El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Meeting Gangchen Rinpoche

September 1, 2015 1

The first time I met Gangchen Rinpoche, I was too young to remember most details. I remember it being in the Chinese Assembly Hall. I must have been around 12 or 13 years old and Rinpoche was giving some sort of Medicine Buddha empowerment to hundreds of people. Subsequent meetings with Rinpoche took place when I was too young to appreciate the full value.

The last time I met Gangchen Rinpoche was in 2007 when I was about 21 years old, on what was a very rushed trip. I was back from university for my Easter break when, two days before I was due to return to England, we received news that His Holiness Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche had passed away. We had met Dagom Rinpoche just two years before this in Nepal, so to say the news came as a shock was an understatement.

Immediately, Rinpoche and a group of us departed Kuala Lumpur to attend the funeral in Bangkok. At this funeral were some of the most eminent Dorje Shugden lamas in the world who were there to join the Thai monks in reciting last rites for Dagom Rinpoche.

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The last time I saw Gangchen Rinpoche was in 2007, at Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche’s funeral in Bangkok

In between pujas, we had the opportunity for audiences with Gangchen Rinpoche. Rinpoche spent many hours talking to our Tsem Rinpoche whilst the rest of us got to sit in the room, experiencing the energy of this holy, old gentle monk.

Yes, this holy, old, gentle monk. Just look at him. I hate to make this about Dorje Shugden but I really can’t help myself! People say that Gangchen Rinpoche practices Dorje Shugden and therefore he is evil, but does Rinpoche really look like he is capable of violence? Does he look like he is even interested in subversive behavior against the Tibetan cause, whatever that may be? Don’t you think he has better things to do like, I don’t know, save sentient beings? People make up the grandest tales to excuse away their personal vendettas.

ANYWAY. This was my first time in Italy and my first time visiting Gangchen Rinpoche in his retreat center, so it wouldn’t be amiss to say that I was pretty excited. I mean, come on – it’s Europe, good weather, the food is brilliant (an ENTIRE country of my favorite cuisine, imagine that!) and the scenery is fantastic.

But to be honest, everything about Italy paled in comparison to the holiness of Albagnano, and Italy is pretty damned lucky to have Rinpoche’s presence there.

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Very sleepy at KLIA but pleased to be given this opportunity to represent Rinpoche

We were received at Gangchen Ladrang where we spent two unbelievable days with Gangchen Rinpoche. We got to update Rinpoche on everything we have been doing here in Kechara, and present to Rinpoche some gifts of items we have produced in our departments. On Tsem Rinpoche’s behalf, we also made a request to Gangchen Rinpoche to live long, and offered to him a porcelain Amitayus statue. You could see Gangchen Rinpoche really liked it because of who made the request – Tsem Rinpoche.

And before we knew it, it was over. We packed up and left at 5am to catch our flight onward to our next destination, Canada, to attend Zawa Rinpoche’s center’s opening.

Because of Tsem Rinpoche, I went from a random kid in the Medicine Buddha audience not really knowing what was going on, to having the opportunity to meet Gangchen Rinpoche as my teacher’s representative. I tell you, being with Tsem Rinpoche has brought me in the presence of some ridiculously attained beings, what did I do in my past lives to receive this opportunity? I’m just very happy that when meeting Gangchen Rinpoche this time around, I was a little more aware of the significance and status of the person I was meeting.

Anyway, here are some pictures because I know that is the only reason why you lot came here 😉 enjoy!

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We’ve arrived! It was a real trip driving in right-hand traffic again. Also to take note of for the future – larger cars aren’t very easy to find in Italy :(

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Colorful buildings in Verbania. On our way to Albagnano, we stopped by the lake to get dinner…and take photos hehe

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Gelato! Which melted super quickly and made a real mess, and taught me the very important lesson of ordering it in a cup in the future

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We took a stroll around the town

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Lakeside in Verbania. Click to enlarge!

