Tibetan Lama Visits Ferris

Rinpoche offers words of empowerment

The Tibetan lama, Khenpo Rinpoche, made a rare visit to FSU Monday evening for a public empowerment blessing for “Loving Kindness and Compassion.”

Michael Erlewine, Director of the Heart Center Karma Kagyu Study Center, started off with an introductory speech. “We’re very lucky to have him here,” Erlewine said in his speech. Ferris students and members of the Big Rapids community alike attended the cultural event.

Erlewine said the blessing was not usually done in public places, but in small groups.

Rinpoche, one of the most distinguished Tibetan lamas in the United States, agreed to offer the traditional empowerment of ‘Loving Kindness and Compassion’ as a blessing to people of all faiths.

After Erlewine’s introduction, Rinpoche came on stage and began in prayer to establish a peaceful environment. During each prayer, Rinpoche spoke in his native Tibetan language. A translator, who was a Buddhist Monk, was present to interpret his words into English for the audience.

<span class='credit'>Photo By: Kristen Sonnenberg | Photo Editor</span><span class='description'>Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche performed a public empowerment and blessing for Ferris students and the Big Rapids community Monday evening in the Dome Room.</span>
Photo By: Kristen Sonnenberg | Photo EditorVen. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche performed a public empowerment and blessing for Ferris students and the Big Rapids community Monday evening in the Dome Room.

“Today, we are receiving a blessing in empowerment,” Rinpoche said to the audience as he began the public empowerment blessing. The intent of the blessing was to generate more love and kindness into the hearts of others.

In one of Rinpoche’s blessings, he “visualized a protective circle all around the circumference (of the audience) so that all of the sicknesses and demonic sources had been pacified.”

Members of the audience placed their hands together in prayer and closed their eyes each time Rinpoche chanted mantras and prayers. He incorporated a mantra, known as the Six Syllable Mantra, which consisted of the chant “Om Mani padme hum”. The audience was instructed to recite the chant and memorize it.

A Monk stepped down during the chants and walked around the audience waving an incense wand in the air as a form of purifying the minds of those present at the ceremony.

After several chants, the audience formed a line around the room to receive a blessing. The blessing was also part of a vast empowerment gesture using a vase filled with water meant to heal and cleanse the entire body. Each individual chanted the mantra in unison.

When each attendee reached their turn to receive blessing from Rinpoche, they were instructed to drink the cleansing water from the vase, which was poured into the palm of their hand. After drinking the water, they were told to rub their hand over their head as a part of the cleansing process. Every person in the audience received the blessing.

“If we can all have a compassionate love for each other, the world [will] be a better place for all of us,” said Rinpoche after the blessings.

Several students who attended the event had shown interest.

“It was very interesting, I feel like I have broadened my perspective to this religion,” said welding & engineering technology student, Edward Escher.

“I thought it was interesting,” said Psychology student James Schaeffer.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rinpoches’ translator said “He is delighted to have met all of you and has formed a connection with all of you.”

Rinpoche came to Big Rapids to make a blessing, but he also came to start a new dharma center, the Heart Center KKSG Karma Kaoyu Study Group. The Big Rapids Dharma Study Group sponsored the event.

Over the last 33 years, Rinpoche built a large monastery near Woodstock, NY and a complete three-year retreat center for both men and women, where he is the abbot and retreat master.