A key part of the ordination ceremony within the Aro lineage is empowerment with the implements
of a tantrika. These implements include an array of wrathful implements such as phurbas, swords,
lances, axes, spears, flaying knives, daggers. Ngak’chang Rinpoche says of these implements,
that can be seen in images of wrathful yidams:
The weapons held by wrathful yidams destroy
the illusion of dualism. There are swords, lances, axes, spears, flaying knives, daggers – a
array. It is not that dualism has to be destroyed in all these different ways, simply that we all
need different ways to destroy our individual illusions of duality. Our illusions take many
different forms; so, paradoxically, many illusory methods are needed to destroy illusion. At the
ultimate level, the weapons held by wrathful yidams all
perform the same function; whether it is a spear, a lance, or a dagger – duality is
Over the years since Ngala Nor’dzin’s ordination, the Aro Lineage has been able to
gradually amass all these tantric implements, so that ordination ceremonies today are much more
elaborate affairs. However at the time of her ordination, Ngak’chang Rinpoche only had an
image of a line drawing of these tantric implements, and this was used as part of the ceremony.
Ngala Nor’dzin comments:
I have kept and cherished this image of the tantric implements.
It has become part of the history of the lineage. Even though we are now able to offer ordination
with all the tantric implements, this line drawing is still included in the ceremony.
In this picture Ngala Nor’dzin is still wearing her ordinary day time clothes. At a
certain part of the ordination ceremony Ngala Nor’dzin left the room and changed from her
ordinary clothes into her new ordination robes. On her return to the shrine room her day clothes
were stabbed symbolically by Ngak’chang Rinpoche with a phurba, to illustrate that Ngala
Nor’dzin had died and been reborn into her new life as a ngakphang practitioner.
Ngala Nor’dzin remembers;
This was one of the most powerful moments of the ceremony for me. To
remember that moment still makes the hair rise on the back of my neck.
Ngala Nor’dzin recognised the death of her old self in terms of bardo practice, where we
continually dwell in the awareness that we die and are reborn on a moment by moment basis.
Ngak’chang Rinpoche says about bardo practice:
form. Discontinuity is emptiness. We are approaching non-duality through increasing the quality of
discontinuity. We’re making life totally discontinuous. There’s escalating disjuncture.
Disjuncture every second. The moment gets smaller and smaller and smaller, until all sense of
continuity collapses into itself. And this point, at which all continuity is destroyed, is called
tha-shé bardo, or tha-mal-gyi-shé-pa bardo. Tha-mal-gyi-shé-pa bardo is
actually the fruit of the gYo-wa bardo. As I said, tha-ma-gyi-shé-pa means
‘instantaneous ordinariness’. As soon as continuity is destroyed, it appears again as
the continuous moment of ‘Great Time’. One is continuous again, but that which is
continuous is empty. One arrives at the non-dual point of realising the one taste of continuity &
discontinuity. This is the essence of the tha-mal-gyi-shé-pa bardo: simply noticing death
– and being in the next moment. With the practice of tha-shé bardo, one doesn’t
have to do anything at all… apart from live as one would otherwise live. It’s a
of total integration. There’s no aspect of life with which one has to ‘do’
anything. Every moment of life is practice. There is no time when one is not practising [laughs]
apart from when you’re not practising that is, if you’re no longer aware of
disjuncture. It is a practice of recognising disjuncture, until disjuncture becomes so rapid that
it disappears into itself and becomes continuity.