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Life on the Road with Lama Zopa Rinpoche
You can view the entire archive of Ven. Roger’s wonderful “Life on the Road with Lama Zopa Rinpoche” blog here.
Bodhgaya, India — January 28, 2012
From Ven. Roger:
Can elephants create virtue? Of course they can. Rinpoche was offered an elephant here in Bodhgaya. He accepted to keep it for 10 minutes and then return it to its owner. During those 10 minutes (which did get extended a little) Rinpoche had the elephant circumambulate the large Maitreya statue a few times, then with others he fed the elephant a lot of food while reciting mantras. After the great blessing, Rinpoche asked the owner to bring the elephant from time to time to Root Institute to do korwa (circumambulations). Since then a few friendly camels have come to do korwa. (more…)
Bodhgaya, India — January 8, 2012
From Ven. Roger:
They are saying that 400,000 or more people are at the Kalachakra Initiation, among them thousands of monks and nuns. It’s a spectacular sea of red when you look out over the crowd.
Some Tibetans start lining up at 1 a.m. in the morning, 12 hours before His Holiness the Dalai Lama starts at midday. The teachings have been lasting four to six hours. People are crammed in tight. I have Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche (the eight year old incarnation of Geshe Lama Konchog) sitting beside me. He listens on my headphones to the English and the other ear is free to hear His Holiness in Tibetan. Both his hands are busy drawing, using toilet paper delicately balanced on the top of his small thermos. He creates amazing little sketches of the eight auspicious signs and then passes them over to me. I put them carefully in my bag.
Bread and tea are being handed out, young monks come racing into the teaching area real fast! Some monks start skillfully, some not so skillfully, surfing the sea of red, delivering paper cups, bread and tea. It’s hot and stuffy with Tibetan bread everywhere. There are plenty of TVs for people who can’t see His Holiness directly. Outside this massive tent there are thousands of people sitting on the roads. The police have blocked all traffic and rickshaw walas from going anywhere near the teaching site. (more…)
India — December 26, 2011
From Ven. Roger:
Well, we were late to the airport, but so was the plane! So we made the flight to Delhi OK. Today we had to rush to the airport again. I don’t know why this always happens! Actually, it wasn’t too bad until we arrived and then had to rearrange luggage and then negotiate with the airline about excess baggage. Then run for the flight after explaining to security about the two prayer wheels and other interesting items we carry. The airline guy pushing Rinpoche’s wheel chair was able to keep up a steady run with all of us jogging along. Nice bit of exercise! Last on the flight … and we will be last off as well. Then drive to Bodhgaya.
Dharamsala, India — December 25, 2011
From Ven. Roger:
Time to go to the airport! We are all packed. Many suit cases are loaded. Where is Rinpoche? Now it is getting late. Rinpoche is still doing the last session of retreat. I keep reminding Rinpoche of the time but get no response!
The retreat, in some way, signifies another aspect of Rinpoche’s style. Back to normal. Sessions at night have been going until 5 am and can last up to 7 hours long.
Trying to get Rinpoche to finish the retreat and get to the airport.
- Tagged: lama zopa rinpoche
McLeod Ganj, India — December 1, 2011
From Ven. Roger:
His Holiness the Dalai Lama walked through the door. Rinpoche went forward to greet him (not being able to prostrate) and they embraced (this was the first time Rinpoche had met His Holiness since his stroke earlier in the year). The room was very silent and still. They remained embracing each other for what seemed like a long time. His Holiness then sat down and asked Rinpoche to sit close. His Holiness then held Rinpoche’s right hand and kept massaging and stroking it throughout their meeting and asking about how the stroke had started and all that had happened. During the meeting, for some who were in the small group with Rinpoche, it was hard to hold back the tears. Some were not holding them back at all. (more…)
Kopan Monastery, Nepal — July 7, 2011
From Ven. Roger:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche asks Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche, “Why did you come?”
With the cutest shy smile and deep, beautiful dimples he says, “To say hello.” (The incarnation of Geshe Lama Konchog is 8 years old and small for his age, but smart as the ace of spades!)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche says quietly to me, “I think he is a little worried about me and just coming to check.”
