The intervening period between 2007 and 2011 found me mostly on my own, attempting to put into practice in my daily life what I had learned up until that point from my teachers. My work schedule again interfered with me actually participating at the dharma centers I previously attended. However, my interest in the Dharma was not diminished. I kept up a rather vigorous study of Buddhism coupled with a not so vigorous – yet regular – dharma practice (e.g. the Vajrasattva sadhana, mindfulness practice, shamatha meditation, loving-kindness meditation). And while the tradition I embraced is Mahayana/Vajrayana in orientation, I also followed the examples of my teachers by studying Theravada as well – suttas (sutras) from the Pali Canon and so forth. I was taught that the Mahayana/Vajrayana tradition is actually rooted in the Theravada tradition and does not contradict these earlier and well respected teachings, but rather, that it is built off of them as a foundation and is inclusive of the venerated ‘Teaching of the Elders.’
The next major development in terms of my dharma path took place in February of 2011. I learned that Tulku Lama Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche was coming to Dorje Ling in Atlanta to offer empowerment into Kalachakra. Since I already had a strong connection to the Jonang lineage via my visionary/dream experience of H. H. Penam Rinpoche, as well as my first dharma teacher being Khenpo Ngawang Dorjee, I spent some time over the years learning what I could about the Jonangpas. So I knew the primary tantra associated with this lineage was Kalachakra. I am not one to take a bunch of different empowerments as if they were collections or trophies to hang on my wall or wear as badges to prop up my ego, so each one I take is preceded by some preliminary meditation and prayer to gain clarity if this is appropriate for me in my own practice as well as aiding me to benefit others. I also take the practice commitments and vows seriously and so I do not want to accumulate more than I can honestly handle. After some thought and contemplation on the matter, I decided it would be beneficial to proceed with the empowerment. Tulku Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche is an amazing Lama, very kind and authentic, very knowledgeable and attained. He has been recognized as an emanation of Jetsun Taranatha, one of the great Jonang scholars and Buddhist saints. Tulku Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche is the founder of the Dorje Ling Buddhist Centers in New York, Atlanta and Taiwan. Rinpoche is also the founder of Little Lama – which is a charitable organization in Nepal that supports young monks from underprivileged regions providing such necessities as nutritious food, clean clothing, and medicine. The organization also offers education – both Buddhist as well as secular (math, language, science, geography, etc).
I consider Tulku Tashi Gyaltsan Rinpoche to be my primary Vajra Master. It was through his kindness that I was entered into the Highest Yoga Tantra (Anuttarayoga Tantra) mandala of Kalachakra, reaffirmed my Refuge and Bodhisattva vows and took Tantric vows for the first time.
Continued in Part 9…