Putting Out the Fire: Turning the Mind Towards Dharma by HH Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Bodhicitta:

We start first with the special method that will turn one’s mind towards the Dharma.  In that method, we have to understand that wherever we are born in the world, in this universe, there will not be much happiness.  There is hot and cold suffering in the hell realms, and the hungry ghosts have the suffering of hunger and thirst.  The animals have the suffering of killing each other.  The human beings have a short lifespan, and within that short life, there is a lot of suffering.  Even those god beings in the god realms have a very good life there, but because of their carelessness, they are just spending and wasting their lives with happiness.  The sentient beings in this world have their own sufferings.  It is important, the Buddha said, for you to understand that wherever you are born, there is no happiness.  There is suffering.

When you understand that, then in order to remove the suffering, you need to have diligence to remove the suffering, like the diligence you do when your hair is burning, when your dress is burning.  During that time, you will put all your efforts toward removing the fire.  Similarly, once we have understood the suffering of samsara, of the world, then we have to really put some kind of diligence toward removing the suffering of samsara. Then if our hair is on fire and our dress is on fire, then we will not really remain peaceful.  We will definitely do something.  So, similarly, once we understand the suffering nature of samsara, we will not waste our time.

 

Ahkön Norbu Lhamo

The following is respectfully quoted from “Reborn in the West” by Vicki Mackenzie:

After Penor Rinpoche had left, the group dwelt on all that had happened and what he had said. Dutifully they began looking for a property, and sure enough, they found a beautiful place which would suit their purposes perfectly. It had white pillars all along the front. But the price was astronomical. Scraping together whatever money they could, and taking out a huge mortgage (which now necessitates many ingenious fund-raising schemes), they bought what is now KPC and established what over five years later has become the largest ordained Tibetan Buddhist community in the USA. Every Sunday over 120 people came here from the surrounding area to hear Jetsunma’s teachings.

At this stage Jetsunma still didn’t know precisely who she was. That was still to come.

A year after Penor Rinpoche’s visit Jetsunma felt the urge to see again the small, round man who had come into her life and touched her so deeply. She decided to go to India, to his monastery in Bylakuppe in Karnataka state. For the girl from Brooklyn who had never set foot outside the USA, landing in Bombay with its chaos, colour and poverty was merely a prelude for the greater revelation that was to follow.

Facing Penor Rinpoche on his own territory, she said she wanted to take the bodhisattva vows. This is the ceremony in which you formally promise to dedicate your life to the well-being of others. She asked if he would give her a spiritual name, as was the custom at such an occasion.

‘When the time is right,’ replied Penor Rinpoche.

‘When will the time be right?’ pushed Jetsunma, with typical Western impatience.

‘I’ll give it to you when the right day comes,’ continued Penor Rinpoche.

‘When is the right day going to come?’ persisted Jetsunma, not giving up.

‘When I say so,’ retorted Penor Rinpoche firmly.

Jetsunma gave up.

One day, when the moon was in a particular place in the heavens, Penor Rinpoche called her to him and announced: ‘Now I am ready to give you your name.’

He then wrote out her spiritual name on a piece of paper, rolled it up into a scroll, put his personal seal on it, then handed it to her with the white katag (scarf) of respect wrapped around it. ‘That’s your name–Ahkön Norbu Lhamo,’ he said.

There was no apocalyptic vision, not instant flashback to another time, another place, another body. There wasn’t even shock or surprise. Just a sense of intense familiarity.

‘I experienced serious dejà vu,’ was how Jetsunma recalls the occasion. ‘I felt a strong connection to that name. I asked him to say it again. It was like milk to my ears.’

Through his translator he then uttered the monumental words: ‘I now recognize you as the sister of Kunzang Sherab. Her name was Ahkön Lhamo. In that life she and Kunzang Sherab co-founded the Palyul tradition. I recognize you as her incarnation.’

And in those few simple sentences Penor Rinpoche made sense of the extraordinary life that Jetsunma had teched out for herself and the otherwise inexplicable abilities she possessed. This, at last, was the official explanation of how a woman with no Buddhist training whatsoever, no books on Tibetan Buddhism, no teacher, no outward example to follow, had been driven to enter years of strict meditation by herself and to emerge with not only profound wisdom but also the wish and the ability to help others fulfill their spiritual potential.

