On May 30th, an auspicious day for making offerings to the Nagas, The Mystic Sea sailed away from the Anacortes Harbour at 8 am with an enthusiastic crew of 65 humans. Led by Kilung Rinpoche, for 10 hours, we circumnavigated our beloved Whidbey Island, all the while sending heartfelt healing prayers back to the ocean and to all beings in order to repair and heal the disturbances caused by humans. Throughout the day, Rinpoche gave teachings focusing on our relationship with the natural environment. He reminded us to be mindful and respectful towards the earth, that perpetual mining and destroying the natural resources of our earth, our oceans, lakes, and rivers, and all bodies of water is having and will have serious consequences for all life. Being kind to nature is being kind to oneself.
Joining Kilung Rinpoche on this journey were several members of the Samish people: Rosie Cayou and her niece Kelly Hall and Adam Lorio. Rosie is an elder of the Samish Indian Nation and a holder of the culture and Cultural Outreach Manager for the tribe. She is known for sharing the stories of her ancestors and the way of life of her people. Kelly is a holder of the language. These waters have been home and livelihood to the Samish people for countless centuries. During the day, Rinpoche invited Rosie to speak the wisdom of her people. It was a honor to take this voyage with them and to hear their stories, their songs and drumming. Another special guest was Dan Matlock, a marine biologist who gave a brief and very informative talk about the environment we were traveling in.
The preparation for this wonderful event called on a large team of volunteers from the Pema Kilaya sangha over a number of days to prepare all the offerings for the circumnavigation.
Under Rinpoche’s generous directions, this dedicated group of volunteers, including Choying’s parents and Padmasalle, worked tirelessly for days at the various tasks, for example, printing prayer flags both in all five colors and sewing the strings necessary for tying them onto the boat.
Everyone in the group was involved purifying and unifying the sangha offerings of jewels, precious & semiprecious stones, crystals, & shells. Sang offerings were prepared. Mantras were rolled into cloth of five colors.
The materials for the treasure vases ranged from mantras to the most rare & precious of rigsals (?) the earth relics Rinpoche put into only 14 vases, to various kinds of sang, to precious and semiprecious jewels and stones, dried fruits, beans & seeds, and dried flower petals & tiny roses. In total, 108 white and blue vases were prepared. Finally, melted bees wax was bushed on to seal each vase.
Preparing the boat: An enthusiastic crew boarded and transformed the main salon of Mystic Seas into a Tibetan shrine. The beautiful prayer flags flew from every possible source sending prayers to all beings. Bowls of jewels and shells and flower petals adorned the tables and beautiful flowers graced the altar.
May 30th, at 6 am the final preparations were under way. Rinpoche began to create the sand mandala with a few volunteers as more and more people streamed onboard.
At 8 am, the lines were let go and our voyage got underway. A rotation of people under Rinpoche’s supervision continued working on the sand mandala. Everyone was encouraged to participate.
As we left Anacortes, we cruised through the Swinomish Channel, past oil refineries on the way to La Connor, all while continuing to create the sand mandala.
After completing the sand mandala, Rinpoche began with the opening prayers and after a brief introduction of both the practice and of our special guests, he led us in the extraordinary practice of making offerings to the Nagas.
During our 10 hour day, in various special places, around Whidbey and the surrounding seas, while doing the practice and chanting the Heart Sutra, we made offerings of the vases and handfuls of flower petals and jewels and shells. Rosie, Kelly and Adam sang and drummed. In passing through the channel by Langley, we were delighted to be joined by a wetsuited swimmer. Around the eastern side of Whidbey Island several families of Orcas frolicked around the boat, playfully diving under us. People waved from the shores and a pleasure craft kept us company for a good part of the journey.
Towards the end of the day, once we had completed the offering practice, the food offerings that we had all brought, were set out and everyone feasted.
Lynn and Nancy were wrapped in a beautiful Samish blanket as a thank you.
Rosie had told us that circumnavigating Whidbey Island had been a life long dream of hers and she felt very grateful to have been able to share this journey with us.
Rinpoche reminded us to take this harmony and balance that we experienced into our daily lives, to wake up to compassion in action, to send these prayers out continuously in order to be in right relationship with nature, the elements and each other.
A very harmonious group quickly dismantled our beautiful shrine and walked away to continue of practice of love, compassion and respect for the environment and for all beings.