View Full Version : The importance of Buddhist pilgrimage

Karma Yeshe
15 Jul 12, 02:01
Here are some short remarks by Lama Norlha Rinpoche Abbot of the KTC Monestery in upstate New York

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Today I did not travel anywhere in body. However, Lama Norlha Rinpoche gave some teachings this afternoon that metaphorically took all of the attendees out for a good ride. He was as amazing a teacher today as he ever has been. It felt as if the shrine room was in a Dharma airplane or something, headed for enlightenment. I'm sorry more of the world -- and everyone reading this post -- wasn't there in his presence. It was just so very special.

Earlier, though, I had a few minutes with Rinpoche to ask some questions and, especially, to get a short teaching from him on the importance of Buddhist pilgrimage. The questions were: Why do Buddhists go on pilgrimage? What is the meaning of pilgrimage? Here's his answer:

The Buddha recommended different methods for practitioners to purify their karmic obscurations and so there are purification practices for body, speech and mind, and merit accumulating practices of body, speech and mind. For the body we do things like make prostrations, circumambulate and go on pilgrimage.

The most important thing when going on pilgrimage is one's intention, one's attitude and intention, or motivation. So when we go on pilgrimage our initial motivation should be, "I'm undertaking this pilgrimage, this visit to sacred sites, so that I may attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings." That should be one's general motivation and it's also good to do a lot of the taking and sending practice, tong len, while on pilgrimage. One reason it's important to do tong len is because when we go on pilgrimage it involves a lot of effort and usually it involves some amount of hardship and getting tired. So this is good because it becomes a purification practice if we carry that on the path by thinking and rejoicing in this way: "Whatever difficulty I undergo, may it purify my obscurations of body, speech, and mind." One can also do any kind of taking and sending for any suffering or problems you may have on the road.

In addition to physically visiting sacred sites, we also purify our speech as much as possible by chanting prayers. Making aspiration prayers while on the pilgrimage, chanting mantras -- especially the MANI mantra -- this purifies speech. Especially, resting the mind in whatever we understand of the nature of mind, whether it be Mahamudra or Shinay or Lhaktong, and then also visualizing ourselves as Chenrezig or doing the practice of Chenrezig is very good while on pilgrimage.

It's really important to make a lot of aspiration prayers while on pilgrimage, so you can do that by thinking, "By virtue of this pilgrimage, may it inspire myself and all sentient beings and may I be able to contribute to the flourishing of the Buddha's teachings for the benefit of all sentient beings."

(Rinpoche talks now about how to make every day into a complete practice during pilgrimage with three essential aspects of practice.) When you wake up every morning, take refuge; pray to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; generate faith; and also pray that the day will be without obstacles to whatever practice of virtue that you do, whatever pilgrimage you do. Then the day is your day of actually practicing virtue, going to the places you planned to visit, or whatever it is you're doing. You can fit in some practice of Tara or Chenrezig, whatever is appropriate. Your main practice is your whole day and then in the end, in the evening, you dedicate the merit. So you have these three main things to do: the taking of refuge, the main practice, and the dedication at the end, when you dedicate whatever merit was accumulated that day to the enlightenment of all beings.
Those were the words of Lama Norlha Rinpoche, one of the great masters of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It's an honor to share them with you.
On the road in Dharma,

15 Jul 12, 02:10
Hi Karma Yeshe,

You didn't give a link for your post #1, nor did you say who wrote it (and there's a lack of speech marks for quotes within it) You also haven't said what it is that you want to discuss with the group.

The whole of your post apart from the first sentence can be found here at a page called "American Buddhist Pilgrimage" at the blog of a Lama Karma Chotso:


Karma Yeshe
15 Jul 12, 02:28

No, this is not my account of a Teaching. I will put the link below. I can see your point a bit about speech marks but since it is not mine i dont want to alter it.

sorry about forgeting the link in my opening post.