In the 7th century, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche served as minister to a Tibetan king, according to the beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism. This humble beginning started him toward the path to true Nirvana.
In the 13th century, Rinpoche was reincarnated as the Siddha Gar Chodingpa. During this time, he lived as a disciple of the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. With every incarnation, he meditated and studied, continuously purifying his soul. With every incarnation, he came closer to enlightenment.
Today he is called Garchen Rinpoche and is renowned for his compassion and kindness. All of Rinpoche’s incarnations have played a role in creating the man he is today. Now he is a great lama, or priest, and is considered one of the most enlightened individuals alive – said to be third under the Dalai Lama.
This weekend he will be in Tampa for a series of public talks and teachings.
Most Buddhists believe in the conceptof reincarnation. According to religioustolerance.org, reincarnation or transmigration is the movement from one’s old body at death into a new body at conception. Rebirth is thetransmission of one’s karma, or past actions, into a new form. Buddha comparedthis idea to the passage of one candle’sflame to another.
After many cycles, a person will eventuallylearn to release his or her attachment to desire and self and will attain nirvana – a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.
“Reincarnation is primarily about the idea that our past actions have led to our present condition and that our presentactions lead to our future condition,” saidRichard Weissman of the Ratnashri Sangha of Tampa Bay. The Ratnashri Sangha is a religious, non-profit organization that is sponsoring Rinpoche’s visit.
“I can describe more of an energy and love I experience just being around His Eminence Garchen Triptul Rinpoche,” said Paula Smart, a Ratnashri Sangha member.
Most 11-year-olds today keep busy playing video games, but when Rinpoche was 11 he had the responsibility of running a monastery. When Rinpoche was 22 – the age most Westerners begin life in the real world – he was imprisoned in a labor camp during the political chaos of China’s cultural revolution. There, despite experiencing tremendous hardship, something profound happened: Rinpoche attained full realization, according to his beliefs.
For 20 years he worked in the labor camp and secretly meditated, practiced and studied. Through it all he maintained and even honed his compassionate disposition.
His kindness was so poignant that, years later, some of his jailers actually decided to follow his teachings.
“When we have sufficiently purified ourselves through practices of loving kindness, generosity, giving, moral virtue,patience, perseverance, mediation andwisdom, then we become realized beings… meaning that we have realized thetrue nature of our own minds and ourenvironment,” Weissman said.
There are five speeches planned duringRinpoche’s four-day stay in Tampa.
On Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., he isspeaking on “loving kindness” at theWah Lum Kung Fu School, at 1702 WestCass St., according to ratnashritampabay.org.
On Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon, he will lead a Green Tara empowerment, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. he will conduct a Green Tarateaching.
“In the mornings will be empowerments to connect you with that energy of the deity, with the teacher, and help purify one to become a more compassionate being,” Smart said. “The afternoons will be teachings on these practices.”
Tara comes from the root “tri,” whichmeans to cross. According to www.exoticindiaart.com/tara.htm, Taraimplies “the one who enables livingbeings to cross the Ocean of Existenceand Suffering.”
In Buddhism, color is used to exposethe nature of a particular deity and toidentify that deity’s specific functions. In reference to the Green Tara, green represents youthful vigor and activity. Some benefits of a Green Tara meditationinclude: quicker thinking, increased wisdom, generosity, magical perfection andfearlessness.
Rinpoche will also speak Monday atthe Unitarian Universalists of ClearwaterSocial Hall on 2470 Nursery Rd. From 9a.m. to noon, he will conduct aVajrakilaya empowerment, and from 2p.m. to 5 p.m. he will be teaching onVajrakilaya.
According to Smart, Vajrakilaya is anenlightened activity displayed in an”intensely wrathful yet compassionateform in order to subjugate the delusions and negativity that can arise as obstacles to the practice of d h a r m a . “
Dharma is defined by M e r r i a m We b s t e r ‘ s online dictionary as “the basic principles of cosmic or indivi d u a l e x i stence.”O n Tu e s d a y from 9 a.m. to noon, also at the U n i t a r i a n Universalists ofClearwater Social Hall, Rinpoche will conduct a teaching on Vajra Songs of Milarepa. Vajra means “diamond-like” quality of mind. Buddhist masters used the analogy of the diamond to describe the nature of the “Wisdom Mind.”
“So when we speak of the Vajra Songsof Milarepa, these are not ordinary songsto entertain us,” Weissman said.
“Instead, they are songs that have thepower to transform our minds, to cutthrough our delusional habits of self-cherishing… to enable us to glimpse the true nature of our own minds and of all things – which transcends the dualist notions of I, me, mine vs. you, yours, not mine.”
There is a $5 suggested donation forthe talk Saturday evening. Individual sessions are available for $30. The suggested donation for all sessions is $150, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Go to www.ratnashritampabay.org to learn more.