Just as I was about to enter into solitary meditation retreat a couple of weeks ago here in Crestone, I learned that Tulku Damcho Rinpoche would come to give 3 days of empowerments at Vajra Vidya Retreat center.
Empowerment (Tibetan: wang) in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is a ritualized way of transmitting the essential wisdom of certain deity practices, so that when one undertakes that practice, there is an authentic connection to the lineage. It makes the practice more powerful when you have a live connection–like having someone pick up on the other end of the phone line, rather than just standing there with a phone to your ear.
So, talk about a powerful way to begin retreat.
After receiving the empowerments, I shut my door and spent the next 10 days practicing, using Thrangu Rinpoche’s commentary of Pointing Out the Dharmakaya as a guide for my meditation sessions. If you aren’t familiar with this text by the 9th Karmapa, go get it now. It is one of the most clear and concise guides for Mahamudra meditation there is, with excellent, easy to read commentaries on Shamatha and Vipassana meditation.
Some days were easier than others, and yet the vast San Luis Valley out my windows helped me keep perspective. After all, we can’t always expect clear blue skies.
But finally, perhaps because of all those blessings, by the end of retreat something wonderful shifted, allowing me to see great beauty in the imperfection of things. Sometimes sunsets are made more compelling by the presence of dark clouds, especially when you realize that it’s all impermanent. Then you can appreciate the fleeting beauty of it all.