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For Losar 2013, Ven. Sarah Thresher was able to travel to the Maratika Caves, a powerful holy site in Nepal, where she made numerous prayers and light offerings for Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s long life, health and the fulfillment of all of Rinpoche’s holy wishes. Due to the generosity of sponsors, Ven. Sarah was able to stay three weeks. She kindly shared a report on her pilgrimage with Mandala, which we present here in a shortened form.
By Ven. Sarah Thresher
According to the wisdom tradition, Maratika is one of the six holiest places in the world. It is said that long ago Maratika was blessed by the three types of buddhas ‒ Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani ‒ and there are still three hills there which bear their names. Clearly visible in the rock and soil are the white, red and blue colors that represent each buddha.
There are also five holy caves with many naturally arising (rang jung) special features ‒ such as a natural conch in the wrathful cave, victory banners and pennants hanging from the roof of the caves, dakini script on the walls, a phurba, a treasure vase, a mandala, and many more. In particular the main cave has the imprint of the holy body of Buddha Amitayus, the Buddha of Long Life, and Buddha Amitayus’ long life vase (tse bum). This long life vase is considered the most holy object at Maratika and it is said that any prayers made at the vase will definitely be fulfilled; this is where we offered the most butter lamps and prayers.
Maratika is considered the place from which all long life practices originate. Guru Rinpoche himself achieved the state of immortality practicing in these caves with the Indian Princess Mandarava and there are many miraculous signs left by the Guru and his consort in and around the caves. Although any practice done at Maratika is considered a hundred times more powerful than at other places, the main practices to be done are those for long life. People travel from all over the Himalayan regions ‒ and now the world ‒ including high lamas of all traditions to do long life practice at Maratika and to clear obstacles. Continuous long life practice is performed there for His Holiness Dalai Lama especially by the nuns from Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche’s gompa.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche himself has twice been to Maratika for retreat ‒ the first time on the advice of Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche ‒ and there is a short video on YouTube with clips from the last trip with Khadro-la and Dagri Rinpoche.
I’ve been four times to Maratika to do prayers for Rinpoche’s long life over the past seven years, but this was my first time to go during the first 15 days of Losar when merits multiply many millions of times. It was Rinpoche’s advice to go at this time when the offerings would be most powerful but, of course, it was also the most challenging time!
Rinpoche himself also sent an offering for the nuns. This year there were three separate prayer festivals (monlams) being held at Maratika during Losar. The first was organized by Maratika Monastery during the first four days of Losar. We arrived just in time to join this festival and offered the first 10,000 butter lamps during these four days as well as lunch and tea to all the Sangha.
I made many thousands of light offerings throughout the Losar period along with other offerings with prayers and dedications for Rinpoche’s long life and fulfillment of all Rinpoche’s wishes. I always felt that I was representing all who have offered me support and I am extremely grateful for being given this precious opportunity to do prayers for our Guru. I hope that in this way all of your own prayers and wishes will be fulfilled. Please as you read this, also dedicate for Rinpoche to have a long and stable life.
You can learn more about Maratika by visiting the website for Maratika Monastery www.maratika.org.
Ven. Sarah Thresher is a senior English nun, a FPMT registered teacher and frequent contributor to Mandala. She is also editor of Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive’s Heart Advice Series.
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Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
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