On March 4, 2015, Gelongma Losang Drimay interviewed Carolyn Sigstedt, a work-study resident at Land of Medicine Buddha, who was just beginning the last of a series of eight Nyung-nay’s, running during the first two weeks of the Tibetan new year. Nyung-nay is a type of retreat focusing on Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara), the embodiment of enlightened compassion.

Drimay: Is this the first time that you have ever done a Nyung-nay?

Carolyn: It is. So I had no idea what I was getting into. But I went into it with good intention and excited about immersing myself in the Dharma completely. Usually I balance work with my practice and often I’m exhausted. Now, I’m just exhausted with Dharma. [laughter]

D: Before you began, I warned you that there would be a lot of fasting and prostrations, and what was especially intimidating was going without water [every other day], so how has that been working out?

Carolyn_Nyungnay_2015

Carolyn sits in meditation in one of the Nyung-nay sessions at Land of Medicine Buddha, February-March 2015.

C: Actually, better than I ever imagined. I’m an older woman, well over 60, and so at this stage in life, I’m not sure what I’m capable of anymore, because our bodies change so much year to year. I hadn’t fasted in quite a while, and I had never done a fast without water. I had just done fasts including liquid, and so I was nervous about that. I told our Spiritual Program Coordinator [SPC] that I would do the Nyung-nay with the understanding that I would be doing one session at a time and we would just see how it went. And the first session I think I did amazingly well, so that was a great start. Now I’ve done seven sessions [i.e., Nyung-nays] with one to go, and I’m kind of excited about our little group. We’re all “one taste in the essence of emptiness” now. But there have been periods of difficulty. I think on the third Nyung-nay, I thought I might have pulled a muscle in my back, and so I thought, Oh darn, I may have to pull out. But I went to bed and I woke up perfectly fine, so there I was back again. So that was wonderful.

I’ve appreciated the dream world – I won’t go into my experiences, but it’s been full. I carry this practice into my sleep, continually. Another thing is I have a chronic problem with my toe, so I thought I might have a problem with doing prostrations, but my toe is getting better. The practice is healing my foot, so that is very wonderful. I’m so grateful.

D: What about the practice itself, apart from the hardships, the actual Chenrezig sadhana? Is that something you were familiar with at all before?

Venerable Steve Carlier was the leader of this series of Nyung-nay retreats.

Venerable Steve Carlier was the leader of this series of Nyung-nay retreats.

C: I wasn’t familiar with Nyung-nay in particular, but my beginner Buddhist practice has always focused on Chenrezig and the Dalai Lama, so in my beginner way I’ve been offering my practice and my life to Chenrezig all along. So this, what a gift to make my practice a much fuller experience led by these masterful teachers and then the full sangha of us all supporting each other. I’ve recently taken the bodhisattva vows, but at  most stages of my life I have been aware that this is what I’ve wanted to do, to benefit others.

D: Do you think you could do this by yourself?

C: I could do parts of it by myself. Here at Land of Medicine Buddha, Venerable Samten does a puja each day which I do with him. He does the puja in Tibetan, so I tend to meditate on emptiness and compassion while he’s doing that. … I will now be incorporating elements of the Nyung-nay into my regular practice. For example, now I am doing prostrations with a sense of power.

D: I’m wondering about the difference between a Nyung-nay by oneself versus doing it with a group. There were so many different parts that people were helping with, for example, you were helping with the tea and porridge and other people were helping with the altar. It’s a lot for one person to do.

C: First of all, you are speaking to a group gal. I am all about the interconnection of people on all levels of society. And then to actually do this in the Dharma practice on this level is unbelievable. And I’m very grateful. Yes, I understand the power of the group, and how we all hold up each other and bring a strength that no one of us has. The cumulative value is much larger.

D: As somebody who did my first Nyung-nay over 25 years – and I don’t keep track of how many Nyung-nays I’ve done, but every now and then I am coerced into doing one – still, when I join the group and I see it’s all organized, I’m thinking, What would it take for me to do this from scratch? Let’s just say I had to do it all my own, or a little study group asked me to lead a Nyung-nay, I would have to grab Venerable Steve and Venerable Tsomo all over again and ask, When do you stand up? What needs to go on the altar? What’s in that water? When does the porridge happen? and all these things. The book is an evolution as well. We didn’t use to have that book. And this is the third or fourth iteration of that book, and it keeps getting improved with more and more notes and appendices, but it’s just a lot to keep track of. This is what I’m thinking when I ask about the advantage of the group.

C: Absolutely. There is no way I could do all that. And I recognize and appreciate all the little pieces that each of us contribute to make this whole. That said, I believe that’s how all of life should be. And where it isn’t that way, if someone is truly hosting something, that is the way it should be. That’s healthy.

D: What would you say to someone who has never done a Nyung-nay before?

