by Adrienne Chan
“The Buddha said that anyone who had developed the Four Bases to Success, had made them his vehicle and his foundation could, if he wished, live out the age. The Exalted One had done all that, and he could, if requested, live to the end of this age. Although Ananda was given such a plain and broad hint, which certainly coincided with his longing, he did not beg the Buddha to stay alive, out of compassion for all beings. Not only once, but a second and third time, the Buddha addressed Ananda in this way. But Ananda did not take these hints…”  and the Buddha entered Parinirvana.
So it is that the Tibetan Buddhist Tenshug ceremony, requesting for a lama’s long life, is practiced and revered. At the request and sponsorship of Ponlop Tashi Rinpoche of the Tsechen Thupten Dekyi Choling, Taiwan, Tenshug prayers/ceremony were held for His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya at Sakya Monastery, Seattle, from September 26-28, 2014. For three consecutive mornings, Khenpo Jampa Rinpoche was the Dorje Lopon (chant leader). Our resident lamas Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche and Lama Migmar; guest lamas Phonlop Tashi Rinpoche from Taiwan, Lama Lungrick from Olympia, WA, Ven. Lekshey from Seattle/Nepal; members of the Sakya Phuntsok Phodrang family, and our sangha all participated in the Drolkar Yeshin Khorlo puja (Six Rays of Light-White Tara Long Life Ritual).
On the third morning, September 28th, the Tenshug prayers began at 7:30am. The prayers stopped briefly to await the 10am arrival of HH Dagchen Rinpoche. At 10am, the Dhungseys greeted His Holiness at the entrance of the Monastery. Tsering Gaga held a special and beautiful Dharma ceremonial umbrella over him. According to Tibetan tradition, the ceremonial greeting procession included Sakya family members, students and friends carrying incense and katags, while gyaling (Tibetan trumpet) music played in the background.
Special guests who attended Holiness’ Tenshug ceremony were Her Eminence Chimey Luding Jetsun Kusho, Luding Tse Kusho from Vancouver, BC.; from Taiwan came Phonlop Tashi Rinpoche, Chen Shih-Fang, Emma Lin; Sophia Chen came from Singapore; Mr. Gu arrived from Shanghai; Lekshey Chan, Roland Yeung, Jamyang Dolma came from Hong Kong; Madame Hong Dang and an entourage of five others flew in from Vietnam. Geshe Jamyang Tustrim, his family and students drove up from Olympia, WA. Officers and members of the Tibetan Association of Washington also joined the Tenshug.
Upon entering the Shrine room, one was struck by its gold/red shimmering grandeur. His Holiness’ throne was decorated with new brocade coverings—top table cloth, front table cloth, and back seat covering offered by Mr. Norbu from east Tibet. A beautiful floral arrangement was offered by Marilyn Harris. A colorful and elaborate 4’x4’ mandala shrine table set was up near the altar. The 7 royal symbols (Wheel, Jewel, Queen, Minister, Horse, Elephant, General) and the 8 auspicious symbols (Parasol, Golden Fishes, Treasure Vase, Lotus, Conch Shell, Endless Knot, Victory Banner, Wheel) were arranged on a table in front of His Holiness’ throne.
After His Holiness sat on his throne, Dorje Lopon Khenpo Jampa resumed the Tenshug prayers. Then Chen Shih-Fang, Roland Yeung and Madame Hong Dang made the elaborate 37-point Mandala Offering to His Holiness. Phonlop Tashi Rinpoche named the 37 symbols as Dorje Lopon Khenpo Jampa pointed to each symbol on the Mandala plate. The offering continued with the Khon Dhungs offering the Body (an Amitayus long-life statue), Speech (Dharma text), Mind (Stupa), Vase (Qualities) and Double Dorje (Activity) of the Buddha to His Holiness. Following this Khon Dhungs, Phonlop Tashi Rinpoche offered the 7 royal and 8 auspicious symbols.
The Tenshug ceremony reached its climax when Ponlop Tashi Rinpoche made his long-life request to His Holiness. His Holiness replied:
To all of you Dharma practitioners, it is wonderful that you
have joined together to perform the White Tara ritual and recite
the Three Long Life deities prayers (in my honor). I will remain so
long as I can benefit all sentient beings. For the benefit of all lamas’
long lives, and for all sentient beings, do I pray.
Everyone responded Joyously! The program continued with Ven. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche sharing with the audience His Holiness’ biography.
Next the groups listed below made their traditional 7-point Mandala offerings to His Holiness:
Sakya Tsechen Thubten Ling, Vancouver, BC—HE Jetusn Kusho
Tsechen Thupten Dekyi Choling, Taipei, Taiwan—Ponlop Tashi Rinpoche & members
Sakya Tsechen Phuntsog Choling, Hong Kong—Roland Yeung & members
Sakya Tsechen Shide Choling, Vietnam—Tho Luu, Madame Hong Dang & members
Nalanda Institute, Olympia, WA—Geshe Jamyang Tsultrim & members
Tara Meditation Center, Whidbey Is, WA—Chuck Pettis, Earth Sanctuary President
Tibetan Association of Washington—Tenzin Chokey, President of TAW & other officers
Tulku Urgen and Family
Sakya Monastery Teen Dharma School—Colin Lamb, Jacob and Diego Alcarez, Leif Crefwell,
Metta Mayes, Hanaha Pham
Sakya Monastery Virupa Educational Institute—Coordinator Dr. Kristine Honda & teachers
Sakya Monastery Board of Advisors—President David Spiekerman & other Board members
The Tenshug Ceremony closed with the recitation of “Prayers for the Three Long Life Deities” and His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche’s long life prayer. This was followed by the presentation of huge decorated cake and a roaring rendition of the song, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”!!!
The blessed event was tremendous success – thank you to everyone who helped!