Today, a five day phowa retreat at our monastery has concluded.
The first three days were a mixture of Rinpoche teaching phowa, the participants practicing phowa together with Rinpoche, and making many aspiration prayers and other practices, such as the Tersar Lüjin Chöd, to increase compassion and devotion to such an extent that phowa practice became easier. Because of Rinpoche’s amazing blessings, unbelievable compassion, and radiant wisdom as well as the audience’s seriousness in the dharma and their own devotion, already on the first day, many people got the sign of successful phowa. This was then shown by sticking a kusha grass into the hole at the cowlick of one’s head. The first ones to receive signs were our monks and nuns. Rinpoche explained that for the phowa signs to occur one must possess great devotion but also one has to have purified a great deal of negativity and gathered the accumulations of virtue. As this is the monks’ and nuns’ “job,” if you will, to spend their lives in exactly that, Rinpoche thought that it came to no surprise that our monks and nuns showed quickly signs of success. However, after a couple of sessions, also lay practitioners – Himalayas as well as Westerners – were starting to get signs.
By the second day, probably two thirds of the gathered 2000 practitioners – most of them Nepalese, but probably 150 or so from about twenty other countries – were walking about with kusha grass sticking out from their heads. At the end of the third day, every single person in the immense shrine hall tent had received the sign, including a deaf and dumb, but incredibly devoted old lady, and some children. The practitioners were very happy and grateful to Rinpoche, as he had led every single session of the four daily sessions, correcting, explaining, encouraging, and inspiring.
As everyone had already shown marks of successful Phowa practice, Rinpoche decided to conduct the Karmapa Rangjung Dorje’s whole-day Tsokle Rinchen Trengwa Chöd practice on the fourth day instead of continuing phowa.
The day of the Chöd practice was one of great inspiration as hundreds and thousands of people sang the devotional songs accompanying blessed melodies with a big hand drum and a bell. In-between, Rinpoche kindly gave more teachings. On the last and fifth-day, Rinpoche led the Tsekar, White Amitayus and betowed a long life empowerment.
On the last day many groups of students made a Ku-Sung-Thuk offering for Rinpoche, requesting him to live very long and continue teaching and guiding us and all beings until each and every being is fully enlightened.