Phowa

The utter importance of preparing to die and its relationship to know how to live is crucial for everyone on the Buddhist and other spiritual paths. Because we or loved ones may face the possibility of sudden or unexpected death, we need practices that can quickly and directly help us at the time of death. The Phowa practice is the most direct and quickest method by which one may be assured of a positive rebirth and possibly enlightenment when that time comes.  It is said that even the heaviest of sinners has a chance for enlightenment through the practice of the Phowa.  These practices are crucial ways, honored by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) himself, to repair our life force, our emotional afflictions, our negative deeds and/or our broken vows and promises; and most importantly, we can be granted the needed merit and connection to be reborn in Buddha Amitabha’s Pure Land and quick progress to enlightenment.

This Phowa transmission of the teaching is held by the Drikung Kagyudpa. The Drikung Kagyu lineage is famous for its ability to successfully transfer the power of the Phowa meditation to initiated and devoted practitioners who practice it. The Phowa transmission given by the Drikung Lamas came to be known as the “Drikung Phowa Chenmo” – the Great Drikung Phowa. The Drikung Phowa became so powerful that it became one of the most renowned religious tradition in Tibet to have a Drikung Phowa Chenmo ceremony every twelve (12) years at Drongor Sumdho at Drikung in central Tibet. The fame of this Phowa continued to spread as thousands of participants would experience the signs of the Phowa during the ‘Lung’ (Blessing Transmission) given by a head Lama of Drikung Kagyu.

When taking the initiation of Phowa, it is important to receive the initiation from a Tulku (i.e., incarnate Lama) who continues the line of succession of the Phowa lineage of Gurus. The blessings of such an initiation will render the practice safe as the blessings of the lineage will flow unhampered to meet the disciple and bring with them quick results. Faith in the Lama Tulku is of primary importance. If the faith is very strong, coupled with devotion, then the results will be very powerful and immediate. The devoted practitioner who has no doubt in the qualified Lama and teachings can experience the sign of Phowa merely through receiving the Lung (Blessing Transmission). This has been experienced by many practitioners around the world.

Due to the accumulated energy of the Drikung Kagyu lineage and the blessing of the teaching itself, the qualified Lama is able to directly transfer the blessings of this practice to the pure and devoted disciples who can experience the signs very quickly. When one has received any of the signs of the Phowa meditation, then one is considered to be prepared to enter into the Buddha-field of Amitabha Buddha (Dewachen) at the time of death. It is taught that one does not return to the samsaric realms after having entered Dewachen and that one can quickly achieve Enlightenment.

Because of all this, the Drikung Phowa is becoming particularly relevant in these times simply because in today’s society we do not have the time nor the circumstances to walk the spiritual path of the Dharma as did our predecessors in the past. We desperately need a spiritual path that is simple, relevant, and direct, enabling us to transform the stresses and pace of modern life into a vital force that cuts through materialism and attachment to worldly phenomenal, and awakens in us the realization of our Buddha-natures.

The Drikung Phowa practice is simple and yet powerful. We will have the same opportunity as did the thousands of people in Tibet to master the Phowa practice, enabling us to transform the experience of death, which is a certainty, into a passage to the realization of Dewachen (Blissful, Pure Land). This powerful Phowa practice has been transmitted from the time of Lord Jigten Sumgon [the founder of the Drikung Kagyu Linage (1143-1217) – thought of as the second Buddha] through the successive line of the Drikung Kagyu lineage holders till today.

Therefore, it is our great fortune that His Holiness the 37th Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the Vaira-regent of Lord Jigten Sumgon, who is the incarnation of Chenrezig (Compassion Buddha) and the current Supreme Head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, has very compassionately accepted our request to bless and impart this precious teaching and transmission to all of us in this Special Event.

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