This has been a rich year of teachings by Anyen Rinpoche, with two Dying with Confidence programs concluding their level III training and a new program beginning this past September.
In Denver, 55 students began the third Level I training since the program began in 2011. Over the five-day retreat, students received many inspirational opportunities to take preparations for death as a living practice. The program encompassed teachings for deepening our commitment to practice and the Bodhisattva path, preparing ourselves for dying confidently by applying the teachings to daily life, to our relationships with sangha, friends and family, and to examining our self-attachment and need for honest self-reflection. We look forward to hosting the second level March 28-30.
In early November, the Vermont sangha hosted a 4-day phowa retreat open to new students, followed by Level III for those who had begun the training last Fall. New students quickly learned that Rinpoche teaches so much more than the title of the retreat. Learning the practice of phowa cannot be accomplished without great commitment to one's daily practice and to the foundation of all practice--wind energy. Rinpoche teaches that we must work with the body, making it flexible for the wind energy to flow through, allowing the mind to become calm and focused. So each morning we began with physical yoga followed by wind energy practices before beginning any formal teachings or practice.
Level III included teachings on Phowa for Others, a practice everyone had been patiently waiting to learn. Rinpoche stresses the importance of working on Phowa for Self as a preliminary to practicing for others, so students had practiced throughout the year of training and worked hard at the phowa retreat preceding Level III. Once again, the Vermont group was given the opportunity to come together to practice and pray as a student’s mother was in the process of dying during the 7-day retreat. The sangha immediately worked together to create a schedule of practice with students taking turns practicing phowa and reciting mantra and prayers throughout the 49 days after death.
Anyen Rinpoche’s vision for sanghas to care for each other at the time of death manifested easily with his profound teachings. The training had inspired students to quickly come together to support sangha members in a compassionate, loving and selfless way.
2013 ended with many beginnings of future Dharma activity for the benefit of all beings.