Rebuilding of the cairn (Jan. 21)
As those of us who were in the village were concluding our efforts in building a medicine factory and a library in the nunnery, those who were on the expedition were successful in finding many texts. They returned to our village with several texts that our village can use and learn a lot from. Most importantly, they were able to retrieve texts specific to the next task that I will help to take on. This text in particular is one that records a local history of our village and the surrounding area. Specifically, they found that this text explains the existence of an old cairn to the protector deity at the edge of our village. Several people from the town decided that it is necessary to find this cairn. Some lay and some monks and nuns including myself, went and we found it in ruins. Thinking back on the events that have occurred over the last months, we have realized that its destruction may have been the cause for disasters like the hail storm that injured many and the haunting in the medicine factory. Without this cairn, the local protector deity is not being propitiated. It must be rebuilt if we are to receive protection for the village. Cairns are a heap made of stones that serve as an offering to the local deities. Not only must we rebuild the cairn through reconstructing the stone heap, but we must also perform rituals in order to activate the site so that it may be an offering for the deities. Thankfully, the cave also held some texts that describe the rituals that are to be performed. These include, smoke purification rituals, or sang rituals, and wind-horse rituals.
I have not been trained, nor am I a skilled ritualist therefore I will not be the one performing the rituals; some of the other nuns from my village have taken on this tasks. Several people from the village have chosen to go on a pilgrimage, so there are not a lot of people left here to help with this rebuild, but there are a few nuns, monks and lay people here to help. So that our village may have the knowledge of what happened at the cairn site, I am able to write about how one is able to perform these rituals and why they are indeed necessary. To begin, these rituals are necessary in order to ensure that the site where the cairn offering is to be rebuilt is pure and the land is activated for the deities.
The sang ritual, the smoke offering, is a way for us to accumulate merit and allow for pureness of our minds and bodies as well as the land where the cairn is being rebuilt. Rituals like these are often done in places where deities are thought to reside such as the cairn. The offerings that are to be placed in the smoke should be of a very high quality, clean and beautiful. It is important that both the sang burner and the offering are to be neat and tidy. Visualization is also an important aspect of this ritual. There is little point in conducting the ritual unless you are visualizing yourself as the deity, so that the offerings may be blessed. Repeating the mantra ‘Raṃ yaṃ khaṃ’ purifies and blesses the sang offerings. The mantra for the sang ritual can be found within the texts that were brought back from the caves. With the pure offerings, not only is the protector deity invited to the space, but also the Three Jewels, the six classes of beings, and those who we owe karmic debts, and they will receive the offerings. Through this ritual of offering to the protectors, we are able to make the deities happy and they will then help us by bringing good conditions without illness or any destruction such as that caused by the hail storm.
Prayer flags are another very easy way to accumulate good merit. By placing prayer flags outside we are able to bless and purify the region. Prayer flags are printed on a fabric such as cotton or polyester and attached to poles high up so that they may blow in the wind, carrying good luck and good wishes. The wind-horse, rlung rta, has several figures of different animals on it that represent different things. The main figure is that of a horse with a wishing jewel on its back. There are four animals in the four corners, these are an eagle, dragon, tiger and a lion, and together they are called ‘four great gnyan’. Each animal has a corresponding astrological element and quality. For example, the eagle is representative of the sky and eternity. As a prayer flag, the horse occupies the centre of the flag and the four animals are on the outside corners as either pictures or words. The wind-horse prayer flag is able to bring good luck and fulfill wishes for those in the region. One of the texts that were found in the cave held sacred mantras that are to be recited as part of the wind-horse ritual. These mantras send offerings from the wind –horse through the four animals in the corners and all that is good will come to those nearby. Offering to the deities allows for us to live long lives with good health, happiness, peace and fortune. By placing these flags in the mountains where the cairn is located, good fortune will be abundant for those in our village. The ritual of ri bsang rlung rta is one that is to be done before any project or job that is happening, so it is to be done before the cairn is rebuilt. One of the farmers in the village thankfully has some juniper that they have been growing, so this is burnt as an offering as the wind-horse flags are hung in the mountains. This will bring good fortune to the responsibility of rebuilding the cairn. This particular ritual can be done by anyone, including lay people so I was able to help with this.
The cairn was successful rebuilt with these rituals and I expect that our village will be protected from any misfortune that may arrive in the future.