Confession: His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

renor_rinpoche

The following is adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999:

The next branch involves [making] confession. From beginningless time, throughout countless life-times, we amassed negative karma and non virtue before we encountered the dharma. As followers of the teachings in this lifetime, we still engage in non-virtue and accumulate negativity. Consider all that negativity to be like [the result of] having ingested poison. Knowing that as poison that will certainly end your life unless you apply an antidote to neutralize it, you immediately apply the antidote. That is exactly how you should feel about the nonvirtue accumulated in the past and present.

With tremendous remorse, confess your accumulation of non virtue and vow that from this time onward, even at the cost of your life, you will no longer repeat the same pattern of negativity. Then focus on the objects of refuge in the space in the front, the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions. Supplicate, knowing that in your omniscience they will always look upon you and bless and purify you. Pray to them with heartfelt faith and devotion, and with genuine remorse for your accumulation of negativity, feel confident that all negativity is completely purified. Confession is the antidote for anger. In anger, people commit many grave errors, such as even the taking of others’ lives.

 

Essence of Buddhism: by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

We are born in this Zambu-dweep world and have acquired the precious human rebirth due to the gathering of the compositional factors of the eight leisures and ten blessings. This is a most perfect and auspicious opportunity. That we are fortunate enough to receive the teaching of perfect Buddha dharma and also be able to meet so many qualified teachers is the result of the ripening of our positive merits from countless past lives.
But due to our attachment from time beginningless towards the repeated pattern of samsara, we have developed strong emotions towards this samsara. Therefore, it is common for sentient beings to find themselves emotionally drawn towards the attainment of worldly concern regardless of difficulty and hardships, which in turn generates all types of karmas in the process.
If we truly want to learn the teaching of Dharma, we must first find a qualified teacher. Buddhism has Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, of which Vajrayana and especially the Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo) is especially beneficent for the degenerated times like now. The actual practice to Dzogchen consists of preliminary and the main practices, that has visualizations, recital of mantras and the sadhanas.
In fact, we might all think we know about Dharma and might even want to practice these teachings, but because of our attachment to worldly distractions, we are not able to practice accordingly as instructed, as if we show no concern for the effect of karma, as though karma is not real and does not really exist, and thus as a result, succeed in continually creating more negative karma. Only at the end of our lives, when we come face to face with the imminent sufferings of death, do we start thinking that we should do something about it! But by that time, even if we come to realize that we have not studied the Dharma and neither have we applied ourselves properly according to the pith instructions of the teacher and hence the prospect of falling into the three lower realms is imminent; the time of seeking the Dharma and practicing has already passed, so now what do we do?

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche Heart Teaching from Palyul Ling

HH Penor Rinpoche Bumpa

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche offered this teaching prior to doing a Ganachakra Puja for Jetsunma’s long life at New York Palyul Retreat Center in 2005.

Today is the 15th day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar.  Jetsunma has some sickness or obstacle, so we are doing this Rigdzin Dupa Ganachakra Puja for her.  Some of Jetsunma’s students here requested this puja.

I met Jetsunma a long time ago.  I examined her for a while, and then recognized her as the incarnation of Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab’s sister known as Ahkön Lhamo.  Ahkön Lhamo, the sister of Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab lived near the Palyul monastery in a nunnery, which is in front of the monastery, and then in a place called Trong Mar, which means Red Valley.  It is called Red Valley because there were lots of nuns.  Ahkön Lhamo used to give teachings there to the nuns who wore red robes, filling the small valley, so that is why the place is called Trong Mar, the Red Valley.  Since then there has always been a nunnery there.  Even these days there are still about 200 nuns there.

I recognized her and then at KPC a long time back we did an enthronement ceremony.  Before I met her, she was giving the teaching on generating bodhicitta. Just among her disciples, there are 2-3 at all hours of the day and night trying to meditate on bodhicitta.  And she carries on Dharma activity in accordance with the other activities.

