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Rinpoche’s Last Days
August 28th | September 21st | September 25th | October 4th | October 18th
October 25th | November 3rd | December 4th | December 20th
Rinpoche’s thukdam has ended this morning and we will be leaving Delhi tomorrow, Thursday 21st. We will arrive in Dharamsala on Friday morning and the creamation of Rinpoche’s holy body will take place early morning on Monday December 25th, in TCV. Prior to the cremation there will be a public audience during which people will have the opportunity to offer a khata.
Those of you who will make it to Dharamsala, please make an effort to see Alak, Rinpoche s attendant for the last 19 years, and communicate with him directly. I am sure he will appreciate your support very much.
I have not written for a while now because it appears that there is no major news to communicate. Rinpoche has not been able to consume anything orally for a number of days and he continues to lose weight and strength. However even so his blood pressure, temperature, oxygen intake, pulse and other parameters remain within the normal range.
Perhaps this is the most extraordinary manifestation of “normality” while the cancer is at such an advanced stage. Rinpoche continues with his daily practice and prayers and all attendants continue to offer their services tirelessly, around the clock.
Earlier this year a student asked Rinpoche the following question: “Rinpoche, I have been thinking that most of my teachers are advanced in age and that inevitably they will pass away. I hope that they will all choose to return among us but, it will be a few years before they are recognized, trained and begin to teach again. By then chances are that I will be too old to receive teachings again. Is there anything I can do about it?”
Rinpoche: You should be more specific when you are praying. It is not enough to simply say: “I wish to meet such and such a teacher again”. Rather you should be praying along these lines: “I wish to meet this teacher again, as early as possible in life. I wish to be among the guru’s first disciples. I wish to be present as soon as the guru begins teaching again and I wish that I will remain connected to the guru for a very long time. I wish that the guru will teach for a very long time and that my mental capacities will be active for an equally long time.”
Last week I sent an email starting with the phrase “Rinpoche had breakfast by the swimming pool.” A lot of people wrote back saying they were delighted to hear that Rinpoche is improving.
It is of course my fault that I did not clarify what I meant by “breakfast”. Breakfast consists of a few spoonfuls (and that is teaspoons) of either milk or some light soup made of tsampa (roasted barley flour). The same is true for lunch and dinner.
Rinpoche s condition is declining daily, mainly because he is not able to eat enough food and his calory intake is very low. Rinpoche is waisting before our very eyes, and that is very hard for everyone involved. Rinpoche weighs less than 39 kilos now and Alak said that he does not want to check Rinpoche weight anymore because it is depressing. We are trying various methods for inclreasing Rinpoche s calory intake but so far we have not been successful. There is a method but requires hospitalization and the use of heavy drugs and Rinpoche has said very clearly that he does not wish to return to the hospital. The Tibetan doctors have urged us to avoid heavy westerner medication, as it will harm Rinpoche’s meditation by affecting the channels. If this situation continues, the prognosis is that Rinpoche will not remain with us for much longer.
Finally today a throat specialist was brought in the house. A new growth could be clearly seen in Rinpoche’s throat, close to the vocal chords. We are not sure of the nature of this growth yet. We have been advised to administer a certain medicine that is belived to bring some relief and facilitate swallowing. If there is no relief by the end of the week, we will proceed with more details checks.
Thank you all again for your prayers and inspiring messages,
Rinpoche had breakfast by the swimming pool. It was very beaceful and Rinpoche wanted to speak. This is what he said:
“I know that this illness is very strong in my body, but I do not feel any sense of pain or discomfort. If I had not been told by the doctors that I have a tumor in my liver, I wouldn t have known that somethomething is wrong. I am sorry to have bothered you all for so long. For the last couple of months you have been attending to all my needs. I do not want to tire any of you.”
At this point Alak urged Rinpoche: Please Rinpoche, don t speak in this way. No one is tired. Remember how His Holiness the Dalai Lama have said that you are full of vitality and that everywhere you go, you benefit a vast number of sentient beings. Please Rinpoche remain with us. There are still so many countries to visit. We have received many invitation letters. Students all over the world continiously express the hope that soon you will resume your travel and teaching activities. We have a full schedule ahead of us. Please, Rinpoche, remain with us.
Rinpoche continues to join the palms of his hands together while gazing at the space above and he often offers mandalas by interlocking his fingers together.
