“In his illuminating introduction to The Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada in Seattle on Feb. 18th 2017, H.E. Khondung Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche outlines the all-important preliminaries required before receiving higher initiations in Tibetan Buddhism, clarifying the essential aspects of the Mahayana path to be studied, contemplated and cultivated for a fruitful Dharma-practice.”Text of Teaching English | Text of Teaching Mandarin | Video of Teaching
H.E. Khondung Abhaya Vajra Sakya, the younger son of H.E. Zaya Rinpoche and Dagmo Lhanze Youden, was born in Seattle in 1997. At the age of 11, he joined his brother Khondung Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche in India to pursue his education in the Sakya tradition. At the age of 12, he expressed his strong wish to receive monastic ordination. He received his monastic vows from H.E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche in an ordination ceremony witnessed by H.E. Luding Khen Rinpoche, H.E. Khangsar Shabdrung Rinpoche, Ven. Antro Tulku and the Abbot of the Sakya Vajrayana College, Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen, at the Ngor Luding Ladrang in Manduwala, India.
Since then, Abhaya Rinpoche has been continuously and devotedly studying the Dharma – the Tibetan Buddhist rituals, literature and grammar – as well as receiving teachings from his grandfather, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche, H.H. the Sakya Trinzin, H. E. Luding Khenchen Rinpoche and other high Lamas of the Sakya tradition.
Rinpoche has devoted most of his time and studies at the Sakya Education Centre in New Delhi. During the hot season, since 2009 he has spent every summer at the Sakya Ghoom Gonpa in Darjeeling. It was in 2009 that he attended his first Vajrakilaya (Phurdup) led by his brother Dhungsey Avikrita Rinpoche at Sakya Ghoom Monastery. It is during the Tibetan New Year that both Dhungseys Avirkita Rinpoche and Abhaya Rinpoche spend their winter break together joined by their parents either in India or Seattle, USA.
“As a Buddhist practitioner, I believe the Monlam is a very important holy event and I was very fortunate to attend this year’s Sakya Monlam as the representative of the Phuntsok Phodrang. By reciting the Samantabhadra numerous times, we accumulate immense amounts of merit and by dedicating it to all sentient beings, we are fulfilling our roles and our main purpose of being Mahayana Buddhists. Spreading Bodhicitta in this forum was both rewarding and exciting as I was in the presence of Spiritual Leaders such as H.H. Sakya Trizin, H.E. Ratna Rinpoche, H.E Gyana Rinpoche and other renowned Dharma Masters. After those ten heartfelt days at the Sakya Monlam, I felt inspired and hopeful that events such as this will continue to create harmony throughout the universe.” – His Eminence Abhaya Rinpoche
Dhungsey Abhaya Rinpoche usually resides at the Sakya Heritage Centre in New Delhi, but during the very hot season, he spends his entire summer at Sakya Ghoom Monastery in Darjeeling where he can then continue studying with Sakya Monks in much cooler weather. This year Rinpoche, at the age of 15, accepted the invitation from Khenpo Kunga Dondrup, the co-founder and principal of Pema Ts’al and the members of the Pema Ts’al Monastic Institute, to attend the first Yar-Ne (Summer Retreat) at the monastery in Pokhara, Nepal. H.H. Sakya Trinzin, in March of 2012, auspiciously led the commemoration of Pema Ts’al’s elaborate and memorable grand opening ceremony. In attendance at that time were H.E. Khondung Ratna Rinpoche, Dhungseys Abhaya and Asanga Rinpoche.
H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche was in attendance with the Venerable Khenpo Kunga Dhondup, and all college and junior school students. Pema Ts’al Sakya Monastic Institute began the Yar-Ne on July 3, 2012.There were a total of 51 participants, out of which 30 were Getsuls and 21 were Bikshus (level higher than Getsul and Genying monks). It is written in the Sutra that there should be a minimum of 8 Bikshus for conducting the summer retreat. Outsiders were not allowed to visit the monastery without prior notice during the retreat time.
Dhungsey Abhaya Rinpoche participated in a 16 Arhat Mandala that was created for the retreat. The monks said prayers three times a day in the main shrine for the welfare and well-being of all sentient beings. In the evenings after finishing the day’s prayers there was a procession inside the monastery compound daily. They strictly followed the vows that they promised on the first day of the retreat. Vows include taking only half day meals until noon, then liquids only in the afternoons and evenings, always remaining within the monastery premises.
A procession to the nearby Jangchub Choeling Monastery for prayers was conducted in the morning, then a mandala offering prayer was performed on the final day of Yar-ne. This was Abhaya Rinpoche’s first Yar-ne since he became an ordained monk on July 25, 2009. Therefore it was indeed a very auspicious event for him. Rinpoche made many new friends during summer. He has now returned to New Delhi with wonderful memories from his first successful Yar-Ne, having gained great merit and benefit for all sentient beings.
In Tibetan “Yar” means summer and “Ne” means staying at one place. Together they mean staying at one place during summer by engaging in the meritorious activities. It is called “Summer Retreat” in English.The duration of the retreat differs from place to place. Some monasteries hold it for three months whereas some, as in this case, hold it for 45 days.
Yar-Ne originated in the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. During this time, Lord Buddha encouraged the monks to abstain from wordily activities and instead to practice, analyze, meditate and increase ‘ge-jong’ activities. From these three wisdoms, Lord Buddha saw immense and multiple benefits. It was at Sravasti (or Nyeyul) India, where Lord Buddha spent 25 rainy seasons and created the first system of the summer retreat. It was here where Lord Buddha spent the longest amount of time with the largest amount of discourses and instructions leading to the path of Nirvana. It is now a holy site for all Buddhist pilgrims.
Unlike today, the monks went from place to place to get today’s food. The Buddha thought that the monks might kill a number of insects by their travels especially during these monsoon seasons, when the grass grows high and is the habitat of uncountable insects. He urged the monks to remain at their monasteries and promised to supply them with food during this season. When the villagers came to know the necessity of food for the monks, they came to offer varieties of food for them. It is believed that a person can earn more virtues by making offering in this retreat.