The Development of the Vajrakīlaya Monastery of Pema Yoedling in Southern Bhutan
A project to develop the Pema Yoedling Monastery in Gelephu in Southern Bhutan is already underway, and the present hope is to bring this project to fulfilment in good time.
The Background to the Project:
Lama Kunzang Dorjee Rinpoche's main seat is the Jangsa Dechen Choling Monastery in Kalimpong, India, where his father, Lama Pema Longdrol, was appointed Head Lama by the late Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, who had been requested to take responsibility for the monastery by the Queen Mother of Bhutan. Jangsa is now a thriving monastic community of some eighty monks, along with a number of senior lamas, and Jangsa also supports a retreat centre based at Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche's former home in Kalimpong, where experienced practitioners can complete the three year retreat.
Since completing his own religious training and taking up the position of Head Lama at Jangsa Monastery in 1994, Lama Kunzang Dorjee Rinpoche has taken charge of further monastic establishments in Bhutan, including the monastic community in Gelephu. Rinpoche has begun to develop this monastery as a specialised centre for the study and practice of the Vajrakīlaya tradition.
The Nature of the Project
The Pema Yoedling Vajrakīlaya Monastery will provide an auspicious environment for senior practitioners to deepen their practice and understanding, and it will recruit new students and monks from a poor region in Eastern Bhutan, ensuring a good education and training for children whose families could not afford the usual costs of schooling. Moreover, it will provide religious services and community support for the local people of the area. Already, five Vajrakīlaya intensive practice sessions have been performed at the monastery, and on the most recent occasion, the practice drew some 5,000 people, who came to join in the practice or to receive the blessings. Lama Jamyang, a senior lama of the Jangsa community who was Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche's own former Master of Ceremonies, has predicted that this auspicious start indicates that the future prospects for Pema Yoedling Monastery look good. It is planned to hold a Vajrakīlaya intensive practice session every year, with all aspects of the practice fulfilled, including the making and distribution of consecrated dharma medicinal pills in accordance with the special techniques and practices taught in the Nyingma tantras.
Located in a border area which is currently being developed and gaining good transport links to India and to other parts of Bhutan, such a religious community which can promote harmony has an important role to play. Drawing on experience at the Jangsa Monastery, which is based in the multi-ethnic town of Kalimpong, the hope is that the Pema Yoedling Monastery will be able to foster a good community spirit, as well as creating merits and blessings which will spread throughout the world. Today, with the threats of violence and unrest never far away, the need for such activities promoting peace has never been more apparent. The plan is also for the Pema Yoedling Monastery to become a centre for the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust's work in caring for animals and saving their lives.
Vajrakīlaya is the most important "yidam" or tantric wisdom deity of the Nyingma tradition. The Vajrakīlaya scriptural tantras are vast and profound, and they have been continually refreshed by further Vajrakīlaya revelations with each new generation of meditation masters, and by the insights of the most learned scholars who have composed extensive commentaries. In the traditional histories, Vajrakīlaya has a preeminent place as the special deity of Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), the eighth century master and second Buddha who helped to establish Buddhism in Tibet. Moreover, Guru Padmasambhava's principal Tibetan disciple, the Lady Yeshe Tsogyal, is famed as attaining enlightenment through the Vajrakīlaya practice. As a wisdom deity, Vajrakīlaya covers everything necessary in a spiritual practice: the full path to Enlightenment and every temporary need for good conditions in the meantime. Vajrakīlaya is surrounded by a retinue of deities with special functions, including the gathering of auspiciousness, prosperity and longevity, and the expression of mastery and control. This retinue are all wisdom emanations of Vajrakīlaya himself, so even their apparently mundane activities work only for good and virtuous ends, and the deepening of spiritual practice.
Vajrakīlaya: for Inner Peace and World Peace
The special quality of Vajrakīlaya is the ability to clear away obstacles and to transform all the emotional afflictions, and especially the most destructive emotion of hatred, into enlightened wisdom and compassion. Vajrakīlaya's inner nature is peace (zhi-ba), and his wrathful outer guise should not be misunderstood. He is not a protective deity, but the wisdom deity who embodies and reveals the true nature of our minds. His fires of wisdom burn away our emotional afflictions, uncovering the calm and serene nature of mind, and opening up the possibilities for genuine communication with others and compassionate activities. Therefore, the Vajrakīlaya practice is particularly powerful for engendering inner peace, family and social harmony, political stability and world peace.
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