In order to strengthen and stabilize Buddhism within Nepal, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Chokling Rinpoche and Phakchok Rinpoche have decided to host Lamas from all over Nepal for one week at our monastery every year. The first such event took place last year in 2013. At this auspicious occasion Chokling Rinpooche was transmitting the complete empowerments and transmissions of the terma teachings of Jatsön Nyingpo, while Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche and Phakchok Rinpoche were giving teachings.
On the 11th of February 2014 after the Lamas had gathered once again to receive teachings and empowerments for one week, the event concluded with a big whole day Chö Feast.
Chö, literally cutting through, is one of the Eight Practice Lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded by the yogini Machik Labdrön (1055-1149/53), who was a disciple of the Indian master Padampa Sangye.
It is a practice that is said to put the Prajnaparamita teachings on transcendent wisdom into practice. While upholding the view and understanding of emptiness, the practitioner visualizes that he offers his body to various guests, including evil forces and spirits. The purpose of which is to destroy or cut attachment and especially one’s own ego-clinging that bind one to samsara. The practice is chanted in a very melodious tone accompanied by the sounds of drums and bells.
Later, in order to stabilize and keep Machig Labdröns Chö tradition authentic and pure the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339) compiled the various Chö practices and songs existing at that time into what is called Rinchen Trengwa, Jewel Garland of Chö Feasts, which was further edited by Karma Chagme (1613-78). It is the main practice of Chö for both the Kagyü and Nyingma tradition and all other Chö practices, that were later revealed as termas rely on the Rinchen Trengwa as an extensive tsok ritual.
Since both Chökyi Nyima Rinpoches father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his mother Sangyum Kunzang Dechen were holders of Chö practice, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche himself also holds the Chö practice quite dear. Thus Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche concluded this years Lama gathering with a Chö Tsok practice and empowerment. Whereas the Nepali Lamas had received so far teachings and empowerments in private, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche opened the Chö practice for the public and invited all the students to join.
The Chö practice was beautifully lead by Rinpoche himself and all the monks of his monastery. In the afternoon, Rinpoche bestowed the empowerment on all the people who had gathered.
A short video of Rinpoche and his monks performing the Chö Feast in the can be watched here:
Inspired by the gathering in Feburary, Rinpoche also wanted to teach Chö to his western students. On Rinpoche’s request, Lama Tsultrim Zangpo taught the ritual and practice of Chö every evening for one week to a group of about 20 western students.
As a start, currently the students are learning a brief Chö practice from the Chokling Tersar cycle of teachings. In the future Rinpoche wants to ensure that his students also become learned and study the various other Chö traditions and especially the long and main practice of Rinchen Trengwa. Rinpoche also expressed his eager wish to hold special Chö seminars and retreats for his students.
~Stefan from Germany