They chatted between themselves for an hour and looked at a short video of Maratika, the cave where Guru Rinpoche achieved immortality. The big rinpoche and the small rinpoche (did I mention who is as smart as the ace of spades?)
A few days later Phuntsok Rinpoche came to see Lama Zopa Rinpoche again. He replied this time, “No reason, just want to see.” He just wanted to say hello and make an offering. Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the khata back with one hand carefully over the head of the smiling little rinpoche and then asked me to double the money in the offering envelope and give it back to Phuntsok Rinpoche.
The little rinpoche, smiling, asked if his friend can come in and make an offering. Rinpoche said OK. Then, this little monk – even smaller and so close to the ground! – came in and offered a khata and offering to big rinpoche. Rinpoche asked me to double the offering and he gave it back to the very small monk. The two children both smiled and left after a little conversation.
Last night Rinpoche was doing a lot of prayers, slowly as his mouth has difficulty pronouncing the words. Rinpoche wanted to go down to spend some time with Lama Lhundrup to do prayers together and give a lung. Lama Lhundrup does not move much these days and is very quiet. I asked Kunkyen if Lama Lhundrup was OK as Rinpoche wanted to come down.
Kunkyen checked and said, “OK.”
I went up and explained to Rinpoche, “OK.”
Rinpoche started to do some preparation and then in the next minute Lama Lhundrup had come upstairs and was waiting outside, respectfully saying, “Rinpoche can’t come down, I must come up.” (Keep in mind that Lama Lhundrup’s cancer is quite advanced.)
Then proceeded a beautiful dance – the movement between two gracious lamas: one having advanced cancer, the other having had a stroke not long ago, the right side still not working. They both acted humbly, graciously and quietly; the feeling was very calm and peaceful. Awkwardly, Rinpoche tried moving his text and with slurred speech gave the lung with Lama Lhundrup sitting opposite slightly bent over, very still and quiet. It didn’t take long. And then they both parted.
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — October 20, 2010
From Ven. Roger:
Several months earlier, Khatanbaatar Choidogsuren, the director of our center here in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on behalf of many of Rinpoche’s Mongolian students, requested the Mongolian Government to consider Rinpoche for this prestigious award (the highest that can be bestowed on a foreigner.) Yesterday, we suddenly received word that the President of Mongolia would bestow this honor on Rinpoche at 3 pm in the President’s office.
Rinpoche met the President and first offered a large thangka of the 35 Buddhas to the President as well as special blessed pills. They had a discussion together and one of the things Rinpoche mentioned to the President was the importance of the Golden Light Sutra (Rinpoche offered a copy of our translation in Mongolian). Rinpoche also mentioned his promise to
Chenrezig to spread this sutra all over Mongolia and the world. Rinpoche explained that he was presently giving the lung at Idgaa Choizinling College (the monastery that FPMT built) where a 1,000 people were attending. Rinpoche said he wanted to give the lung in different cities and towns all over Mongolia.
The President is a strong supporter of Buddhism and also mentioned to Rinpoche that his family had adopted 24 orphans! Then the President thanked Rinpoche for all his efforts for spreading and preserving Mahayana Buddhism in Mongolia.
Rinpoche thanked the President for all his support.
The President recently offered Mongolian citizenship to the 9th Bogd Lama (Jetsün Kalka Dampa). He has just arrived to live in Mongolia and has promised to be reborn as the 10th Bogd Lama of Mongolia.
THE CERTIFICATE READS:
“To Award Tuvden Zopa Rinpoche with Order ‘Altan Gadas’ (the Order of the Polar Star)
According to the Law on President of Mongolia, Article 15, point 1, THIS DECREE IS ISSUED TO AWARD:
Lama Tuvden Zopa Rinpoche, citizen of the United States of America, with Order ‘Altan Gadas’ (the Order of the Polar Star) in recognition of his contribution to preserving great cultural heritage of Buddhism in Mongolia, and spreading religious tradition of the Mahayana denomination in forms of preaching and meditation through establishing the Preservation Center of the Mahayana Tradition of Buddhism in Mongolia.
Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia”
Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — June 19 – 21, 2010
From Ven. Roger Kunsang:
On the third day of the Yamantaka initiation, Rinpoche starts at 8 p.m. We go through the night with two pee-pee breaks and finish at 8 a.m. Nice! Before getting off the throne for breakfast, Rinpoche says we can start the long life puja in one hour at 9 a.m. I have a quick word with Rinpoche, mentioning that it might be a bit tiring after all night. Rinpoche gives me a sharp reply, “No, we do! We do!”
Then, as we are walking away to breakfast, Rinpoche says to me, “I want to offer lunch to the Sangha and then we can take a boat ride on the lake and bless the water and fish, and offer them food.” (The owner of the hotel has a very large lake created on the grounds and uses it for releasing fish, etc. He is a very kind and generous Buddhist.) I remind Rinpoche that the whole day is filled and that we have a big fundraising dinner starting at 7 p.m. with 500 people, so there is no time for rest. This time, the look I get is, well, it has a nice touch of wrath, more like a fierce smile.
The day goes on and we are at the dinner in the evening — an excellent evening with the teenagers of Losang Dragpa Centre’s 16 Guidelines group offering great entertainment. The evening is to raise funds for the Sera Je Food Fund that Rinpoche initiated 20 years earlier. The evening finishes a little after midnight and we go back to the hotel where we need to pack nine large suitcases, four trolley bags and four backpacks, as well as find people who are going to the USA to take things back, and people going to Hong Kong (the next stop) as we always have too much! Most of the luggage are texts and gifts. The packing is an art. It’s complex and highly technical, and requires a great deal of patience as there are so many things. It really takes a lot to figure out how to get all of it from one place to another. I always end up debating with Rinpoche that we are going to be way overweight … and we always are! Maybe I’m exaggerating … no, not really.
At the airport, while checking out, we find we are missing a bag! Where did it go? We try to stay out of an argument with the airline people, as they say we only have eight bags checked in.
“We gave you nine!” We search everywhere and can’t find #9, so the airline must have it.
They even search down where all the bags are getting loaded onto the flight: “No, not there.”
“Where is #9?”
“Did you have nine bags?”
We go over it again: “Yes, we had nine, so where could it have gone!”
It goes back and forth for 90 minutes!
We negotiate with the airline and I think we get them convinced that they have it and somehow they didn’t register or tag it. I start to think, “We have to go … let’s hope it turns up in Hong Kong. I’ve never lost a bag in the last 25 years of doing this … I’m always on the road … I’m a real roady, how can it be? My reputation! I don’t want to think of which bag it is … what if it’s one of the bags that is full of texts!”
Rinpoche always spends time thinking about what gifts to buy and for whom — we absolutely have to have gifts. At the airport in Kuala Lumpur, we go shopping and Rinpoche buys a few hundred dollars worth of gifts for the next stop. Rinpoche puts a lot of thought into it. We have to have nice gifts for people, the right things for the right people. This time, Rinpoche bought lots of pure silk scarfs and two hand-beaded purse. It takes time.
We then spend over an hour reading/browsing different books in the bookshop. Then, we suddenly have to rush for the flight. We are the last on the flight to Hong Kong! We get three and a half hours to relax before we are greeted by many students at the Hong Kong airport and the Hong Kong schedule begins.
“Where on earth did bag #9 go? Will it be in Hong Kong?”
- Tagged: lama zopa rinpoche
Statements of Appreciation
First of all, congratulations on the successful launch of the DB Online programme, its fantastic!!! Second, I’ve long meant to comment on how amazed I am by all resources of the FPMT Education Department, and the breadth of the Education Program worldwide (and accessibility) from DB to the Masters Program. Its all first-rate, from the teachings, the resources and materials, all the booklets, audio and video FPMT offers are quite fantastic, and such an important support for anyones practice at any level. The love that’s gone into all of it is abundant and obvious.
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