Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche profoundly blessed Mindrol Ösel Ling for the 5th year in a row with a week-long visit and five days of remarkable teachings.
On Wednesday, August 15th, Rinpoche taught ‘Discovering Bodhicitta’ in the Ösel Ling Shrineroom at Maitri House, which accommodates both the Ösel Ling Meditation Center along with The Heartwood Center for Integrative Health and Healing. This years Bodhicitta teachings were notably well attended by the Heartwood community of healthcare practitioners. This was a wonderful opportunity to hear Rinpoche expound on compassion as the opening to our innate nature of basic goodness, our awakened heart, which is without self-cherishing and naturally brings about the best for all beings. Everyone was truly touched by Rinpoche’s teachings and her kindness and wisdom in how to be compassionate in these troubled times.
On Thursday, August 16th, Rinpoche spoke on the topic of Karma and the Importance of Merit. Rinpoche began the teaching by asking how many people didn’t believe in karma and used that as an opening into the topic. She went on to distinguish the difference between “karma or action as being in the drivers’ seat, and “destiny or fate as being in the passengers’ seat.” The latter is not agreed with in the Buddhist teachings, which emphasizes the importance of understanding that mind is the basis of all activity of body, speech, and mind. It is for this reason that it is important to tame and train the mind so that we may see clearly in this present moment and that our actions are of benefit rather than harm.
Both the Wednesday and Thursday programs provided an intimate setting of the shrineroom to receive these foundational and very important tenets of the Buddha Dharma.
The weekend program was a continuation of the text that Rinpoche began in 2017, “Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance” the classic text outlining the path of Mahamudra by the 9th Karmapa, Wangchug Dorje. This profound text covers both the preliminaries and the actual meditations of shamatha (resting) and vipassana (insight) and presents a complete path to enlightenment. This year Rinpoche’s teachings picked up where she ended last year with the 12 Points of the Preliminaries and she began the main practice of the Four Yogas. Everyone present for the program truly felt the rain of blessings of these magnificent teachings, presented with such clarity by Khandro Rinpoche as to enable ones mind to open to the possibility of the truth of the path that leads to enlightenment.
During Rinpoche’s visit to Evanston, she met with some of the many people who have been working to make both Mindrol Ösel Ling and Heartwood Center vital places for those seeking to deepen their understanding and practices of the Buddha Dharma, as well as further the health and well-being of individuals and communities in Evanston and the Chicago area. These groups included the Fundraising Council and the Heartwood Leadership Group, as well the Ösel Ling Board of Directors. The meetings provided informative reports and fruitful discussions on their activities as well as visions for the near future.
Next year, the Heartwood Center for Integrative Health and Healing will be celebrating its 20th anniversary of service to the community. Rinpoche encouraged the organization to engage in a Health and Well Being Symposium in April of 2019 followed by a Gala event in May. Rinpoche spearheaded the idea of a “Meditate Chicago” campaign where Ösel Ling will organize a 48-hour meditation intensive and the larger Mindrolling International community will be invited to help the Evanston sangha ‘hold the seat’ for round-the-clock practice aimed at bringing peaceful minds and actions to our chaotic and aggressive world. More information will be forthcoming about these wonderful events as the dates draw nearer, so please check back with the website for more information.
Many friends and members of the sangha worked tirelessly to make Rinpoche’s week-long visit harmonious. Many people took time off from their work and painted, gardened, cleaned and moved cushions and furniture with ease and gentle humor. Rinpoche said that though the sangha is still young and many people are new to the dharma, the spirit and genuineness of the practitioners made for a truly delightful and relaxing week. We pray and aspire that Rinpoche will continue to bless the sangha of Ösel Ling and the greater community every year with her grace and love and that we will continue to be students worthy of Rinpoche’s innumerable, vast, and remarkable blessings.