When Lama Tenzin and I first began to build this monastery, we did so with the hope that we would be able to convene the type of elaborate ceremonies and rituals that have been traditionally hosted at Rumtek Monastery. We thought we would train people here and be able to host the ceremonies with the people we trained. As you know, a lot of things happened in the intervening years that affected Rumtek, so this has not been easy to do.
Recently, His Holines the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa designed this beautiful mandala shrine and spoke of it to me. Inspired by the fact that His Holiness had designed this himself, I was able to get hold of one. Now, I had a lot of help. And I thought that once it was set up in our shrine room here, that it would be the most auspicious thing if the first use of it would be to perform this practice, “The Ayu Sadhana of Conjunct Means and Wisdom” by Yonge Mingyur Dorje.
This practice is, as Lodro Nyima Rinpoche stated during the empowerment, very important to us. The previous Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche strongly enjoined me to convene assembly practices of this sadhana and although he never directly ordered me to do so, the previous Gyalwang Karmapa, when I was in Rumtek, spoke about how good it would be if an assembly practice of this would be convened. So, this year we have managed to accomplish this. With the help of others, I invited Lodro Nyima Rinpoche and those who came with him – the Umdze Lama Tobden and the Choppon Lama Namse, in particular – and were able to bring them here, including getting their visas and so forth.
Now, I don’t possess a great deal of wealth, but other people have been very generous in sponsoring things that I wanted to see done here. In particular, Yeshe Zangpo and Sue Drolkhar have sponsored the creation of these images of the Buddha Amitayus, which have been consecrated here during these seven days of ceremony. Now, my hope was to present these to the lamas of North America with whom I have pure samaya, and it was my hope that all of them could join us and come here for this assembly. Of them, Lama Lodru, Lama Yeshe Losal, Lama Dudjom Dorjee, and Lama Tsultrim have managed to come.
Others were unable to come, because they had urgent matters to take care of in their own centers – we have a saying about that in Tibetan – “you should not abandon your own children in order to take care of those of others.” In any case, we have successfully convened this, and I feel confident and hopeful that our lamas here have learned how to do this practice, so that they can make the necessary tormas, perform the ritual, know the melodies and music and so forth.
Therefore I am hopeful that since they have learned how to do the practice under the expert tutelage of Lodro Nyima Rinpoche and his Umdze and Choppon, that we will be able to perform this on a yearly basis hereafter. I can’t guarantee this; I’m just basically telling you what I would like to see happen. In circumstances such as this, it would be customary, particularly in my own culture, for me to give very eloquent and well-prepared remarks in flowing poetic language filled with poetic ornamentation and so on. But I’m not like that, and I don’t particularly do that – especially at my present age.
So I am speaking more informally, talking about what I would like to see happen, which is more in keeping with American custom [laughter]. I would like to be clear about the Amitayus images; that I’m only presenting them to the lamas who have been here for the seven days of practice; I cannot give one to everyone who is here.”
However, Khenpo Rinpoche then invited the main sponsor of the Long-Life Practice, Karma Drolma Tsering [Cherry Qu] to come forward the receive a statue.