Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: The Community Function of the Protector Lama and the Protector Shrine

MahakalaWord for word transcript by Margaret Erlewine of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s comments, 6-9-2013. Light editing.

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Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and Lama Thendup work on hangings for the Protector Shrine

“As most all of you know, we’ve not only completed the construction of this monastery, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, but we have now completed the creation of a protector temple or gonkhang. We have not only completed the creation of the protector temple or shrine room, but we now have a protector lama, Lama Thendup. And so we have everything we need in order to relate in the fullest and most traditional way to the protectors.

We mention this because, since you have never had such a thing in your culture, you’re unfamiliar with the community function of the protector lama and the protector shrine. For many years up to the present whenever any of you have been in difficulties, you’ve often come to me and ask me to pray for you or to bless you so you transcend these, which is very sweet of you, but I don’t actually have any power to protect you or bless you. I have good aspirations for all of you, but I don’t have any power. The best thing I can do is to pray, on your behalf, to the protectors, such as Mahakala and Mahakali. But traditionally the person, who is supposed to intercede on your behalf with the protectors, is the protector lama.

IMG_0757IMG_0631So from now on, whenever you have difficulties and you feel you need particular help, I want you to go to Lama Thendup and make an offering, whatever size you want, and ask him to talk to the protectors on your behalf. This is traditional; this is the way it’s always been done. It is Mahakala and Mahakali who protect us. It is the function and responsibility of the protector lama to communicate to them our particular needs and issues. The reason why you need to make an offering to him or the temple is to create the interdependent condition for help to come to you. Just as if you want to eat you first have to plant seeds, so then the food will grow and then eventually you eat it.

Now there is one thing about this. When you request the assistance of the protectors in such a way, don’t think that you’re being selfish, because it is their function to help you and protect you. They are dharmapalas, dharma protectors. However because they are dharmapalas they are going to assist you in anything virtuous, but they will not assist you in anything unvirtuous. If you ask for their assistance in doing something bad, they will assist you by making sure that it doesn’t work out.

IMG_0756They’re dharmapalas; they’re not protectors of negativity; they’re protectors of dharma.”

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