Breaking the bond

The Beginning

We started as a regular Tibetan Buddhist center in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe, back in the late 90’s.  With rich background in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the group and center activities gradually focused on the Nyingma (Tib. རྙིང་མ། “The Ancient“) tradition and we formally became affiliated to the Shechen Monastery in Nepal – the seat of the late head of the Nyingma School – H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. For years we were guided by Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, the abbot of the monastery, and by the prominent teachers of the Khyentse sub-lineage, Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who visited our center on various occasions to teach and bestow transmissions. Our center was named “Thegchog Lamsang Ling” by Rabjam Rinpoche – meaning “Place for practice of the Excellent Path of the Supreme Vehicle” – an allusion to the Ati Dzogchen teachings.

Locally the center was under the direction of Ivo Kalushev, a senior Buddhist practitioner, and student of some of the most eminent teachers of the Tibetan tradition. His energy and inspiration empowered everything we did and he was a key figure of introducing the Tibetan Buddhist teachings to Bulgaria – a country to which Buddhist philosophy and tradition were virtually unknown. Under his guidance a small but serious group of Buddhist practitioners were able to receive and practice some of the most precious Buddhist transmissions from the Tibetan tradition and his expertise and vast knowledge were indispensable in translating the often foreign and esoteric nature of these doctrines and practices into an understandable and easy to follow system. This went on for many years.

Breaking the bond

In the course of time a pattern gradually developed where the more advanced teachings and practices were given locally by Ivo, while our visiting Tibetan teachers felt it safer to use the same basic curriculum which is used to this day in almost every Tibetan Buddhist center in the Western world. This put our center in a new situation and highlighted a very serous problem – the inability of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to adapt to and transcend the almost insurmountable cultural boundaries between the western and the eastern world-view. Because of this, with the inspiration of his root teacher H.H. Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, then head of the Nyingma Buddhist Lineage, Ivo eventually assumed a full teacher status and responsibility in the summer of 2011.

By early spring of 2012 it was clear to everyone involved that if we kept our direction we might head into a collision course with the Tibetan Buddhist establishment. None of us wanted this, but our senior practitioners were receiving in their meditation repeated indications that a major change of direction was imminent. A whole new cycle of esoteric Dzogchen teachings had already began to manifest as a Dag snang transmission to our teacher and the Dharmapalas were making it very clear that if we were to move forward some hard decisions had to be made, and followed. It seemed best to break our connection with the Tibetan Tradition, at least formally, in order to establish a completely different framework for teaching and practice. It all depended on Ivo, and, as he often does, he chose to radically change everything. This led to The Journey.

Although mind is clear, one needs a lama;
Although a lamp burns brightly, it still needs oil;
Although mind is self-evident, it needs recognition.
That is the teaching on the three needs.

–  Drugpa Kunley