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Lady Diana in Tibet

Here is the final report on Lady Diana Mukpo's visit to Eastern Tibet [this report was filed on July 21, 2002 by Derek Kolleeny and lightly edited by Peter Volz]:

On July 12, the monks of Surmang Dudtsi-til monastery offered Lady Diana and party a short version of the Chakrasamvara lama dances for which Surmang is renowned. The dances were held in the courtyard in front of the main shrine hall. At the end of the dances, Lady Diana presented the reading transmission of the Shambhala Werma sadhana, a terma text received by the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, to all the monks and gathered villagers of Surmang.

Then the Lamen Kyi Khyap, Dr. Mitchell Levy, gave the lung (reading transmission) for the Dorje Dradul sadhana, a practice for the Dorje Kasung, composed by the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In the afternoon, a long life abhisheka was bestowed by Rolpa Dorje Rinpoche and the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku Rinpoche, in a beautiful meadow at the bottom of Surmang Valley next to the river that flows through the valley. Hundreds of Surmang villagers dressed in their finest participated in the ceremony. The actual empowerments were granted by these two tulkus accompanied by Lady Diana, Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche (Gesar Mukpo), Khamyuang Tulku Rinpoche (Ashoka Mukpo), the Lamen and other tulkus of Surmang. These included Dhamchu Rinpoche (the Vidyadhara's half brother,) Karme Senge Rinpoche (the Vidhyadhara's nephew), and Aten Rinpoche, one of the senior Rinpoches of Surmang.

Later that afternoon, Lady Diana presented gifts to the monastery from the Kunchok Foundation, the support group founded by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to help the Surmang monastery and the surrounding community. Lady Diana also offered funds from the many Shambhala sangha members who supported the trip, and from herself and her family.

These donations were earmarked for the building of a shedra (or monastic college) and a school for the local (and very poor) lay community. These funds will help with the education and support of the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku, for the general operation of the monastery including robes and food for monks, and for the local medical clinic, founded and operated by the Surmang Foundation. Detailed discussions were held about the process and plans required for undertaking the complex project of developing the shedra and school.

On the next day, July 13, the party departed Surmang Dudtsi-til and drove to Surmang Namgyal-tse Monastery for the grand opening ceremony of a new shedra there. The party was accompanied by all of the major tulkus from Dudtsi-til for this historic occasion. The Trungpa Tulku rode next to his new found friend David Mukpo, playing Gameboy for the entire eight-hour drive.

An enormous gathering had come to Namgyal-tse from the surrounding region for this event and included a party of over 140 Southeast Asian students of Garwang Rinpoche, the head abbot of Namgyal-tse. Over 40 major tulkus were in attendance. Given the huge size of this event, and its distance from any modern conveniences, the ensuing chaos and confusion was softened by Garwang Rinpoche's warm and good-humored hospitality.

The next morning the party attended the formal opening ceremonies. Prominent seats in the large new shrine hall of the monastery were offered for Lady Diana, the Lamen, Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche and Khamnyuang tulku. For lunch, Lady Diana and party were invited to the residence of the former Tenga Rinpoche, where they were hosted by his widow and their family.

Large crowds from Khamyuang Tulku's Karma Gon monastery followed the party everywhere, creating joyous and energetic confusion. Only with great effort was the party able to control these crowds and make their way back to the monastery. At this time, the party bade their final goodbyes to the Trungpa Tulku and the other Dutsi-til tulkus and lamas.

On the evening of July 14 the party returned to the town of Jyekundo to rest up before proceeding to Shechen Monastery, the final stop of the tour. At the hotel in Jyekundo the next morning, the party was greeted by the fifth Gangshar Rinpoche from Shechen Monastery, who is the direct incarnation of the great Khenpo Gangshar Rinpoche, one of the Vidhyadhara's two main teachers (the other being the previous Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche).

Gangshar Rinpoche escorted Lady Diana and party to Shechen monastery including a stop-over for the evening along the thirteen hour journey.

Because there were no accommodations available on the road, the party camped out that evening in a beautiful meadow, under a stunning star-filled sky.

The party reached Shechen Monastery on July 15, and was met a few miles out from the monastery by a long procession of cars and motorcycles. Lhasangs offered by local villagers were burning on hillsides along the dirt road on the way to the monastery. When the party arrived at Shechen, there were twelve major lamas, including Shechen Gyaltsab Rinpoche. A magnificent traditional welcoming ceremony was held for the third Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche (Gesar Mukpo) in the main shrine hall that included a blessing ceremony for all of the monks and laypeople of the area.

The party was surprised to see Mattieu Ricard at Shechen. Mattieu is the long-time attendant of the former H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and he helped receive and greet the party when they arrived at Shechen. Matthieu left early the next day to attend to one of his many projects in eastern Tibet which includes clinics and schools.

Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, Khamyuang Rinpoche and David Mukpo were hosted in the private quarters of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, while Lady Diana was stayed in rooms created for the new young Khyentse Yangtsi Rinpoche (the incarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche).

On the next day the party toured the shedra, the clinic and the school at Shechen, and Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche gave the lung of the Sadhana of Mahamudra in the main courtyard of the monastery. That afternoon the party rode horses and hiked up to the main retreat center above Shechen Monastery. The party visited the ruins of the retreat house of the former Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, and practiced the Dharma Sagara, a guru yoga sadhana written by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to the Vidyadhara. Derek Kolleeny then read sections from the Nalanda Translation Committee's recently translated and released Light Rays of the Sun and the Moon. This is a text written by the Vidhyadhara's at a young age while he still lived in Tibet, about the teachings he undertook with Khenpo Gangshar Rinpoche.

On the way down from the retreat place, the party was hosted for dinner at the new residence of Gangshar Rinpoche, where they met Chime Palmo, the consort of the first Gangshar Rinpoche. She shared many wonderful stories about her time with Khenpo Gangshar. One story was about the time when Gangshar Rinpoche was holding their daughter inside his chuba. The baby shit on Rinpoche, and while others laughed at him, Gangshar Rinpoche merely replied that someday he would return the favor. In fact, his next incarnation, the current Gangshar Rinpoche, was indeed his daughter's son. After an exchange of many gifts we departed for a short night's sleep in our quarters.

Early the next morning, the party was sent off by Gangshar Rinpoche and the other lamas of Shechen, and began their long and grueling three-day journey back to Beijing. The party caught their breath in Beijing, and will arrive back in the U.S. on July 23.

Everyone in the party appears to have survived the trip and they are all relatively healthy and relatively sane.

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