Since I named her in that way, there are lots of people in America who are jealous and have all sorts of problems with it.  That kind of jealousy doesn’t harm her; it harms the person who is jealous.  Many people also try to complain and say things to me.  Although people ask me many questions about that, I don’t have to humiliate myself, because I am a Palyul Throneholder, and I have my own rights regarding what I need to recognize.  Of course I cannot tell lies, but what I need to do, I’ll do.

Most of the other Nyingma schools just believe whatever I say, and especially all the Palyul traditions or Palyul monasteries.   Of course they believe me 100%.  There isn’t just one Palyul Monastery.  There are hundreds and thousands, and in all those monasteries there are a hundred monks or a thousand monks, and all of them respect whatever I command.  There is nobody who says, “This is right or this is not.”  But in America because of jealousy, some people say certain things, but there is no meaning.  In general America is a strange country.  Sometimes it is said that, “In your tradition there are mostly male teachers, and there aren’t any female teachers.”  And then Jetsunma is appointed and then again they are jealous and say something else.

Since we are human beings of course it is possible to make mistakes.  There is no one who just sits there like an enlightened Buddha.  Just because one doesn’t understand or makes a little mistake or does something, then you start complaining.

Jetsunma is a good and perfect teacher.  I don’t think she is deceiving anybody.  And among Jetsunma’s students, there are a whole bunch of monks and nuns, and she disciplines them all.  There is nobody else among women in America who could do that.  She is good and special. It is good for everybody to know that she is also one of the Palyul tulkus.  These days she is getting older and she has all sorts of sickness.  So for her longevity of life, we are doing this Ganachakra Puja.

It’s not just Jetsunma.  In America there are many other females and males who are incarnated ones.  But the problem is that the nature of Americans is to have so much pride.  With the recognition, the pride and ego develop so much that in the end it is difficult to benefit. As a practitioner and as a bodhisattva family, then naturally one should be humble and peaceful and loyal to the practice.  Developing pride doesn’t really help anybody.  When it is said that you are good or something special, then their pride or ego develops.  If that happens, then it is more harmful than beneficial.  For those who are noble beings, receiving all these teachings and doing the Dharma practice can benefit other beings.  Otherwise thinking that, “Oh, I’m something very special,” is like having a horn on your head and walking around.  It doesn’t help anything.

Anyhow, today we are doing this Ganachakra Puja for the longevity of her life.  Thank you.

 

Meeting Her Teacher

The following is respectfully quoted from “Reborn in the West” by Vicki Mackenzie:

I spent a couple of days at KPC admiring the grounds and meeting some of Jetsunma’s followers. One of them was Wib Middleton, a friendly, open man who was one of Jetsunma’s earliest students and is now the chief administrator. I asked him for his impressions of this first female Western tulku as she ventured out on her mission.

‘When we met her it was 1981 and she and her family had moved to Washington. We were really drawn to her. We were a group of seekers, about ten of us, New Age-type people who felt there was a lot more to life and who had an innate sense of wanting to contribute to society. But we didn’t have a vehicle for that. We looked around, but a lot of the New Age stuff seemed to be so self-focused and self-centered. When we met her she had a very expanded way of talking about things. She talked about “planetary consciousness and planetary quickness” and the “vibrational zero” which was her word for emptiness. It was really amazing stuff,’ he said.

‘We went and asked her to teach us, and said said “Sure.” So we began meeting in living rooms about once a week. She started teaching us meditational practices and we’d have discussions which she would lead. Looking back, I can see that she was addressing the specific needs of people around her,’ he said.

‘Although she taught confidently, as though from an inner authority, she never made claims for herself in terms of what her abilities were,’ he continued. ‘She has never done that. In fact, she has always publicly refuted the idea that she has any special qualities at all. She was always very humble. She says things like she is not a very good teacher, that she has no particular abilities. Still, we could see that she had developed certain inner qualities and crossed certain lines of consciousness,” Wib said.

If Jetsunma’s spiritual life was accelerating, her material life was deteriorating quickly. Money and physical comfort were in extremely short supply. She and her family were living in a one-roomed place with crates for furniture. She had steadfastly refused all payment for her meditation classes and was working in the clothing department of a big store while her husband was trying to find a teaching job. When things got really right, Jetsunma announced that she was thinking of returning to North Carolina where her husband had the chance of a teaching position.

