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

Paying homage to White Tara, the saviouress

January 29, 2019 0

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Tsem Rinpoche paying homage to White Tara, the saviouress.

A student and devotee of White Tara had commissioned a 5-foot statue for his home. Having requested Rinpoche to bless and consecrate the statue, White Tara was escorted to the Ladrang where, upon sight, Rinpoche immediately paid homage to her and gave a short teaching on White Tara‘s sacred iconography and the benefit of making big Buddha statues.

This is a marked change from the days even before Kechara, when Rinpoche first arrived in Malaysia and began to introduce the concept of big statues to his students. Back then, in the late 1990s, most Malaysians did not even know who Lama Tsongkhapa was, let alone the benefits of having a 5-foot statue in their homes. In fact, many would balk at the idea of inviting home a 12-inch statue! So back in the 1990s, I would often hear:

  • “Aiyah, I don’t have enough space at home.”
  • “My altar so crowded lah, how can fit?”
  • “Sure or not? Got smaller one?”
  • “Eh if I buy, every day must make offerings ah?”

Not only did people not understand the value of a large Buddha statue, but such statues simply were not readily available here in South East Asia. However, through Rinpoche’s tireless efforts to educate people and to make the statues available, we see now more and more practitioners inviting large statues into their homes. It has been a journey of nearly 20 years to reach this point.

People from countries with a strong Buddhist tradition might find this unusual. In countries like Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan, the people have no qualms or hesitation about inviting large statues home because they are raised in an environment surrounded by large statues, and taught from young about the benefits. Imagine being raised in Kathmandu for example, and just outside your front door are the huge statues at the foothill of Swayambunath Stupa.

In Malaysia however, it is quite a different story because we are raised to value different things. Not that it is good or bad, but it is just different. Buddhism, particularly the Tibetan tradition, is also relatively new so we have some catching up to do. Hence it is wonderful that these days, the conversation here has changed. Nowadays, I often hear:

  • “Which material better for our weather, wood or metal?”
  • “I want, I want. Only 5 feet ah? Can be bigger?”
  • “How long will it take to make? Can ask Pastor for help to check the iconography?”
  • “What do I need to put inside the statue?”

Rinpoche has asked us before what statues we would like for our altars. It is something I think about a lot because there are so many deities, how do you decide on just one?! But that is for indecisive me, maybe you already know what you want. So what about you, what statue are you going to bring home for your altar? 😉

Tsem Ladrang, Tsem Rinpoche, Behind The Scenes

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