Sukhavati Retreat: Phowa and Teachings on Amitabha’s Pure Land
With Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche
September 22 - 27, 2023
Samye Hermitage New York is delighted to welcome back Phakchok Rinpoche, who will kindly bestow instructions on the practice of phowa, the transference of consciousness at the time of death. These teachings will be based on The Transference of Consciousness Practice of Lotus Lord of Dance, a text composed by Khenpo Karma Rinchen Dargyé. This concise text combines the instructions for the sacred transference cord as taught in “The Six Dharmas to Benefit Beings”, a teaching from The Great Compassionate One, Dredger of Samsara (Khorwa Dongdruk), with the transference instructions of according another precious cycle of teachings, known as the Lotus Lord of Dance (Pema Garwang).
Over the course of the retreat, Phakchok Rinpoche will instruct retreatants in visualization techniques that allow the consciousness to be transferred to the dharmakaya nature, to a pure realm such as Sukhavati, or to a human rebirth in an excellent Dharma environment. A skilled practitioner may be able to apply these instructions at the time of their own death. For all others, familiarity with the practice will make the conditions more conducive when phowa is performed on their behalf by a qualified teacher. In addition, Rinpoche will give the reading transmission and instructions on the Concise Amitābha Breathing Practice, a profound and easy-to-practice text written by Kyapjé Jamyang Khyentsé Chökyi Lodrö.
Phowa Practice, Buddha Amitabha, & the Pure Land of Sukhavati
According to the Vajrayana tradition, the practice of phowa, or transference of consciousness at the time of death, is a swift path that guarantees freedom from continued suffering in the round of samsara. Through their own practice, a realized teacher can eject consciousness from the “aperture of Brahma” at the crown of the deceased’s head, and then transfer that consciousness to Sukhavati (Dewachen, in Tibetan), the pure land of the Buddha Amitābha. Through this process, the consciousness of the deceased will not have to endure the painful and frightening experiences of the bardo states, and will not have to take rebirth within the six realms of cyclic existence. Rather, they can directly enter the pure land of awakened ones.
What is a pure land (or buddha field), such as Sukhavati? The great Tibetan master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche explains as follows:
In the sutras we can read how, on their eve of their attaining enlightenment, bodhisattvas such as Amitabha would make profound prayers and tremendous offerings to all the buddhas. They prayed that they might manifest a buddha field and then emanate themselves within that buddha field, so as to bring the greatest possible benefit to all sentient beings. From the Vajrayana perspective, however, the understanding of buddha fields is a deeper one. The root of the Vajrayana is “pure vision“, or the perception of the perfect purity of all phenomena. To enact this purity of perception, we do not perceive the place where we are now as just an ordinary place; we imagine it to be a celestial buddha field.
In Sukhavati, the conditions for receiving Dharma teaching and practice are superior, and one can quickly attain awakening and thereby benefit other beings. Thus the aim of rebirth in a pure land accords with the bodhisattva vow to bring all other beings to complete and perfect enlightenment.
According to Tibetan Buddhist teachings, due to the compassion of realized beings, even those with heavy negative karma can be sent to a pure land through such instructions. The Precious Master of Oddiyana, Guru Rinpoche, taught that phowa could benefit even those who had committed many non-virtues. He instructed,
Through transference at the proper time,
Even perpetrators of the five deeds of immediate fruition
Will gain rebirth in the higher realms or liberation.
Due to the blessings of the lineage masters and the power of the teaching itself, a qualified teacher can directly transfer these to disciples. In this upcoming retreat, Phakchok Rinpoche will give clear and direct instructions on the appropriate visualization and the physical practices necessary to perform the practice. When disciples have great faith and trust in the teacher and the practice, they can manifest clear signs of accomplishment within a short period of time. Practitioners who dedicate themselves to this practice achieve the ability to transfer their own consciousness. And those who have less time and energy to devote can still rely on a teacher to perform the transference at the time of death. Training in this practice during one’s lifetime ensures a smooth result, none other than birth within the realm of the awakened ones.
Who is this for: Open to all who wish to connect with these teachings.
What is the format: Residential & Commuter.
How much does the retreat cost: $600 base rate + selected room & board.
Our aspiration is that all with sincere interest might be able to receive these Dharma teachings. Monastics, students, elderly, or others who might need financial assistance may contact us at [email protected]. If you would like to support those who do not have the financial means to attend, please consider donating during the registration process.
Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche was born in 1981 and is a lineage holder of the Profound Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa from the Nyingma School of Early Translations and one of the throne-holders of the Riwoche Taklung Kagyu Lineage. Phakchok Rinpoche’s primary root gurus are his grandfather, the late Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and late Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Phakchok Rinpoche has received a traditional education from the Dzongsar Shedra in India, the complete Chokling New Treasures lineage from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Kyabje Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, and the Great Perfection lineage from Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s teaching style is direct, addressing…
Learn more about Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche