Zasep Rinpoche at Henderson Castle

Zasep Rinpoche at Henderson Castle

When the Lama Tsong Khapa Center of Kalamazo Michigan was looking for an auspicious location to hold our very most important event of the annual calendar Frederick E. Royce III graciously offered the use of his home.

In Kalamazoo Michigan, when people refer to the mansion on the hill they mean Henderson Castle. Located at 100 Monroe Street it commands the finest anywhere available in Kalamazoo since it is topped only by the only slightly more historic gothic water tower of old State Hospital to which public access is denied. Frederick Royce, a locally reknowned attorney, lives at the castle and operates it as a bed and breakfast.

Not only is it a fine old mansion with a magnificent view, but all the rooms are decorated on a theme: a French room, a Holland room, and yes...even a Tibetan room. I suppose you can guess where Rinpoche elected to stay, yes? The mansnion is adorned throughout with many an object d’ art an amazing number of which are Tibetan in origin. And if the has has small fear of heights they may elect to enjoy the view from a hot tub on the very roof girded round by gothic wraught iron ghost chasers and secure from view by all but the ghosts in the water tower half a mile to the south.

Please help identify any persons labled with a ? in the photos below. Indicate thee the photo by caption and the person by his/her location from left to right. Email to Thank you!

Public Dharma Talk    ↑   ↓   → 

LTKC’s calendar is subject to Rinpoche’s busy schedule. So it is only a most happy conincidence (or more likely good karma) that our quasi-annual public event dovetailed perfectly into the Christmas party likewise long-since scheduled by Fred in his fabulous home.

  1. 2003-12-12    ↑ 

    Rinpoche arrived in Kalamazoo from Tornoto just after noon on Thursday, December 11th. After tide-me-over meal of soup at Theo and Stacy’s near the airport, I conducted us straight away to Henderson Castle. I had often driven past the steep and winding drive at 100 Monroe, and once walked up it years ago to another public Dharma event where Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Jangchup gave a talk, but never had I driven up, nor had I been fortunate to enjoy the view in daytime. With a light but still-fresh fall of snow I worried a bit whether the PT Cruiser would have enough traction. We made it fine however.

    Fred (as we were asked to address him) took time out from his busy work-day to show us around, all the rooms and even the hot tub on the roof. He also particularly invited Rinpoche, me and my family to please be guests also at his Christmas party. There Rinpoche became, not at all surprisingly, one of the more engaging attractions. Later on, in addition to Fred’s invited guests, many a folk arrived to hear the the Dharma talk and all were made welcome to join in the party.

    In such a big house the party tended to migrate about mostly gathering into one room or another (perhaps from agoraphobia?). There were also a number of children also a the Christmas party. My son Skajler (say SKY-ler) got along famously in that august company...although he made his appearance late owing to a strict schedule of cartoon-watching which he was pressed to catch up upon in the Miracle Room where he is photographed below. During my own wanderings up and down the stairs to check on Skayler, and with permission from Fred, I took a few photos. I offer heartfelt appologies to the many not shown below...and especially to Fred whos head I ungratefully cut off in one of them.. It is only.

    The party concluded officially when we all joined in singing The Twelve Days of Christmas to which Rinpoche, Tim and I took the part of four calling birds although there were only three of us and none made very convincing birds (except possibly for myself, who’s last name is Starling but with, alas, a singing voice more akin to the raven).

    Skajler in the Miracle Room

    In the parlor

    In the parlor

    2nd floor stairway

    The French Room

    The Holland Room

    Tibetan painting

    Tibetan painting

    Indian statue.

    Office ceiling

    The main parlor

    Skajler in the Miracle Room

    Kitchen ceiling

    Christmas party conversation.

Kurukule Empowerment     ←   ↑   ↓ 

On Saturday we held the first ever Kurukulle empowerment in Kalamazoo. Having already set up an altar in the 3rd floor ballroom for our public Dharma talk the evening before, we had only to set out new offerings for the empowerment.

Kurukulle is a semi-wrathful aspect of Tara, a fully-Enlightened Buddhist goddess. In this guise she confronts opponent forces. That is to say she here presents an undaunted demeanor, which fierce expression and the holding of weapons are but symbolic means of conveying the central concept. Tara is at all times a wholly benificent deity. So you might call this Her tough-love aspect. Her mission, as with any Buddha, is to roll the Wheel of Dharma, bringing Ultimate Truth and Supreme Enlightenment to every being everywhere. Any who obstruct Her purpose through ignorance can only do harm to themselves and others. In meeting with this opposition She wields Her flower garland weapons to pierce their misguided reasonings, to hook onto their better nature and draw them near. She dances atop a corpse proclaiming conquest over death and wears a trophy necklace of 50 freshly severed heads (one for each syllable of the Tibetan writing system) symbolizing mastery of all ideas and knowledge. As in much of Buddhist iconagraphy, female deities represent the Wisdom side of Enlightened Nature; and so She is otherwise naked as Truth.

The purpose of visualizing Kurukulle in meditation is to be constantly aware of all the Enlightened Qualities which She worship, honor and revere them in see their reflection in ourselves...and in every being alive. We nurture and enliven these qualities through our practice. Beyond this much I cannot write more as the practice, if not done correctly, can lead to a strengthening of ego rather than its opposite, to potentially disasterous results. Tantra, in short, is the power tool of meditation, and so must be applied with skill lest an accident befall.

Kurukulle Diety

  1. 2003-12-13    ↑   → 

    On the day of the empowerment itself we were somewhat too busy for taking many pictures. And it is, after all, a secret ceremony besides. Thus I had time for only three photos on the very day thereof...and none for the ceremony itself. But such as there be I herewith include.

    Zasep Rinpoche

    The French Room

    2nd floor hallway

  2. 2003-12-14     ←   ↑ 

    On Sunday we held a workshop on Kurukulle as well as varied other topics of Buddhist practice. Rinpoche very kindly offered to consecrate our sundry items of ritual images and other symbols. We enjoyed another very fine lunch, this time prepared by Lydia Hoff (Brian’s wife), again augmented by Fred’s more than ample pantry.

    During a break in between practice sessions, we all enjoyed to watch a DVD about a newly renovated monastery in Mongolia which Zasep Rinpoche had visited. The entertainment system itself presented a interesting challenge (would that Skajler had been there to help). Glen figured it out in due course. And Rinpoche, observing the medicine ball, assayed to balance sitting atop it, as did one or two others in turn.

    This day too was a full one from 10AM until neary 5PM such that all attendees had opportunity to put forth questions and receive full explanation. All, I think, were more than amply satisfied at the quality, depth and even the range of instruction here obtained. All that remains now is for us to put it into practice, to carry it forth also into daily life and thereby obtain Enlightement.

    Technical conference

    Brian balancing

    Buddhist altar

    Awaiting consecration

    A short break.

    Adam and Zasep Rinpoche

    Joy and Zasep Rinpoche

    3rd floor view

    Fred and Rinpoche

    Fred, Rinpoche and Gan