In a world where some people think twenty or twenty-five years is a "long time," I thought it might be interesting to take notice of an anniversary that will visit us on Saturday, April 24th this year, and I want to personally invite you to help commemorate that anniversary.
It doesn't look like much, I know, but please be assured that it means everything to me. This is the first copy of the first edition of the first English language translation of Shower of Blessings, prepared for use at the first performance of the liturgy in United States history, the 10th day of the 3rd month, 1969. As you see, this was done on one of those old, purple ink mimeograph machines, in a basement at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tarthang Rinpoche did not like the purple ink, so here is the hastily produced second edition, and this one had "production values," as you see (the crossed dorje, and some line illustrations inside). It had a red, Accopress binder, which was considered a luxury. As with most things from the era, the translation was by John Reynolds, the money was handled by Joel Shefflin, and the actual work was done by some guy who I forget.
According to the Western calendar, the date was April 27, 1969, and while nobody really knew what to expect, there was still great excitement. This was to be the very first Nyingma puja in the West, and Tarthang Rinpoche would teach everyone exactly what to do! Only twenty-five people attended, but from that modest foundation an uninterrupted tradition began that has remained -- and will remain, unbroken -- to the present time.
This month's "Guru Rinpoche Day" marks the 41st anniversary of that first observance, so I hope everyone who reads this post will join in, at 6:00 p.m., wherever you are, to perform the Shower of Blessings, for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Forty or forty-one years isn't a very long time either, for something that has lasted -- and will last -- through centuries. Still, I thought it might be useful to take notice of the continuity that runs deep and pure beneath the clear and authentic Nyingma lineage in the West.
May it be auspicious!