A Tibetan Buddhist religious community will circumnavigate Whidbey Island next Tuesday in a not-so-usual boat trip aimed at honoring the island’s natural life.
The group will be pouring “positive energy” into Puget Sound with prayers and Buddhist mantras.
“The purpose of the offering is for us to pay respect to this beautiful natural environment,” Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader Kilung Rinpoche said. “In particular, at this time we are going to be sending heartfelt healing prayers and energy back to the great oceans and to all beings living there in order to repair distorted energy.”
Rinpoche, his students, followers and friends will circle the entire island to perform a tradition that may be a first for Whidbey Island. The ceremony, called a Naga Treasure Offering, will involve a full boat of people praying and honoring the land, the sea, the animals, the plants and everything in between on Whidbey. Rinpoche has only performed this once before during a circumnavigation of Taiwan, where he frequently teaches.
The group aims to project “healing energy” to the environment, as per Buddhist practice. Mystic Sea Charters, the whale watching tour company, will accommodate the religious community on their 12-hour trip around the island.
Although the vessel is fully booked for the circumnavigation with 60 people, Rinpoche is inviting island residents to follow the trip and meet the boat on shores and docks for a collective prayer “of any form” to bless the island and pay homage to the natural environment. The boat departs from Anacortes at 8 a.m. May 30 and is slated to return between 6 and 8 p.m. Residents can follow the trip by purchasing the “MarineTraffic – Ship Tracking” app on their smartphones or by searching “Mystic Sea” on www.vesselfinder.com.
“If people resonate with the voyage and want to witness it, they’re free to meet us at the beaches and docks,” said student Mully Mullaly, Langley resident. “If they want to do something at home that honors that, we encourage that also.”
Rinpoche says he felt it was the right time to honor Whidbey Island’s environment. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher has called the island his part-time home for nearly 20 years, splitting time between Whidbey and his native Tibet when he’s not traveling the world to teach. He’s found solitude on Whidbey despite being a significant figure and lineage holder in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. His branch, Longchen Nyingtik, is the first Tibetan Buddhist school. At a young age, he was named the fifth reincarnation of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist teacher who built Kilung Monastery in Tibet, which Rinpoche heads.
Environmentalism is an important aspect of Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhist teachings preach the interconnectedness of all things, and for followers to respect everything outside of humanity — trees, plants, water, etc. Respect should also be paid to the Whidbey Island of the past as per the Buddhist belief of life’s nonlinear nature, so the group has invited members of the Samish Nation for the trip. With respect for the past and all living things, harmony can be achieved, Rinpoche said. To learn more about Rinpoche, visit www.kilung.org/about-kilung-rinpoche/.
“All these things need some consideration to know the inter-relations of the world,” Rinpoche said. “That’s so important for me, being raised in Tibet with a tremendous respect for that tradition. Buddha taught that every living being — trees, plants, insects — they all have independent characteristics, energy and power.”
Rinpoche and his students hope island residents resonate with this message and “use this kind of mindfulness in everyday life.” For him, it’s not about preaching his Tibetan culture or ways, rather using his beliefs to encourage people on Whidbey to respect the natural environment.
“Our hope is that everyone will join us on the island, not just the Buddhist people” student Jeanne Lepisto said. “We want people to see the message, and we think it has the ability to resonate with a wide group of people.”