“In short, all apparitions are the forms of yidams, awakened beings. All sounds are reverberations of mantras, arising of the Speech of the awakened ones. All thoughts are indistinguishable from the mind of the awakened ones. This is how the three types of apparition appear. You should practice that either during and after your meditation session, in real life. Recognition of purity is a continuous process.” Extract from Gangteng Rinpoche’s public talk in Estonia 2017.
In 2016, a group of Gangteng Rincoche’s students in Estonia found Yeshe Khorlo Estonia, a non-profit organisation to fulfill the goals of Gangteng Rinpoche in Estonia. Rinpoche, who is the lineage holder of Pema Lingpa’s tradition of Nyingma school, has an objective to establish here a 3-year retreat center for his students and other followers of Buddhadharma, who are interested in practices of Pema Lingpa’s tradition.
Gangteng Rinpoche, who is also the current head of Nyingma school in Bhutan, visited Estonia in summer 2017, from 28th of July to 29th July. He gave a fascinating public talk in Tallinn about the Vajrayana tradition in general, having the focus on Dzogchen tradition in particular. The video of the public talk is found here. It is in Tibetan, translated into English (oral translation) and Estonian (subtitles).
After that, Gangteng Rinpoche gave in the village of Umbusi, Umbusi Dharma center in Põltsamaa parish, an introductory lecture about the essence of Dzogchen teachings, from three aspects – ground, path and fruit.
On the last day, on the 29th of July , in the morning, Rinpoche performed the riwo sangchö ritual on the Yeshe Khorlo retreat center’s land which was offered by Khordong association in Estonia (Umbusi Buddhist center). Ths particular plot of land was personally chosen by Khenpo Karma Wangyel, the resident Khenpo of Europe in November 2016. The riwo sangchö ritual was accompanied by a short story about the merits accumulated by those who are acting as sponsors for the Buddhadharma.
In the afternoon, Rinpoche gave an initiation of Amitayus, belonging to the treasure cycle of Pema Lingpa (tshetri dorje threngwa).
Khenpo Karma Wangyel, the resident Khenpo for Europe, appointed by Gangteng Rincoche, who has resided in France in Blye in Pema Yangdzong from 2011, visited Estonia for the first time in November 2016.
As Khordong association in Estonia had decided to offer a plot of land to Yeshe Khorlo Estonia, Khenpo Karma Wangyel came to visit the land in order to decide which part of it to take. The size of the land of Khordong association is 48 hectares and we walked through all the land, finally deciding for the plot situating in the south-western edge of the land. On the eastern side of the land, there is Umbusi river, together with some forest, and on the western side, there is a view to the open plains surrounding the village of Umbusi.
Since that time, Khenpo Karma Wangyel has supervised the retreat center project, every decision in regard to this project is made with his consent.
Khenpo Karma Wangyel came back in March in 2017 to give teachings about preliminary practices, Dzogchen ngöndro according to Pema Lingpa’s tradition which was preceded by a public talk about the main techinques of meditation – shamatha, the calming of mind practice, and vipashyana, the practice of clear seeing.
Khenpo Karma Wangyel supervised each and every aspect of Sungtrul Rinpoche’s visit in Aprill 2018. It was also him who placed the central naga vase for the future retreat house building at the right place.
In accordance with the request of Gangteng Rinpoche, from 7th to 9th April 2018, Sungtrul Rinpoche, an emanation of Pema Lingpa, gave teachings and performed the earth ritual (sa’i cho ga) in the future retreat center’s land, placing the naga vase in the middle of the 3-year retreat center building.
On April 7th in Tallinn, Sungtrul Rinpoche gave the Künzang Gongdü empowerment (Samantabhadra’s gathered intention, introduction to the nature of mind). This is the basis for all the future teachings in the Pema Lingpa’s tradition starting from the Dzogchen preliminary practices, ending with the trekchö, thögel and bardo teachings. After that, on April 8th, Sungtrul Rinpoche gave the combined Hayagriva-Vajrapani-Garuda empowerment belonging to Dudjom Tersar in Umbusi in Põltsamaa county in the middle of Estonia, nearby the location of the future retreat center.
On April 9th Sungtrul Rinpoche performed the earth ritual ( the main part of this ritual is “requesting the land” – sa blang).
About the earth ritual
In Tibetan Buddhism, the earth ritual (sa’i cho ga) is an essential preparatory ritual to make the land suitable for the Vajrayana practice. Earth ritual is necessary for a variety of occasions, for example, before going to a retreat or while doing a spiritual practice session, marking the outer borders of the practice place, so creating a clean and perfect place – mandala. The transformation of the earth is also used for making a new place suitable for Vajrayana practice. This is what will be done in Umbusi Yeshe Khorlo’s retreat center’s land as well.
One part of the earth ritual is requesting the land from visible and invisible beings (sa blang). Visible beings are people to whom the land belongs, but a longer and more extensive ritual is associated with the invisible owners of the land. Both in Tibetan Buddhism and in many other traditions it is believed that the natural environment affects the lives and well-being of beings living in it, including humans. Earth and energies from the nature are called earth spirits (sa bdag), the ground is also considered to be the location of a serpent-like creatures, nagas (klu). If these energies or the invisible creatures are disturbed, this can manifest in the form of disasters in the lives of humans, or as obstacles in the form of natural disasters.
Different rituals, which create harmonious relationships between invisible spirits and people who use the earth, are used to balance these energies, or to calm down the spirits. Invoking the earth spirits is also related to the awakening of the Buddha Shakyamuni, while the Buddha asked the earth goddess to witness his awakening. The request of the Vajrayana Buddhist practitioner is similar here to the request of the Buddha – the main landowner is requested to accept the use of the land as Vajrayana mandala, and to become a protector of the Buddhist teachings that the spiritual progress will be swift on the blessed surface and the signs of awakening will manifest with ease.
With that, all preparations for the successful construction of the retreat center have been done and the building works may start.