For several years now my main practice has been the "outer" or "common" ngöndro which is the contemplation of the Four Thoughts that turn the mind towards Dharma and away from Samsara. I've also been committed to practicing Vajrasattva and accumulating his short mantra since 2016. My heart is in Chöd Lüjin (specifically its Kusali form), which I have permission from Lho Ontul Rinpoche to do as a life practice.
I've been stumbling up and down the path of liberation for nearly 14 years now, slowly but surely. Most of that time was spent on study (i.e. listening to teachings and reading texts) rather than habituating my mind. It took me a while to figure out that my root gurus were Garchen Rinpoche and Gyalpo Rinpoche, and to finally be able to see my path of practice. Now that I have this clarity of vision and focus I would like to transition from intellectual understanding to experiential understanding, to dig deep and eventually come to know the Dharma of Realization rather than leave it at Scripture on the page.
My main aspirations in this life are to become 1) a better father and living example of the Dharma to my daughters; 2) an interfaith Buddhist Chaplain and Minister who brings love, compassion, and wisdom to bear when engaging with others, and 3) a Tibetan-to-English translator who helps bring the message of the Buddha and many great masters to those who could not otherwise access the precious treasury of the Vajrayana tradition.
Thus far I'd say that I've made the most headway on goal #3. I attended a couple intensive Tibetan language courses in Nepal and have done a bit of self-study in the years since. I was fortunate enough to work on a short lineage prayer on the Hevajra tradition of Marpa which will be calligraphed and offered to Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche soon, and I also edited the phonetic transliteration of the Dalai Lama's long-life prayer for Garchen Rinpoche.
I'm currently volunteering as a transcriber/editor for the Garchen Dharma Institute in Taiwan, and will be writing the biography of the 1st Karma Chagme Rinpoche for the website Treasury of Lives in the near future.
My chaplaincy mentor and Inji lama, Justin von Bujdoss, himself the Staff Chaplain at Rikers Island prison complex in New York, has acted as a shepherd for my journey towards fulfilling goal #2, become a chaplain and minister.
Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche, the late Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche, Lho Ontul Rinpoche, Drupön Thinley Nyingpo, Repa Dorje Ödzer (Lama Justin von Bujdoss).
I am here seeking sponsorship so that I may engage in a personal yet traditional 3 year, 3 month retreat that is the concert of Fivefold Mahamudra and the Yangzab Dzogchen terma of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, starting with the Fivefold Mahamudra Ngöndro composed by Garchen Rinpoche called the Excellent Path of Awakening and an extensive Chöd retreat based on the late Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche's unique Drikung Chöd text compilation. Chöd is intimately related to my yidam deity and one of my heart practices.
I have not yet received 1-on-1 instructions in a retreat setting from the lamas of the blessing lineage, but now that Gyalse Garchen Rinpoche has officially retired and will remain at Garchen Institute as of 12/08/2019 (presumably in order to prepare for the death process), it feels imperative to receive whatever personal guidance I can before he passes and to be with him in practice when he passes so as to be qualified and empowered to hold his lineage of realization to best benefit all beings.
His personal practice and life, as chronicled in the documentary biopic (https://www.forthebenefitofallbeings.com/) is one of the main reasons I've pursued the path so fervently and wholeheartedly believe that "love is the only samaya."
In order to help heal the deep racial and political divides in the modern day charnel ground of the U.S.A., I feel it necessary to have practiced with my root guru and his spiritual heirs at his international center so as to be best equipped to bring his compassionate message to bear in a modern parlance. Never before has it been so strikingly obvious to me that injustice, racism, poverty, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and mental afflictions are rampant, and that with the intention to satisfy the karmic debts of beings in this fashion so much good can be spontaneously accomplished in the world.
It goes without saying that the merit generated by sponsoring and rejoicing in a 3 year retreat is without limit and the blessings resulting from it would be truly an immeasurable amassment of light and blessings.
With a love of language and a penchant for creative writing, I have composed a few prayers from the heart over the years. I would love to share this Dharma poetry with anyone interested, and especially those who become my kind jindaks.
Among these works is an extensive long-life prayer for Garchen Rinpoche that I was able to offer him during his birthday celebration in 2016. Rinpoche himself gave permission for others to recite it during their practice after it was requested by several sangha members. I am working on translating the prayer into Tibetan so that it can be chanted, and a Vietnamese version is also in the works.
All my future Dharmic activities which grow and flourish out of the accomplishment of this root realization retreat would of course be due to your generosity and go towards firmly planting the roots of virtue for your own eventual liberation and awakening, setting your feet solidly on the Bodhisattva bhumis and entering without question into the conduct of a Warrior for Awakening...
Spiritual Math (current rough estimate):
84,000 Teachings of the Buddha
÷ 12 years of total retreat
× 3 years of retreat
+ 112 beads on a mala (including spacers, guru bead, and counting for mistakes)