‘When we heard that, we went crazy,’ said Wib. ‘We thought, “This is our teacher, we need to keep her around.” The group had grown to about a dozen or more. Late one night we dashed over to her place, knocked on the door and said, “Look, here’s the deal. We’d like to start formal classes. We’ll pay. We’ll start an organization, and the organization pays you.” She replied, emphatically, that she didn’t want to be paid to teach. We said we’d worked it out so that it wasn’t like that. We’d have an organization with a board of directors and we’d take care of it. And that’s what we did. We started formal classes and an organization called the Centre for Discovery and New Life. We had a little logo and a board of directors,’ he recalled.

After that the organization grew organically. Soon there were two classes a week, then three. And all the time the teachings that Jetsunma was giving were becoming deeper and deeper.

‘Every week it would be more mind-stretching, more amazing than the week before. We would walk in and think, “There is no possible way that the information she is going to give us could get more profound”, but it was. She was teaching about the nature of mind, the void, different subtle bodies. At that stage we were between Western metaphysical language and Eastern concepts. We certainly weren’t calling ourselves Buddhists.’

The teachings continued pouring forth out of Jetsunma–week after week. Little did the group know it then, but they were all being prepared for what was to follow. “When it happened, they didn’t notice it at all.”

‘One of our friends introduced us to a Tibetan called Kunzang Lama from a monastery in south India,’ continued Wib. ‘He came to our centre on a rainy night with a lot of carpets he was trying to sell to raise money for the monastery. He also had a book of pictures of small Tibetan kids–mostly young monks who needed clothing, books and food. At the meeting we decided to take them on as a project. None of us knew anything about Tibet and we knew very little about Buddhism. Our knowledge was restricted to Vietnamese monks burning themselves–and there was some confusion with the Hare Krishna movement! It was the typical American response to somebody else’s culture and religion,’ he said, laughing.

Entranced by the pictures of the little monks, they realized there was an excellent opportunity to put Jetsunma’s teachings into practice. ‘Right from the beginning she had emphasized compassion, seeing suffering and doing something about it. She said that suffering came about because thought of ourselves as “separate”. She talked about “union consciousness”–recognizing that there’s one operating principle–and that the one way to understand our own and everybody else’s nature was through love and kindness. She talked a lot about “stewardship” and “caretakership” of the earth and all the creatures on it.’

Within two or three weeks of the carpet-seller’s visit they had managed to sponsor seventy-five children back in south India, and a rewarding correspondence followed. They learned what the little monks were doing and discovered it wasn’t so different from what they were doing in Washington. They also learned that the abbot of the monastery was called His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, who was the head and 11th throneholder of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.”

The tale fast-forwards a year to when the group received a letter from the carpet-seller saying that Penor Rinpoche was making his first-ever teaching tour of the United States. He wanted to visit Washington to meet and thank the people who had generously sponsored so many of his young monks.

The group was delighted, but had no notion of who or what Penor Rinpoche was nor how to treat him. By this time Jetsunma had moved to a bigger house because they could no longer fit into her living room, but she was still doing everything herself, including all the cleaning, setting out chairs, organizing the coffee and snacks, and of course looking after her family.

Penor Rinpoche arrived in spring 1985. When the group went to Washington Airport to meet him they found a large crowd of Chinese students already waiting to greet their guru. Unknown to the members of the Centre for Discovery and New Life, Penor Rinpoche was an extremely eminent lama with several established centres in Asia. Later they learned that back in Tibet he had been responsible for a hundred thousand monks and nuns situated in over a thousand monasteries. Like most of the great Tibetan lamas he had left his homeland in 1959 after the Chinese invasion. Starting with three hundred followers, he arrived in southern India fourteen months later with only 26: the rest had died on the perilous journey. Undeterred, he took the five acres of land and the elephant that the Indian government offered and, against what seemed insurmountable odds, proceeded to build a monastery that could hold five hundred. When Jetsunma and Wib met him his monastery was crammed to overflowing with 650 monks, many of whom had fled from the continuing persecution in Tibetn.

