Tibetan Vesak — a day celebrating the Buddha’s birth, awakening, and parinirvana — is June 15. Among the many communities celebrating is that of Nyingma teacher Tarthang Tulku; Jennifer Chapman recounts her experince from the Odiyan Buddhist Retreat Center in Sonoma, California.
The Odiyan Buddhist Retreat Center, located in Sonoma, California, is the precious Tibetan jewel of the West. The golden domes and spires of the temples can be seen peeking over the treetops near coastal Highway 1, and the grand Enlightenment Stupa, which stands at a hundred and thirteen feet, glints the brightest of all. Traditional Tibetan prayer flags, prayer bells, and prayer wheels can be seen and heard in every part of the Odiyan mandala complex, and the positive energy in and around the Enlightenment Stupa is almost tangible.
The private community that resides at Odiyan consists of full-time, dedicated lay volunteers and practitioners of all ages, who all have the great desire for living a cloistered monastic lifestyle, for meaningful work, and for preserving the life and culture of Tibetan Buddhism. The creative and constructive work within the community is rigorous, the daily schedule long, and the internal positivity and compassion of each community member is expansive. Tarthang Tulku, the founder of the Nyingma center organizations that are based in California, arrived from India in 1969. His teachings on Skillful Means and mindful work are meant to foster growth of awareness, appreciation, responsibility, and communication in every individual.
In a very special way, the Odiyan community observes the four great celebration days of the Tibetan lunar calendar: the Descent from the Heavens (Lha Bab Duchen), Display of Miracles (Chotrul Duchen), Buddha’s Enlightenment and Parinirvana (Saga Dawa Duchen), and Turning Wheel of the Dharma (Chokhur Duchen). It is on these four holidays that all members of the Odiyan community, dressed in maroon, dedicate their complete time and energy to the prayers and good intentions of all beings through prayer walks (circumambulations) around the great Enlightenment Stupa.
This June 15, the Celebration Day of Buddha’s Enlightenment, is an extremely powerful day, as it is believed that all energy and intentions are magnified 10 million times. This means that all prayers and good intentions dedicated on this holiday by the Odiyan community through the Stupa prayer walks will also be magnified. Those outside the community who wish to sponsor prayer requests online for their own well-being, the well-being of loved ones, and the general well-being of others around the world can find out more by visiting www.nyingmatrust.org.