Gratitude Series #40 – Nepal a Pilgrimage Part 1: Pharping Vajrayogini

“I want you to get yourself to this Nepal pilgrimage.” These were the firm words from my Guru, H. E. Tsem Rinpoche, to me to make sure I went on this sacred pilgrimage. So by hook or crook I had to find a way to raise my own funds to get myself a ticket to go on this trip. It was my first pilgrimage to Nepal… to the land of Vajrayogini(s) and stupas. I could never thank Rinpoche enough for making me go on this pilgrimage because it was such a mind blowing experience. It was like as though we’ve travelled into another dimension of spiritual divinities, where yogis roam and yoginis worshipped. The air was thick with sacred mysticism of ancient wisdom, the energy was magnetising, and I felt I could stay there forever. What made it even more sacredly special was that we had Rinpoche as our guide!

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From the moment we arrived till the end of our pilgrimage it was filled with meaningful and enlightening discoveries, as Rinpoche shared with us invaluable stories of each place we visited. One such meaningful place I’d like to share in this Part 1 of my post was when we visited the Vajravarahi (variant lineage of Vajrayogini) chapel in Pharping. This chapel housed the sacred Vajrayogini statue with one leg up. I love this particular chapel because there was a very strong sacred energy, and I believe we were definitely in the presence of Vajrayogini.

c1-Choegon Rinpoche Nepal Pilgrimage 17_700x525

The holy Vajrayogini chapel is on the 1st floor above the home of a simple Nepali family whose ancestral lineage has been assigned to care for this sacred space.

As we were walking towards this chapel, we came across a very fierce barking dog that looked like it was about to attack us. We had no other way to get around to the chapel but to cross its path. Rinpoche walked ahead of us and told us to stay behind him. As Rinpoche got close to the dog, He recited some mantra and stared at the dog, doing some form of sacred mudra and the dog suddenly calmed down. Then Rinpoche asked us to quickly cross over. Rinpoche mentioned we had a ‘slight’ obstacle but it was cleared now. This was a rare occasion where Rinpoche would show His attainments as Rinpoche is very traditional and humble. He would never talk or admit of His abilities. Gelugpa Lamas live by this moral conduct as taught and inspired by Lama Tsongkhapa himself. Their focus is always on Dharma studies and transformation of the mind.

When we arrived at the chapel, some of the pilgrims suddenly just wept uncontrollable, not knowing why. Perhaps they felt Vajrayogini’s compassion? Perhaps it triggered their compassionate nature, something within? Perhaps it reminded them of a long lost aspiration? Rinpoche calmly explained as He guided us in offerings and prayer to Vajrayogini. Whatever it was, it was certainly magical and everyone could feel it.

This quaint little chapel is part of the house of a simple family, whose ancestral lineage has the holy responsibility of caring for this sacred Vajrayogini space. Hence Rinpoche reminded us to be mindful and respectful as we are entering someone’s house, as well as the mandala of Vajrayogini. What a privilege! What was so special about this chapel besides the strong energies was when Rinpoche asked us to pass Him our personal malas (prayer beads) or pendants for blessing as we were heading out. When it came to my turn to pass my mala to Rinpoche, Rinpoche just gently said, “there is no need for blessing, it’s already blessed!” I was taken aback and thought… “Really, how is that so?” Later when I think back, I realised that this very mala, given to me by sister when I first started chanting mantras, was already blessed by Rinpoche when I attended my 1st teaching in Singapore. This reminds me of the teaching from Lord Buddha Vajradhara; all the attainments and blessings arise from the Guru. The Guru is the Buddha and in this case, Rinpoche was Vajrayogini and vice versa. Hence there is no need to bless something that’s already blessed. When we have this pure view of our Guru, all things impossible become possible, and finding our purpose becomes a much clearer path.

Everyone left Pharping filled with bliss, reignited courage, and with thoughts of being the ambassadors of Vajrayogini, as Rinpoche skilfully reminded us. Everyone’s motivation renewed, as though we were descending down from the pure land of Kechara (Vajrayogini’s paradise) back to samsara to ‘help others’. By thinking in this way, Rinpoche taught us to change our perception and aspirations to one like the supreme Buddha Vajrayogini, who skilfully uses samsara to help others in to Dharma. When we have this type of motivation, even from the clothes we wear is for the benefit of others, everything we do is no longer for the ‘self-cherishing-I’ but for ‘others’. Our energies were recharged. This may sound very airy fairy, but holy pilgrimages do bless us and open up seeds by reawakening our inner aspirational prayers of the past. To understand more about pilgrimages, please watch ‘Why Visit Holy Pilgrimages?‘  Everyone should really save up and make a Pilgrimage trip to Nepal’s sacred sites once in this life at least.

I can never thank Rinpoche enough for your compassion in guiding me always and teaching the value of being alive, being human and our purpose in life. Thank you again for making me find my own way to go on this holy pilgrimage which I will forever treasure!

Related Links:

  1. Kathmandu, Nepal 2008
  2. Nepal Pilgrimage with H.E. Tsem Rinpoche (Part 3 of 4)
  3. Tsem Rinpoche’s Birthday/Long Life Puja 2004
  4. Flying Vajrayogini in Patan, Nepal
  5. A Vajrayogini pilgrimage (part 2)
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