This is my first Lama Tsongkhapa statue that was given to me by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. I love this Lama Tsongkhapa so much because of the significant history behind it. It was a time where all we had was a small Dharma store tucked away upstairs in SS2. These were the type Lama Tsongkhapa statues that were available in Kechara Paradise at that time. They were made from brass. I remembered having to paint most of these statues’ while learning the style and art of painting these Buddha statues from one of Rinpoche’s assistant at that time. It was a learn as you paint on the spot kind of process, hence if you notice, the Lama Tsongkhapa statues that came from that time – 2003, you’ll see that the Buddha’s faces were mostly painted in skin tone colour.
Rinpoche had wanted all the statue stocks that were stored to be cleaned and painted up. We were given a tight deadline to get it done as quickly as possible so that we can beautify KP with more Buddha images and to have them readily available for people to invite home. Pastor Chia was one of my painting teachers at that time, teaching me and Wan how to clean the statues, apply the base coat, as well as painting the statues together with us. It was so much fun working together in harmony as we painted day and night to meet the deadline. We were like a family with a singular mission to accomplish. After each Buddha statue was painted, it was such a great reward just looking at them smiling, ready for someone to invite home. One of the greatest lessons I learnt during those times was how we bended together, even though we did not have much – no many resources or volunteers and even though we did not know how to paint, we somehow just made it work and completed the task. The impossible became the possible and this was the lesson that I feel Rinpoche had wanted us to experience and learn from.
When we’ve finished painting all the statues, we informed Rinpoche and to our delight, Rinpoche decided to personally consecrate the statue himself! Thrilled and excited we quickly started arranging all the statues we’ve painted nicely in the main room of the shop, ready for Rinpoche to consecrate them. After consecrating the statues, Rinpoche asked those of us who were there to each pick out whatever statues we wanted. I could not believe my ears, everyone was definitely very surprised. Adults turned in to kids with excitement picking out our Buddha statues. It was like a big Buddha statue party! Rinpoche gave us a short teaching on the benefits of Buddha images and said that it was good seeing everyone so excited picking out a Buddha statue. Though we may appear “greedy”, but Rinpoche said it is better to be “greedy” for Buddha, be “greedy” for Dharma than for non-virtuous worldly things that bring no benefit to us.
We later learnt that the statues were already sponsored and donated to given away by someone. So this Lama Tsongkhapa was one of the Buddha statues I picked out, and my first Lama Tsongkhapa statue. In this event I learnt how amazingly skilful Rinpoche is in getting us to purify our karma, at the same time collect tremendous merit. In the process of this whole event, I also learnt how to overcome my fears and as a team we can definitely achieve anything. I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to be part of this great Dharma family and experience on so many levels, real life Dharma teachings. And this is what makes Rinpoche’s teachings unique and alive. Never in my wildest dream would I think I could one day be able to paint Enlightened images of Buddhas that will be invited home by people, and that it would give them benefit, protection, solace and peace. I am so grateful to Rinpoche for giving me purpose; I will always appreciate it because these experiences are priceless lessons. Thank you Rinpoche for your constant love, care, guidance and in making our lives more meaningful.