To Dare To Offer
A mixed-media, real-time travelogue from France to Nepal for the cremation of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche.
To Dare To Offer
So. I’m going to Nepal. I have to ensure that the schedule at the Lama House is rock solid and rustle up the funds for the plane ticket I’m putting on my credit card, but I’m going. My teacher has died, and this is the moment not just to say adieu for now, but also to seal my commitment and throw myself full-on into the business of living the teachings he gave me.
It’s funny. I’m nervous, actually. There’s a part of me that says, “Oh, stop exaggerating with the big internal commitment. Either you go or you don’t go. Whatever you do is practice if you connect with the sense of the teachings. And anyway, Nepal is a lot of trouble. It’s dirty and noisy and fairly impoverished. You’ll have a stomachache from eating spicy food you can’t digest and you probably won’t even be able to hear the rituals, you’ll be so far in the boonies. Maybe you should just stay home and be helpful here. Help is needed here.”
And it is. But this is also the point at which the rest of me calls bullshit and says this, “Everything may be emptiness, but you don’t see it that way yet. You need to do this. Because it’s challenging. Because this moment matters. Because of the very thing you are afraid of. This experience will change you.”
It’s not the rickety buses or the shit-filled toilets or even the dust-smeared faces and grabbing hands of the destitute. These are not easy additions, and they deepen the element of confrontation and reflection, but they are also mainly the landscape of this journey. The heart of this journey is the choice to do something out of the ordinary. To step out of the comfort of a role I know in order to progress and to be of benefit.
Shamar Rinpoche was a precious guide. He taught me the value of gentleness; he had the lightest touch in the way he handled beings, to help us open to our own capacity without ever feeling the cracks. And, as well, the value of daring. That kindness is not doing what is pleasant, but what is correct. Yes, we need wisdom to judge that, but that is what the path is for. And on the path, a certain measure of boldness can be helpful: to dare to ask questions to gain understanding; to dare to believe we have something to offer; to dare to offer it in the endeavor to be of use in this world.
He has left us for the time being, and we are left to inherit his wisdom as best we can. The most potent means I can envision to pay homage to his teachings and his legacy is to step out of my comfortable habits, fly to a country I don’t know, and bid him a final farewell. And, more than that, or perhaps the essence of that, to use what gifts I may have in this life to share that journey with you.
This project is a travelogue, a mixed-media, real-time account of the journey from Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, in the Dordogne in France, to Shar Minub Monastery in Kathmandu Valley in Nepal for the cremation of the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chokyi Lodro. I'll be on the road from July 26th to August 2nd. Each day, I’ll share news, stories, illustrations, and photographs to chronicle this historic event.
For a sense of my work and writing, check out some related articles.
About Shamar Rinpoche:
AbsencePresenceConfidenceTears. On the passing of Shamar Rinpoche. This piece is unusual in that I can’t take credit for the images; they come from my gifted friend Tokpa Korlo, who is also chronicling this momentous time.
Ten Days Out. A reflection on Shamarpa’s funeral in Germany, complete with illustrations.
Previous accounts of pilgrimage:
Pilgrimage Happens. Major sites of the Buddha’s life and death in India.
Where Our Teacher Walked. Pilgrimage to Tso Pema, in the Indian Himalayas.
This Is A Place of Practice. Retreat at Pendé Ling hermitage in Auvergne, France.
Waar dient de collecte voor
How do we share the experiences that move us in a way that speaks to others? How do we connect people and positive movement through creative work? This project is about asking and answering these questions in the framework of a historic cultural and spiritual event, in the unequaled setting of the Himalaya mountains. Supporting this journey is a way to take part in this time of transition and blessing, as well as the creative journey that goes with it.
The death of a great spiritual teacher is considered an incredibly auspicious time. It is both an invaluable reminder of the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence and an opportunity to connect directly with the teacher’s wisdom. This is also a unique opportunity for me, as both a practitioner and an artist, to challenge myself to strive to create written and visual work that capture this powerful moment and share the legacy of Shamar Rinpoche's teachings and works with others through the means that are natural to me.
Traditionally, a period of forty-nine days of practice is observed between a teacher’s death and his cremation. Shamarpa was pronounced medically dead on June 11 and passed out of post-mortem meditation on June 13. He will be cremated on Chokhor Duchen, July 31st of this year, and the day on which the Buddha first taught in this world, when he elaborated the Four Noble Truths. It’s a good time for a pilgrimage.
Your support is essential to making this journey possible.
The cost of this project covers:
Flight: 1200 euros
Ground transportation: 100 euros
Lodging: 90 euros
Food and offerings: 100 euros
Kisskissbankbank Percentage: 150 euros
Drawing materials, print costs, beads: 110 euros
Shipping rewards: 50 euros
As it happens, I’m not travelling alone. A small troupe of Dhagpo volunteers is making the voyage the together to practice, pay homage, and help out in whatever way we can. Any donations that surpass the proposed project costs will go toward helping others in tight conditions finance their journey.