The Four-Session Guru Yoga of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje Retreat

aIMG_6055People come from all over the country (and the world) to sit for the seven days of this retreat, reciting the Guru Yoga of the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, four times a day.

This year the Guru Yoga was led by Khenpo Karma Tenkyong (President of KTD) and Lama Karma Thendhup, KTD’s Protector Lama.

The power of this sadhana to purify negativity is strong, and people feel a great blessing reciting “Karmapa Khyenno” with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Khenpo Karma Tenkyong, Lama Karma Thendhup and the lamas of KTD and Karme Ling.

IMG_5959IMG_6047IMG_5957But on the third day of the retreat – the 8th Day of Losar – the Four-Session Guru Yoga by Mikyo Dorje retreat practice is paused so that all of the Losar Offerings can be placed in a great bonfire accompanied by chanting and ritual music. “The human beings have already had their Losar,” said Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who began the tradition of “Phurab” fire offerings, or sang, several years ago. “Now it is time for the nonhuman beings to have their Losar.”

IMG_5991 IMG_5989IMG_6015The chemars full of tsampa, the mountains of stacked khapsay cookies, candies, fruit, nuts – and even the giant Green Tara Torma and the 13 large Kangsol Protector tormas made in a single day – all of these precious offerings are stacked up on large tables in the center of the shrine room and slowly carried out to an enormous fire burning in the courtyard.

IMG_5999 IMG_6028 IMG_6046As prayers for the removal of obstacles, the expansion of virtue, and the protection of dharma are recited, tray after tray of offerings – purchased with devotion, made with love and care in accordance with old tradition – are fed to the roaring flames. Like the sweeping of the sand mandala at the end of a ceremony, the grand offerings are blessed with meditation and prayer, and transformed into merit through the constant miracle of impermanence.