Gratitude Series #23 – Sea Shells

The beautifully handmade sea shell box from my Lama, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche

A precious gift from my Lama, a beautifully handmade sea shell box. 

To some this may be just a pretty box, but to me it is not just a box but a very special gift from my Guru, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, given to me at the time when I least expect it. It is more about the thought that counts, that someone as busy as Rinpoche could and would still take the time to pick out a gift for silly old student like me!

I remembered when Pastor Moh Mei passed this gift to me; she described to me how Rinpoche picked this gift box and started asking those with Him to guess who it was for? Everyone suggested many names but all could not guess it right. I was very humbling to know that Rinpoche picked this gift for me. It showed me Rinpoche’s great compassion and care for me even though I have constantly disappointed Rinpoche.

We all know when Rinpoche gives a gift to someone, He gives it purely with no agenda but only with the best wishes for the person receiving it. I love sea shells and used to collect them, so when I received this gift box made from shells, I was quite touched and surprised. How is it that Rinpoche always seems to know what type of gifts  the receiver will like, and that it would suite the individual’s character or style? All this is because of Rinpoche genuinely care for others. Rinpoche would actually make the extra effort to think thoroughly on what is best for the person. What would move him/her and how the gift can bring benefit to him/her mentally, emotionally and spiritually? These are what Rinpoche would think and then goes out and actually pick out the gift for that person himself and sometimes even write a card for the person.

This was definitely more than just a gift box as Rinpoche’s gift also gave me a teaching. The sea shells as I perceived it was like this (my) human body and life form. The shells are so delicate just like life is so delicate and fragile as all things are impermanent, where one day it will all end. So the teaching I got was not to be so attached with everything I have or feel; what I like or dislike, but instead appreciate it, as we’re only here for a short temporary time. Everything will eventually seize at the time of our death.

Hence, I should be grateful for what I have, a precious human life, a chance to meet a qualified teacher, the Dharma and an opportunity to practice the Dharma in a Dharma centre like Kechara. I should treat this precious human life well by making full use of it to purify my negative karma and collect merits instead of collecting demerits, especially for future lives.

Life is like a box, what we put in side it is going to be what we will get out of it. So if we put in nice and positive things, it will contain nice and positive things. Likewise if we put in negative thoughts and actions, we will get negative results. So it is important to purify and empty out the dirty box, to throw away the trash inside, and put in the positives. This is how I interpreted the meaning of the gift to me at that moment, I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong but I am grateful for this meaningful gift. Thank you Rinpoche for always showing me kindness and compassion, and that they really do exist.

Thank you for reminding me that we do not have to live by our negative past and that we or I have the power to change it by transforming negative to positive. It is up to me to learn to relearn if I want a positive future result. All that is needed is the will to do it, the effort in applying the teachings, and the perseverance to work hard at it. So thank you Rinpoche once again for shedding light from such a simple gift. This to me is most precious.


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