Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl in London

Lama Ole Nydahl & Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche in London, September 2009

In September 2009 we were very fortunate to be able to welcome two of our precious teachers to London; Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl. This was a particularly auspicious occasion, as it was the first time Rinpoche had given teachings in the UK.

Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche (born 1950), a highly respected Karma Kagyu lama, holds the title “Maniwa”, given to masters of the Loving Eyes (Tib. Chenrezig) practice who have accomplished at least a billion OM MANI PEME HUNG mantras. Rinpoche was ordained in Rumtek Monastery by the 16th Karmapa. The official programme took place over the weekend of 18-20 September 2009, a course entitled “Meditation in Diamond Way Buddhism”.

Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche teaching on the Development Stage of Meditation, London September 2009

On Friday evening Lama Ole Nydahl gave an introductory lecture on Diamond Way Buddhist meditation at the Camden Centre on Euston Road to an audience of approximately 500 people. During Saturday and Sunday, the course moved to the luxurious Mermaid Conference and Events Centre in the City of London. On Saturday during two intensive sessions, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche gave in-depth teachings on the development and completion stages (Tib. Kye rim & Dzog rim) stages of Diamond Way Buddhist meditation. His teachings were based on the classical text “Ladder to Akanishta” by the great Nyingma master Jigme Lingpa. This text was translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee and published by Snow Lion in 2007 in the book “Deity, Mantra and Wisdom“. Rinpoche explained that these teachings are usually taught more extensively in a retreat setting, but stated that by receiving them, the students had made a connection to the text which would support further study. On the Saturday evening Lama Ole spend a long time answering a range of questions from the audience, concerning the textual teachings of Rinpoche and more general points on Buddhist practice.

Between teaching sessions, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole were joined by Lama Jampa Thaye and his wife Dechen Dolma for lunch at the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre.

Lama Jampa Thaye visits Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Ole Nydahl in the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre

The evening programme commenced with a presentation on the New London Centre project, followed by a question and answer session with Lama Ole Nydahl.

On Sunday morning, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche gave the empowerment of the Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi. Karma Pakshi (1204-1283) was the first tulku (consciously reborn lama) ever to be recognised. He attained complete mastery of the Diamond Way teachings and is considered the embodiment of the highest expression of the wisdom of the Great Seal (Skt. Mahamudra).

Lama Ole Nydahl answers questions in the Mermaid Centre, London September 2009

The Guru Yoga practice and empowerment of Karma Pakshi was envisioned by the Great Tertön, Mingyur Dorje (1645-1667). At the age of 25, Mingyur Dorje was meditating on the protector Black Coat (Tib. Mahakala Bernakchen). In a pure vision the mandala of Karma Pakshi vividly appeared. The central figure was Karma Pakshi. Seated above Karma Pakshi’s head was Guru Rinpoche (Skt. Padmasambhava), the great Indian master responsible for the first diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet. To Karma Pakshi’s right was Horse Head (Skt. Hayagriva); to his left, Red Wisdom (Skt. Vajravarahi). Behind Karma Pakshi was Rechungpa, the great yogi Milarepa’s “moon-like” disciple (considered an emanation of Diamond in Hand (Skt. Vajrapani), the united power of all Buddhas). In front of Karma Pakshi was Black Coat together with his retinue. From this vision, Karma Pakshi bestowed on Mingyur Dorje all the instructions and blessings of this mandala’s practice – a type of “Meditation on the Lama” (Skt. Guru Yoga). Since then, the visionary method of Karma Pakshi practice became very important to the Karma Kagyu lineage.

The powerfield of the Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi

The atmosphere was electric as Rinpoche opened the powerfield of Karma Pakshi and transmitted the empowerment. After blessing all the participants, Rinpoche presented the hosts from the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre with a beautiful thangka of Karma Pakshi. The hosts thanked Rinpoche for his teachings on behalf of all the students present, expressing how touched everybody was by his immense compassion and wisdom.

Over the following four days (September 21-24) Rinpoche stayed as the guest of honour at the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre, where he received students for interviews and personal blessings. In the evenings visitors to the centre had the chance to meditate together with Rinpoche and receive teachings on the mani mantra. Rinpoche gave the oral transmission (Tib. Lung) for the Four Foundational Practices (Tib. Ngondro), the Third Karmapa’s Great Seal Wishes, and the 8th Karmapa Meditation (Tib. tun shi lame naljor). Rinpoche also found time to visit the Diamond Way Buddhist Group in Bath, where he gave explanations on the Loving Eyes meditation and practiced together with the sangha.

Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche wearing the 'Pandita Hat' for the empowerment

During a truly blissful week, many members of the UK Diamond Way sangha got to spend time with Rinpoche, making or strengthening auspicious dharma connections with him, as with as with his inseparable travelling companions, Lama Jigme and Ani Tenzin. We all look forward very much to hosting Rinpoche again in future.

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