NEWS FLASH!!! His Holiness Orgyen Thrinley the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa has granted my request to bestow the Chöd Empowerment of Machig Labdrön from the Rinchen Trengwa and accompanying teachings Oct. 27-28-29, 2012 in Dharamsala, India. This will be the first time His Holiness has given this empowerment in this life, but his lineage has been closely connected to Machig Labdrön since the time of Rangjung Dorje 3rd Karmapa who wrote the first commentaries on her teachings. This will be an extremely auspicious and rare event, open to all but there will be samaya requirements for those receiving it. Location to be announced.
On November 6, my second daughter Aloka and her husband Trevor Sands had their second child, Truman James. Their first child, Luna Violet, will be three in January. My eldest daughter Sherab and her husband Eric Adolphi, who live in Telluride, are expecting a baby in March. A shower of blessings!
I am in Europe teaching in Switzerland and Italy. A high point was teaching in the sacred space of Merigar, the first seat of Chogyel Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche in Europe. The weather was clear and warm for the three days I taught Chöd and Feeding Your Demons. It was a real joy to see old friends and return to this place where I spent so much time in the 1980’s. The roots of the demon work come from the Chöd of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.
At the end of the Drubchen in August, we consecrated the tsatsakang, the memorial for David built on Prayer Flag Ridge. This beautiful stone structure contains the tsatsas, or clay stupa-like forms, mixed with the crushed remains of his bones with a roll of mantras inserted into the middle. David was always clear with me that he wanted all of his ashes in one place and not scattered around, so his wish has been granted. Also inside the tsatsakang is a shrine with a consecrated statue of Vajrasattva, offerings and other sacred objects.
We have decided to form the David Petit Memorial Fund, a fund to help with the long-term sustainability of Tara Mandala. If you would like to donate as a founder of this fund please contact me. This fund will ensure the stability and future of Tara Mandala and it is fitting that David, who dedicated the last twenty years his life to the birthing of Tara Mandala, is remembered in the name of the fund. This kind of fund will be invested and will help diversify the organization’s income and reduce our dependency on programs and annual gifts. This fund is a way for donors to be assured that their investment in Tara Mandala will be cared for, and it is a gift that keeps on giving. It also allows for financial planning beyond the immediate year.
Our Legacy Circle of those who have put Tara Mandala in their planned giving by writing Tara Mandala into their will is also growing consistently. Thank you to all the Legacy Circlemembers! Do let us know if you have named Tara Mandala in your bequest–you may remain anonymous if you wish. These funds will be added to the David Petit Sustainability Fund. Knowing impermanence first hand, I encourage you to write a will and to be sure it reflects your wishes; if you don’t have one, the government will decide how your assets are distributed.
We have also formed a Protector’s Circle of those committed Sangha members who wish to donate $1000 a month to help to protect and sustain Tara Mandala. The Protector Circle’s will also have an advisory role and special conference calls and meetings will be held for them. I will oversee and meet with this group personally and am very grateful to those who are able to stand with me to protect and stabilize Tara Mandala. Thank you to those who have already joined.
At the beginning of November, I will leave for Europe. First I will go to the Canary Islands to spend some time receiving teachings from my teacher Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Then i’ll go to Switzerland to teach Feeding Your Demons followed by Italy where I will teach at Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche’s center Merigar in Tuscany and near Florence. Both Florence and Switzerland are fully booked with waiting lists but the Merigar event is still open, in which I will teach a weekend on Chöd and Feeding Your Demons. These programs are listed on our website under Tara Mandala International Retreat Calendar.
Then in December I will return to Tara Mandala for a family Christmas followed by several months of personal retreat up to Sherab’s birth in March. Then in late March I will teach a Kapala Training Level I at Kripalu Yoga Center in upstate New York and I will also teach Kapala Training Level I in Key West in April. I will be in Germany all of June 2012 and then return to Tara Mandala for an exciting season of retreats. We have some new programs like the Chöd Fest and some that I haven’t taught for a long time like the Dakini Retreat with Simhamukha. I will also teach Zhitro and Phowa with my dear friend Chagdud Khandro in September. And we have invited the great scholar Stephan Karcher to teach on the oldest and most respected oracle, the I Ching. In September he will teach on the Taoist version with his knowledge of myth, divination, depth psychology and religious experience. Also, Fabio Andricco, my old friend, a constant companion, and disciple of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu for nearly 40 years, will teach his amazing work ‘Breathe’ and Yantra yoga in September. We will also have our core programs that we offer every year.
This will be followed in the month of October by the India Pilgrimage to Himachial Pradesh where we will receive teachings on Phowa from the son of Apho Rinpoche, my teacher in the lineage of Shakya Shri in Lahoul, Dzogchen commentary on The Three Phases the Strike the Vital Point (Garab Dorje’s Tsig Sum Ne Dig) from Lama Wangdor in Tso Pema and finally H.H.Karmapa 17th has agreed to give the Chöd empowerment! We are now working out the venue and the other details for this big event. The 2012 schedule will be coming out soon with all the details!
So I am back from the ghost river. I will continue to mourn David the rest of my life, and he will always be part of Tara Mandala, but crisis has given way to gathering strength and we have experienced transformation at every level. I am moving on. Thank you all for your love, support and prayer during the challenges of this past year. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through, I would not wish it on anyone, but it taught me so much. David’s final act was his most dramatic and in its sharpness brought the Buddhist teachings to me in such a poignant way. What greater teacher is there than death? I hope that I can bring forth greater compassion and wisdom from this experience.