Lama Jampa’s tour of the Eastern United States started on October 13 at the Bodhi Path centre in Natural Bridge, Virginia, home to a beautiful reliquary stupa of Shamar Rinpoche, the founder of this group of centres with locations throughout North America and Europe.
Lama Jampa was warmly greeted by Lama Tsony - a long time student of Gendun Rinpoche - and Bodhi Path centre coordinators.
History of the Teachings
Over the next two days, Lama Jampa taught the Four Dharmas of Gampopa. Known as the principal founder of the Karma Kagyu tradition, Gampopa synthesized the scholarly teachings of the early Kadampas and the yogic practices and realisations of Milarepa into a graduated system which could reach a vast range of people from diverse backgrounds.
The Four Dharmas
Lama Jampa presented the concise four-line supplication and gave explanations from a short supplementary text also written by Gampopa. This succinct teaching - which Lama Jampa himself received from the great Eastern Tibetan master Urgyen Tulku - forms a blueprint of the path to realisation suitable for beginners and leading all the way to Buddhahood. This enormously influential teaching spread beyond the Kagyu tradition and was absorbed into fundamental teachings of the Sakya and Nyngma traditions.
On Sunday morning Lama Jampa led the regularly scheduled shamata meditation class for the Bodhi path community and then concluded the teaching on the Four Dharmas.
Those in attendance expressed much gratitude to Lama Jampa for bestowing this teaching and wished that he would return to Natural Bridge in future.
From Virginia, Lama Jampa traveled to Chicago and began the Presentation on the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva over two consecutive evenings. The teaching was live streamed over the internet to reach students as far as Canada and California.
History of the Teaching
Composed by Togme Zampo, a great 14th century scholar and master meditator connected to both the Kadampa and Sakya schools, the 37 Practices serves as both an introduction for beginners to the dharma and as a reminder or summary of the essence of the dharma for those who have received many teachings. As such, it is often one of the first teachings that people are taught in many Tibetan traditions.
The Thirty Seven Practices
The 37 key points of instruction laid out in the text are the guide to the bodhisattva way of life. Moreover, Togme Zampo chose the number 37 to mirror the 37 Wings of Enlightenment taught by the Buddha directly in his general teachings on the dharma. In referencing these 37 qualities Togme Zampo signals that this is a fully comprehensive account of the Mahayana Path to enlightenment.
Lama Jampa went on to explain that the traditional structure in which this teaching was laid out was an intentional reminder of how we should perceive the teaching.
“We are not attending an academic lecture... when we hear the dharma teachings it’s for a different purpose than to hear information, facts, and opinions. It’s to hear something that we’ll then take to heart and try to put into practice.”
On the weekend of 20/21 October 2018, Lama Jampa and Dechen Dolma were guests of the Bodhi Path centre in Rockville, Maryland (north west of Washington DC). During this time, Lama Jampa taught the Four Dharmas of Gampopa to an appreciative group of students from the DC metropolitan area.
Over two days, Lama Jampa carefully explained each of Gampopa's four points, which summarise the path out of samsara leading to the state of Buddhahood. At the end of each session, Lama Jampa led a session of shamatha meditation and then answered questions on the teaching.
At the end of the teachings, members of the DC Bodhi Path group warmly expressed their gratitude to Lama Jampa and requested that he return to teach again in the near future.