“Penor Rinpoche had a burning life.” Since he was young he had prayed to meet, in this lifetime, the reincarnation of Genyenma Ahkön Lhamo, the female Tibetan yogini who with her brother had founded his lineage, the Palyul sect, back in 1665. Penor Rinpoche was sure she was living on this earth somewhere. He had already met Ahkön Lhamo’s brother, a Tibetan who was also teaching in America in Ashland, Oregon. But he knew female reincarnates were immeasurably harder to track down. Tibetan yoginis, although reaching the same exalted peaks of consciousness as their male counterparts, were generally free spirits who did their meditations alone in caves. There was no system set up for finding them.

None of this was known to the small group of Americans who turned out to meet Penor Rinpoche’s plane on that spring day in 1985. What followed next was a scene befitting a Hollywood movie. Jetsunma described it to me in detail.

‘We arrived at the airport and there was this huge group of Chinese people who had got wind that he was coming and had arrived with a limousine. They knew who he was. We didn’t have a clue. They were all grouped around something or someone I couldn’t see, clicking their cameras and carrying on. Now Penor Rinpoche is short, about five foot three inches, and fat. I tower over him. I thought, “Well, I guess he’s in there somewhere, but what’s happening?” Somehow the sea of Chinese people parted, I saw him, and burst into tears!

‘Now I’m not the sort of person who usually does this kind of thing, you understand. I’m a hard-headed lady. I’m from Brooklyn, for heaven’s sake!’ she joked. ‘But I just could not pull myself together. I felt like such a ninny. I cried and cried, I just looked at him and thought, “That’s my heart…That’s my mind…That’s everything.” ‘ Her voice was soft. “How do you feel when you have just seen everything? I just knew that was it. That was what I’d been looking for my whole life. And the tears poured down my face.’

I asked her precisely what that meant.

‘Padmasambhava, the founder of Buddhism in Tibet, actually said, and I’ll paraphrase “I will reappear as your root teacher, the one with whom you have such a relationship that you understand the nature of your own mind. When you meet your teacher you will in some way see your own face, and it will be the face that turns around and moves you. It is the beginning of your awakening.” ‘

 

Chöd: by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

Vajrayogini

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche offered during retreat at Palyul Ling in New York:

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

Heart Teaching HT22

About Guru Yoga 

In the beginning of the practice, try to watch your mind and thoughts.  If you have any afflictive emotions or negative thoughts, try to abandon them.  Then try to give rise to virtuous thoughts, such as devotion, faith and inclination; and in that way try to have the right intention.

Guru Yoga practice is something that we need to carry through until we attain enlightenment.  Some think that we just need to do the Guru Yoga practice during Ngӧndro and the Four Foundations practice, but other than that, we don’t need it.  We should not think that way.  To attain complete enlightenment, Buddhahood, we have to completely depend upon the Guru’s instructions, and rely on the Guru.  As we apply that instruction and teaching into practice, then we could have that fruition.  That is why the Guru Yoga practice is important.  So, without fabrication in one’s mind, abide in the great unelaborated empty nature, and carry through with the supplication prayers.

About Chӧd – Cutting through thoughts and afflictive emotions 

In Ngӧndro, there actually is a Chӧd practice.  Before we didn’t have enough conditions to really do it.  In general, you do the practice with damarus and bells.  Evening is a good time to do some of the Chӧd practices.  At that hour the chant master and other lamas do the Chӧd practices.  As you do the Chӧd, follow along and chant the tunes together.  And when you use your big damarus and bells, follow together as a group in sync, instead of some doing it this way and some doing it that way, which sounds very strange.  Doing it haphazardly like that is a joke.  So always try to do the practice together with everything working together.

The Chӧd practice in the Namchö is only one page, so it is easy and good in that way.  The Tibetan word, “Chӧd,” means cutting through all the afflictive emotions and thoughts, and then establishing the nature of emptiness.  In the Chӧd visualization, as one chants with faith, everything is cut through in the nature of emptiness.

When you say the second Phet, your consciousness shoots out onto the ground as Vajravarahi (Dorje Phagmo), the size of a pea.  When you say Phet again, then Vajravarahi becomes about the size of a finger.  After that when you say Phet, then you visualize Vajravarahi about the size of a cubit.  After that when you say Phet, Vajravarahi becomes huge, filling all space.