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On our way to Albagnano, we got a little lost so we stopped to check our GPS…

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…or to see if we could get our bearings by sight. Yeah, didn’t work hehe

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Incredible views, only slightly marred by the fact it was overcast on the day we arrived

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I thought this sign was really neat! It’s found on the path on the way to the gompa at Albagnano Healing Meditation Centre

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Gangchen Rinpoche placed these Buddha statues everywhere. If I’m not mistaken, they were an offering from a group of students

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We brought A LOT of offerings, not just for Gangchen Rinpoche but for many of the other lamas we would be meeting when we went to Canada. Karen here unpacks and organizes the gifts for Gangchen Rinpoche and his students

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Beng Kooi wraps up some texts which we offered to Gangchen Rinpoche on Tsem Rinpoche’s behalf

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So many gifts…so many stairs up to Colonia!

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The view out of Gangchen Ladrang. Click to enlarge!

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Some fruit offerings for Gangchen Rinpoche

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The Amitayus statue offered to Gangchen Rinpoche on Tsem Rinpoche’s behalf. Also offered were Shugden Rig Nga tsa tsas, Gyenze pendants and various sacred texts

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Accompanying the Amitayus statue was a request from Tsem Rinpoche for Gangchen Rinpoche to live long to turn the Wheel of Dharma

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Gangchen Rinpoche paid close attention to everything we showed him. It was really nice to see Gangchen Rinpoche happy with the work Kechara has produced!

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I literally could not stop taking pictures of Rinpoche in front of this amazing Dorje Shugden thangka haha

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Gangchen Rinpoche sitting in front of a Dorje Shugden thangka, carrying a picture of Tsem Rinpoche in front of Dorje Shugden in trance. Yes, we like Dorje Shugden…problem? :)

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We requested Rinpoche to give us an explanation and description of some deities. Rinpoche very kindly had his attendant bring out some pictures to show us

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Gangchen Rinpoche recited prayers and blessed some precious stones for us to imbue them with healing properties. As a world renown healing lama, we were so happy when Gangchen Rinpoche accepted our request for him to do this

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Gangchen Rinpoche looking at the Amitayus statue which Tsem Rinpoche offered. Gangchen Rinpoche had it placed on the throne for safekeeping, after reminding his attendant many times that it is very fragile (being porcelain and all)

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Amitayus from Tsem Rinpoche on the throne in Gangchen Ladrang

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We paid a visit to one of Gangchen Rinpoche’s students’ houses. Duccio is an artist who has done many works for Gangchen Rinpoche. Duccio credits Gangchen Rinpoche with saving his life by turning his attention back to the arts

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I got to explain Kechara’s activities to Lama Caroline

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Standing on the balcony of Gangchen Ladrang…Gangchen Rinpoche himself insisted we take a photo out here

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Gangchen Rinpoche explaining some things to Beng Kooi about prayer wheels

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A group photo with one of Gangchen Rinpoche’s students who is an artist. In fact, many of Rinpoche’s students are artists or musicians…very creative bunch!

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With Lama Caroline who has been serving Gangchen Rinpoche for 25 years

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Walking up the very steep hill from the gompa back to Gangchen Ladrang

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In their administrative building is this cafe with a neat portrait of Gangchen Rinpoche on the wall

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Really cool portrait of Gangchen Rinpoche. One of the nice things about their administrative building are these creative portraits all over the place. It lends a very warm feeling to the place, you can tell the students are so devoted to their lama to express it in this manner

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The view out of Colonia (the guesthouse). Click to enlarge!

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On our final night there, we were fortunate to sponsor dinner for everyone in the Guhyasamaja retreat. Click to enlarge!

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Vegetarian deliciousness, cooked by two of Gangchen Rinpoche’s students for everyone

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After a year of mutual posts, sharings and Likes on Facebook, it was very nice to finally meet Tiziana in person!

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We accidentally bumped into Diane one day as we were leaving Colonia, and learned that she comes from Los Angeles! She moved all the way to Italy to serve Gangchen Rinpoche, amazing.

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Gangchen Rinpoche addressing those who attended the Guhyasamaja retreat

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Gangchen Rinpoche giving Beng Kooi a khata and offerings for Tsem Rinpoche

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One Comment → “Meeting Gangchen Rinpoche”

  1. Pastor David 4 years ago   Reply

    Very nice blog and brilliant pictures PJA!

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