Recently, Ato Rinpoche, nephew of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and a great master of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, taught at Rigpa's London centre. A student reflects on the special evening.
After trekking across London carrying my friend’s massive harp (a remnant of a gig that we had just played) I staggered into the London Rigpa centre at 1 minute to 7 o’ clock and only just managed to get a cushion in the far right corner of the shrine room. I felt rushed and unprepared for the teachings, but soon my mind settled just like the glass of muddy water to which the teachings of the Buddha so often refer, and my long journey was quickly forgotten.
After a brief introduction to Ato Rinpoche’s lineage and upbringing (his uncle was the great Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche) the man himself glided into the room with a grace that belied his years. Then with a gentle voice, with fitting touch of middle England in the accent, Ato Rinpoche began to teach. He told us that he would teach "from the ground, not from the air", beginning with a reflection on the foundations of Dharma practice - meditation, the Four Thoughts (that turn the mind towards the Dharma, ie precious human birth, impermanence, karma and the suffering of samsara) and being in the present moment, rather than worrying too much about the past or the future.
He then started teaching on one of Milarepa's songs of realisation, the main topic of the evening. Milarepa, an 11th century yogi, is one of Tibet's most famous and well loved saints. He endured many great hardships in his pursuit of the teachings of the Buddha and gained great spiritual realisation. Ato Rinpoche reminded us that “the spiritual path is not easy, and whatever suffering is encountered must be faced”.
All too quickly, the teaching was concluded and our time with this extraordinary teacher came to an end. As usual, we dedicated the merit of the wonderful evening for the benefit of all beings, and with the wish that Ato Rinpoche would return again soon.
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