Annual Tara Retreat in Pharping and pilgrimage to the Maratika Caves

Registration for the Tara retreat and pilgrimage is closed now, we have reached the maximum number of participants.

Retreat information
November 2-8, 2019

This year’s Tara retreat with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Lama Tenzin Sangpo will take place in the village of Pharping, Nepal.

The main focus of our weeklong 9th annual Tara retreat will be the practices of the Third Excellence, Part 3. We will receive teachings on the special preliminary practices (ngöndro) as they are outlined in the Tara terma and practice them together. In Tara’s Triple Excellence terma these extraordinary preliminaries are presented in a unique form. We are delighted to be able study them together at the holy site of Asura.

These special preliminaries consist of four trainings. First, we train in making prostrations and taking refuge, followed by a very rare and powerful practice of Vajrasamaya, through which we purify our negative karma and broken pledges. The third training is the mandala offering, which enables us to quickly gather the accumulations of merit. Finally, we train in the profound practice of guru yoga, through which we receive the flow of realizations from Tara, who is inseparable from our teacher. These four trainings purify all our remaining obscurations and clear away our veils. They also help us gather the positive provisions that we need in order to access the next level of teachings: the profound secret higher tantras, in which the all-pervasive purity of all phenomena is to be realized.

During this retreat we will also train in the Outer Tara Sadhana each day. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has kindly agreed to bestow the Tara empowerment(s) that are needed for the Third Excellence. More details will be announced soon.

Anyone interested in this practice is invited to join us, even those who have not enrolled in Tara’s Triple Excellence online meditation program. Due to the intensive nature of this retreat, we recommend that participants have some previous experience with sadhana practice.

If you are joining the pilgrimage, please make sure to book your own accommodation in Boudhanath after the retreat for two nights: November 8-9. We will leave to Maratika on November 10 in the morning.

Pilgrimage information*
November 10-13, 2019

Upon Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s suggestion, we will go on a four-day pilgrimage to the holy site of Maratika or Chiwa Tharché in Tibetan, which means “bringing an end to death”. It is also known locally as Haleshi. Located in the Khotang District of East-Nepal, approximately 185 km south west of Mount Everest, the site is rich in history, mythology, and sacred geology. At the main pilgrimage destination, which is the Maratika Treasury Cave, the great master Padmasambhava and his consort Mandarava obtained the realization of immortal life. For Tibetan Buddhists it is one of the six supreme pilgrimage sites in the world, the site of immortality.

The great master Padmasambhava said that if we go to this holy place we will never again experience the fate of the lower realms. The caves of Maratika are mentioned in Tibetan literature from the twelfth century onwards. A biography of Guru Rinpoche, discovered by Nyangrel Nyima Özer, describes why the Maratika caves are a sacred place for Buddhists. You can read more about it here:

Other written sources say that at the request of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Buddha Amitabha taught the eighteen tantras of Long Life. The dakinis wrote them down in their symbolic script using melted lapis lazuli on golden paper, and deposited them in a box made of five precious jewels, which they concealed in the secret Maratika cave. There are said to be many treasures buried in this holy place.

The cave contains many self-created images and syllables. There is a rock in the shape of a box that grants all wishes. It is especially auspicious for women hoping to become pregnant.

Located at the foot of Avalokiteshvara Hill, a ten-minute walk down the hillside is the lower cave. Called the Eight Herukas Cave, it is where Guru Rinpoche flew up through the roof leaving a large hole — this is called the sky door. We can also find Guru Rinpoche’s foot print and some self-arisen conch shells.

The secret cave, which is an arrow’s distance away from the main cave, is accessed by climbing a precarious bamboo ladder. Inside are many crystals that formed from the rock.

Other hills are surrounding the caves: The Manjushri Hill to the south-east and Vajrapani Hill to the south-west. There is a Garuda cave nearby, and a few hours walk away is the cave of Mandarava.

The tentative schedule for the pilgrimage:
November 10: Departure to Maratika by bus at 8 AM. The journey will take between 8-12 hours depending on traffic.
November 11: Visiting Avalokiteshvara Hill
November 12: Visiting Vajrapani and Manjushri Hills
November 13: Departure to Boudhanath by bus around 8:30 AM.

* The information for this announcement was taken from the following websites. If you would like to find out more, please have a look at:                 

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