Chagdud Khadro at Dechhen Ling, OR, during the Red Tara 100,000 Tsok accumulation practice.
Photographer: Ann Goddard
American–born Chagdud Khadro resides at Khadro Ling in Brazil where she serves as the spiritual director of the Chagdud Gonpa centers in Latin America. Since the passing of her teacher and husband, His Eminence Chagdud Rinpoche, Khadro upholds Rinpoche’s numerous activities including publishing texts, accomplishing projects in relation to education, spiritual care for the dying and Vajrayana ritual arts. She travels, teaches, and leads retreats in the Americas, Europe, and Australia. In September she visited centers in Yukon, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon
Chagdud Khadro’s northwest tour was very much a warm homecoming. In the early 80’s Khadro lived for many years in Cottage Grove, Oregon, where she helped her teacher and husband, His Eminence Chagdud Rinpoche, establish his first center in the West. Lama Trinley, a current resident lama at Dechhen Ling, recalls, “For those who knew Rinpoche in the early days, it was often due to Khadro’s kindness and encouragement that they were able to connect and study with him.”
The focus of the recent teaching tour was “P’howa” – the practice of the transference of consciousness at death. Khadro’s competency in transmitting these elaborate teachings on death and dying in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is remarkable. Equally astounding is her ability to gauge an audience and adjust the tone so listeners, Buddhists and non–Buddhists alike, can grasp invaluable insights and gain confidence. In a very practical manner Khadro includes workshop-like practice alongside formal recitation. Depending on the moment, she will divide the audience into small groups enacting scenarios of death, or lead visualizations, listen to stories of near–death experiences or pair people for practice sessions.
Khadro’s tour was timed to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Chagdud Rinpoche's first visit to the Yukon. Here she cuts a cake with Marie-France looking on.
Photographer: Dave Galloway
Khadro’s first stop was Rigdrol Dechen Ling in Whitehorse, Yukon. This was Khadro’s first trip to the most northern and only Canadian Chagdud center. Her visit coincided with the celebration of the center’s 25th anniversary of Chagdud Rinpoche’s first Yukon trip. She conducted a five–day P’howa retreat, the first time this practice was taught there. Starting the retreat with fun, participants enjoyed a quartz crystal bowl concert. Center member, Cheryl Buchan, was amused at the interdependent connection when five people who were present in 1984 to greet Chagdud Rinpoche found themselves together again unbeknown to those on the registration desk who assigned them all to the same cabin!
Tromge Ling in Anchorage was Khadro’s next center visit. Some members have been practicing together since Rinpoche’s first visit to Alaska in 1989. Over the years more connection has grown with other practitioners around the state in Fairbanks, Juneau, Homer and even beyond. Sangha members commented that her P’howa teaching, as always, was precise and full of examples that deepened understanding. One participant remarked how role playing was a very powerful tool in order to gain a sense of what it might be like to help someone transition in the midst of western medicine and hospital medical procedure.
In Washington, Khadro gave teachings on both sides of the Cascades. In order to serve different sectors of the greater Seattle community, she offered a public talk at Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church and a weekend P’howa retreat, organized by Chagdud Gonpa Amrita, at Nalanda West. Lama Inge in Spokane hosted Khadro at Padma Ling. During the tour Khadro reminded students that Lama Inge was the first western student Rinpoche ordained and recollected her vital role in helping establish the first center in Oregon. Despite her international popularity, Khadro by her own admittance prefers to be “in the thick of sangha”. It is not unusual for her to mingle in a crowd, or take a brisk walk with some sangha members during down time, or chat with people in a tea break.
Lama Inge and Khadro at Pioneer Park, Spokane, Washington.
Photographer: Caterina De Re
Khadro also presided over the annual Red Tara Tsok at Chagdud Dechhen Ling in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Food, drink, light, incense, and flowers were gathered and offered, together with prayers and mantra. Over 100,000 recitations of a short offering prayer were accumulated. The resident lamas, Lama Trinley and Lama Dorje, were joined by Lama Padma Gyatso from Seattle, Lama Inge from Spokane, Gatsal Lama from Williams (OR), and Lama Galtsen and his wife Tsering from Corvallis (OR). Khadro also found time to teach, both formally and through her awe-inspiring example.
The Annual Tsok was a joyous occasion, complete with much formal practice, as well as late night meetings–even dancing! In her humble and matter of fact way, Khadro caught up with old friends while welcoming new ones. In many ways, this tour heralded a renaissance of Chagdud Rinpoche’s activities in the Northwest. All sangha groups have been inspired to pursue more deeply their service to the dying as well as commitment to ongoing P’howa sessions and future retreats.
For more information about sanghas and teachers mentioned above, please visit: www.chagdud.org.
Contributors: Lama Trinley Drolma, Caterina De Re,
Cheryl Buchan, Patricia Sandberg
Photos: Caterina De Re, Dave Galloway, Ann Goddard.