A new and exciting chapter has begun for Big Indian as the custodianship of part of the land has been turned over to Bodhivastu Foundation and it’s President and founder, Lama Rangbar Nyimai Özer, a Mantra lineage holder trained in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition over the past 30 years according to the ancient tradition of Padmasambhava.
Thanks to the efforts of Daniel Subkoff and George Subkoff there was a meet-and-greet day for all interested parties on Saturday, May 31, 2014. Some 60 attendees of both the Lama’s group and teachers & students in Rudi’s tradition gathered on a bright and sunny day to hear what Lama Rangbar had to say.
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Lama Rangbar welcomed us on this auspicious occasion by leading us in a prayer, Calling the Lama From Afar, to remind us that this land has to do with the guru, “someone who brings you out of ignorance into the light and luminosity. So this place is a manifestation of the guru”.
The Lama goes on to say that “John Mann has kept things going as an act of devotion to his teacher, Rudi. I don’t think it was easy for him to do that. I think he must have felt like he was hanging on to the side of a cliff by his fingernails.” After all these years, says the Lama, John is in his senior years and has the right to meditate and not be concerned with the details. “And maybe it is my time in life to be saddled with something,” joked the Lama.
“But in John’s move to donate this land, it is not donated to me, it is donated to everybody. Because he gave it to dharma, it is dharma land. If I trespass that, then I would be in trouble, or there would be lots of obstacles, so I am free. We are all free to enjoy this gift.”
The Lama says that we need to recognize the spiritual inheritance of the place. By John’s act of donating the land for dharma that inheritance is liberated and available to everybody. “This is your place, for anyone who wants to use it. It is to continue the trajectory of the compassionate intention of Rudi who established the place to help people get over their self-infatuation, to get over their grogginess, get over their miserliness, get over things the blocks to enlightenment.”
“There is no dharma other than love and controlling one’s own mind,” says Lama Rangbar. “That means putting one’s own personal preferences off to the side a bit, and facing the storm of other people’s personalities, and still be able to meditate. You can pretend to be a meditator at home, but when you open your eyes and go outside are you still meditating, or not? So that is why we meditate with our eyes open, so we should be in a community too. Sometimes a community is full of friction, and has things that challenge you — and that is why you should come, to make you strong. You have to love the people anyway.”
Lama Rangbar has a keen interest in the continued work and restoration of the stupa. He explains that inside the stupa are the blessings of his root guru. Says the Lama: “When we look at the energetic signs, these lineages of Nityananda, Muktananda (who I met when I was quite young) go back to the Mahasidda lineages to India, and we can trace our roots and our essence the same way. With me coming here, it is a continuum. The stupa is a repository of our generosity. To repair it is a part of its function.”
The Lama encourages all of us to come up from the city and unplug and watch things unfold. “Bodhivastu, is our nonprofit. Bodhi means to be aware, or to notice, to be awakened. Vastu has to do with array; it could be an array of temples, buildings, or holy things that bring one’s mind to enlightenment. It fits very much with what we are doing to try and help out here — to preserve the stupa, to preserve the shrine, give people a place to unplug from New York City or wherever, and come here and plug into this earth, ground out, recharge, find their source again.”
Lama Rangbar then led us in a fire ceremony of the Great Perfection lineage. The intent was to offer up those things that we may still be grasping or holding onto to connect with wisdom energy. It was also done to repay and let go of our karmic debts.
In a memorable conclusion, the Lama said: “If a dog wants to make something his he will pee on it. If a human wants to make something his or hers, they’ll clean it up, put some flowers there, mow the lawn, fix the plumbing. Got it?”
Walk-About On The Land
After a bountiful potluck feast, Lama Rangbar invited everyone to take a walk on the land to visit the stupa. The Lama explains that the stupa’s central shaft is a purba, and it is filled with Rudi’s relics. “Anytime you put anything in a stupa it is for the collective. It is a way of releasing your small mind and getting a vast mind & benefiting others. Whatever you do around a stupa — working on it, circumambulating, putting your hand together — all those things are cause for enlightenment for you and others that know you. Essentially, the stupa is a symbol of the mind of the Buddha.”
The next stop on the walk-about on the land was to the Rudi shrine where a lighting of the candles took place. For those who were new to Rudi’s work there was a brief meditation class led by Bruce Denny who helped to explain the practice and share the double-breathing exercise.