In PILGRIMAGE by Pema DragpaLeave a Comment

India Buddhist Pilgrimage Detail Overview PLEASE INCLUDEPrecious Father Lama,
Please hear our cries of longing devotion.
Remember us, your wandering children.
Reglorify your enlightened intent to return to us again.

As a way of honoring your awakened mind,
And creating auspicious conditions for disciples to receive your blessings continuously,
Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche led a pilgrimage to the holy land of India,
Mingling the blessings of your relics with those of Lord Buddha,
Following the footsteps of his twelve incomparable deeds.

First returning to your monastery and nunnery in Sarnath,
Amidst a beautiful reception of devoted sangha jewels,
Your relics were installed as the crown jewel of Padma and Orgyen viharas.
We praise your deed of establishing many Dharma centers
To nurture your fortunate lotus children.

Deer Park in Sarnath

Deer Park in Sarnath

In every tiny face and smile and prayer,
In the early morning birds, ringing Dharma bells, and drifting mist,
Your sweet splendor shines clearly.
We sincerely pray to Orgyen Rinpoche,
To again appear as our precious teacher.
Glorious Noble One, please bless us with your mighty presence.

Deer Park Teaching.

From Deer Park your relics were held high with your father’s,
In a caravan through miles of fields and lives and soft memories
Of ancient times somehow now.
We follow the Buddha and his two Tibetan sons,
Almost as if seeing through their eyes,
The beauty of loving one another,
Of supporting goodness and virtue,
And the importance of being the Dharma—
Quiet, constant, deep strength moving forward.

Vaishali 2010 0135


In Vaishali, a hidden, humble place of thatched homes, monkeys, and elephants,
Where the Buddha first revealed the Vajrayana,
At the base of King Ashoka’s towering pillar,
We began spreading your relics throughout India,
Along with your father’s, and hair collected from devoted pilgrims.
Reciting Vajrasattva mantras, circumambulating your legacy,
And sounding aspirations for all beings’ benefit,
We prayed to our precious vajra master,
The Lord of Dharma,
To look upon us with compassion.


We then moved south to Nalanda,
Where your seven vajra lines are still victorious.
How impressive and humbling to actually be
Where so many masters and scholars have turned the Dharma Wheel.
How amazing to reconnect with your enlightened speech,
Echoing through centuries of empowerments, transmissions, and instructions.
We praise your complete mastery of study, reflection, and meditation.

In the evening at Vulture’s Peak,
Step-by-step Khenpo Rinpoche led us to the summit of the Prajnaparamita.
Up there, gazing out to the sky, into the nature of our own minds,
Dusk held the Heart Sutra in clouds of incense offerings.
It was as if the Buddha spoke your name there,
Through the cliffs and light and open sky.
It was as if you spoke through us:
“It is all one great magical display.”

Then moving towards the Vajra Throne,
Ever closer to the center of complete awakening,
Dim lights of cars and bikes streamed through shadows.
How could this be other than a dream?
How could this pilgrimage really be happening?
Rinpoche’s blessings filled everything.

At night, Bodhgaya’s temple stood golden, seen from everywhere.
At dawn, hundreds sat knee-to-knee, just a few feet from Buddha’s enlightenment
Beneath the bodhi tree.
In the morning, Khenchen Rinpoche’s relics touched nearly everything,
Even the Buddha’s seat.
At the end of purification and dedication ceremonies,
A small Buddha head was unearthed from where we sat together.
Continuously blessing your followers,
Always reappearing for the sake of sentient beings,
We prostrate to the Victorious Ones—
We request them to return again and again.

Nuns IMG_0516We then returned to our Sarnath home,
The thriving, pulsing, sacred treasure centers
Of living, breathing Dharma.
How wonderful to see our growing Dharma family.
In even just a few days, it became apparent
The special role they have
Of carrying the lineage in this holy land—
Of being the way for the Dharma to continue into the future.

Nuns studying 2010 0868On the auspicious anniversary of the Buddha’s first turning of the wheel,
His relics circumambulated Sarnath on royal elephants
And returned to where he first taught.
Khenpo Rinpoche again turned the wheel of Dharma there,
Where he and Khenchen Rinpoche had lived for seventeen years and taught for decades.
Afterwards, the entire sangha presented Khenpo Rinpoche with a mandala offering of gifts
In honor of his wisdom body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities,
Requesting his long and healthy life,
The flourishing of his activities as the heart son
Of the Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, and Khenchen Rinpoche,
And that he continue turning the wheel of Dharma for the benefit of all beings.

Soon we drove north to Shravasti,
Where the Buddha resided for twenty-five rainy season retreats.
Even the air and earth of Jetavan were profoundly different—
Remarkably sweet and soothing.
They seemed to somehow invisibly, stably support and uplift everything.

