Perfection in Hevajra
From May to July 2007, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang specially instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to complete a three-month retreat on the holy mountain of Lapchi at an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level. This is where Jetsun Milarepa himself had completed retreats. Under the guidance of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the practice of Hevajra, the Sadhana of Lord Marpa Lotsawa, during the retreat. Hevajra, also known as the “King of Tantras,” ranks among the most important Tantras of the highest Yoga Tantra class. It had been two to three hundred years since Hevajra was last transmitted and practiced in the lineage. His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had taken three to four years to research and compile relevant material and texts and to personally hand down the most secret instructions of the Heart Mantra of Hevajra to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang clarified his wishes to re-establish this tradition in all Drikung Kagyu monasteries and centers. This extraordinary retreat was unprecedented and particularly meaningful because His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was the first Rinpoche as well as the first practitioner to have accompanied His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang in the Hevajra retreat and the first in the history of Drikung Kagyu of Tibetan Buddhism to have achieved its perfection (Click here for photo gallery).
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s retreat room was located in the holy mountain of Lapchi at an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level. Even in June and July, summer temperatures are extremely low, well under zero degrees centigrade, with frequent snow and hail. The air is thin and there are no bridges or roads; the region is also without electricity and water supply. The area is sparsely populated so flying in with a helicopter was the only feasible method of transportation. Bone-chilling winds blew into Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s retreat room through the cracks of its wooden walls. The room temperature remained below freezing all the time even though it was summertime. The mist hovering above the floor froze as well. During the retreat, the door was locked and it was prohibited for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to leave the retreat room, talk, murmur to himself, see others, wash his face, take showers, shave, cut his hair, or even trim his fingernails and toenails. Only a great practitioner with few or no desires could manage to conduct a retreat in such a hostile and difficult environment. It could never have been achieved by an ordinary practitioner.
As in his other retreats, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche completed this one with great selfless compassionate aspiration and the determination to even face death in the retreat room. Even though he was as emaciated as Jetsun Milarepa, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still cultivated diligently for three consecutive months. Everyday Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began his practice at 4 a.m. and rested at 10 p.m.. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once recalled birds singing every morning during his retreat, as if they were trying to awake Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. However, their singing was no longer heard once the retreat was completed. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche successfully completed the retreat, even the attending lama of His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his accomplishment. This served as another proof of what Most Venerable Drubwang Norbu Rinpoche had said, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a rare practitioner with great capacities.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche clarified that Rinpoche would not have been able to perfectly complete this retreat of Hevajra practice if Rinpoche had not attained the accomplishment of Tummo. In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s severe scoliosis almost disappeared after the completion of the retreat.
During the retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once awoke abruptly with a heart rate of 150 BPM, and stopped breathing. At such a life-threatening moment, instead of worrying about his own well being, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche prayed to the Dharma Protectors and the Yidam, “If my body can no longer be helpful or beneficial to the sentient beings, please take me. If I can still help and benefit the sentient beings, let me stay then.” Dharma Protector Achi bestowed a nectar pill to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche thereby was able to continue the retreat and come out safe and sound. It could be seen that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s incredible aspiration to benefit the sentient beings was blessed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s attendant retold what His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had said at the completion of the retreat, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has been conducting a lot of virtuous deeds and benefiting innumerable sentient beings by helping them attain liberation from the sea of sufferings in reincarnation. Even the devils became jealous of his conduct. Therefore, it was necessary to perform this retreat. Otherwise, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have lost his life in June of 2007.”
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had been making preparations four years prior to the retreat, including the construction of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s retreat room beside His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s own room. What makes this retreat particularly rare and exceptional is that His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the guru, led Richen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple, to conduct a retreat in adjacent rooms simultaneously. Moreover, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang specifically instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to practice on the same yidam, Hevajra, as His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang during the retreat. Besides this, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had his attendant prepare meals for both of them. All the arrangements showed His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s care and regard for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great virtues, aspirations, and achievements. It could also be seen that His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had extremely close communion between their hearts as guru and disciple. In August of 2006, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang uttered the following words in India: “I trust that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s dharma activities will benefit a great many beings. I feel we will be together all the time, and benefit a great many sentient beings on the path to Buddha Dharma.”
During the retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was once able to visualize the sufferings of the sentient beings reincarnated in the six realms. Such visions made Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche weep bitterly in grief for as long as an hour. The sufferings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche witnessed were beyond description and were just as explained by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang in the Pig Year Teachings, “Jetsun Milarepa once said that it was painful enough just to think about the sufferings of the sentient beings reincarnated in the six realms, let alone witnessing them.” At the completion of the retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reported what had been visualized to His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang then said, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has realized the Emptiness.”
After the perfection of the retreat, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang led Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to conduct a fire puja (Homa) that lasted three days. After the fire puja was completed, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche fully prostrated towards His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang on the muddy ground in pouring rain to express his gratitude for the teachings bestowed by his Three Grace Root Guru, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche offered a khata to his Three Grace Root Guru, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, who then held the face of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, in his hands and touched Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s forehead with his own (Click here for photo gallery). As usual after each retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche offered the merits and virtues accumulated through the retreat to His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Additionally, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang bestowed upon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche an auspicious Dharma name, “Rinchen Dorjee,” which means “Glorious Vajra Rinpoche.” Having a Dharma name directly bestowed by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is an utmost honor and an indication of regard. As “Rinchen” means “the most precious treasure” and “Dorjee” means “vajra,” “Rinchen Dorjee” means “a glorious vajra.” It shows that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s heart for the benefit of the sentient beings and Dharma activities is just like an immutable and solid vajra.
Updated on April 7, 2011