Huyen's trip to Canada
On my birthday, I made the decision to travel to British Columbia to see my spiritual teacher, Geshe Yongdong at the Sherab Chamma Ling Center. This was a big deal for me since I have never been on a spiritual retreat alone. I have always been accompanied by my partner, Bryan, who took me to my very first spiritual retreat at Ligmincha and we’ve been to several retreats since then.
At first the thought of traveling alone to an international retreat made me feel a little nervous. I mapped out the travel and found out it would take me 15 hours from the time I left my house to the time I would arrive on Vancouver Island, with three airport stops. Okay I can do this, I reminded myself and booked the ticket! The topic of study for the retreat was about prosperity vases. A short description of a prosperity vase is that the inside of a prosperity vase represents your inner spiritual wealth while the outside of the vase represents financial wealth that the Universe supports one as one follows a spiritual path.
On the same day that I booked the ticket, I received a phone call from a place that notified me that they found a lost coin purse that I lost 5 months prior. I had looked and back traced all my steps to locate this purse during that time but could not find it. What I came to realize is that as soon as I made the commitment to travel and see my teacher, the “energetic blocks” were removed and the flow of “energy” began streaming in.
I trusted, and the universe aided me in financing my trip to Canada.
So much of my trip was dream like, surreal. There were times I felt like pinching myself to know that it was real.
I had special encounters with my teachers:
I was staying at a bed and breakfast. The morning of the first teaching, Geshe Yongdong rung the doorbell and when I opened the door, I saw him standing in his maroon red Tibetan robe. What a fortuitous sight that was and for the owners of the B & B too; it’s not every day a Lama from Tibet shows up on your front door step!
I hurried and went outside and as I approached the car, I saw sitting in the front passenger seat another Tibetan Lama, Chaphur Rinpoche who has his own center in California. He is recognized as the reincarnation of the great Tibetan master, Chaphur Phuntsok Wangyal Rinpoche. I learned that both my teacher and Chaphur Rinpoche were going to co-teach this retreat.
As I was riding in the car, I was so excited and could not believe I was in the car with two great Tibetan lamas travelling to another city to receive their teachings. During the car ride, they would often speak in their native Tibetan language. This was a treat to me and music to my ears because I’ve mostly heard the Tibetan language on recordings and music cds but right then, dialogues were going to back and forth right in front of me.
There were so many serendipitous moments that occurred along the trip and I could share them all but for the sake of time I will share just a few of my magical moments.
One day during the trip, I had stopped by the Sherab Chamma Ling, the center my teacher founded. Upon my arrival, I saw my teacher unloading bins out of his car; these items were the materials related to the prosperity retreat. After the items were unloaded and organized, I was asked to help assemble the fabric material that would be used to seal the tops of the vases. Five fabrics of five colors representing the 5 elements of wind, water, fire, earth and space were needed to seal the tops of the vases. As I was assembling the fabrics, I heard this music being played behind me. It was my teacher and Chaphur Rinpoche playing these clarinet-like Tibetan instruments. These instruments produced a very soulful, spiritual quality of sound that was very powerful and majestic like. It was hard to believe this was all happening live, hearing these ritual instruments I’ve only imagined one day I could hear.
Another incredible moment occurred on a day when I was scheduled to meet my teacher. It so happened that my teacher had another student also scheduled for the same time slot. He had flown in from Vancouver and had requested a particular teaching for years now and that was the day that his request was finally being granted. I guess that my teacher didn’t realize that we were double booked so I was invited to sit in and observe while the student was receiving a teaching on Phowa, the transfer of consciousness when one dies.
This “hit home” for me because I have been attending a book study at Patanjali”s Place Yoga Studio where we read and discuss the book, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The book has really piqued my interest in assisting those near death, in the dying process, and who have passed. My desire is driven by really wanting to help those who are about to embarked on maybe one of the most challenging periods in their life. A few of the ways to help those through this is to be knowledgeable of the Bardo and Phowa practices. I have been reading and learning about these practices. However, until this session I had never received a teaching in person on this subject and so it was amazing that this happened by chance!
The final thing I would like to share is my experience with the meditation teaching I was so blessed to receive. I had expressed my interest in learning about guided meditation from my lama. I really wanted to learn from him because every time he guides a meditation, I am in complete relaxation and not a thing in the world troubles me. All my thoughts and mental distractions are set aside. But more than anything, I wanted to learn from a master, and one whom received his knowledge from the East and trained in in a Tibetan monastery. The day we met to receive my teaching, I thought I was going to learn about the Ngondro foundational practices.
However, when I arrived, he informed me that the booklet that he had prepared had not been printed and ready. Therefore, because I had expressed interest in meditation, we would learn about that topic instead. He began by giving me a silver bracelet and told me that this bracelet may help me during my meditations. It was so beautiful and the fact that I had something to remember this initiation with made it even more special. He then taught me how to guide meditation and gave me several recordings he created on Tibetan meditation. After leaving, I felt really honored to have received this information that I did and to know that he had never given this one on one instruction made it even more special.
At the conclusion of the trip, I attended the “prosperity vase” (Yang Dup in Tibetan) retreat. That was completely magical and entailed a lot of prayers, chanting and creations of beautiful blessed prosperity vases for the attendants of the retreat. Here is a photo of Geshe Yongdong and Chapur Rinpoche blessing the vases.