I am writing to let you know that Rinpoche’s condition does not appear to be very good. Although the Tibetan and Western doctors have told us that Rinpoche’s condition is stable and that he is not deteriorating, our own experience is that Rinpoche is getting weaker every day and that he requires more intensive care and assistance to perform even the most basic activities. On one hand, the doctors reports are heart warming but on the other hand, seeing how much Rinpoche’s body has deteriorated is heartbreaking.
During the last week Rinpoche has relocated from the hospital to a private house in Delhi. This was in accordance with the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in accordance to Rinpoche’s wishes and in accordance with the opinion of the Tibetan and Indian doctors.
The house is really beautiful and spacious (there are about 12 people staying here), with very nice gardens and a swimming pool. Rinpoche is attended by 2-3 monks around the clock and a nurse visits every day, while blood tests are routinely performed to monitor Rinpoche’s condition.
As we are told once again to be prepared for any eventuality, I would like to share the following story with you. While we were in Israel and after some 5 days of diarrhea, Rinpoche was not feeling well and it became obvious that we had to go the hosptial to run some more serious tests. While undergoing various checks and answering general medical questions, we noticed that there was a commotion and everybody seamed to be glued to the tv screen that has reporting some sort of news bulletin. We could see from peoples faces that something serious was happening so I asked someone to translate the news to me. I was told that within the last 6 hours Israeli airplanes had started bombing the southern suburbs of Beirut and in effect war was declared between Israel and Lebanon. I started wondering whether I should let Rinpoche and Alak know straight away, given Rinpoches delicate condition, or whether I should wait untill all tests were completed and then find a proper time to discuss the news.
The situation was developing rapidly because we were very close to the border and the hospital was put on high alert. At the same time the doctor told us that the blood tests indicated that there was something more serious than diarrhea and we were advised to have more tests done. I quickly made the decision to inform Rinpoche and Alak straight away and then made the recommendation that we try to do these tests in a hospital further down the south, putting some distance between us and the Lebanese border. Within the next 24 hours, Rinpoche was told that he had a large tumor in his liver and that southern Beirut was almost destroyed.
A couple of days later Rinpoche said this to Alak and myself: `You should always be prepared. You never know where you will be in the next 6 hours. These Israeli pilots who were asked to bomb Beirut in such a sort notice were only able to do it because of their previous training. As buddhists, we have to be prepared for death. Look at my case for exaple: I though I came to the hospital to treat a simple case of diahhrea and now I am told that I have advanced liver cancer. Like an Israeli pilot, I do mot know where I will be in the next 6 hours. But if I am prepared, then I can go anywhere. It is very important to train and prepare yourself for the time of your own death. Then, it will be easy to go at a short notice.’
Voula Zarpani, Delhi
The latest blood tests have indicated that the Alpha Fetoprotein (which measures the presence of cancer in the body) has gradually dropped from 408,000 to 253,000. Still this is a long, long way from the normal rates that are below 30. The doctors told us that they are quite surprised with this gradual fall in the numbers, however other parameters do not indicate any substantial recovery.
Dr Yeshe Donden has been saying from the beginning that he is confident that Tibetan medicine can deal with the cancer in the liver and that the medication is really working for Rinpoche. So perhaps these latest figures reflect the positive effect of Tibetan medicine. However Dr Yeshe Donden has stressed once more that this treatment will take a long time and that we should not expect any quick results. His Holiness’s advice remains that the best course of treatment for Rinpoche is Tibetan medicine.
In the last three days the doctors, both Indian and Tibetan, have agreed that Rinpoche does not need to be on the drip any more so the drip has been discontinued. Rinpoche still experiences difficulty when swallowing or verbalizing but he is able to eat a moderate amount of food and he sleeps well. On most days he is also able to go for a walk in the hospital garden.
Once more I would like to impress upon you that this is a private time for Rinpoche and Alak. When Rinpoche visits the garden of the hospital for his afternoon walk, he is not expecting to meet students. As Rinpoche is unwell he is not up to socializing and sharing a public space.
Thank you all for your continuous support and interest, as well as your understanding
All the best,
There are some more news from Delhi, regarding Rinpoche’s condition.
