In the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition, you can’t progress along the path without the guidance of a living master to provide you with instructions based on your own habitual tendencies and capacities. The student must then strengthen that precious connection through devoted practice of the given instructions. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at having established a heart connection with Anyen Rinpoche, from whom I joyfully received teachings at his beautiful center in Denver, Orgyen Khamdroling.
Anyen Rinpoche is a khenpo (great scholar) and tulku (recognized reincarnated master) of the Longchen Nyingthig lineage (Dzogchen, Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism). I attended a 4-day Phowa retreat led by him at the end of October. The retreat was such a special experience for me that I’ve committed to returning to Denver March 12-16, 2015, for the first of three sequential trainings that Anyen Rinpoche offers to teach the profound Phowa practice. Phowa is the practice to transfer consciousness at the moment of death and related practices to help ensure positive conditions for attaining realization or a positive rebirth. The training series is called Dying with Confidence. In addition to Phowa for oneself and others, it also includes teachings on what we can do now to strengthen our practice to help us later when we face serious illness and death. These topics are all discussed in detail in Anyen Rinpoche’s excellent book, Dying with Confidence. Even if you can’t attend the teachings, I highly recommend the book. I also highly recommend Momentary Buddhahood: Mindfulness and the Vajrayana Path, which would be of particular interest to anyone like myself who has practiced in both the Vajrayana and mindfulness meditation traditions.
Anyen Rinpoche’s vision is to have a network of trained Phowa practitioners across the United States to serve as entrusted Dharma friends able to help each other and others through the dying process. I would dearly love to have others from the Washington, DC metropolitan area come with me to Denver in March to attend the first training. We could then support each other locally with the practices and throughout the Dying with Confidence series of teachings.
Please leave a comment if you are interested in coming in March or have more questions about my experiences at the Phowa retreat. Although Anyen Rinpoche is a Vajrayana master, the students at the Phowa retreat came from all traditions of Buddhism, including Zen. Phowa is a powerful practice with the ability to greatly benefit oneself and others. While other opportunities exist to receive the Phowa transmission, the Dying with Confidence training series is a rare opportunity to get deep and repeated teachings on the practice from a respected master and to develop connections with other Dharma practitioners across the country who are committed to practicing Phowa.
May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need.
– the aspiration from Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara