The Rigpa sangha is currently immersed in a 16-day period of practice world-wide, dedicated to the complete healing of the Rigpa sangha and for the fulfilment of the aspirations of all the masters of our tradition. In the sacred place of the Buddha’s enlightenment, Bodhgaya, over 300 sangha members are gathered, practising from dawn to dusk. Rigpa students around the world are joining the ‘Bodhgaya Prayer Gathering’, accumulating practices at home and together in their local Rigpa centres, including following live streaming or practices recorded in Bodhgaya.
Whether sitting under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya itself, or following online, everyone has expressed feelings of joy and oneness, and a deep sense of sangha and community.
“The whole place [around the Mahabodhi stupa in Bodhgaya] is filled with garlands of flowers and heaps of tsok offerings. There is a sense of abundance and gifting. As the days go by, the practice in this blessed place subtly opens up. I can feel the presence and blessings pervading the place. It is evident that almost everyone feels the same. There is so much joy and devotion expressed in our interactions with each other. We really hope to make this an annual event and I make the same aspiration prayers to return every year with the sangha. Very blessed, very healing, very strengthening.” Boon (in Bodhgaya)
A sangha member joining the practices by streaming from France said: “It is truly moving and inspiring to see, hear and chant together with everyone under the Bodhi tree, and with all the sangha around the world. May these practices benefit all beings, the wonderful teachers who guide us, and the whole sangha.”
Another sangha member in UK said: “It really feels like we are one mandala all around the world, connecting through the practices in Bodhgaya and sharing in the immense blessings from Bodhgaya.”
Together the sangha is making vast offerings around the Mahabodhi compound of light, flowers and tsok. They are accumulating the practice of Narak Kong Shak (one of the most powerful and important practices of confession and fulfilment in the Nyingma tradition) & the dakini practice of Yumka Dechen Gyalmo. The goal is to accumulate 100,000 recitations of Narak Kong Shak over this period.
About the practice of Narak Kong Shak, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche said in Bodhgaya in the days before the Prayer Gathering:
“The whole concept of purification is to be more true to this innate buddha nature and to try and develop the insight, clarity and mindfulness to not be driven into the habit of our external busyness.
...[We can pray] “may I, today, realize this like Shakyamuni Buddha did 2,500 years ago. May I find the wisdom and the courage to be able to recall to my mind that I am the Buddha within myself. May I be able to remain within my own buddha’s tuk, the Buddha mind, and within that find liberation and freedom.”
...[As you practise…] “rest as much as possible in touch with the absolute goodness that is intrinsic in yourself—the seed of contentment, the seed of peace, the seed of spaciousness and the seed of immense love for all sentient beings.”
It was an immense blessing that Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche gave teachings in the two days prior to the gathering, and joined the first day of the gathering. Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche has been present throughout the Gatherings, joining the practices every morning.
Bodhgaya is buzzing with practitioners of all Buddhist traditions, some of whom stop by and join the Rigpa gathering. Other passers by look upon the Rigpa gathering, intrigued and perplexed by the huge group of western practitioners.
It was incredibly humbling to hear from one western dharma practitioner who has lived in Bodhgaya for 15 years:
“When you see the Rigpa gathering it's very inspiring. Very inspiring to see how well they practise. How devoted they are. And how they all come together. It's just amazing. It's beautiful. I have lived in Bodhgaya for 15 years and I've never been as inspired as I see with what's happening right now with the Rigpa students. ...I see a lot of love, a lot of caring for each other. And a lot of people supporting each other, and they've all come here from the West, some have never been to India before! They've never been to Bodhgaya before. Amazing!”
The Gathering will conclude on 16th March. We offer huge gratitude to the whole Rigpa sangha who made this event possible through their work or their generous donations. Let’s hope this is just the first of many such gatherings or prayer and practice.