Just as I sent out my previous medical update, the doctor visited Rinpoche with some bad news: the latest blood test has indicated that the presence of cancer in Rinpoche’s body is increasing rapidly. He said that the readings were almost beyond the scale and said that the situation was really bad. Rinpoche appeared to be extremely week and was not able to eat but a minute amount of food for two days. He was also unable to go out for his afternoon walk that he seems to enjoy so much.
At that time it was suggested that perhaps Rinpoche should leave immediately for Dharamsala because delaying the trip any longer than 48 hours, may make travel difficult. Rinpoche requested a divination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We were also asked to finalize all pending administrative and financial issues.
It took about two days for the reply to reach us. His Holiness indicated that Rinpoche should remain in Delhi, perhaps move to a private house, and continue to rely on Tibetan medicine. And as that answer was received, Rinpoche started taking food again, small amounts but many times a day, almost every two hours. He is up and walking again and he is quite alert. His weight has increased from 43 to 45.5 kg.
The following conversation took place between Kirti Tsensap Rinpoche and his attendant Alak Rinpoche, on September 24th:
KTR: Alak, could you please massage me here, around the liver?
AR: Rinpoche, is that bad cancer causing you pain?
KTR: Alak, there is no such thing as “bad” cancer. When you practice tong-len, all sickness is good. If you say that you will take upon yourself the suffering of all sentient beings, you should expect some physical discomfort. It is not possible to practice tong-len without physical discomfort. In order to practice you must have something that causes you pain and discomfort. This illness is good. This illness allows me to practice. Without it, I could not practice.
AR: Rinpoche, when you experience pain, would it help if you were to meditate on yourself as being the deity?
KTR: Alak, I am constantly meditating, either seeing myself as the deity or equalizing and exchanging self and others. It always helps. Most of the time, I am free of pain.
Please keep checking the International Kalachakra Website (kalachakranet.org) for updates.
September 21st: – Update from Voula and Michael
It has been a while since we last send an update on Rinpoche’s condition and we have received a lot of emails asking for more recent news.
Rinpoche situation remains stable and although that means that the situation is not deteriorating, it also means that there has been no noticeable improvement either. Rinpoche has lost a lot of weight and is quite frail, despite the fact that the diarrhea has stopped and the fact that he enjoys good sleep at night. Every physical activity requires a lot of effort and Rinpoche is assisted around the clock by Alak and Tsultrim who attend Rinpoche very lovingly. Speaking and swallowing appear to be quite difficult.
Rinpoche had an ultrasound last week and further blood tests. The ultrasound revealed that the size of the tumor has increased slightly, but the doctors believe that this slight difference from the previous reading can be explained as an operational error. The function of the liver itself seems to be marginally improved and all other organs are in a fine condition. The doctor commented that he has not met anyone with a tumor that big who is still alive and from his knowledge even if one were alive with such a tumor, he or she would be in great pain. However Rinpoche is not in pain and he is able to meditate and is also taking a long walk every afternoon, now that the weather has improved a bit. Most noticeable the doctor said that Rinpoche’s eyes and in general his face is very alert, which indicates that he is fighting cancer very well.
Last week Rinpoche had re-occurring fever for three days and also seemed to be less interested in eating. The explanation for these two symptoms according to Western medicine is that the toxins produced by the cancer cause his temperature to rise and also suppress his appetite. However, since Rinpoche is on the drip that provides about 50% of his daily needs in terms of calories, it is also natural that he has reduced his intake of external solid foods, as his body feels nourished. And it is true that in days that Rinpoche is not on the drip or on days that he has only one bottle, his intake of external food increases.
Dr Yeshe Donden still visits Rinpoche weekly and adjusts his Tibetan medicine accordingly. He has commented that all these symptoms, such as fever, lack of appetite and so forth are caused by wind (“lung”) and that the Tibetan medicine is working very well and is having an effect.
I know that many of you have asked recently for advice and guidance but from my side, I found it very difficult to ask Rinpoche any questions. It simply takes so much effort for Rinpoche to verbalize that it feels almost like a torture. I am sure that you would feel the same if you were in my position.
I also wanted to tell you how impressed we all are with the hospital and the staff. All doctors and nurses are very attentive and respectful. They support Rinpoche and those around him always with a smile and sincere care. They rejoice every time they hear that Rinpoche has been well and has had the opportunity to meditate. Really, words such as “meditate” and “guru” have still a great impact in India which is delightful to see.
