GLOBAL HEALING COMMUNITY
Earth Treasure Vase for Charok Hermitage, Nepal
Introduction to Charok Hermitage
Pilgrimage & Burial Ceremony
In gratitude for all that had come from the Earth Treasure Vase practice, Cynthia and a small group of close friends returned on pilgrimage to Nepal almost thirty years later. They brought an Earth Treasure Vase filled with offerings connected to all the other Earth Treasure Vase locations to Ani Pema Chodron, Charok Rinpoche’s daughter who devoted her life to serving him. She is now in her 80s and continues to live in the Charok cave hermitage as her father did. In a small intimate circle including Lama Tsultrim (the lama who introduced Cynthia to Kushok Mangdon Rinpcohe) and Ani Pema Chodron, the vase was to be buried; weaving this sacred remote Himalayan refuge into the global mandala of Earth Treasure Vases.
You are invited to go on pilgrimage with us through this account written by Cynthia Jurs.
Up we climbed, making our way to an elevation of 13,500 feet and the cave hermitage of Charok, where in 1990, I met Lama Tsultrim’s teacher, Kushok Mangdon Rinpoche, his daughter, Ani Pema Chodron, and her nephew, Tenzin.
Mission accomplished! The group from left: Andre Lambertson, Tyler Hess, Cynthia Jurs, Lama Tenzin, Ani Pema
Chodron,Lama Tsultrim and his nephew. Bottom row: Ginny McGinn, David Nicol, Lama Tsultrim’s daughter Sonam and Lenya Reese.
The next day Ani gave astrology readings to everyone and Lama Tsultrim later requested Ani to transmit the blessings of the lineage to Lama Cynthia, pouring them into her as a vessel. We spent six days and nights in the enchanted land of Charok, waking before dawn to unzip our tents and gaze at the mountain peaks directly in front of our eyes, then find a spot to meditate and watch the sun rise on the highest peaks. We hiked to the various retreat huts and caves, visited the stupa where Charok Rinpoche was cremated, and basked in the rarefied air and atmosphere of deep practice and peace that is to be found there. The fragrant juniper and blossoming rhododendrons embraced us, the moss-covered rocks and soft ground invited us to linger in the quiet, to slow down and notice the coming and going of clouds.
An extraordinary group of friends bonded deeply with each other through this pilgrimage and shared the purpose of offering the Earth Treasure Vase to this particular sacred land of Charok Hermitage. Please meet some of the pilgrims here below.
It was one of the gifts of the pilgrimage to witness father Lama and daughter Sonam, traveling together, sharing the path of this life….
Dr. Lenya Reese brought medicines and healing all along the way…
Our extraordinary filmmakers, Andre Lambertson and Katie Teague, documented the pilgrimage with unstoppable energy and enthusiasm, rising with the sun, leading the way on our walks, becoming invisible behind the camera, pulling out wisdom, cajoling with lightheartedness, droning into the mists, and always finding the higher perspective and the hidden truth….
Reflections of fellow pilgrim David Nicol
It was for sure a multi-layered experience, with rich learning from our exposure to sacred Buddhist sites and teachings, the Nepalese culture and people in general, and the deep relationships we forged with each other and our Nepalese host family and porters. But for me the greatest significance lay in the clarity that emerged over the course of the journey: Gaia is now my primary spiritual teacher. I had been turning toward a more Earth-centered spirituality for some time. Yet this pilgrimage crystalized an awareness in me that the Earth has indeed become my most intimate source and guide. And it seems that this spiritual orientation is becoming increasingly relevant for many.
When we stayed at the hermitage at Charok, at 13,500 feet in a tucked away slice of a Himalayan mountain that felt truly ‘behind the veil’, Cynthia shared with us the meditation on Gaia that has come to her. This is Cynthia’s creative adaptation of a traditional Tibetan Buddhist practice that replaces the invocation of the goddess Tara with that of Gaia.
Reciting Gaia’s mantra 108 times at this sacred Buddhist site, I sensed the turn taking place all over the world, to re-purpose spiritual practice in every tradition to honor and evoke the magic and wisdom of the Earth itself, as a response to the urgent need of our times. Mountains and forests, rivers and oceans are living beings that can transmit profound wisdom to us if we are receptive to them. Gaia can be our direct teacher – and the most trustworthy guide of all.
By going back to where it all began and offering an Earth Treasure Vase to Charok Hermitage, the global healing project has been brought full circle. The source of the Earth Treasure Vase practice and the lineage out of which the practice emerged, are now woven into the global web of all the Earth Treasure Vase locations. One can imagine the blessings of the lineage as a stream of nectar flowing from the remote Himalayas through the song lines of the Earth, reaching and empowering all those other holy vessels. Another powerful and sacred node has been added, contributing its own particular essence to this much needed and mysterious work of sacred activism.