In her right hand, Vajravarahi holds a curved knife and in her left hand, she holds a skull cup.  She has all the bone ornaments.  Your consciousness is manifested or transformed into Vajravarahi, and your body is like a corpse.  When you say Phet again, Vajravarahi takes the curved knife and with just one motion your skull becomes a skull cup in front.  Then Vajravarahi with the curved knife places your corpse inside the skull cup.  Then dualistic mind and negative thoughts in the form of bubbles are purified, and everything transforms into the five nectars and five meats, which is very pure substance.  The skull cup becomes as huge as three thousand myriads of universes.  The nectar is whitish with a radiant reddish hue.  Steam rises from the nectar, which symbolizes the five desirable objects of the five senses.  Underneath that skull cup, there are three skull cups, two dry and one wet, which symbolize the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya.    Beneath that, wisdom fire burns. As it burns, everything within the skull cup heats up, purifying all the afflictive emotions and dualistic mind and impure substances, transforming everything into wisdom nectar that fills three thousand myriads of universes.

Then after saying two Phets, instantly Vajravarahi, holds a golden spoon in her right hand and a skull cup in her left.  Then from that skull cup she ladles nectar and pours it, making offerings first to the lamas, and then to the meditational deities, and then the dakinis, and so forth.  After that when one says Phet, Vajravarahi makes offerings to all the local beings and the owners of the land, and so forth.  And then after saying another Phet, Vajravarahi makes offerings to all sentient beings of the six realms.

As one makes all these offerings, one can purify all the debts and loans and negativities from past lifetimes.  After making offerings to all those beings that are owners of sickness, demonic forces, creators of obstacles and negative forces, they are completely satisfied and pleased.  In that way by making offerings to all the gurus and meditational deities and dakinis, one could have complete accomplishment and receive all the blessings.  And by making offerings to all the negative forces and all other evil beings, they are completely satisfied and pleased. One feels as though all karmic debts have been repaid, and everything is purified.

At the end when one says Phet, then all the offerings, the objects of the offerings, and the offeror, all three, cease to exist and dissolve into emptiness.  After that one can do all the dedication and aspiration prayers.

 

Short Visualization Instruction by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

penor_rinpoche_master

The following is a short section of heart advice from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at New York Retreat in Upstate New York:

At night before you go to sleep, visualize that Guru Padmasambhava, non-dual with the root teacher, melts into your central channel, and abides in your heart. Then from the Guru’s body light radiates and your whole body is filled with light. Have devotion, faith and confidence. Concentrate one’s mind on that. And then go to sleep. And in that way, you can carry on this practice.

His Holiness Penor Rinpoche: Compassion in Action

The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo at Palyul Ling Retreat in the summer of 2012:

I am very pleased by all the effort that you’ve put forth to make this place grow and shine as it has, keeping it going even in great adversity, for instance the passing of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  We all suffered and now we’re doing what we can to bring about the causes that he can return to us.

I remember back in the beginning when I first met His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  It was on his first visit to the United States.  He wanted to see me.  Back in those days dharma was kind of confusing.  We didn’t understand each other when the lamas first came to America.  It took awhile for us to come to that point, where we really understood each other.  Mostly it was our lack of understanding as Westerners that made the problems.

You all have beautiful, nice, and condensed practice books.  I want to show you what we were working with.  We mostly had loose-leaf sheets of paper, pictures, and books stuck together.  [Shows an old practice binder]  There are things here that I don’t even recognize anymore.   We all made our own books.  We were all new and we did our very best.  I wanted to show you this because I thought, ‘What a mess.’  I thought you’d get a kick out of it.  Those were my first practice books.  And it was a long time ago.