Thank you all for your continuous interest in Rinpoche’s health. We will continue to update you regularly through the IKN website. Pease check the website for additional information such as prayers, commentaries and so forth.
Voula Zarpani and Michael Mueller
Sent August 28th:
As most of you know Rinpoche is in a private clinic Delhi for the last 3 weeks. Soon after arriving in Delhi, Rinpoche’s general conditions appeared to be improving due to better sleep and rest patterns, as well as a noticeable increase in his appetite.
However the Indian doctor who is currently treating Rinpoche detected some lumps in Rinpoche’s thyroid while Rinpoche started experiencing some trouble verbalizing and swallowing. After consulting the specialists in Israel, New York, India and Germany, the decision has been reached to avoid radiotherapy, as at this stage it is seen as having the potential to cause more harm than benefit. The doctors decided that it was not important to perform further examination in order to determine the exact nature of the thyroid lumps, since the size and nature of the liver tumor is considered to be the main determining factor in Rinpoche’s condition.
As this conclusion was reached by the Western doctors, the Tibetan approach was somehow different. Dr. Yeshe Donden and Dr. Tseten, who examine Rinpoche regularly and adjust his Tibetan medicine weekly, have commented that the difficulties in swallowing and verbalizing are due to disturbance of the winds that are responsible for performing these particular functions. Therefore they are now treating Rinpoche with medication that aims to normalize the flow of winds in the throat, in addition to the medication that aims to control the liver tumor. The Tibetan doctors have commented that although Rinpoche’s condition is a serious one, they feel confident that improvement is achievable through gentle, Tibetan medicine specifically adjusted to Rinpoche’s needs.
When requested to give us a time frame, Dr. Yeshe Donden replied: “This is not a case of flue and one should not expect it to simply clear away. From our side as doctors we offer the treatment that is most suitable to the particular needs of the patients. In the case of such high lamas though, it is really the lama who decides whether it is beneficial to remain among us and for how long.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama is regularly updated on Rinpoche’s condition and His advice remains that Rinpoche should rely on Tibetan medicine.
In the meanwhile Rinpoche and Alak are both quite comfortable in the hospital and quite satisfied with the level of attention they receive there. Although Rinpoche’s appetite is somehow restored, his body is still in need of many supplements which are received though the drip. Rinpoche is able to sit and walk but he chooses not go out for a walk every day since at the moment the weather in Delhi is typical of the monsoon period, with steady rain and temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius.
Regarding interviews and questions, Rinpoche is not seeing people. This period is similar to having entered retreat, in the sense that everyday activities such as these are put to rest.
Thank you all for your continuous interest and support and also your understanding. We will continue to update you as the situation unfolds.
Sent August 8th:
I am writing to let you know that Kirti Tsensap Rinpoche is now in Delhi, preparing to receive some radiotherapy.
After returning from Israel, Rinpoche proceeded to Dharamsala. Unfortunately Rinpoche’s general condition appeared to be deteriorating in Dharamsala: persistent diarrhea and total lack of appetite resulted in further loss of weight. Soon Rinpoche started feeling uncomfortable when sitting crossed-legged and had to start using a chair. At one point the doctors suspected that there might have been liquid collecting in his lungs.
However, an x-ray in Delek hospital revealed that Rinpoche’s lungs were clear. His Holiness the Dalai Lama performed a second observation and for the second time the mo indicated that Tibetan medicine was the best treatment, but radiotherapy might be beneficial as well. With the all clear from the x-rays, Dr Tseten as well as His Holiness agreed that Rinpoche could travel as far as New Delhi in order to receive radiotherapy while still relying on Tibetan medicine.
With this advice, Rinpoche proceeded to Delhi where he is now resting. For the last couple of days the diarrhea has stopped, Rinpoche has slept well and he seems to have more interest in taking food. We are all very happy with these small signs of improvement and hope that Rinpoche will soon start showing more signs of gaining his strength and vitality.
Rinpoche and Alak are very grateful to all those who made Rinpoche’s trip down to Delhi possible and are very satisfied with the level of care they have received.
I will be back with more medical updates as the situation develops.
Sent July 24th:
We have just received the results of Rinpoche’s biopsy. As you can see there are some good news there, together with the bad ones.
