what i’ve been doing, roughly

I’ve been in Tashi Jong for the last week, mainly for purposes of exploring my part in the distribution and dissemination of Lama Chodpa incense, a very special blessed incense made by the monks, lamas, and laypeople of Tashi Jong, under the direction of Ven. Phopa Rabjam Tulku Rinpoche, who functionally acts as the mayor/president of Tashi Jong. 

 The stuff is really chock full of precious and blessed substances, and in talking with Phopa Rinpoche, I am discovering more and more blessed substances that are put into the incense. It’s fascinating. The relics of past masters are put into the Lama Chodpa stone soup, and there’s one particular precious pill which claims a powerful effect: The Rainbow Pill, or Jatsunma Pill (Ja means “rainbow”, tsun means “to appear”). Why rainbow? If the Rainbow Pill is given before death, then a rainbow will appear around the time of death. It also protects from rebirth in the lower realms when taken before death. Big claims! Incredible. But this stuff is in the incense. Thus while perhaps not having the exact same effect as if one were to take the pill directly, it can still contribute to a similar benefit.

Also included in the incense are tormas. Tormas are ritual symbolic statue-like offerings which are generally composed of barley, molded into proscribed traditional avant-garde designs which often look like they’re from outer space, and painted with bright colors. These particular tormas are consecrated during the annual long Mahakala puja at Tashi Jong’s monastery, takes place in the fall. After the puja’s conclusion, the tormas are then taken to a special Dharma Protector shrine room, where a designated Dharma Protector practitioner engages in day and night practice of those guardians of the Buddha’s teachings. He does this for one year, until the beginning of the next year’s Mahakala puja. The year-old tormas, now suffused with the blessings of one year of Dharma Protector practice, are then put into the incense.

There’s also something about the flesh of masters being in the incense, and the blessings from this flesh naturally increasing with time. I didn’t quite catch that in its entirety, so I’ll have to re-interrogate Phopa Rinpoche on that one! It certainly sounded interesting.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to, and why I’ve been in Tashi Jong: Lama Chodpa Incense. Other things have been at the forefront of my experience, and have taken up quite a bit of time: Ajay’s 3 day wedding, which was one of the most intensive cultural experiences I’d ever had, as well as the best time I’ve ever had dancing (these people love dancing so much and it is so beautiful), as well as being very sick for about 3 days (all of them during the wedding — I finally feel better as of today).

Tashi Jong was recognized by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other lamas as being the Pure Land of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom. This alone makes me want to stay there.

It is really a magical place. So much more quiet and laid back than any other Tibetan community I’ve been to. The population is very small, only around 1000, perhaps half of them being Tibetan. The landscape is mind-blowingly heavenly. There have been so many times when I thought, ‘I must have died and gone to heaven”. It’s like a perfect blend of traditional Tibetan and Indian culture, in a cloistered, quiet, gorgeous, very spiritual valley, where the people tend to radiate warmth and good feeling. 

So I’m falling in love with it. What can I say.

And proceeds from Lama Chodpa incense go directly to support the people of Tashi Jong. I want to help this village. It deserves it.

I can and will be an instrumental force in revitalizing the local community, bringing  prosperity and well being to its members. And all the while, making money to support my own Tibetan language studies here in India… as well as the benefit, blessing, and merit that everyone who buys and smells the incense receives.

 Currently, I’m looking into teaching English at Tashi Jong’s monastery/philosophical institute Khamapagar in exchange for room and board. I don’t have much money, and I came here with the intention of teaching English at Chokling Gompa in Bir, but at this point I want to stay in Tashi Jong, given the most auspicious connection I’ve made with that most lovely of villages.

May all beings have all temporal and ultimate joy and happiness, from the tiniest of pleasures up to and including complete enlightenment!

SARVA MANGALAM. May excellent virtue increase!

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