By Alyssa McFarland, April 2019
His Eminence Khöndung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche visited Seattle, WA April 24-26 and bestowed the Mahakala initiation at Sakya Monastery on April 25. H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche is the son of His Holiness Sakya Trichen Rinpoche (the 41st Sakya Trizin) and younger brother of His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin. On March 29, 2020, His Eminence Gyana Vajra Rinpoche will be enthroned as the 43rd Sakya Trizin.
Mahakala is one of the most revered Tibetan protector deities. His purpose is to protect the Dharma and Dharma practitioners and to help in overcoming negative obstacles on one’s path to enlightenment.
Before starting the initiation, H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche said that the motivation for taking an initiation, or any practice, puja or tsok, is very important. The motivation to benefit all sentient beings brings merit and without which, you cannot achieve enlightenment. He advised us to always include all sentient beings in our prayers, to increase merit. Also he told us that all the deities are Buddha, none is better or more powerful than any other; they just appear in different forms because some might people relate to one deity and someone else might relate to a different deity and practice, just as different people have different tastes in movies.
After the initiation, H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche gave a brief teaching directed at new members. He said that the most important part of practice is meditation, but you may have doubts, questions and feelings during meditation, and find visualization difficult. He made the analogy of learning how to drive a stick shift car: at first it is so challenging to keep track of every detail that it seems nearly impossible, but with practice, eventually it becomes natural. He suggested that when you see an injured animal, people fighting or some other similar occurrence, to practice thinking compassionate thoughts. Eventually, with practice, this will become easy. He said anger is the worst of the defilements because it makes you lose your compassion. “Controlling your mind is the key to enlightenment,” he said.
H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche also advised us to understand our limits and not push ourselves too hard especially at the beginning. Balance is very important. Also, the greatest offering we can give our guru is to practice. Our gurus are here for us, and our practice matters to our gurus, but that doesn’t mean you have to practice for hours every day; even just 2-5 minutes of full compassion and concentration is good.
Sakya Monastery has a regular monthly Mahakala puja on the 29th day of each Tibetan lunar month. All those who have had the initiation may attend the puja.