Dear Noble Sangha,
It is through the display of the dissolution of the physical body that the Guru bestows the final and one of the most pithy instructions to one' students. But for a student, it can also be one of the saddest and most challenging of times leaving one with feelings of grief, loss and even abandonment. It might feel as if the passing of one’s teacher is like the brilliant sun suddenly disappearing and one encounters such a moment with uncertainty, fear and a sense of being bereft of stability or reference point. However, despite such feelings of loss, this is not the time to let uncertainty, fear and sadness take over. It is at such a time that we also feel an intense and raw connection with the teacher and both death and the teachings come most vividly to mind. We then forge an even more deepened and intimate connection to the teacher from that raw mind that is so tender at the moment.
And from such tenderness, a student's heart opens up and a stream of undying gratitude flows out for the infinite kindness of the Guru and his immeasurable wisdom, compassion and skillful means. Through the joining of this deep gratitude and the Guru's compassionate regard, the Guru's blessings shower upon the student in a continuous amrita stream. With this downpour of blessings, now is the time to once again connect with the heart of the Guru and his teachings with renewed vigor and strengthen the basis of clarity and confidence in the view of the Dharma.
With renewed vigor and confidence in the Three Jewels, when one gives rise to unmitigated devotion to the Guru, we come face to face with the all-pervasive nature of the Guru. I have often thought that the absence of the Guru's physical presence actually allows us to experience the teacher much more pervasively. When the Guru is alive, we tend to think of our Guru as living in a particular place and time. We might think, “Oh, my teacher is in India today and it is 3:00 p.m. there now.” But when the Guru passes on, we are able to understand that the Guru is actually everywhere, in every moment. In this way, we are able to free ourselves from our own narrow view about the teacher and his physical manifestation and understand the all-pervasive nature just as it is. Through one's passing, the Guru shows us the ephemeral quality of life, time, space and phenomena.
With hearts strengthened by devotion and confidence in the Three Jewels, the blessings of the Guru flow uninterruptedly. For such a heart, anything is possible. And so, with such a courageous heart, with complete faith in the Dharma and devotion to the Guru, use this time to develop even more steadfastness in your heart and commitment to the authentic teachings of Shakyamuni. As you practice, remember that you are able to understand, practice and accomplish these practices due to the tremendous generosity and dedication of the Guru and that every word and every gesture you make in your practice resonates with the Guru's kindness. And you can only repay that generosity by continuing to practice as deeply and consistently as possible and dedicating one's life to the service of the Three Jewels.
Some of you have asked me as to what prayers and offerings can be made at this moment. There are many things you can do and I am sure many wonderful masters will guide you in this but the best offering that you could make to your Guru at such a time is to come together as a sangha and practice together. Year after year, teaching after teaching, the Guru transmitted the Dharma to you as a sangha with the hope that you would accomplish those practices together as a sangha. There can be no more profound way to honor the Guru than to fulfill this hope and to realize the strength and inspiration that sangha gives us. Now is the best time to make the commitment to continue the practice of the Buddhadharma and to vow that each passing year will only bring about increased study, practice and genuine unfolding of our own innate Buddhanature.
As for prayers, practice Guru Yoga, remembering that all gurus are gathered within Guru Rinpoche. Recite the Vajra Guru mantra and prayers. Remembering the indivisibility of one’s teacher with Guru Rinpoche, do Guru Yoga and mantra practice. At this time and in future, come together as a sangha and embody the perfect example of the Guru by practicing together as vajra brothers and sisters fortunate enough to be united by the golden thread of unbroken lineage, teachings and transmissions from the Guru. Please know that I am sending my prayers to all of you and the entire Rigpa Sangha is ever in my thoughts and prayers. Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche.