Friday, 27 November 2009

Joyful reunion

Today is officially the last day of my 100 days of being a vegetarian! Coincidentally, today is also the 25th of the tibetan month in which usually tsog offering and guru puja is conducted. I did not plan it that way, but what a nice completion for the 100 days, although I intend to carry on the diet for a few more days.

A group from Drophenling just came back from a retreat to Gaden Shartse Monastery and it was a joyous home-coming. They visited our guru, the highly learned and respected H.E. Lati Rinpoche (spiritual advisor to the Dalai Lama), and other Rinpoches, who gave them initiations and precious teachings. Lati Rinpoche changed the retreat to a Vajrasattva retreat at the last minute instead of the originally-planned Green Tara retreat, which benefited the group greatly. It was a delightful reunion to see all the familiar old Geshe-las and lamas in the monastery, most of whom have been coming to Singapore over the years to conduct pujas for us. On this trip to the monastery, more than 1000 lamas conducted pujas for those of us in Singapore.

I just love prayer flags. The volunteers and lamas wrote the names of us, the members on these colourful prayer flags. Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to 'gods,' a common misconception, rather the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

Besides loads of food, sweets and stuff, the volunteers also brought along medicine for the lamas. Some of the very young lamas are suffering from fungal infection or other conditions. The volunteers helped applied medication on the lamas, those who are sick or injured. It was heartening to know that the lamas in Gaden Monastery are having more nourishing food, all because of the generous donations from devotees here. Then again, their meals are mostly simple vegetables and bread.  In some other places, the monks had to contend with just bread alone.  I hope that the Sangha will be able to enjoy more nutritious food from all monasteries. All the above photos are courtesy of Jamie from Drophenling!
For tonight's special puja, I was so so soooo glad to see Songcho Rinpoche again! He was leading the lamas in the puja.  I last saw him in 2007 when he was in Singapore. Songcho Rinpoche is a very kind and compassionate lama, who is always smiling. Since 2 years ago when I first met him, I feel such great respect for him, as he is amiable and caring. This photo on the left was a photo which I took with him in 2007 (I cropped off myself here, haha). The funny thing is, all along I did not know that he is actually a Rinpoche. I thought he is one of the old, senior Geshe-la (senior monks) who are always accompanied by the younger monks.

Tonight when I exclaimed delight upon seeing him again, I asked Jamie what is Geshe-la's actual name. She told me "he is a Rinpoche lah". I am soooo blur. But it goes to show that he is a very unassuming monk as he hangs around with the rest of the younger lamas, with no special treatment. He did not come to Singapore these 2 years because he was injured on one leg, and had difficulty walking. He got knocked down by a hit-and-run motor-cyclist. I am really really happy to see Rinpoche tonight. Just the other night, I was thinking of him and wondering when can I see this friendly "Geshe-la" again, and now, he is here.

Here is Songcho Rinpoche (left) with yet another of my highly respected gurus on the right, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa, Khensur Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche. He is none other than the present Head of the Gelugpa sect, the throne holder of Lama Tsongkhapa himself. It is commonly a misconception that many people think His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the head of the Gelugpa sect. The Dalai Lama is the political leader, whereas Tri Rinpoche here is officially the leader of the Gelugpa group instead. If you think I am speaking Greek here, just Google these names for further reading (if you are interested). Tri Rinpoche was the one who made me cry when I first saw him in 2005, without even uttering a word to me. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was the other one (who made me cry). I knew then Tri Rinpoche is one of my precious gurus. We tear because we recognise our gurus from the past.

I was very touched that Jamie bought me a souvenir from her retreat in India. Utterly pleasantly surprised. It was a hand-made embroidered wallet, which Jamie highlighted to me, in the interior of the wallet, "Made in India by Tibetan refugees". I hope I will have the chance to join them for future retreats, because they are a nice bunch of people in DPL.

Tonight, in addition to tsog offering and guru puja, the lamas also conducted the Protector Setrap puja as well. Luckily, I had my little Setrap crystal with me (which was engraved with the Setrap mantra). The lamas blessed it again with prayers. This was already specially consecrated and blessed with prayers some time ago when I sponsored it. We call it "recharging" our crystal with more powerful blessings and protection.

Oh, and I also remembered to pray for this friend (in my earlier post). I offered light and flowers on her behalf and wrote her name so that the monks can pray for her. 

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