What does not appear in the doctor’s email is a fourth option, which is that of liver transplant. Although such an operation is not recommended for patients over 50 years old, the doctors have commented that although Rinpoche’s biological age is 80 years old, the age of his organs is much younger due to his practices and capacity to control mind and body. Therefore, a liver transplant is one of the possibilities discussed at the moment. Already two people have offered to act as donors for Rinpoche.
For the next week we will analyze all results and suggestions made and ultimately request an opinion from HH the Dalai Lama.
Thank you very much for all your interest and support,
Here is the message from Rinpoche’s doctors:
- Dear Voula
- Thank you for your patience, I know it isn’t easy at all. Today I got the answer from my father saying the tumor is Hepatocelular Carcinoma (HCC). It is the most common tumor and it usually develops in patients with hepatitis B or C virus or liver chirrhosis. Rinpoche tested negatve for this viruses. It can also be caused by prolonged exposures to AFLATOXIN which is a kind of mycotoxin ( from fungi) which is carcinogenic ( causes cancer) and is found in food . It is known to be an important health hazard in Asia. From western medicine point of view it is not the target of the treatment since it already caused the cancer , and the tumor should be treated.
- Rinpoche has 3 good prognostic criteria : 1- no ascites ( fluid in the abdominal cavity) 2- no elevated bilirubin ( no jaundice) 3- good level of albumin ( protein syntesized by the liver). On the other hand the tumor is very large and the cancer marker ( called AFP) is very elevated. The options in general are 1- surgery 2- hepatic artery embolization and chemotherapy 3- alcohol or radiofreqency ablation 4- cryoablation . Rinpoche has a big tumor which is not resectable but it appears most of it is necrotic (not alive ), possibly it doesn’t get enough blood and it dies( or something else which has to do with Rinpoche’s abilities). I think first of all is very important to consider Rinpoche’s phisycal and mental condition. Physically he fells well, he has good prognostic factors and he is in a very good general condition. I believe he also has mental abilities which enable him to influence his physical condition. Anyway he will send on Sunday all the official documents, release form, etc.
Sent July 19th:
this is a quick message to let you all know that Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche and Alak are both resting in Delhi after a comfortable flight out of Tel Aviv. Rinpoche is resting and happy to be back in India. Tomorrow, July 20, they will be travelling to Dharamsala.
A lot of people have expressed the wish to visit Rinpoche in Dharamsla. It is completely understandable that most of you feel the need to see Him and communicate with Him at this time. However Rinpoche really needs the time and space to relax, adjust and just concentrate on his practices. I have to stress that all activities such as interviews, teachings, travelling etc., have been completely removed from Rinpoche’s schedule.
I have relayed every message that I received and you will be very happy to know that Rinpoche acknowledged every single message and was so pleased to hear about your wishes, prayers, practices, retreats and so on.
I would like to thank all those you have send medical suggestion, advices, recommendations and inspiring stories. I have forwarded all medical emails to Rinpoche’s doctors and they have assured me that they are taking every suggestion into consideration. From their side they recognise Rinpoche as being a very special person and the most unusual patient. This is one of the main reasons they have not even attempted to give us a time estimate, since they believe that Rinpoche has the power to control his physical functions. This is a remarkable remark from doctors who have just met Rinpoche for the last week. They are not students or buddhist. So when they make any recommendations they will certainly take into consideration Rinpoche’s special characteristics as well.
Further Rinpoche would like to thanks the Friends of Dharma in Israel, for their exceptional level of organisation and support and the warmth of their love and care. A heartfelt thank you to those sponsors who helped with all medical and travel expenses.
Best wishes to all,
Sent July 17th:
First of all I would like to let you all know that Rinpoche is recovering in Caesarea, a small city by the sea, between Haifa and Tel Aviv. We are staying in a very peaceful place with wonderful gardens and we are all quite comfortable. Many peopel have asked me to include them in the email list, but I would like to ask you to please pass the messages around yourselved. Due to the deteriorating situation here we are not always able to connect, and if we connect we do not have much time.
