Saturday, August 25, 2012

In Memory of Geshe Tsering

Re-edited post in memory of Geshe Lama Tsering who recently passed away in Kopan Monastery. May I have the merits to be able to meet with this wonderful lama again.
One interesting incident happened on the Saturday 30 Dec 2006 at Roots Institute, Bodhgaya, India. In the afternoon on that day, Lama Zopa Rinpoche was scheduled to begin lecture and I was rushing back from the Great Stupa. I 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 at that time) something. He does not seem satisfied and looked still bewildered. 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 using a walking-stick. I 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, 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 President of FPMT) was also inside. I was asked to massage 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 suspected (but I could be wrong) that Ven. Roger might be thinking that I was trying to sneak inside to meet with Rinpoche. But I never had any such thoughts. In the first place, it was Geshe Tsering himself who had asked me to accompany him. It was over 3pm and Rinpoche still did not come out of the private chambers. He was giving consultation to 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.

As I heard Rinpoche laughed a lot, it was obvious he was happy to meet with lama. I met with a friend from a center in Kuala Lumpur 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 did not know it! 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 milk-tea. Lama gave me his milk-tea instead. 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 put the bread and milk-tea to oneside and went with him. He gave blessing to the staffs and then I walked him to the gates. He said no need to walk him out but I had the duty to do so 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 nothing else and he walked on. To me, lama did not have to give me anything. To be given this opportunity to serve him was all that I needed. I paid the rickshaw 20 rupees and asked if he had 10 rupees change. The rickshaw peddlar returned me 10 rupees and I passed them to the lama. Lama refused to accept it initially. But I insisted and just said if he can not 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 should have given him more. Anyway I waved goodbye to him and wished him all the best. In my mind, I had hoped that I will see him 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 (at that time Ms Sally Dudgeon). During the teachings, Rinpoche certainly knew about the event even though I did not meet him at all at the private chambers. He did not see me with the lama. But yet he knew it 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 there was no private inteview for me with Rinpoche. I had felt that others were more closer to Rinpoche and they had so many opportunities to talk to Rinpoche and ask him things, and observed him doing the pujas/practices... whereas I felt 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 a few days before, 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 though I was not the most pure hearted, morally pure student. There was so many flaws in me , yet Rinpoche accepted me with kindness. He gave teachings that would be useful to me. I felt thankful that he knew my innermost heart.

That day was also the day I observed the 8 precepts. I had doubts for a few days prior to that whether I could observe it or not. I kept thinking of my stomach/gastric problems. But then I told myself that I must not miss this chance. There were many people who took it. I reminded myself of the verse in the Source of All My Good: " 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 that 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 any stomach problems. Perhaps I worried too much.

It summary, it was a great day. The 8 precepts, the opportunity to serving Lama Yeshe's brother and the teachings by Rinpoche that serving the lama was the best thing to do - all these add up to make my day wonderful. When asked for Rinpoche's advice for my practice, he replied with just one word: "wow".  

No comments: