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

Shopping for the Buddhas

August 14, 2019 2

IMG_9102

Tsem Rinpoche making offerings onto Vajra Yogini.

One of Rinpoche’s absolute favourite activities is making offerings to the Buddhas on altars and onto the statues themselves. No matter where Rinpoche is or where Rinpoche lives, the most important thing is the altar. The altar must be as beautiful, abundant and elaborate as we can make it; if not, it must at the very least be neat, clean and well-kept.

Rinpoche always asks us to think, why is it we spend so much beautifying all other aspects of our lives, from our homes to our cars to our bodies, but when it comes to tangible expressions of our spirituality like our altars, we spend so little time, attention, energy and money on it? Why do we invest in and nurture things we cannot take with us at the moment of our death, but we neglect to invest in activities which can develop qualities that will benefit us even in our next life?

Rinpoche's richly-decorated Bodhgaya Vajra Yogini. Click on the image to read the story of how she got her name.

Rinpoche’s richly-decorated Bodhgaya Vajra Yogini. Click on the image to read the story of how she got her name.

Rinpoche always teaches that since we ask so much of the enlightened beings (because what could be greater than enlightenment itself?), we really need to make offerings to generate the merit for those requests to be fulfilled. Hence Rinpoche always, always makes offerings and that is why no matter where Rinpoche lives, the altar is always the priority.

On the day this photograph was taken, it was already mid-afternoon by the time we departed for Little India in Klang, a town in the Malaysian state of Selangor. Rinpoche had recently discovered that Brickfields was not the only Little India nearby, that there was a huge Indian community in Klang with lots of interesting shops and businesses. Excited, a group of us hopped into our cars and braved the evening traffic to get to Klang.

The next few hours were spent popping in and out of various stores, buying jewellery, flowers and thali bowls to make offerings to the Buddhas. In particular, Rinpoche was looking for jewellery to offer onto Vajra Yogini. It was clear from the get-go that Rinpoche was working off a vision and concept he had; Rinpoche directed students to get this and that item from this and that store, issuing instructions about what each piece was for.

By the time we were done, the sun had long set over Klang…which is also when the heavens opened and it began to pour. In little to no time, we were all drenched, looking up and down the street for appropriate shelter. That was when we stumbled across a wonderful Sri Lankan restaurant, where Rinpoche yet again showed by example the necessity of making offerings to the enlightened beings – as Rinpoche had done so many times before, Rinpoche asked for the foods we enjoyed to be ordered and packed for takeaway, to offer to Dorje Shugden later.

Thus, once the downpour finally subsided and by the time our group made our way to the Ladrang, we had newly-purchased Sri Lankan food in tow.

Big or small, Rinpoche takes every opportunity to make offerings to the Buddhas.

Big or small, Rinpoche takes every opportunity to make offerings to the Buddhas.

Arriving home and with characteristic efficiency, Rinpoche had everyone carefully unwrap the jewels, and wash and clean them. Once everything was purified with incense, Rinpoche himself set about beautifying Vajra Yogini and offering the jewels onto her holy form. Rinpoche took his time, offering each piece on to her while reciting mantras, and adjusting the jewellery and making sure everything was just so. So what you are witnessing here is a teacher showing us, by example, why you should never stop making offerings to the Buddhas. Why you should be enthusiastic to make offerings to the Buddhas and how you should be enthusiastic in making offerings to the Buddhas.

So the next time you have a little extra in your pocket, take a moment to stop and think just what that dollar can do for you. What it can really do for you. Think about its potential and think about the choices in front of you. A meal will be pooped out by tomorrow. Your latest toy will eventually break down (that is, if you do not grow bored with it first). A holiday will be over and all you will be left with are photographs for social media. So do our lives need more indulgence, more accumulation, more ‘experiences’ or do our lives need more value and meaning? And from whence will we seek that meaning, from transient, impermanent phenomena or from something stable and unchanging? Will we fall back into old habits and look for permanent value from impermanent phenomena? Can permanent, stable value arise from impermanent phenomena? Spoiler alert – no, it cannot because cause resembles effect, so stability cannot arise from instability. So what would you rather invest in, impermanent phenomena leading to unstable results or in something that has long-lasting effects?

Just some things for you to think about when it comes to making offerings. With Rinpoche, a shopping trip is never just a shopping trip, especially when it comes to shopping for the Buddhas.

For Rinpoche, it is a pleasure to make offerings to the enlightened beings

For Rinpoche, it is a pleasure to make offerings to the enlightened beings

Rinpoche always encourages people to make offerings onto the Buddhas to generate merits to support our spiritual practice. If you wish to make offerings of gold onto this Vajra Yogini statue, please click on the image above.

Rinpoche always encourages people to make offerings onto the Buddhas to generate merits to support our spiritual practice. If you wish to make offerings of gold onto this Vajra Yogini statue, please click on the image above.

Tsem Ladrang, Tsem Rinpoche, Behind The Scenes

2 Comments → “Shopping for the Buddhas”

  1. Michele Marie 2 months ago   Reply

    Such a beautiful writing and beautiful images of Vajra Yogini statue. Thank you so much!

    • Pastor Elena K. Jean Ai 1 week ago   Reply

      Thank you for your lovely remarks Michele!

Leave a Reply to Michele Marie Cancel reply