The Wheel of Times •3
why Rinpoche’s heart wouldn’t restart asthe normal conditions that accompany aheart attack were not present. As far as Icould tell, it seemed Rinpoche hadsuddenly but quietly slipped away withthe same type of calmness, dignity andstability of mind with which he lived. Iwas able to stay with Rinpoche in aprivate area in the unit until the morning.
The Forty Nine days
Kal and I had begun to contact seniormembers of the Kagyu Sangha and thenthe wider dharma world and began tomake arrangements for the appropriateactivities in the 49 days following a highlama’s paranirvana. Messages of shock,sorrow and condolences flooded in fromaround the world. We heard that a doublerainbow had appeared at Thrangumonastery in Tibet at the time of Rinpoche’s passing but before the monkshad received the actual news andrainbows were sighted by students overthe Carlton centre and at MaitirpaContemplative Centre at Healesville overthe following days. Double rainbows alsoappeared at Evam Institute in New Yorkand at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra onthe day they performed Karma Pakshipuja for Traleg Rinpoche.
The blessings of the Kudung
pon hearing the news, Sam andAmi Bercholz who werestudents of Thinley NorbuRinpoche and close friends of TralegKyabgon Rinpoche, took the first planeto Australia from America as didRinpoche’s monk assistant, Nyima Gelekwho had been working on renovations atE-Vam Institute, New York. Togetherwith Kal and Jennie, we received thekudung, the precious body of TralegKyabgon Rinpoche home with greatreverence. The staff member from thefuneral home who was assisting with thearrangements was a student of TibetanBuddhism and showed a depth of concern, skill and sensitivity beyond herprofessional responsibility and ensuredthe kudung was as undisturbed aspossible. Rinpoche’s kudung was placedon an appropriate platform in hispersonal shrine room at home.I was then asked to check the heartregion for warmth. I prepared myself as Iknew that when facing medicalintervention in hospital that Rinpochemight have selected to eject hisconsciousness and thus the heart regionmight already be cold. My breath wastaken away when I felt a strong vibrantwarmth at Rinpoche’s heart region. Ourteacher was residing in the kudung andthose present all spontaneously began toprostrate, pray and recite mantras. Thewarmth remained in Rinpoche’s heartregion for many many days. ThatRinpoche chose to come home was anextraordinarily compassionate andgenerous act and reflected how Rinpochealways thought of the well being of others. We were profoundly blessed tocare for the kudung of Traleg Kyabgonwhile his consciousness was still residingwith us in this world.Once the heart region cooled, thusindicating Rinpoche’s consciousness hadleft, it was time to prepare for the nextstage. The skin was covered in thetraditional manner and the kudungenshrined appropriately as we awaitedthe auspicious date for cremation.Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche from KarmaTriyana Dharmachakra in New York wasremarkably caring and generous: givingmany details regarding appropriateprayers; providing instructions regardingmanagement of Rinpoche’s kudung; andgiving ongoing support throughout the49 days. Sam Bercholz’s son, Ivan, whohad cared for Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’skudung after he passed into parinirvana just months earlier, was able to giveextremely helpful advice too.
Heart offerings of the Sangha
So many people across the worldoffered prayers, support and assistance inmany forms during this period.All of Traleg Rinpoche’s Centrescommenced pujas for 49 days within aday of Rinpoche’s passing. TheAmitabha, Calling the Guru from Afarand Chenrezig pujas and Vajrasattvamantras were performed over the period.His Holiness, the Gyalwa Karmapa andthe Very Venerable Khenchen ThranguRinpoche forwarded profound andbeautiful “swift return” prayers withindays of Rinpoche’s passing so we couldpray from the depths of our hearts for theswift return of our precious teacher.Traleg Rinpoche’s students undergoingtraining in the practices of the traditionalthree year retreat, in particular BelindaKelly and Lyn Hutchinson, took care of all details regarding the daily pujas at theMelbourne Centre and all the retreatantsparticipated in the Vajrayogini Puja priorto and during the cremation day. Theretreatants put in a tremendous effort ona daily basis with every puja beingprepared with love and care. With equaldevotion and care, Daniel Blaze andMarianne Mustrand co-ordinated allpujas in Chatham and New York City.Jasper Eames led pujas at MaitripaCentre in Healesville, Victoria; AniZangmo, and Garry Gadsby led pujas inSydney; and Ani Jangchub and the NewZealand Shedra students led pujas inNew Zealand. Lena Vizzone managedthe Melbourne E-Vam staff who workedextraordinary hours daily to support allaspects of the 49 days activities andpreparation for the cremation. A specialthanks must also go out to Lyn
“We heard that a doublerainbow had appeared atThrangu monastery in Tibetat the time of Rinpoche’s passing but before the monkshad received the actual newsand rainbows were sighted by students over the Carltoncentre and at MaitirpaContemplative Centre atHealesville over the following days. Double rainbows alsoappeared at Evam Institutein New York and at KarmaTriyana Dharmachakra onthe day they performed Karma Pakshi puja for Traleg Rinpoche”