Friday, 18 February 2011

Funny, endearing moments with Lama Zopa Rinpoche

My guru, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, just left Singapore early yesterday morning after giving 2 weeks of precious teachings and initiations. It was 2 weeks of mostly late nights as is not uncommon, uniquely Rinpoche's style. I think I need some time to "recuperate" and to get back to normal routine, before I can share more of Rinpoche's visit and teachings. For now, I thought I will share a few funny precious moments about Rinpoche.

The thing about attending Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings is, you have to leave "time" behind at home. You can never predict what time Rinpoche will start or end. It is an exhilarating blissful experience listening to his teachings. But of course, not everyone subscribes to his "rubber time". Singaporeans are always so busy with work or family and everything else, that they may not have the patience or time for Dharma.

For Rinpoche, he sometimes only begin the teaching some 2 hours after the stipulated time. Also, Rinpoche can totally teach something else other than the scheduled topic. Usually his teachings can last up to 6-8 hours (and that's normal) into the night like 2-3am, or even the morning after. Rinpoche said, "I think I am the only one who teaches late into the night....", and he giggled. Rinpoche teaches what is karmically beneficial to his audience.

Whenever I listen to Rinpoche's teachings, I feel so high and blissed out mentally, even though I may be physically tired, body aching, with the long hours and late nights. In the past 2 fortnights, besides bestowing the grand Medicine Buddha initiation, Rinpoche started his commentary of Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga. In short it is about guru devotion. We rely on the Guru to ripen our minds, to bring our minds to fruition. Rinpoche often side-tracked to regal us with tales of his personal encounters, stories of the Buddhas, or the great masters and yogis, which made it easier for us to relate to and to understand.

To me, because Lama Zopa Rinpoche is my root guru and the one who has affected me the most in terms of changing my views as well as changing myself, of course I definitely have a soft spot for my guru. I lapped up everything he teaches and left me still wanting more. To me, it is so precious to have the presence of Rinpoche to give me teachings and empowerments, and it is only once a year that he is around. Also, it is only once in so many lifetimes we get to meet and encounter an authentic highly realised Holy Being, the Buddha in the form of a guru. How could I not drop everything else just to see him?

One of the nights, Venerable Sarah was leading us in prayers and meditation of "Calling Guru From Afar" as instructed by Rinpoche while we were waiting for him to finish his preliminaries before the initiation. I remember clearly something Ven Sarah said. She said that in the old days, disciples and students travelled from afar, for many days and nights just to meet and to receive the teachings of the Buddha or the great masters. Nowadays, in degenerated times, it is the great masters who travel from far away to us, in order to give us teachings, how kind is that? She emphasized "How kind is that?". Indeed.

When the initiation finally started 4 hours later, Rinpoche said "I'm sorry, I took a little longer time during the preliminaries..... I fell asleep!". He laughed out loud, and we laughed too! Of course he did not.

During the elaborate Long Life Puja for Rinpoche, a representative from ABC gave a moving and teary speech in praises of Rinpoche, who had always insisted he has no qualities. Rinpoche was solemn, his head was bent very low all the time as we requested Rinpoche to live long. Afterwards, Rinpoche lifted his head and smiled, and he joked, "I think I need to sing a song now...." as everyone burst into laughter.

Everyone just could not get enough of Rinpoche, and he is always so kind to oblige, to listen to everything you have to say. Nevermind even if he is going to miss his flight. And if you did the "homework" he asked you to do, he would be so pleased. But if you did not practice, then somehow he would know. You need not confess, because, somehow, he knows.

Just to share a little something funny when I was at the airport yesterday. I was very early arriving at 6.40am. Rinpoche was early too, he arrived at about 6.50am. I think I was the earliest, and apart from another nun and a few volunteers, there was no one else yet. When Rinpoche's car arrived, I rushed outside. He got out of the car, I greeted him, and as I did not expect him to arrive so early, I fumbled with my karta which was still folded, anxiously trying to open it fully to offer to Rinpoche, while digging into my bag for an ang pow. Rinpoche stopped in front of me, and then he even tried to help me unfold the karta himself! What a comical moment, so "malu"! I was apologetic that I kept saying "sorry Rinpoche, sorry Rinpoche", but he smiled and said "It's ok"... and blessed me with the karta. Then I handed Rinpoche something I wrote which he could read on the plane, he nodded his head. I chatted with him as we walked in.

As Rinpoche sat down on the row of seats near the check in counter, there was still not many people yet. I kneeled in front of Rinpoche and asked if he could autograph for me a photograph of him. He said sure, and he looked at the photo, and exclaimed "Ohh! I haven't seen this photograph of myself before!" and he smiled. Rinpoche is quite funny! As he was meticulously and slowly writing the above, I told him I got this photo from the internet and printed it, as I love this a lot. Also I managed to have a photo taken with my guru again, with him looking very relaxed. I felt on top of the world at that moment, and I received 3 blessings from Rinpoche in just that mere few minutes.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is so very compassionate. As the queue got longer and longer, Rinpoche not only blessed each one, he listened to each one, he also gave advice and did a couple of divinations on the spot. I also witnessed a touching moment. When after blessing an elderly lady, and when she offered him an ang pow, he refused to  accept it. Instead, he said, "wait, wait", he digged into his bag of ang pows which were just given to him by devotees, grabbed a whole bunch of the ang pows (about half the bag) and gave them all to the elderly lady instead. How very kind is Rinpoche, and how clairvoyant he is. I almost wanted to cry. I am glad I witnessed this. A precious lesson in humility, kindness and compassion. My guru is a living example. How kind is that?

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