Nagk’chang Rinpoche, Southerndown 2015

In early October some apprentices accompanied Ngak’chang Rinpoche on a pilgrimage to Southerndown on the coast of South Wales not far from Cardiff. It was during the same weekend that Khandro Déchen and another groups of pilgrims were making their journey into Yolmo, bayul, a Hidden Land, and an area of very special significance in Nepal.

In the United Kingdom the Aro gTér Lineage has two sites of pilgrimage, one is Bird Rock, where Chris Haydon completed his fundraising walk recently, (read more here) and Southerndown.

Southerndown has significance as being the place where Ngak’chang Rinpoche and some apprentices made a visit with one of Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s Root Lamas, the late great Nyigma master Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche for a picnic. This was in 1983 when the Aro gTér Lineage was little known and the Aro Sangha not as large or as far reaching as it is today. Visits from Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche to stay with Ngak’chang Rinpoche were relatively frequent and  apprentices were able to receive teachings.

The day out came to be acquire significance as Ngak’chang Rinpoche recalls:
‘A picnic had been planned, but when the day arrived so did torrential rain – of the unremitting kind which is common in Wales. Apprentices arrived nonetheless and were introduced to Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche, who surprised everyone by showing no sign of abandoning the picnic. We set out for Southerndown, with the thought that it might possibly be clearer an hour’s drive from Cardiff – but that did not turn out to be the case. The rain thrashed down for the extent of the journey

Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche and Ngak’chang Rinpoche

to such a degree that it was, at times, necessary to drive below 20mph as if we were in a thick fog. We finally arrived at Southerndown under a lowering sky and continuous rain, but no sooner had we turned into the car park than the rain began to ease. At the moment when Kyabjé Rinpoche opened the car door a ray of sunshine flickered through a crack in the cloud-base and from that moment on, the rain stopped. We had our picnic; Kyabjé Rinpoche gave a wonderful teaching on Dzogchen men-ngak-dé; and we returned to the cars. Then – as soon as Kyabjé Rinpoche’s car door closed, the rain burst out of the sky again as if a tap has suddenly been turned on. It then rained the entire drive back to Cardiff.’

During our visit we found our way to the rocks where the picnic had taken place and Ngak’chang Rinpoche recounted the story for us all,  then we found places along the cliff to practice in silence for some time. Some of us had painted stones with Guru Rinpoche mantra and these we left amidst the rocks and gathered more on which to paint more mantra.

Afterwards, when we gathered together again, Ngakpa ‘ö-Dzin observed:

‘There was a sense of connection, in the present time with the pilgrims in Nepal, and in the present place with Kyabjé Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche.’

Apprentices with their colourful shawls gather around Ngak’chang Rinpoche
Practising at Southerndown
Stones with Guru Rinpoche Mantra

 Over the next few posts we shall feature some accounts from pilgrims who went to Yolmo.

The Drala Jong project seeks to create a home for the Aro gTér Lineage. Please see the Appeal page for more information about the Drala Jong project and how to help.