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Lama Zopa Rinpoche making prostrations at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, March 10, 2013. Photo courtesy of

Lama Zopa Rinpoche making prostrations at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, March 10, 2013. Photo courtesy of

From Ven. Roger Kunsang:

Hong Kong – March 22, 2013

Rinpoche stood with his hands in the mudra of prostration before a very large thangka of Chenrezig. Rinpoche gradually leaned forward, slowly going to the ground, his stronger left arm reached for the ground, fingers contacted the floor. Gradually, Rinpoche put weight on the arm as his body leaned forward cautiously. The left knee moved towards the ground and made contact. Now the hard part: the right arm reached out to touch the ground with Rinpoche trying to spread his fingers so they landed open and stretched out on the floor.

I was feeling a little anxious as when Rinpoches head goes lower than the waist, he can feel dizzy and that’s a little dangerous after a stroke.

Gradually, Rinpoche lowered his body forward awkwardly, always the left side taking most of the weight. Watching Rinpoche making this kind of effort is very moving. I can see others moved and feeling emotional. The whole hall is very quiet while Rinpoche is making such an effort to do a full length prostration to all the Buddhas.

Rinpoche is now stretched full length on the floor although his right arm can’t straighten out yet. The process is slow but done with great, great determination. Now the really hard part: Rinpoche gets up alone as he won’t let anyone help! Rinpoche has developed a technique as he gradually rises where he shifts his weight over several stages, and finally to the stage where he has to take the weight from his arms and be on his legs only. That is most difficult. It’s quite tense watching this part and I can see some students who are watching, holding their breaths.

Rinpoche is hesitating now as he has to make a huge effort to go from kneeling to his feet … He does so and then straightens his body and is standing. His hands slowly come to his heart in the mudra of prostration in front of Chenrezig. Now two more prostrations and then the climb up on to the throne.

It wasn’t so long ago that Rinpoche couldn’t do this alone and it was dangerous as he would sometimes feel dizzy when his head went below the waist (not a good sign when you have problems with blood pressure and you have had a stroke!)

It’s very inspiring and moving to see Rinpoche do this with such determination. In the hospital immediately after the stroke, Rinpoche commented and also explained to His Holiness the Dalai Lama how sad he was that he couldn’t do even one prostration any more … or even bring both hands to the mudra of prostration at his heart to respect the Three Jewels. But now up to 12 long prostrations alone … that’s progress! Rinpoche is going in his own way at his own pace.

Ven. Roger Kunsang is CEO of FPMT and assistant to FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche. 

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