KTTG’s Lifelong Retreatant, Mary Raftery, talks about her path and what led her to do a lifelong retreat at the Tashi Gomang Stupa. She is completely supported through donations and has no funds of her own. As of this year, she does receive a very tiny Social Security payment. Please consider supporting our lifetime retreatant who has been in retreat since 1990.
Short Biography of My Dharma Path
by Mary Raftery
I met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche when he first came to the US in 1970. We met in Boston on the street near a park where hippies, runaways and young Vietnam vets were camping out. The war was raging in Vietnam and hard drugs were beginning to flood the streets. Rinpoche asked me if I would like to alleviate suffering and benefit beings. We became friends and formed a teacher/disciple relationship.
Later, during one of HH Karmapa 16th’s visits to the west, I took bodhisattva vows with His Holiness and he asked if I would come to help at his center, KTD, in Woodstock, NY. After studying some more with Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1983 he said I should go and serve Karmapa. I moved to KTD in 1984.
At KTD I worked on staff in fundraising, washed a lot of dishes(!!) and eventually became Director of KTD, working closely with KTD President, Tenzin Chonyi. I arranged world tours for Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Tai Situ and other Rinpoches. At that time we were blessed by visits from many Kagyu lineage holders who gave teachings and blessings, establishing their own centers in the West. I made a strong connection with our kind lineage masters and was honored to serve them.
While at KTD I studied primarily with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and also received guidance from Bardor Tulku Rinpoche at that time. I formed a teacher/disciple relation with HE Tia Situ Rinpoche and HE Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche as well.
During the time of Trungpa Rinpoche’s parinirvana I went to Karma Choling to help prepare for his cremation. While there I formed a close bond with HH Dilgo Kheyntse Rinpoche, and worked closely with Lama Ganga who had been sent from Rumtek to help guide the preparations.
After the cremation, I returned to KTD and continued to work on the staff until I became ill. At that point (1990) I entered retreat at KTD and remained there for twelve years under the guidance of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as retreat master and HE Tai Situ and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoches. During that time, Tai Situ Rinpoche asked if I would like to do a lifelong retreat, which was Trungpa Rinpoche’s wish. I was grateful and honored for the opportunity of doing a lifelong retreat, which I had wanted to do for many years.
The Rinpoches asked that I move to Crestone to do retreat near the stupa, which contains the relics of my spiritual masters who have passed away, as KTD was growing and Crestone is more remote and conducive to solitary retreat. While in retreat at the stupa, I have had the good fortune to receive guidance from Thrangu Ripoche. As part of my daily practice since beginning retreat here in 2005, I make offerings, do confession and aspiration prayers, and circumbulate the stupa reciting mantras.
I’m happy and feel most fortunate to be near the stupa in retreat. Having served and lived amidst the precious lineage masters, I long to be like them with their infinite compassion and wisdom. The wish to alleviate suffering and benefit sentient beings has never left my mind since Trungpa Rinpoche introduced me to that possibility many years ago.
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