Personal reflections on His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

I had the happiness of knowing His Holiness for a long time, and had many wonderful experiences with him.  I don’t mind sharing them with you if you’d like to hear some of them.  I’d like to tell you about one time when I was in India and we were traveling around looking for statues.  It was so unbearably hot.  We were staying in this hotel and it was about 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  His Holiness was used to heat but he made sure to put me in a hotel with an air conditioner, which I stuck to, and that was very nice.  While at the hotel, I met the woman who cleaned my room, and she told me about her husband.  He was sick, had cancer and was dying.  She said, “Would you come and give a blessing to my husband before he dies?”  And I said, “Oh, it’s worthless if I give him a blessing, but if His Holiness gives him a blessing, that’s something. That’s definitely worthwhile.”  And so she said, “Oh!  Would he do that?”  And I said, “I don’t know.  I’ll ask.”

They were Hindu.  When I asked His Holiness, he said, “I don’t think Hindus like Tibetans very much.  We eat meat.”  And I said, “With due respect, Holiness, I think in this case it doesn’t matter.  These people so want to see you.  They so want the blessing.  These people are going through misery.  They live in a tin box on top of the roof, and she has to raise children by herself.”  His Holiness was very wrathful with me.  He said, “I had to leave Tibet and come to America.  I watched my own people die.  And now I am supposed to think that this is important?”  He was very wrathful.  But I know what he was doing.  He was creating the merit, and clearing the obstacles for this event to happen.  But as you know, His Holiness was very kind.  So finally he stomped his foot and he said, “Ok.  I’ll go.”

We climbed up to the roof, and it was hellish really.  His Holiness’ knees were bad then too.  I was so sorry and embarrassed that I had put His Holiness through that, but then I was so happy for the people that would receive the blessing.

When he came to the door of the tin shack they were living in on top of the building, it must have been 115 degrees inside.  It was so horrible.  We said, “His Holiness is here to give the blessing.  And the woman got down on the floor, and put her head to his feet and then she prostrated again at his feet.  She couldn’t stop.  She just kept doing it.  It was heart breaking to see the devotion that she felt for someone who would not abandon her in this terrible time; who would provide comfort and some help.  And His Holiness did that.

He spoke to her in Hindi.  And he asked her, “What is the problem?  How long has he been sick?”  She could hardly speak.  They were both so grateful and happy to have his blessing, and that he would think of them, because they were lowly people according to the caste system in India.  They were lowly people and poor beyond belief.  They said that some days he didn’t even eat, because there was no food.  And so His Holiness was told the condition of this man, and you could see in his face that he had great compassion.  The man had cancer of the mouth.  You could see that something was terribly wrong, but he had no medicine.  The agony that he was experiencing was hard to understand.

Here’s the kicker.  His Holiness said, “Open your mouth.”  When he said this, I tried to peak, and what I saw in there was horrible.  His Holiness said, “Open your mouth wide.”  He started pounding out mantras. Nothing I recognized.  He really pounded out the mantras.  And as he did that, he was blowing, blowing, blowing in the man’s mouth.  Holiness pounded out more mantras, and blew in the man’s mouth.  He kept doing this for quite a long time.

The couple was so thankful.  They offered Holiness food and drink, which of course he didn’t take.  They offered him food and drink.  He was working his heart out for them.  As we were leaving, they were bowing and bowing, and bowing.  It was so beautiful.  When we got down towards the room, I said to him, “Holiness is he going to live now?”  And he said, “No, there’s no chance.  The merit is gone.  There’s no chance for him to live now,” he said, “But he will have no pain.”

Already the man’s mouth was chewed up with cancer, and yet His Holiness said he would have no pain, and I know that’s true, because I met the woman again on the next day of our travels.  She said he had no pain that day.  I was so happy that happened.  I was just thrilled.

I left the my room door open so I could see where His Holiness was, and he could see where I was, and when he went passed by room, I just went down to him and I said, “Holiness, I know that was difficult, but thank you.  On behalf of them, thank you so much.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude.”  And he said, “No, I thank you.”

I will never forget that story.  He was grateful that I had insisted that he take this opportunity to help them.  He saw the value of it.  He saw that these people were helped and that they were just regular, innocent people.  His Holiness helped them so much that to my knowledge the man never had pain.  The woman and I wrote back and forth for a little while after that, and she said that he never had pain.  To me that am the most moving story about His Holiness that I know.  And I find it impossible to have seen that and not understand that he was Buddha, that he is Buddha.  No one but a Buddha would or could do something like that.  I miss him so much.  I know that you do too.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

 

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