Last week, members and friends of the Charitable Assistance
Society, a Singapore-based welfare organization, consisting of
bright-eyed, young Buddhist volunteers, met privately with HH
the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, HH the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, HH the
100th Ganden Tripa, HE the Jangtse Choje, the reincarnation of
the 97th Ganden Tripa who is the Senior Root Teacher of the present
Dalai Lama, otherwise known as Ling Rinpoche, His Teacher - Geshe
Wangchen, Lati Rinpoche, the Nechung State Oracle of Tibet, the
Abbot of Loseling, the 2,500 monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery
in Mundgod, south India, not to mention all the countless old
and new buddies, beautiful and ugly, strewn all across our jumpy,
hurried journey, north to south, of the romantic Indian sub-continent.
And yes, we still managed to throw in a 3 day Heruka Chakrasamvara Initiation and a rare, grand Long-life Offering to the present Official Head of the Gelugpa Order, the Regent of Je Tzongkhapa, the 100th Ganden Tripa Himself, a most auspicious and rare occasion.
Snugged in our comfortable, tiny seats onboard the flying machine that carries us from our sunny, hectic island to the capital of mother India, we never dream that we are going to endure another tortuous 14 hours of back-griping, super bumpy ride, in the middle of the night, all the way to Dharamsala, headquarters of HH the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
Greeted and aided by the considerate administrators of Drepung Loseling Monastery in both Delhi and Dharamsala, we finally managed to survive, against all odds, triumphing over treacherous, winding roads, hurling buses that dodged you at the last split seconds in addition to hosts of other potential disasters, to finally check-in to our homely hotel in Dharamsala. A 5 minute shower of cold gush, we are out once more in the dizzying tracks of Dharamsala to see HH the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.
HH the 14th Dalai Lama - the Buddha of Infinite Mercy
Passing through an amazing array of security checks, we finally
sat in the adjoining waiting room, uncertainly twitching our fingers.
We have indeed heard much of and about the Dalai Lama: the human
incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion, the fearless crusader
for the oppressed, the former king of the resplendent Potala Palace,
the superb scholar, debater, teacher and composer, the shrewd
politician, the darling of Hollywood, the super star, the laughing
Buddha, a simple monk, the manipulated-puppet of the decadent
western powers, the splitter of the Mother Land. Bewildering.
We simply don't know.
Ushered into the audience room by the now famously handsome secretary of the Dalai Lama, we saw a tall, smiling monk glide swiftly into the room. Enter His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Looking EXACTLY like how he beams from countless portraits, shrines and the silver screen, His Holiness emits radiant joy, assurance and charm.
I hastened to prostrate myself in the best Tibetan tradition. His Holiness reached out and grabbed my hands. "Don't need for that!" He giggled, a mischievous glint in his eyes. His touch feels affectionately soft.
I insisted on doing my well-rehearsed Buddhist devotion once more only to be met with further gentle admonishment. "No time!"
This time, the Dalai Lama grabbed my hands in a firm hand-shake and proceeded to greet each and every one in our more than 20 strong group from Singapore.
We were guided to a comfortable set of sofas and chairs. Doomed attempts were made to sit piously on the carpeted floor. His Holiness simply would not hear of it. We are to sit as His gracious guests, on nice sofas, at the same level as Himself.
"How old is your organization?" His Holiness asked in a gruff, friendly tone.
I stammered that we are on the average 25 years old.
"No ..I mean your organization! Not your age!" His Holiness broke into a hearty chuckle, full of the purest charm and child-like prankishness.
Recognizing the tiny picture of our beloved Teacher from our splendidly designed poster on His Holiness's own teaching tour to Serajhe Monastery in south India, proudly sponsored with great kindness and generosity by all the precious friends of our humble society, the Dalai Lama almost squealed with delight, "Khensur Dorje Tashi! The late Gyudmey Khensur Dorje Tashi!"
I couldn't help but be totally taken with this being. Sitting at right angles, less than a hand's grab away from this teacher, the entire scenario takes on a dream-like, illusory quality.
Throughout our one and a half hour audience, said to be one of the longest ever granted to private organizations, [ the longest of which we were told to be 20 minutes ! ], the Dalai Lama comes forth very clearly as being highly sensible, practical, down-to-earth, direct, sincere, honest, ordinary, strong, determined and at the same time, a most unusual aura of kindness, compassion and a penetratingly sharp awareness pervading His entire being. There was no outbursts of divine righteousness, holy wrath, sardonic twists, not even the usual sacred stiffness. In place are loads of human genuineness, warmth, ordinariness and sincerity.
We presented gifts of highly precious manuscripts, photos of the Saviouress Tara framed in gleaming semi-precious stones, relics from the Buddha's ruined palace in Lumbini, myriad wishes made on behalf of all our dear friends, countless, endless stream of love and devotion, all directly into the holy hands, ears and heart of this being.
His Holiness received each and every gift extremely kindly and seriously, at the same time, light-heartedly.
Our conversation cum teachings range from how to transform negative emotions into positive ones, how to cultivate and sustain proper view of one's supposedly perfect spiritual master despite contemporary experiences to the contrary [ intriguing and touchy topic here ! ], how to practise well the teachings of the Buddha.
His Holiness stressed the importance of contentedness, the essentiality of proper study followed by proper practice.
There was no divine directive to complete a million and two sets of the sacred mantras, no inspired pronouncements of thirteen and three quarters iota of offerings to be made. His Holiness's answers are instead deeply thought-over constructions. The solutions offered are practical, sensible and implementable. He clearly wants to help. He clearly likes us.
