It was in September 2002, Mama Alice Ripley (Justin Ripley’s mother) was hospitalised with an illness that could cost her life. She returned to New Zealand from a short vacation in Malaysia with her husband Peter Ripley not too long before that. I received this tragic news out of the blue from Justin that his mum had suddenly fallen critically ill and was going to be in ICU. Shocked and concerned, I immediately informed Rinpoche about the news and asked if there was anything we could do for Alice. Rinpoche did not reply to me immediately, instead Rinpoche was very “quiet” and “calm” about it.
Then one day before I left for New Zealand, Rinpoche paid a visit to Kechara Paradise SS2 where I was volunteering. Rinpoche took a few of us out for supper and Rinpoche was talking, joking, and in a jovial mood, when suddenly Rinpoche’s tone changed and was very serious. Rinpoche gave me the instructions on what to do to help Justin’s mother. I was quite surprised, because I had thought that there was really nothing we could do. But I was even more surprised when Rinpoche prescribed the amount of pujas we had to do for Alice!
We had to do 1 million Tara mantras amongst ourselves- the immediate family, and to do it collectively. We also had to burn 50 candles to dedicate to her immediately. Rinpoche did a divination and said she will be fine and that she will live if we follow His instructions to a “T” – to do Tara’s mantras with full faith, surrendering completely to her. That was all we needed to do. I thought to myself, was this for real? In Tibetan Buddhism, it is known that the amount or the size of the pujas the Lama prescribes for someone to do indicates the amount of obstacles that person has to clear or how difficult the situation is. I think Alice was very lucky because her sons knew some Dharma and have a lot of faith in Rinpoche and the three jewels, so the merits dedicated to her was easily transferable, therefore the puja prescribed was not a huge one. Rinpoche gave His blessing for me to go to New Zealand to be with the family and to help them. I could not believe the instructions were so simple and was so grateful that Rinpoche gave us a method to save Alice Ripley.
When I arrived in N.Z., Alice was already in ICU and she was medically induced into coma to keep her from stressing out and to prevent her brain from swelling up and further complications. One of her lungs had collapsed, her kidneys were not working and she was supported by a ventilation machine to breathe. It was a horrible sight and when you looked at someone in that state, you know it would really take a miracle to really turn things around; in this case it would be our divine Mother Tara.
The hospital had no idea what was wrong with Alice, as it was their first time encountering such a case. In fact, the whole of New Zealand never had such a case. So the doctors were going through a huge learning curve as they were trying to save Alice’s life. They even communicated with the hospitals from UK, France, U.S. and Malaysia to find out what they were dealing with, the cause and a cure if there was any. They later discovered that Alice had contracted Burkholderia Pseudomallei (meliodosis). It did not make things any easier because Alice was also diabetic. Hence, things were a lot more complicated than it would be for a normal patient. Doctors gave her only a 1% chance of pulling through. Every day we were told to be prepared for the worst. During her time in ICU, Alice died and was revived 3 times. Every day when we visited her in ICU we just kept on chanting. We chanted on the way to the hospital, in the hospital, at home… everywhere.
Then slowly, as each day went by, Alice started to slowly stabilise and improve. Doctors started taking her off from the medically induced coma. When she woke up, she was coherent as if she had just woken up from a deep sleep. Alice was in ICU for 60 days in total. She spent another 30 days in the Surgery Ward and another 30 in rehab. Everyone in the hospital, including the doctors were surprised that Alice survived and recovered! Many saw it as a “miracle” as there was no cure to this illness, the only way to treat it was to increase oxygen in the body and hope for the best. But we know what it was that made this miracle happen! Thank you Rinpoche and Mother Tara!
I am also sure quietly and secretly Rinpoche must have also done many personal prayers for Alice as Rinpoche always does for many people. I am extremely fortunate to have met Rinpoche and cannot thank Rinpoche enough for the help in saving Alice’s life, for without Rinpoche’s advice and remedy, I really do not think Alice will be alive with us today. It’s been 13 years since this incident happened. Rinpoche is always looking out for me, my family and loved ones, even up to saving our lives, literally. Rinpoche’s kindness and love is truly unconditional and without any agenda and I know I can never thank Rinpoche enough. I’m eternally grateful to Rinpoche for always helping me and my loved ones, especially during times like this when there is nowhere or no one else to turn to. Thank you(s) are never enough.