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Traleg Rinpoche Tribute

Traleg Rinpoche Tribute

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Published by: Shyonnu on Jan 06, 2013
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The Wheel of Times •1
Special Edition 2012
ur treasured and beloved teacher, Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX passed intoparinirvana at 12.10 am on 24 July 2012, being the fourth day of the sixth monthof the Tibetan calendar in the Year of the Water Dragon. Rinpoche, who was devotedto maintaining the essence and purity and of the dharma, passed away on the auspicious dayof Chokhor Duchen, the observance of Lord Buddha's first teaching. Rinpoche’s ability tocommunicate the dharma and his wide range of dharmic activity benefitted thousands of people around the world. We pray for Rinpoche’swift return.
Rinpoche’s Last DaysThe Life of TralegRinpoche IXThe Cremation of TralegRinpoche IXThe Relationship betweenRelative and AbsoluteBodhicittaNyima TashiRefuge and BodhisattvaVowsPrayers for the SwiftReturn of Traleg RinpocheTraleg Rinpoche's Centres
Commemoration of the life of 
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX
2• The Wheel of Times
health incident so they can be monitoredclosely to ensure their condition remainssufficiently stable for it to be safe for thepatient to return home. Rinpocheappeared to be relaxed and peaceful andsaid the bed was very comfortable. Wetalked a little, but after such a long dayRinpoche was understandably tired andwas drifting in and out of sleep. The staff allowed me to stay past visiting hours,but were making gentle hints I should beleaving soon. Rinpoche insisted I agreeto a time to leave that evening so as not todisturb the hospital routine so we decidedthat I would leave at 9.00pm. I kissed mydearest Rinpoche good-bye and weshared loving remarks with one another.He settled back to sleep almostimmediately.I returned home somewhat exhaustedbut glad that somehow that the worst hadbeen averted. It had been a very close calland I was shaken. I felt that it was timefor Rinpoche to retire, though I knew hewould never stop working for the benefitof others. For all the time I had knownRinpoche, he had worked tirelessly and
understand the importance of sharing with everyone thecircumstances that led to thepassing of Traleg Kyabgon RinpocheIX and will attempt to explain this tothe best of my ability. Rinpoche was athis Melbourne home in Australia on23rd July 2012 having returned fromhis centre in New Zealand around aweek earlier. Despite being unwell, hehad led the opening ceremony at thenew premises for his Nyima TashiKagyu Buddhist Centre, in Auckland.As events were to transpire, theteaching Rinpoche gave at Nyima Tashiwas to be his last as the 9th incarnationof the line of Traleg tulkus. For anumber of weeks prior to Rinpoche’strip to Auckland he fatigued very easily.Despite his ill health, Rinpoche wishedhis health would improve enough toenable him to travel and teach aspreviously planned at his belovedE-Vam Buddhist Centre in upstate NewYork.Around 1.00 am on 23rd July 2012,Rinpoche awoke in some discomfort,and looked extremely pale and unwell.He was unwell enough for me toimmediately call for an ambulance,which arrived within five minutes.Rinpoche was calm and composed butthere was no doubt something wasterribly wrong. The ambulance officersestablished that Rinpoche’s bloodpressure was extremely low and that hecould have been at risk of cardiacdistress. He was then quickly taken onthe short trip to the emergencydepartment of a nearby hospital and wasattended to by specialist cardiac staff.Over a period of around 13 hours, thedoctors and nurses using intravenousdrips and some drug therapy worked tonormalize Rinpoche’s blood pressure. Byaround 3.00pm that day the staff hadsuccessfully achieved this and allRinpoche’s vital signs were then at asatisfactory level. Beside some momentsof arrhythmia, the doctors were satisfiedthat Rinpoche was out of immediatedanger.Around 5.00pm, Rinpoche was movedinto a lovely private room in an“observation ward”. Patients are taken tothe observation ward after a significantendlessly for all beings. His dedicationto benefitting others was complete andenduring. He was never off duty!I packed a bag for Rinpoche ready totake to hospital the next morning. I wasonly at home for a short time when Ireceived a terrifying call from one of the doctors at the hospital telling me toreturn to the hospital as Rinpoche hadhad some kind of a turn. I knew it wasnot good and I remember thinking oursweet good-bye may have been ourlast. Then I decided to be both realisticand optimistic. I arrived at the hospitalsometime after 10.00pm. I wentstraight to the Intensive Care Unit asthe doctor had instructed. I was notallowed in to see Rinpocheimmediately. As I understand thetiming now, Rinpoche’s heart stoppedat 10.30pm on 23rd July 2012. I wasgiven the briefest of moments withRinpoche. When I saw Rinpoche lyingso still, and with many staff surrounding him, it seemed clear to mehe would not make it, but still I hopedwith every piece of my heart for amiracle. I was then ushered out of theunit and the medical staff workedtirelessly to try and restart Rinpoche’sheart. Rinpoche was declared deceased at12.10am on 24th July 2012.Kal Kingi, Rinpoche’s personalassistant who now runs Rinpoche’sMelbourne Centre and Maitripa Centreand his wife Jennie had joined me in thehospital that evening. We weredevastated beyond belief when the doctorbroke the news to me that Rinpoche’sheart could not be restarted. Kal andJennie’s support and care wasremarkable.After the doctor delivered the news, atmy request she let me sit with Rinpocheand I watched his peaceful body at rest.As I was sitting with Rinpoche itappeared to me that I observed the finaldescent of his chest as if I had witnessedthe release of his final breath. To this day,I question whether that is what I saw or if that was an illusion I created to help mebelieve Rinpoche waited for me to bethere before he released his final breath.The attending doctor came to me againand said how sorry she was. Sheexplained that she was bewildered as to
Rinpoche’s Last Days
Traleg Rinpoche with His Holiness 17th Karmapa
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” 

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