During this retreat we have received much more than we had ever dreamed. Saying goodbye to Rinpoche doesn’t seem to leave space for anything else, nonetheless we had still to attend the closure event, an event that inspired our practice, even more. This event showed us the results that we can obtain in this spiritual path. Rinpoche had set our minds in the correct direction, then went on to inspire us ever more deeply.
So, after saying goodbye to Rinpoche, 65 retreatants went on a trip to Karme Ling, the three-year retreat center located 90 minutes from KTD.
We traveled in two buses. As it is expected from a Hispanic Sangha, our first challenge was to be on time, all together and in an orderly fashion. Even if we didn’t quite achieve this goal, we did manage to leave KTD for our new objective.
In the middle of woods where more than 10 varieties of pines exist, there sits Karme Ling. Venerable Kalo, one of the resident monks, welcomed us in a warm and cordial way. Once in the principal building, where Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche lives and the lamas meet, we were invited to know the place and everything in it. Venerable Tsultrim, who accompanied us, is in charge of the male retreatants and has done the three-year retreat four times. Venerable Chonyim, on the other hand, is in charge of female retreatants, and finished her three-year retreat in Karma Ling last year.
Karme Ling is a place where Dharma permeates the air. Green Tara and Buddha Shakyamuni appear to be in unexpected places, in the middle of the gardens. The first place to visit was the Gompa, in the principal building with His Holiness the Karmapa’s living quarters, where he stayed during his 2 tours to the USA. We continued our visit to the Stupa, and the individual retreat cabins, the female and male retreat houses and finally, the crowns jewel of Karme Ling, the Columbarium.
The Columbarium is a space created by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche in 2005, as an offering to the transitory vehicle of our mind in this life, a place in which ashes are kept in urns. In this space Rinpoche offers prayers every morning and evening, and during the day the Chenrezig mantra sounds in His Holiness’ voice. In 2011, the Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and other great lineage teachers blessed it. Inside the Columbarium, the main buddhas of the Five Buddha Families protect the ashes arranged in a specific order.
Each of the places we visited is impressive, more impressive are the people that breathe life into this place, the lamas that run Karme Ling. They are the manifestation of practice, in their physical verbal and mental expressions, they fill the space with a kindness that can be inhaled. Due to them we went back to KTD filled with inspiration and with a clear vision of what profound practice could eventually represent for each of us.
Photographs courtesy of: Alessandra Otero, Almendra Ramírez and Miriam Cuevas-Fournier.