Rinpoche's new year message from Bodhanath, Kathmandu, for all his students and friends:
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017
Circumambulating the freshly renovated Bodhanath stupa I observed thousands of people from all over the world walking around it peacefully with their prayers in heart. This world heritage pilgrimage place was not built by a powerful king, a wealthy sponsor or a teacher with many followers. It was built by a poor and ordinary village woman who worked at the kings chicken farm, solely with her resolution, resourcefulness and resilience.
I would like to share with you the peace and tranquility of this stupa and wish that you will face the 2017 with resolution, resourcefulness and resilience.
Wish you a Very Happy New Year.
This year's message from Rinpoche brings into focus the innate goodness that so easily manifests within and exudes from us, when all five elements are in balance. It is as well a reminder of the need for maintaining kindness, clarity and deliberation as we move forward in time. It also gives us the reassurance that even those of us with the most limited resources can make a difference in the present and for the future - our own and others - when we hold to a pure vision with tenacity, tranquility and devotion. This message encourages us to remember the innate qualities we must continue to generate, cultivate and practise as we start a new year that promises greater than usual uncertainty. We must be vigilant, and never separate from the developing inner wisdom which sustains our practise and reminds us of our inner strength; to keep the mind vast, alert, compassionate and aware, and our actions kind and to the point.
The Great Stupa of Bodhanath, wherein lie the relics of Shakyamuni Buddha and countless other enlightened beings, draws people from all cultures and traditions to pray, prostrate, circumambulate, or just sit, sell, barter or beg, in a spirit of peace and respect. Also known as Jarung Kashor, so called because centuries ago a poultry keeper named Jadzima asked the King of Nepal for some land on which to erect a stupa after she had a dream that it should be done to purify her own negative karma. Normally the king would not give such a permission but this time he instantly responded, 'Yes it can be done', and so she invited her four sons to help, with the added incentive that they too would benefit. Jarung means 'So be it', or 'it can be done'; Kashor means 'slipped from the mouth'. And so it was built, a large chörten at first, but as time went by and people recognised the importance of such a reliquary, it was extended and became a great place of pilgrimage. In recent decades Kathmandu city has expanded to encircle it, and many great monasteries have been built close by. It is said to be 'wish fulfilling' as prayers will be answered when offered on first sight of the stupa. There are many stories of miracles occurring in its vicinity.
On completion of the stupa after her death, it is said that Jadzima's four sons continued the work, and afterwards each made a wish for their own future lives to be useful. The eldest was reborn as King Songtsen Gampo; the second a great minister of Tibet, Padma Gungtsen; the third became Sankarakshita; and the fourth was reborn as Padmasambhava - Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Tibet.
Last years terrible earthquake almost completely destroyed Nepal, and also badly damaged the fine structure of the stupa. Again, in a resolute act of pure devotion, resourcefulness and great resilience the local community have spent months restoring it by hand, brick by brick; it was finally completed in early December 2016, and the precious relics were replaced into the inner vault, the outside was decked with prayer flags, painted with limewash and blessed with saffron water, decorating the dome with petals. Each of the main Tibetan Schools of Buddhism are represented by a monastery at Bodhanath and the Kudungs of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche also reside there.