C: I would say that it’s a profound experience. You can’t even imagine what it can bring to your life and practice until you’re actually there. I’m just very grateful that I had this opportunity and experience. ♦

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Dear Friends,

First and foremost we send our warm wishes to you and your loved ones. It has been a wonderfully successful year at Land of Medicine Buddha. We exist to be of benefit to others. With supporters like you we are able to achieve every goal.

This year our Stupa has finally come to be! The growth of our Stupa has been affirmation of the heart and enthusiasm of our LMB community. From January of this year when we received the permit to build – until today it has been ten months and so much has been completed! With the support of the community we have held two successful fundraisers for the Stupa. We are on track to keep pushing forward with the support of an exceptional team of volunteers and workers. Follow our progress as it is chronicled on our website and Facebook pages. See more about the Stupa Project.

Everyone at LMB wishes to express our deep appreciation for your generous offerings and support.

Generosity from the community to the dharma center is the heart tradition of helping preserve the Buddha-Dharma and allowing it to flourish. This tradition goes back to the time of the Buddha. While in the West we rarely see monks making alms rounds for their daily for food offering, we along with many spiritual and nonprofit organizations, do depend on support from our community. If you are moved to make a year-end donation please know how much we appreciate it and need your support!

See Donation Page

Efforts to make our membership program more encompassing to the wider community has been successful. Currently our most popular membership level is the Scholar level which allows students to attend all regularly scheduled classes and meditations and not need to remember to bring their wallet! If you are not a member yet, we welcome you to join us and become one. If you are a member, we hope you will continue! Memberships can be funded monthly through our website or with an annual donation by sending in a check.

See Membership Page

Please accept our sincere gratitude for the kindness and support we received from you during the past year. We hope that you will experience happiness in the coming year. May your generosity be the grounds for future happiness for you and all beings.

In Dharma,

Denice Macy, Director

& the LMB Team

5800 Prescott Road, Soquel, CA 95073
Director’s Office: 831-600-7350
Main Office: 831-462-8383

Affiliated to the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition

Land of Medicine Buddha
A Center for Healing and Developing a Good Heart

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We are delighted and honored to welcome Jhado Rinpoche back to Land of Medicine Buddha January 2nd 2015.

Rinpoche has agreed to give the full empowerment of Namgyalma. teachings on the Namgyalma tantra, instructions on how to do the Namgyalma retreat, and a talk that is open to all.

Land of Medicine Buddha is fortunate to host a 16 day Namgyalma Retreat . Jhado Rinpoche will help us begin our retreat by leading us through the first session and he will then return on January 21st to guide us in the concluding fire puja.

The teaching on the “Sixteen Aspects of the Four Noble Truths” is open and suitable new and long term practitioners. Teachings on the Four Noble Truths are fundamental to understanding the the Buddhist path. We are honored to have a scholar and practitioner such as Jhado Rinpoche help us to understand the Buddha’s first teaching.

Registration and Lodging:

Please register if you intend to attend any of the events. This will allow our team to prepare materials and allow us to keep you informed of any changes in the schedule. *

Register online here:

Apply for a scholarship We want encourage anyone who is interested in attending these teachings and retreats to contact us if the cost of the events are prohibitive, especially those with life obstacles and who wish join in the retreat. If you would like to attend the retreat and have financial obstacles please email us. We will offer a few partial scholarships for serious students who need help.

No one will be turned away from the teachings or
empowerments because of a lack of funds.

Limited lodging It is imperative that you register asap if you would like to attend the teaching and retreat as a residential participant.

Course materials – Mudras: Jhado Rinpoche advised those who attended his teachings in 2012, that we should become familiar with the mudras, so that when he returns, he can continue with the teachings and not need to teach the mudras again.

Once you have registered, if you fulfill the prerequisites of having the relevant empowerments, we will provide you with the materials you need in order to practice the mudras and get prepared for these teachings before Rinpoche arrives.

Schedule

(subject to change)

Jan 3, Saturday: 
Morning – Teaching on 4 Noble Truths and the 16 Aspects
Afternoon – Teaching on Namgyalma

Jan 4, Sunday: Namgyalma Empowerment and Teaching
Morning / Afternoon – Namgyalma preparation initiaition
Evening – Teaching on Namgyalma

Jan 5, Monday:  Namgyalma Empowerment and Teaching
Morning / Afternoon – Namgyalma actual intiaition
Evening – Teaching on Namgyalma

Jan 6, Tuesday:   Namgyalma retreat. Rinpoche will start with retreat with us in the morning.

Jan 7 – 20: Namgyalma retreat continues, led by Ven. Steve Carlier

Jan 21, Wednesday: Fire Puja preparation with Jhado Rinpoche

Jan 22, Thursday:  Morning – Concluding session of retreat and Fire Puja by Jhado Rinpoche

 

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