From the original Miracle Stupa,
The PBC stupa stood glowing white,
And at night was showered with garlands of light offerings.
The Khenpo Rinpoches’ incomparably dedicated Dharma sister, Jomo Lorraine,
Held a dana for the local Three Yana sanghas
Of Sri Lanka, Korea, and Tibet.

Jetavan Grove Buddha Retreat Cabin IMG_9252Later we entered Jetavan Grove amid ongoing bushels of flower offerings
Spread across the Buddha’s retreat cabin.
Khenchen Rinpoche’s relics circled the land through hundreds of international pilgrims and their prayers.
We sat with Rinpoche in practice and silent meditation.
We sat where the Buddha had meditated for so long.
We prayed to our great teacher.

Kushinagar IMG_7568

Bowing at the feet of the Buddha in Kushinagar.

In the very early morning,
We traveled southeast to Kushinigar,
Where the Buddha demonstrated the impermanence of all conditioned things.
Here, the mahaparinirvana of Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Was even more pronounced where the Buddha finally laid and was cremated.
We quietly listened to Khenpo Rinpoche retell the final days and teachings of the Buddha.
All things change.
Duality is suffering.
The nature of everything is emptiness.
Work diligently to realize final, perfect peace beyond coming and going.
We spread Khenchen Rinpoche’s relics exactly where the Buddha’s relics
Began ceaselessly blessing the universe.

After returning to Deer Park,
Three life-sized white marble statues
Of Buddha Shakyamuni, Guru Rinpoche, and Tara
Were installed on the main shrine of Padma Samye Chökhor Ling Monastery.
They had been delicately hand-crafted for over four years in Varanasi
Under the Khenpo Rinpoches’ continual guidance.

Khenchen Rinpoche PSL 1998 by Henry Hose cropped

The mahapandita Palden Sherab.

Shortly afterwards, Khenpo Rinpoche consecrated the nunnery land
Where Eight Great Stupas and a thirty-foot tall Enlightenment Stupa are being built
To house Khenchen Rinpoche’s relics, sacred objects, Dharma texts,
And the relics and teachings of numerous other great masters and scholars,
Along with sacred substances from many pilgrimage spots.
Khenpo Rinpoche then offered refuge to all the gathered sangha,
Gave new robes to the monks and nuns,
And bestowed the text empowerment of Khenchen Rinpoche’s entire collected works.

Having retraced the steps of the Buddha’s Four Turnings,
From Rinpoches’ Vajrayana monastery and nunnery,
Through Vaishali, Vulture’s Peak, and Deer Park,
Remembering and honoring the Buddha’s twelve deeds,
And Khenchen Rinpoche as their perfect embodiment,
We celebrated the fulfillment of the pilgrimage.
Returning our teacher’s relics to the holy places of the Buddha
Was completed without any obstacles or delays.
The sangha was overjoyed.

In incredible India, among stupas and potholes,
Rich colors and poverty,
Smoky smells and sudden bursts of firecrackers and loud speakers,
Neon sequined sweaters, clouds of dust, and ongoing tea,
Kind eyes, simple lifestyles, electric outages,
Criss-crossing cars and cows and dogs and carts,
Filled with horns but without anger,
The Buddha is unmistakably there.
Almost as if he is still there, just slightly out of view.
You can feel him walking barefoot on the ground.
His soft, steady gaze almost looks at you through everything.
And here, waiting, praying, following him and his teachings,
We can almost see him looking out through our own eyes.
How beautiful and magnificent we all are.
How special and fortunate and thoroughly meaningful.
How wonderful it will be when Khenchen Rinpoche returns.
How unspeakably amazing to find him in Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche.
How beautiful that their minds have mingled into one:
The Buddha as Guru Rinpoche and his two heart sons.
How truly incredible.
How thoroughly blessed.
How wonderful to follow in their footsteps.

Original title: Following in the Footsteps of the Glorious Noble One, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche: Embodiment of All the Buddhas.

About the Author
Pema Dragpa

Pema Dragpa

Lama Pema Dragpa has been a resident Dharma teacher at Padma Samye Ling (PSL) since 2004, the main monastery & retreat center of the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center founded by the Nyingma Dzogchen masters Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche & Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche. Ordained as a lama by Rinpoches, Dragpa graduated with honors in philosophy & religious studies from NYU in 2002, is a senior editor of over 20 books on Buddhist philosophy & meditation, and is a certified Hospice volunteer. He regularly travels to lead PBC events on traditional & contemporary Buddhist philosophy and meditation. Here's the website of the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center.

Photo’s courtesy by Pema Dragpa.

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