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

Reaching out

July 1, 2019 0

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Tsem Rinpoche going through the Dorje Shugden lineage tree.

Anyone who spends time in the lama’s mandala will soon come to realise that Rinpoche fills his every waking moment thinking how to benefit others and then actualising those thoughts. The very existence of Kechara itself is Rinpoche’s wish to benefit materialising into something tangible, and it is out of this wish that hundreds of people have joined Rinpoche throughout the years to be of benefit to the world.

Rinpoche will employ any and all means to do this and it is a privilege to observe how Rinpoche adapts and tailors his methods to ensure the recipient receives maximum help. So when you see this photo, you might be forgiven for thinking that day was like any other. After a meeting, giving instructions, delivering a Dharma teaching on the death process of advanced practitioners, and then reviewing and choosing thangkas, Rinpoche held the hand of a new student and slowly explained to her the deities on the Dorje Shugden lineage tree, painstakingly pointing them out one by one. She had been working in Kechara Forest Retreat for many months now, and Rinpoche wanted to ‘thank’ her with the gift of Dharma that brings peace to our minds.

For Rinpoche, language is an inadequate excuse for not being able to assist someone or to teach them. In this case, the student’s first language being Chinese, Rinpoche scattered his teaching with Chinese terminology to refer to the Buddhas and deities, wanting to make sure that she fully understood what she was listening to.

The fact Rinpoche knows these words is from living in South East Asia for nearly 30 years and along the way, Rinpoche compassionately learned terms and phrases like “bodhisattva” or “Maitreya” in Chinese. It was borne out of a wish to make it easier for Chinese speakers to receive the Dharma because with Rinpoche, it is not about delivering the teachings in the way Rinpoche feels comfortable but in the way that is most appealing to the listener.

That night, with this new student, Rinpoche wanted to make sure she fully understood so Rinpoche asked her to repeat what she heard. When the teaching had concluded, Rinpoche asked her to take her time and analyse the thangka, and commit the teachings to memory as Rinpoche sat by, patiently waiting for her. After that, everyone sat together for a communal meal of falafel and hummus, marking this student’s first time trying Middle Eastern fare.

This scene has repeated itself for decades now and with every new student that comes along, Rinpoche puts in the same amount of energy, care, effort and attention to their Dharma learning and knowledge. Wherever they come from and whoever they may be, what is most to Rinpoche is that they go away with more knowledge and more imprints of the Dharma.

How fortunate we are to have such a bodhisattva walking amongst us, to literally and figuratively hold our hand down the path towards ultimate independence, which is full enlightenment. The question now is though, if the lama reaches out to you in this way, will you meet him halfway and reach back? It is something for all of us to think about when it comes to our personal relationship with our teachers, and what it is we have connected with them for and what we wish to accomplish. Are we doing the necessary to get to where we need to be and if not, what else do we need to do?

Just some thoughts for you all to contemplate at the beginning of a new week…

Tsem Ladrang, Tsem Rinpoche, Behind The Scenes

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