Gratitude Series #35 – Thank you 2014, Hello 2015

This would be my last write-up for the year 2014 and reflecting on all that has happened in 2014, I am very grateful to my Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche for giving my life meaning in a most unexpected way. I never thought I’d one day be doing Dharma work, it is probably the wisest decision I’ve made in life. This is only because someone showed me another alternative path to living life more conscientiously. That someone was Rinpoche. I guess the biggest highlight for this year was my Los Angeles trip to visit Rinpoche. Rinpoche had left Malaysia for the U.S. and not knowing when He was coming back, I began to miss Rinpoche. After about 4 months Rinpoche asked to get my visa done and when the time is right, he’ll let me know when to go over. So after getting my visa done and approved, about a week later I was asked to be in L.A. in the next 42hours! Excitedly I began packing. I never thought that one day I’d visit U.S. especially in such circumstances; going to see my Lama, and Rinpoche had kindly sponsored for my entire trip!

Though the environment is different, Rinpoche was still the same kind and caring Rinpoche who would always make sure everyone’s okay. He’d make sure our bellies were full, and after finishing any project, Rinpoche would treat us with something nice to show us His appreciation for the work done (though it really should be the other way round). One example is when Rinpoche treated us (Pastor Jean Ai, Nicholas Yu, Clifford and I) a trip to Disneyland and even took care of all the details such as our food expenses! This was after many months of searching for a house, and finally moving and settling in to a quaint little house suitable for Rinpoche to do retreats. But what I’m most appreciative and will always treasure from this trip was the priceless moments spent with Rinpoche like; the candid conversations with Rinpoche, or the moments when we would do pujas in Rinpoche’s cosy little prayer room. Or for the spontaneous Dharma teachings, the sightseeing drives we took, the visits to Hollywood, Sunset Blvd. (where Rinpoche use to walk to get to work) or to Home Depot, Walmart, Vons, and stopping to give a hot meal, money and clothes to a homeless with his dog. It is the moments when we’re all seated to have dinner together with Rinpoche, and for all the personal advices Rinpoche imparted. The special thing about all these moments spent with Rinpoche, was that it was always induced with Dharma teachings directly or indirectly.

These are the precious moments no money can ever buy. Indeed I am very blessed to have such a privilege, not in a sense of egoistical pride but in humility and gratitude for a-nobody like to me could be sitting with a-somebody like His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Being back in Malaysia, makes me realise this and appreciate Rinpoche even more. So if anything I’ve learnt during my trip in L.A. (and I say this with much respect and humility to all Dharma students who has a close Guru-disciple relationship and has direct access to your Lama) is to never take your Guru and anything he or she does for granted. They are the best thing that could happen in your life. Why? Because in the end everything changes and fades; friends become enemies, enemies become friends, wealth fluctuates, and your family and relatives eventually passes away. Everything you think you own, disowns you. The stronger you hold on to them, the more pain and suffering you feel when they are gone from your grasp, so why even grasp? I’ve come to experience all this through my parents’, spouse and many friends’ demise and the reality is; nothing lasts. And in those silent darkest hours, if you’re lucky enough to have a Guru, it is those Dharma filled moments you had with your Guru which will become your strength that pulls you through. Those are real life Dharma teachings which you can use forever in this or the next life – this is the real treasure. Surely at some point in my many lifetimes of mistakes, I must have done something right to harness some merit to be able to cross paths with a Guru like Tsem Rinpoche. Thank Buddha for that! Rinpoche once shared a positive tip; to rejoice in the past deeds we’ve done, even though we may not necessary know them, but to be in gratitude for it has brought us to connect with the Dharma in this life. Hence I rejoice in whatever I did in the past that created the causes for my connection with the Dharma today.

Recently while reorganising some books, I came across a Halloween card Rinpoche gave me last year. In it Rinpoche wrote a short advice, the last line is something I need to always remember; “…create good causes”.  I am eternally grateful to Rinpoche for even the fact that I’m still alive and here in Kechara is because of Rinpoche.  The word “Thank you” is too limited to express how grateful I am, but still thank you  Rinpoche for your existence, and for yet another meaningful year because it was spent doing Dharma. Looking forward to the next and doing more…

 

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Tsem Rinpoche’s first residence in L.A. surrounded by beautiful canyon mountains. Rinpoche will always place an outdoor Buddha to bless the animals as well as the environment. Bird trays will also be set up in front of the Buddha, so that the birds will get Buddha’s blessings and imprints planted in them.

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My first gift from Rinpoche was this cute vibrant Mexican Poncho when we were visiting the markets. I was so surprised when Rinpoche bought and put it on me. Thank you Rinpoche!

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When you go out with Buddha, you’ll sure to see a Buddha. This Buddha was spotted outside a retro apartment while we were walking along Venice Beach with Rinpoche. It was beautiful day spent walking with the group and Rinpoche.

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Totally love the art scene at Venice Beach!

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Went back to Venice beach a month later to distribute Tsem Foundation Inc. cards to promote our U.S. Pastors’ prayer services.

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A picture of me and my precious Guru, Tsem Rinpoche in front of the famous TCL Chinese Theatre at Hollywood walk.

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A really like this picture of me and my Dharma sister Pastor Jean Ai while we paid a visit at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple.

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We finally moved and settle in to a quaint little house conducive for Rinpoche to do retreats. Here, Rinpoche conceptualised a beautiful Buddha shrine dedicated to all the kind Malaysian and Singaporean sponsors who’s been supportive of Rinpoche’s works and vision. Rinpoche personally went out of his way to obtain the stone Buddhas, the candle holders and lamps, the plants as well as the unique pebbles with well wishing words. Then Rinpoche came back and described to us what he wanted to do and asked us to help pick a spot for this shrine. Rinpoche affectionately calls this the “Malaysian Shrine”. Later when everything was set up, Rinpoche came out to do some final arranging, and then He did His first puja in front of this shrine dedicating it to all who has helped him along the way. Rinpoche is always grateful of others and in this way, Rinpoche reminds us to also have gratitude.

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After everything was set up, Rinpoche came out to light candles and do a pujas (prayers) for the first time in front of the shrine, dedicating to all the kind sponsors.

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The beautiful Malaysian shrine in the evening with incense billowing.

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Every child’s dream is to one day visit Disneyland, well Rinpoche made that dream of mine come true without even knowing it. Rinpoche treated Pastor Jean Ai, Clifford, Nicholas Yu and I to this magical fantasy theme park. It was really an eye opener to watch their spectacular Fantasmic finale show. The rides were just as fun. Thank you so much Rinpoche!

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I really enjoyed setting up Tsem Rinpoche Foundation Inc. in L.A. with Dharma brother and team leader, JP Thong. It was a historical experience as we spread our Kechara wings to the U.S.A. Thank you Rinpoche and Dharma brother JP for this experience!

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