the gathered assembly offered the feast with great joy and made extensive prayers and offerings with sincere aspirations for the flourishing and accomplishment of dharma, the continued presence and activity of our teachers, and peace in the world.
In the last three days of November, Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings on the skillful means of Vajrayana with teachings on the Vajrakilaya sadhana. The retreat then continued with the next segment of the teachings on the Great Chariot in which Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche continued bestowing teachings on this precious first volume of the Trilogy of Rest by the Omniscient One, Longchen Rabjampa. Rinpoche’s word-for-word commentary on this most profound text continues to provide students with deepened understanding of karma, which forms the backbone of Buddhist teachings.
The land of Lotus Garden itself was improved for this retreat with many wonderful additions. The new temple has been adorned with many of the traditional ornaments. Wooden walkways with new tree lines were constructed. These will become a full circumambulation path around the temple, the buddha park, and the eight stupas and Mani wheels that are planned. The improvements also included thirty platforms for rental tents situated in scenic areas with pathways for easy access. Many retreatants remarked at how the land formed a wonderful, uplifted container for such profound teachings to be transmitted.
With heartfelt joy, the sangha joined together in practice and study throughout the retreat. It was a truly harmonious and remarkable retreat. The blessings of Minling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche infused the entire land with a deeply sacred and settled pervasiveness, allowing all who attended to settle into practicing and receiving teachings without any hindrances. Furthermore, without the continuous blessings, support, and activities of Minling Jetsün Dechen Paldrön, the profound teachings and practices could not have been transmitted with such beauty, depth, and fullness. Through their teaching, guidance, and being excellent examples of genuine dharma practitioners, the monks of Mindrolling and nuns of Samten Tse showed the entire sangha how to truly embody a life of service to the dharma.
The entire community displayed great diligence and effort in daily service which created a joyful and harmonious environment throughout the retreat. Through the blessings of the gurus, and the lineage and the harmony and exertion of the sangha in practice, study and service, the retreat was a wonderful gathering of the five perfections. Through the combined efforts and aspirations of all, may the merit and blessings of the path of dharma be a source of immense benefit for all sentient beings.