Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

Helping to spread the Dharma in every way

December 12, 2019 0

Tsem Rinpoche consecrating some gifts for visiting monks.

One afternoon, Rinpoche called a group of us over.

“Open all the cupboards next door and turn on the air-cond, I want to go next door and select some gifts.”

So we did just that – we ran next door, turned on the air conditioning and opened the gift cabinets.

Rinpoche had an extensive selection of gifts, ranging from statues to pendants to t-shirts to mugs to books to wall hangings to soft toys to funny robots to fridge magnets printed with humorously irreverent sayings…the list goes on and on.

On this occasion, Rinpoche wanted to select some gifts for Kechara to offer to Sri Lankan monks who had come to visit Kechara Forest Retreat. You might have read about their visit on Rinpoche’s blog and well, here is what transpired behind the scenes.

Quickly, Rinpoche selected the items to be offered to the sangha on behalf of Kechara. Rinpoche also selected gifts for the people who had facilitated their visit to KFR, to thank them for their efforts in connecting sangha from all over the world. As students, we also selected a copy of Rinpoche’s biography The Promise to include with everything else.

So what did Rinpoche select for Kechara to offer? Amongst other things, a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, a copy of the Buddha’s speech, and Shakyamuni pendants for them to gift to their followers. Everything that monks from the Theravadan tradition would instantly recognise, appreciate and, most importantly, use.

For visiting sangha, especially those who have their own students, Rinpoche always offered them items that they could in turn gift to their disciples. Why? Because Rinpoche understood the power of a gift, to bless, to protect, to open someone’s mind, to nurture, to calm a person.

For Rinpoche, it was never about accumulating students or followers. If a teacher has his students and disciples, Rinpoche always sought to cement the relationship between the two. Rinpoche would encourage the students to be closer to their teachers, to seek out their teacher for teachings, to serve their teachers and to be closer to them. And Rinpoche would always try find some way to contribute to the teacher’s role. Hence offering items to teachers, so that they could in turn gift it to someone else, to bring them closer to the Dharma.

It was never a competition or a numbers game. For Rinpoche, it did not matter who was spreading the Dharma, as long as the Dharma was being spread. Rinpoche would genuinely rejoice whenever he heard about a sincere lama giving a teaching or transmission; in Rinpoche’s eyes, it was a wonderful thing to see the Dharma being kept alive by teachers everywhere. And in Rinpoche’s eyes, if he could support them in any way, Rinpoche always felt that it was his honour to do so.

So when Rinpoche saw Thich Nhat Hanh on Oprah? Rinpoche immediately folded his hands and said it would plant seeds of Dharma in millions of people’s minds. When Rinpoche saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama giving teachings? Rinpoche would offer a prayer that His Holiness’s wishes would swiftly manifest. When Rinpoche learned that Chief Monk Dhammaratana was meeting monks of other traditions and visiting their temples? Rinpoche folded his hands and prayed for Chief Monk’s works to fruition.

Rinpoche did not just teach about generosity but Rinpoche lived it in his every action and thought. As a result, Rinpoche was generous not just materially or in kind, but in affection, prayer, knowledge and compassion too.

To my Lama, who is one with Heruka, we look forward to welcoming you home soon.

Life in Kechara: Behind The Scenes

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