June 02, 2007

Sage & Smoke

We drove, in Dickie’s beat up Toyota Land Cruiser, up to Red Feather today to investigate the Earth Dorm as a possible new location for the Fire Puja ceremony. I learned that all the bushes on the slops along the way are sage and we stopped to rub some in our hands and smell. Sage is my secret to good potato soup.

We measured and photographed the Earth Dorm. Sutrayana Seminary is being held at the Red Feather campus for the next month. For an auspicious beginning, they held a Lasung, which was beginning as we finished our work. The Dorje Kasung was there in force, holding a circle of protection beyond the circle of chanters. In the center, was a large iron stove into which John Ohm, a senior Kasung and our fire marshal, was placing wet juniper, to create a dense, fragrant, white smoke.

I stood silent and listened to the chant. We supplicated to vanquish our enemies, raise Windhorse, and clear all obstacles, real and imagined. We gave all good offerings, real and imagined, and supplicated the guru lineages, the Gesar, Rigden, Depa, all-pervading Garuda, and others to help us achieve our goals. Then the chant changed, to the root syllables even I knew. “Kiki soso ashe Lah gyel loh Tak seng kyung druk di yar ke,” the Shambhala Warrior’s Chant. The circle began to move, each person slowly approaching the fire pot in a snaking line, holding books, malas, hats, scarves, and other offerings over the smoke. I, having not prepared, smoked my always present hat and silver scarf, and myself.

The smoke is strong, and as all-pervading as the Garuda, but it is not unpleasant. It is a reminder of the many well wishes, blessing, and loving thoughts of the community come together to wish an auspicious beginning to the Seminary. The small, but ever growing, gaggle of children from Shotoku were there with their small herd of minders. It is strange to see children on the land, but good, very good.

Smelling of sage and smoke, I am saturated with drala, “the unconditioned wisdom and power of the world that are beyond any dualism.” (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, page 103.)

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