Karma Tashi Ling is delighted to be hosting Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche as part of Rinpoche’s trip to Canada this year. The schedule is as follows:

  • July 13 – 15: Teaching on The Four Dharmas of Gampopa by Je Gampopa
  • July 15 (afternoon): Refuge Vow
  • July 15 (afternoon): Medicine Buddha Empowerment

Who is Gampopa

Gampopa Sönam Rinchen was born in Nyal in central Tibet in 1079. He studied medical sciences and received training as a physician.  He also became interested in dharma. At the age of twenty-five, his wife and children died from an epidemic disease, and this caused him to fully turn his mind towards dharma. At the age of twenty-six, Gampopa received the fully monastic ordination from Geshe Loden Sherap of the Kadam order. Hearing of the fame of the Lord of Yogins, Milarepa, he decided to search for him. Gampopa arrived at Trode Tashigang, where it appeared that Milarepa already had been expecting him. After this significant meeting, Gampopa practiced with great diligence and endured many hardships under his guru; he had many experiences and finally attained great realization. He became the most important disciple and the lineage holder of Milarepa. In Gampopa we see the combining of both the monastic tradition of academics and scholarship with the yogic tradition of Indian Buddhism. Gampopa was the founder of the monastic order of the Kagyu School and the lineages that branch out from him is known as the Dhakpo Kagyu. He founded the Dhaklha Gampo Monastery where he continued his activities of teaching, meditation, and benefiting beings. Gampopa is the author of a most famous book, The Jewel Ornament Of Liberation, and many others. His collected works comprise three or four volumes.

The above is exerpted from the Karmapa’s website.

What Are The Four Dharmas of Gampopa

At Karma Tashi Ling we feel very fortunate that such a beneficial teaching as “The Four Dharmas” will be given in Edmonton this year. Rinpoche’s website, www.rinpoche.com has the full text from a teaching he gave in 1993 if you would like to become more familiar with “the Four Dharmas” before the day of the retreat.

Gampopa’s Four Dharmas are often seen as describing a path, from the point when a student first encounters the Dharma, and starts to notice the effects on their mind, their emotional state, and on their everyday life. The student progresses through these four stages, as they they gain experience and familiarity with Buddhist practice.

The Four Dharmas of Gampopa are translated from the Tibetan in the following way:

  1. Grant your blessings so that my mind may be one with the dharma.
  2. Grant your blessings so that the dharma may progress along the path.
  3. Grant your blessings so that the dharma may clarify confusion.
  4. Grant your blessings so that the confusion may dawn as wisdom.

An alternative translation from Ken McLeod, a teacher and translator in the Shangpa Kagyu tradition:

  1. Let my heart turn to practice.
  2. Let practice become a path.
  3. Let this path dissolve confusion.
  4. Let confusion become wisdom.

For an interesting look at this author’s insights on translating these lines, please see his blog. The blog presents the Four Dharmas in the reverse order they are given here.

Medicine Buddha

Rinpoche will be giving an empowerment for Medicine Buddha at this year’s teachings. The Buddha Shakyamuni spoke about the Medicine Buddha on being asked by one of his disciples for a teaching on past Buddhas, their merits, names and their commitments. In this sutra, the Buddha Shakyamuni spoke about Medicine Buddha, and described the benefits of doing Medicine Buddha practice, which are very numerous and include healing illness and clearing obstacles, developing greater wisdom and discernment, all the way to achieving complete realization. In Sanskrit it is recorded that the Medicine Buddha spoke these words:

Namo Bhagavate
Bhaishajyaguru –vaidurya
Samyak – sambuddhaya
Om Bhaishajye Bhaishajye
Bhaishajya-Samudgate Svaha

In Tibetan the mantra itself is usually recited as:

Om Bekandze Bekandze
Maha Bekandze
Radza Samudgate Soha

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche spoke about Medicine Buddha practice in this article, where he describes using medicine as a relative means to achieve health and well-being. Ultimately, health and well-being come from seeing the nature of mind itself. But Rinpoche points out that Medicine Buddha is shown holding the stem of an arura plant, which was prized in ancient India for its healing properties. Thus we have to combine relative and ultimate means to achieve true freedom, and to be able to benefit other beings.

Until we experience this kind of health and well-being, we find it difficult to relate to practicing this way. But the basis of this practice is compassion … as part of Medicine Buddha practice we visualize ourselves with the same capabilities as Medicine Buddha.

What is Refuge

Rinpoche will also be offering the Refuge Vow, which is a rare and special opportunity for those interested in connecting with the dharma in this traditional form common to most branches of Buddhism.

If you are interested in taking refuge, please bring a kata to the ceremony (available through the centre), and an envelope to offer Rinpoche. If you have any questions about what the vow means or how it helps your practice, please feel free to contact Ani-la Kunsang at: (780) 633-6157. We have a short biography of Rinpoche on our website that may also be beneficial to read beforehand.

If you would like to take the refuge vow with Rinpoche, please email Sheridan Mahoney at sheridan@sheridan-mahoney.com before the retreat if possible.

Interviewing with Rinpoche

This year we are delighted that Rinpoche will be available for individual interviews. Students can use this opportunity to get clarification on issues that come up in practice, questions about what direction to take in life, or how to find a guru, or anything that matters to your situation in life. If you would like to request an interview, please write ahead of time to sheridan@sheridan-mahoney.com. If you are coming from out-of-town, please let us know that as well.

What is An Empowerment

The empowerment is a way of receiving the blessings of the guru, and connecting with the Buddha through the continuity of the lineage, since these teachers have maintained the teachings down through the years to our times. If you feel motivated or inspired to deepen your practice, it’s good to have the empowerment. It’s like using high-octane gas in your vehicle, instead of regular gas.

For more information about Medicine Buddha, please see the medicinebuddhatoday.com website, which is connected with Rinpoche.

As a side note, for those wishing to connect to the practice of Medicine Buddha in our Edmonton community, Karma Tashi Ling has an ongoing schedule of Sunday practices which include the Medicine Buddha sadhana. Please see the Sunday Sadhana section of our website for more information.

Retreat Cost and Registration

Pre-registration is open for Rinpoche’s teachings. The cost for all five sessions of the teaching is $120, or $25 for each individual session if you are not able to take in the whole weekend. Payment is by cash or cheque payable to Karma Tashi Ling only – we are not taking other forms of payment at this time. For pre-registering, a cheque may be sent to:

Karma Tashi Ling
10502-70 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T6H 2E9

We will also have a table open for registering at the event itself. If this is your choice, please plan on coming early to complete the necessary paperwork. The registration table is open 1/2 hour before each session, starting at 6:30 on July 13th.

We hope these teachings and the empowerment will give everyone resources for cultivating their spirituality, and help to create favorable conditions necessary for sustained Dharma practice.

Venue for the Teachings

The venue for the teaching will be at this location:

Pleasantview Community League,
10860-57 Avenue NW,
Edmonton, AB

Detailed Schedule of Teachings

Edmonton Teaching 4 Dharmas