Five local ladies are having regular rehearsals this month to make sure they are ready to perform the dance of the dakinis on September 29, 2013 – RESCHEDULED – to request the long life of Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

We just received confirmation (on Sep. 3rd) that Land of Medicine Buddha is going to host the long life puja which is being offered to Rinpoche by the FPMT Inc Board and FPMT North America with logistical support from local FPMT Dharma centers and projects.

Many of you have participated in long life pujas in the past, either a simplified or an elaborate presentation based on the Lama Chöpa (Guru Puja). Maybe you have stood in the procession carrying one of the offerings – maybe a statue representing holy body, or an item of monastic robes, or one of the eight substances such as medicine or sindura.

Dakinis at long life puja

Dakinis during long life puja for Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery
Dec 2012
Photo by Ven.Roger Kunsang

The elaborate form of the puja (offering ceremony) includes a song called Khandro Tenshug, “Request to the Dakinis for the Holy Fields to Remain Firmly With Us.”

Here is the first verse:

East Dakini of the Vajra Race
With brilliance of the blue color
Circled by one hundred thousand blue ones,
To all of you I make requests:
Please take the eastern scarf back to your realm,
Please, support all practitioners,
Prolong the life of the glorious Lamas.

The song continues to call the yellow dakini from the South, the red dakini from the West, green dakini from the North, and the white dakini from the center. The Tibetan word for dakini, khadro, means sky-goer; it’s something like an angel.

Sometimes the Dakini song is just recited quickly, or sung slowly, but it’s really a special occasion when we have participants who actually wear the dakini costumes and perform the sacred gestures to request the lama’s long life.

The dakinis are not always portrayed by women; it is common for monks to put on the costumes and perform the dance.  In this picture here from a puja at Kopan Monastery in December 2012, you can’t really tell who is under all that brocade.

We are so happy that Lama Zopa Rinpoche has chosen to spend some time this season in our area. Sometimes we do informal things with him, such as going to the beach or having a tea party here on the land. But Rinpoche himself emphasizes the power of offering the long life puja to his own lamas and has guided us over the years in learning how to do this practice, so this time we are pulling out all the stops and offering the best puja we can manage.

An article from the FPMT blog explains,

The long life puja purifies the relationship between teacher and disciple, and creates the merit for the teacher to remain and guide students and all sentient beings.

and  offers a quote from Geshe Lama Konchog:

To understand why a long life puja is essential, we must understand the value of the Guru. He is our guide in this life, the bardo and future lives. He is immensely important. It is not a case where if we ask him to live he will, and vice-versa, but that to offer such a ceremony purifies our own broken samayas.

And further explanation from the FPMT website:

One of the most moving ceremonies in Tibetan Buddhism is the long life puja for a teacher, an elaborate display of devotion towards a spiritual guide comprising heartfelt prayers and praises, and a procession of symbolic offerings. The purpose of the long life puja is for students to purify the mistakes that occur in relationship to their teacher, and to create the causes and conditions to continue to receive benefit from that teacher for a very long time.

The essential practice for creating the cause for the Guru’s long life is harmony between students. Additionally, our devotion to our teachers is best expressed by following their advice, which includes offering service. By maintaining harmony, following our teachers’ advice and offering long life pujas, FPMT students are accumulating the merits so that our precious gurus will stay in the world with us for a long time.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche also mentions regularly that offering long life pujas is a cause for one’s own long life.

Find out more about participating on the page for this event.