Sunday, January 21, 2007

Part 9: Serving the Lama

One interesting incident happened on the Saturday 30 Dec 2006. At about the time scheduled for Rinpoche to begin lecture after the visit to the Stupas (3pm), I was rushing back from the Great Stupa, had a quick shower and was preparing to walk to the Gompa. The lecture was to have begun early. Usually it is at 4pm. At that time, I saw a lama about the size of Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup walking in a hurry in front of the Maitreya Statue and asking Melissa (Root's Spiritual Program Coordinator) someone something. He doesnot seem satisfied and looked worried. Then seeing me, he waved his hands to me and called me over. He asked me to take me to see Rinpoche.

I have no idea who he was but said to myself, I cannot reject giving my service to a lama, ...any lama. He was walking with a walking-stick, so I took held him by the hand and we went to the building where Rinpoche was staying. He had been informed that Rinpoche would be meeting the students at 4pm, so he had to hurry to see Rinpoche. He had some offerings to give Rinpoche. So I helped him up the stairs and Rinpoche's assistant I think his name is Jampa (Kopan's puja chant leader) was there to greet lama. Lama took out some fruits and Jampa put them on a plate and took them inside. He then sat on a chair and keep asking Jampa what Rinpoche was doing and if there was someone with him. I asked him what is his name, and he said "Geshe Tsering". Jampa said Rinpoche was doing some practices. Ven. Roger (Rinpoche's personal assistant and recently appointed President of FPMT) was also inside. I was asked to massge his tired legs. The lama was getting nervous and moved to sit inside the lounge area. I went in too to massage his legs and knees.

A short while later Ven. Roger came outside and talked to Lama. And then Ven. Roger had his lunch ( very late lunch!!) . Ven. Roger signalled me outside and said that the lecture had begun. And asked me if I wanted to go attend the lecture at the gompa. He said that they could take care of lama from then. After all , he said even when lama goes inside I would not be allowed inside (to meet with Rinpoche). I knew inside my heart that Ven. Roger thought that I was like trying to sneak inside to meet with Rinpoche. But I never had any such thoughts. I wanted to serve him by relieveing him of his pain in the legs. It was over 3pm and Rinpoche still didnot come out of the private chambers. He was giving consultation with a lady. After sometime, the lady came out and I think it was the other assistant - Sangpo- that said Lama could now go in.
At last Lama went inside to meet with Rinpoche.

While they talked and I heard Rinpoche laughed a lot (he was obviously happy to meet with lama), I met with Chung Han (of LDC) and he told me then that that lama was the late Lama Yeshe's brother! I almost floored...I had no inkling I was serving the Lama Yeshe's own brother?? Wow, I was actually massaging Geshe Tsering's legs and I didnot know?! What ever gave me this opportunity to serve him? It certainly felt like I was serving Lama Yeshe himself. At least I imagined it that way! Lama came out about 15 minutes later and I walked him out. Then he wanted to meet with the Librarian (Ven. Dekyong) but Venerable was already in the gompa and could not be disturbed. So he went to the kitchen and meet with the kitchen Indian staffs. They seemed to have known him and served him with some bread and milktea. Lama gave me his milktea, he said he doesnot want it. I took it since lama insisted but it was too hot to drink. Lama then went inside the kitchen and I (as attendant) had the duty to follow him. I oput the bread and milktea to oneside and went with him. He gave blessing to the staffs and then I walked him to the gates. He said no need but I had the duty to walk him there nevertheless. Half-way he stopped and searched his bag as if he wanted to give me something. But all he had were the balance of the fruits for Rinpoche. There was nothign else and he walked on. To me, lama didnot have to give me anything. To be given this opportunity to serve him was all that I needed. I paid the rickshaw 20 rps and asked if he had 10rps change. The rickshaw peddlar returned me 10 rps and I passed them to lama/ Lama refused to accpt initially. But I insisted and just said if he cannot accept it, then he should donate the money to the Great Stupa on my behalf. It was only then that he accepted my small gift to him. Small amount, but it was a pure gift from my heart. I waved goodbye to him and wished him all the best. I hope we will meet again.

Then I rushed back to the gompa and was told Rinpoche's teachings would start at 4.30 pm (just as I had overheard earlier at Rinpoche's building when Ven. Roger was talking to the recently appointed Director of Root (Ms Sally Dudgeon). During the teachings, Rinpoche certainly knew about the event even though I didnot meet him once at the chambers. He didnot see me with the lama. But he knew and immediately at the start of the teachings he said serving the lama will bring inconceivable benefits and realisations. It was my consolation because I had felt a little disappointed that Ven. Roger didnot arrange a private inteview for me with Rinpoche. I had felt that CHung Han and some of the others from LDC and ABC (Singapore center) were more closer to Ven. Roger and they had so many opportunity to talk to Rinpoche and ask him things, and observed him doing the pujas/practices... whereas I was so distant from Rinpoche. During that evening's teachings, a lot of his teachings directly hit me point blank. His dharnma teachings seem to be aiming at the problems that I had and had wanted to ask him. I had passed him a letter to him on the 28th asking for advice on my practice and a certain personal problem I have. The teachings that evening certainly was prove again that he was my Buddha and there was so much kindness in him to accept me even thought I was not the most pure hearted, morally pure student. There was so many flaws in me , yet Rinpoche accepted me with kindness. And gave me teachings that would be useful to me. I felt thankful that he knew my innermost heart.

That day was also that day I observed tha 8th precepts and it was certainly wonderful serving the lama. I had doubts for a few days whether I could observed it or not. I kept thinking of my stomach/gastric problems. But then I told myself that I must not miss this chance. There are many people who took it. I reminded myself of the verse in the "Source of all my good qualities" ... " protect my vows even though it cost me my life". It means if I take the precepts, I must not break it even if I were to be threatened to give up my precepts or die, not to mention gastric. Protecting ones vows and precepts are much more important. And I have also read Rinpoche's explanation that taking even one precept will create skies of merits. So I undertook the 8 precepts with these motivation in mind and woke up early (5am) that day and join a dozen others in taking the 8 mahayana precepts. The day ended without much of any stomach problems. I guessed I worried too much...hahaha!

It was a GREAT DAY! 8 precepts. Serving Lama Yeshe's brother. Rinpoche's teachings that serving the lama was the best thing to do, and his advices for my practice. One word: WOW!

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