Yesterday (Sunday) has been a very testing day. Rinpoche was scheduled to have his biopsy in the morning sometime between 9-12. Around 9am rockets started falling in Haifa, some of them pretty close to Bnai Zion hospital where Rinpoche was hospitalized. In the beginning doctors and nurses were jokingly saying that if it got any worse they would all come into Rinpoche’s room for refuge. However, by 9.30 the rockets were falling fast and furious and the alarm sirens started ringing. We were told that we had to be evacuated in the bomb shelter, three stories under ground level. Rinpoche did not have much strength at that time and we were all worried about having to walk down what seemed to be endless steps. Once at the bomb refuge, we made ourselves as comfortable as possible and started reciting as many mantras we could do. A lot of people were crying and everyone was trying to use their mobile phones. Of course it was impossible to connect with so many people calling each other and while being under masses of cement. Soon people gave up trying to reach friends and family on their mobile phones and gradually those who had cameras on their mobiles started taking pictures of Rinpoche and Alak, commenting that they were the only two people still smiling in the mist of all the panic and fear.
We were told that there would be no hope of carrying the biopsy on Sunday as the hospital had to prepare to receive casualties. The doctors were to perform only emergency operations. At that point we started wondering who long we might have to stay in the bomb shelter..Around 11.45 a nurse came to say that the doctor who was to perform the biopsy really wanted to help Rinpoche and since the bombing appeared to ease at that time, we were hurried up at the ground level of the hospital. By the time it took Rinpoche to assume the necessary position for the biopsy the sirens started ringing again and we could clearly hear rockets exploding. We were rushed to a room near by where we had to wait for about half an hour. The explosions were constant. Rinpoche started telling us the story of his escape from Tibet in detail, but at the end he agreed that the situation we were in appeared to be more intensive.
Luckily after half an hour the firing of rockets eased a bit and the doctor came to take us to the biopsy room again. He gave Rinpoche some brief instructions and told us that he would try to be as quick as possible, because technically we were not supposed to leave the shelter at all. As the procedure of the biopsy began, the explosion of the rockets intensified and at one point the doctor turned his eyes to the ceiling and said: “can you please hold these rockets for a little while? I am trying to perform a biopsy to one of the teachers of the Dalai Lama!” we all had a good laugh, including Rinpoche who was supposed to remain very still for the duration of the procedure. The needle biopsy was completed in about 7 minutes and by then the bombing had almost stopped. From that time on Rinpoche had to remain laying on his back and was not supposed to rise or walk for about 4 hours. We had to monitor his blood pressure and pulse every fifteen minutes. Just as Rinpoche was settled in his room, the sirens started ringing again. We felt completely hopeless because by that time Rinpoche was not allowed to rise but also he was not in a condition to walk. So we just remained in Rinpoche’s room, frantically reciting as many mantras as we could.
Gradually the situation eased, and by 5pm things had more or less returned to normal. We were able to leave the hospital at 6.30 pm after all the doctors and nurses came in to thank Rinpoche for having stayed in their hospital. They all said that they felt a sense of peace during the whole day and many brought pictures of their families to be blessed.
We were relieved to leave Haifa behind and soon reached Caesarea which felt like heaven, after the days’ experiences. Rinpoche will be leaving from Tel Aviv airport early Tuesday morning and is expected to arrive in Dharamsala on the evening of Thursday, 20 of July.
The results of the biopsy should be ready by the end of the week.
I’ll be in touch,
Sent July 16th:
From Voula Zarpani:
Haifa has been under serious attack this morning as we were waiting to have the biopsy. We were hurried down to the shelter and stayed there for several hours. some time later the doctors made every effort possible to perform the biopsy even as the sirens were ringing and rockets started falling again. All test are now completed. Rinpoche has to rest in the hospital for 6 hours. Rinpoche and Alak, and Amy are flying out of Tel Aviv Tuesday.
We have received so many emails from all over the world, full of good wishes, prayers, concerns, questions and of course much love. Many people have asked whether there are some specific practices that should be done for Rinpoche’s health and Rinpoche has indicated that the best practices to be performed in this occasion are the recitation of the Samantabhadra’s Prayer (the King of Prayers) and Medicine Buddha mantras.
Today we spend most of the day discussing various pending issues. Rinpoche has given a number of specific instructions regarding the completion of various projects, such as translations – especially of his biography- publications, financial matters and so forth. Rinpoche has made it very clear that he wishes to see certain things finalized and clarified as soon as possible. I will be contacting some of you to pass on Rinpoche’s instructions within the week.
