A Buddhist blessing on Aspen
By Charles Agar, Aspen Times, January 6, 2007
Aspen, Colorado (USA) -- Silence. The swish of cloth. A doorway opened, and a Buddhist lama from Bhutan entered a conference room in Aspen to bless an eclectic group of the devout and curious Friday.
The city’s Rio Grande conference room was a makeshift monastery, complete with meditation cushions and colorful Buddhist tanka paintings covering the walls.
Trailed by monks in saffron robes, Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, a Buddhist master from the Kingdom of Bhutan, wore an orange shawl over his North Face fleece. He opened with a guttural chant, then spoke about the blessing ceremony through a translator, Sarah Harding, a professor at Naropa University in Boulder.
Rinpoche is a teacher of the Dzogchen (Great Perfection) line of Buddhism. Since he was a child he has been recognized as the ninth incarnation of Pema Lingpa, the patron saint of Bhutan, and entered monastic life, according to his meditation center’s website.
He sponsors more than 30 monasteries in his native Bhutan and around the world. Rinpoche’s sect does not require monks to be celibate: He’s married and has children who are a good bets to be reincarnations of Buddhist saints.
The Roaring Fork Friends of Tibet, with the help of other area foundations, sponsored this week’s events, said Dennis Tuma, a member of the group.
“It’s a time to reinvent your situation,” Tuma said. “A spiritual dry cleaning.”
Friday night’s Kago, or blessing ceremony, consisted of ritual chants, and celebrants passed in front of the lama to receive blessing and a ritual protection cord the lama called “armor.”
“Wear it all the time,” the lama said in Tibetan, through translator Harding.
The ceremony was a way to remove “inner and secret obstacles and prevent things that might happen to you,” the lama said. “It gives you more merit, long life and influence.”
“He’s just putting his energy out into the community and we’re hoping that people respond in a positive way,” Tuma said.
The more than 50 who gathered enjoyed samosas, momos and chai tea from Nepal Restaurant in Glenwood Springs after the ceremony.
Rinpoche is on a prolonged U.S. tour, which included a visit to his meditation center in Crestone before stops in Crested Butte, Boulder and Los Angeles.
Rinpoche will hold a workshop in Nyingma Buddhism from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Tuition is $ 50 per session and $ 125 for the weekend. The lama and his entourage of monks will also hold a ski- up Tibetan fire blessing at noon Jan. 10 in front of the ski patrol hut on Aspen Mountain.