The Dalai Lama agreed to be the direct spiritual guide of our welfare society and gave us permission to write so. Also, after thinking for a few seconds, the Dalai Lama promises to guide everyone and everything associated with our society in this life and all future lives. Unbelievable honour !!
Having personal contacts for more than a decade now with many "Holinesses", "Eminences" and "Rinpoches" from all the 4 main Tibetan Buddhist Orders, we are definitely anything but green-horn to the charismatic ways of the lamas. Somehow, the Dalai Lama, at the pinnacle of the entire Tibetan Buddhist world, is strangely unique.
Aeons of suppressed grief, guilt, fear, joy, devotion, love and myriad emotions wells forth in free flowing tears.
Now we understand why thousands of Tibetans braved unspeakable ordeal to cross the threatening Himalayas, many a times, losing their lives, to catch a glimpse of their beloved Leader, to be touched and blessed by this being.
Maybe this is why His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet is known as the Buddha of Infinite Mercy, the Lord of Compassion.
HH the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa - the first incarnate Lama of Tibet and the Teacher of Je Tzongkhpa
As we missed our private audience time with HH the 17th Gyalwa
Karmapa, we can only make do with a public one together with a
few hundred people.
The Karmapa is strikingly good-looking and tall for His teenage years. Giving teachings in eloquent confidence and depth, emitting maturity and power, His Holiness is clearly not your ordinary teenager.
KARMAPA CHENNO !!
HH the 100th Ganden Tripa - Official Head of the Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism, Regent of Je Tzongkhapa
Our trip and our progress will never be possible without His
Holiness the 100th Ganden Tri Rinpoche.
Occupying one of the highest position in the Tibetan Buddhist Hierarchy as the Official Head of the Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness is reputedly the most learned scholar and peerless debater in the whole of Tibet. His Holiness's infinite patience and kindness too has become something of a legend.
Not only that, His Holiness Tri Rinpoche, having served for years in the Tantric College of Lower Lhasa, is a noted tantric master. Of note, too, besides His Holiness's absolute mastery of all 3 main tantras of the Gelugpa Order, this present Ganden Tripa is famed for His accomplishment as a Vajrakilaya or Phurba adept of the Nyingma Tradition.
During our hosting of His Holiness' tour to Singapore in 2000, the first ever by a Ganden Tripa, the students really cannot complain, what with the endless waves of wisdom and bliss emanating from His Holiness's teachings on a traditionally Kagyupa text, the Jewel Ornament of Liberation, and the countless other powerful Initiations.
This time in India, accepting His most unruly students' request for a Heruka Chakrasamvara Initiation, His Holiness entered retreat everyday in the morning before bestowing, in the whole afternoon, this most precious Empowerment on us and the chunks of reincarnated lamas for 3 days in a row. Everyday, at the end of the initiation, His Holiness will come up to us and ask if we are tired. Not minding this shocking breach of protocol, this simple act of care must have been edged on by His relentless compassion.
On the 4th day, the day after the 3 day initiation, this time, citing "special bond" with us, His Holiness most compassionately accepted our request for a Long-life Offering despite having turned down several offers even those from Drepung Loseling Monastery, one of the reputed "3 Pillars of Dharma".
The entire nearly 4 hours ceremony is replete with deep religious symbolism. The yellow, royal parasol is out, the 8 Auspicious Signs are drawn on where His Holiness's holy feet stepped on, the literally thousands of silk scarves are fluttering, the booming long horns are blown since the previous night, the most precious incense are lighted, representatives from all main monasteries are around, all 2,500 Loseling monks themselves are decked in their finest and purest, the best, steaming butter tea is offered. A rare scene indeed right from the heart of ancient, mysterious Tibet, it reminds us pointedly of the grandiose scene from the "Last Emperor" !!
Like the Dalai Lama, the Ganden Tripa most kindly accepted to take our society under His direct spiritual care and gave us permission to write so. What an explosion of good karma !!
There is no question of how much His Holiness's kindness and blessings has assisted our little society. But then, it's not surprising .we are after all, dealing with a Ganden Tripa, the Regent of Je Tzongkhapa.
The Nechung State Oracle of Tibet
It is hard indeed to imagine this serene and peaceful monk
being the human receptacle of one of the most fearsome and wrathful
protector of Tibetan Buddhism. In trance only on the most important
occasions and only for the most important issues, the Nechung
Oracle shares an intimate and unique relationship with the Great
Founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Guru Padmasambhava and the entire
lineage of Dalai Lamas.
The gentle and very compassionate monk kindly gives His blessings that we may continue to work with joy and the purest wishes for all beings and promises to drop-by for a nice meal when in Singapore.
Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Eminence the Jangtse Choje [ Lord of Dharma of the Northen Peak - Rizong Rinpoche ], reincarnation of the 97th Ganden Tripa [ Senior Root Teacher of the Dalai Lama - Ling Rinpoche ], Teacher of Ling Rinppoche - Geshe Wangchen Namgyal, the Loseling Abbot
All the above venerable high priests are paragons of light
and goodness. All are worthy warriors and lions of Lord Buddha.
All show unusual kindness and compassion. How can anyone fully
describe their goodness?
We promise to offer everything for the good of the world and all beings in it. Offering all the purest wishes we can muster, we too promise, like them, to give our hands, our eyes, our heart, our everything to all our precious and dear fellow beings who have been our very own mothers and fathers countless time in all our past lives.
We too promise to take on ALL the sufferings of all beings that they may gain wellness, peace and joy.
Our complete and total surrender to great and unconditional Compassion.
Kunga Nyima and all of the
Charitable Assistance Society