In the afternoon Rinpoche spoke about his recent experiences to the core group of the Friends of Dharma, who have invited us to Israel . The talk has been videotaped and I am sure that at some stage it will be transcribed. Here are some of the points that Rinpoche made:
“Soon after I was informed about the results of my CT scan, people asked me whether I wished to publicize my condition or not. I always thought that trying to hide one’s age or state of health, is very strange. So I asked my translator to let people know what is going on.
I am fully aware of the fact that the disease, especially at this stage, is incurable. But I am not sad, or disappointed in any way. When Professor Oliven Arye informed me of the presence of a tumor in my liver, I thought immediately that he was so very, very kind. He was extremely kind to me. We all practice tong-len with the specific aim to prolong the life of HH the Dalai Lama. Of course I have recited certain verses from Lama Choepa many times: “And thus compassionate gurus, we seek your blessings that all karmic debts, obstacles and suffering of mother beings, may without exception, ripen upon us right now and that we may give our happiness and virtue to others and thereby invest all beings in peace.”, as well as ” In order to rescue all beings from the vast seas of existence we seek our blessings to become adept in bodhichitta through a pure selfless wish, and by love and compassion conjoined with the visual technique of mounting, giving and taking upon your breath”. But it was more or less mere theory for me.
When I was told that I have cancer, I did not feel sad or upset. On the contrary my mind was uplifted, and it felt light and open. I thought: “Finally, I have the chance to put this theory into practice now! My prayers have come true. How wonderful!”. I intent to use whatever time I have left in order to deepen my practice of tong-len. What would be the benefit of trying to conceal my situation? I think it is far better that people know that I have come to manifest this tumor and now I can really practice. I don’t want you to be sad. I want you to be happy and inspired since I now have such a wonderful opportunity to practice in a way that all bodhisattvas do. My doctor has been so kind to me. Why would I ever want to hide the fact that I am now practicing in the footsteps of the bodhisattvas?”
Towards the end of the talk Rinpoche expressed his wish to record his experiences as the disease develops further. He believes that this material can be very useful to many other cancer patients, their families and hospices, everywhere in the world.
Finally Rinpoche has explicitly said that he wishes to reduce the number and duration of interviews once he returns to Dharamsala.
I am aware that many of you are worried about the rapid deterioration of the situation in Israel and its neighboring countries. Rinpoche has decided to travel back to India with a more direct flight, as soon as the biopsy is completed and he is released from the hospital. We expect to be ready to fly as early as Monday or Tuesday. Although we can hear airplanes flying above Haifa all day, the atmosphere here is still peaceful, and hopefully it will remain so for the following days.
I will keep you updated,
Sent July 14th:
it is with great sadness that I writing this email to inform you about Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche’s health.
For the last month or so, Rinpoche had been experiencing some health problems that unfortunately intensified during Rinpoche’s visit to Israel. The problem manifested as intermitted diarrhea resulting in gradual loss of weight. We decided to run a number of routine test and soon after that Rinpoche was admitted to the hospital. A CT scan revealed a big tumor in Rinpcohe’s liver. The size of the tumor is such that it is not possible to be removed with an opperation. Although the doctors are 99,99% sure of their diagnose, a biopsy will be performed on Sunday and a few days later we will consult with an oncologist. Rinpoche’s wish is to cancel any further travel and teachings scheduled for the rest of the year and return to India, as soon as the consultation with the oncologist is completed.
I understand that most of you must also be worried due to the latest developments in the Middle East. Although Haifa has been hit by two rockets yesterday, the atmosphere here is calm and we do not feel under threat. Our hosts have been extremely caring and supportive and the staff in the hospital has been amazing.
Needless to say that Rinpoche has completely transformed the hospital ward: doctors and nurses are fighting over the privilege to attend to him and there is a constant stream of patient in the corridor, hopping to catch a glimpse of Rinpoche. Rinpoche is not in pain and he keeps smiling and blessing everyone. Most of the nurses by now know how to say “Tashi Delek” and “Thu-je-che” because they are so eager to communicate with Him.
Although today has been an emotional day, Rinpoche himself made every effort to entertain us. He started recalling funny stories and events that took place in different countries and at the end we just could not help laughing. Rinpoche’s room is not an ordinary hospital room: it feels quite different and whoever comes in for a visit, does not seem to be in a hurry to leave! Off course Rinpoche and Alak maintain their privacy and have plenty of rest.
I will keep you all updated as the results of the biopsy become available.
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