Sunday, January 6, 2008

My wife's first trip to Bodhgaya

This year I wanted here to go with me and I realised how important it is to enable someone to visit such a holy place at least once in your life time. We never will know when life will end abruptly. So, even though I had to fork our extra $$, it was good to plant some positive imprints in her mind in such a holy place.

But this year the pre-visit was not smooth. Our flight booking was on waiting list for quite a long time. I had to push my travel agent as well as Thai airways many times to get the tickets. When I got them, it was inadvertently cancelled the next day because the travel agent had not issued the tickets yet. They were waiting for me to tell them, and I wanted them to remind me one day before the deadline. Actually the tickets I got were still expensive (or rather, outside of my budget J) and I wanted Thai Airways to get me lower-class seats. I prayed to Rinpoche, that if I were to benefit my wife, I needed to get the tickets. Finally a week before the scheduled departure date I got the tickets. Thank you, Rinpoche!

My wife was looking forward to this trip with mixed feelings. It was good for her merely because it would be our first trip together on a plane. We had never been on a plane together. She was worried about the other aspects of the retreat. She was worried she could not communicate with the other retreatants. She was worried she could not understand the teachings. She was worried she may not be able to get up early, and others. But all the worries were for nothing. She was able to understand Rinpoche to the extent she was able to, i.e. even when Rinpoche was in Penang, she was only able to understand about 50%. But so was many others – they could not get what Rinpoche was saying!
Anyway, she understood Venerable Dondrub’s teachings better and she was able to communicate with some of the Singaporean participants as well as the Taiwanese lady and her 16-year-old son. And of course, Dr Goh – the eye doctor from Kuala Lumpur. The latter persons were her companions in my absence. Also, except for the time she was sick, at a few mornings, she was able to wake up for the rest of the teachings. And she participated in my most the programme. This is actually an achievement, and I am truly proud of her.

I advised her to say whatever she wanted when she was at the Maha Bodhi Stupa. That would be the perfect time to do purification and make sincere requests to the Buddha. She did just that and also took her time to say her prayers to Tara when we were at the self-arisen Tara cave just outside of the main shrine. During the stay in Bodhgaya, she had managed to go to the toilet everyday. And so far so good - touch wood – she had been able to maintain it after she comes back from India! Wow! Talk about karmic purification! It’s almost a miracle!

What amazes me more is her willingness to take one of the vows given during the retreat. I did tell her that it was sort of inconsequential because we had taken the set (albeit a different set) of vows under another high lama (both the vows and the name of the other high lama is our secret – so don’t ask!). But to my wife, taking it under Rinpoche was a different ball game and to her it appears stricter and more serious. She somewhat believed in the theory that the other set was only a pre-cursor or preliminary/ rehearsal to the actual set of vows to be given by Rinpoche. Well… I sort of suggested the theory to her …but of course, they need to be kept as well. Anyway, it told her that if she was not comfortable to take these vows, she was free not to take it. I advised that perhaps she should take the other set, but she was reluctant. She said she was not ready. I really do not get it; she was not ready for this one, which is a precursor to taking the other one, which she wanted to take. Mind-boggling! Anyway, Rinpoche cancelled the precursor set of vows. Too bad for her.
However, she came back with that set of vows she had in fact taken with the other high lama, but which seems more real to her now than then. So, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s definitely a step forward in her journey to enlightenment and saving incalculable sentient beings. If I could only benefit one sentient being in my present life, i.e. her, I would be very happy. I would not regret anything. Even if we do not meet again in the next life, I would be comforted that she have had enough karmic imprints in her mind to reconnect again with the Buddha dharma, and hence will be able to make her own journey to Final Liberation! And I am happy that I have done this much for least.

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