My Guru, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is definitely no ordinary Lama. Not because he can move mountains or walk on water, or because he’s clairvoyant, but because of Rinpoche’s consistent genuine care, genuine concern for others. So much so, Rinpoche would do whatever he can, give whatever he has, to help or save someone even from death if they have the karma to be saved. It is really uncanny how Rinpoche could see through each individual and know us better than we know ourselves, and the path that lies ahead of us. There’s this one incident which I witness, participated and experienced for the first time ever that became a lesson about changing someone’s life. Indirectly it impacted and changed my life as well. I knew then life is really more than just taking care of our own selves and how weary and sad that would be if that was the sum of it all.
It was sometime in 2003, a small group of us close students were invited to stay in Rinpoche’s humble home a few days. It was really nice hanging out with Rinpoche. But one day one of the older students was caught lying to Rinpoche about something. Lying is a big deal because it is breaking one of our refuge vows and lying to one’s Guru would create even more negative karma. So he was asked to leave the house and to also stop working in our Dharma store Kecahra Paradise. The old student left in a fury and the few of us there were stunned by the whole incident.
Rinpoche explained what had happened and also gave us a prediction of this student’s life and what would happen. Basically it would be a very sad predicament especially for his spouse, if they were to leave K.L. and went back to his hometown. Things will not be good for them plus it would be harder for us to help them once they are far away. The advice given by Rinpoche was that they should remain here in K.L. (Kuala Lumpur) and to work and stay on the outside. This is so that the student can learn to take some responsibility and be accountable for his actions. So then Rinpoche hurried us to go stop them from leaving K.L. before it’s too late. In the middle of this chaotic event, which felt like a life or death situation, Rinpoche gave us a very powerful teaching… “This is what we are supposed to do, to help others, to change people’s lives. You’re about to change someone’s karma before it’s too late, to save someone from their own negative karma before it ripens. Go help them!” I will never forget this because at that moment it felt like time stood still for a few seconds when Rinpoche relayed that message to us. Then as soon as Rinpoche finished, we storm off to save the day… well at least that was how I felt.
We managed to reach them in time as they were busy packing up their items. We had to stop and to persuade them not to move back to their hometown but instead to stay in K.L., to live and work on the outside as Rinpoche advised. I believe this was a way for them to be able to still keep the connection with the Guru until their karma is purified. After a few hours of talking and much persuasion, finally we got them to change their mind and accepted Rinpoche’s advice. We were so exhausted because it was something like 5 am in the morning when everything concluded.
When we returned to Rinpoche’s house, Rinpoche explained to us that we’ve just changed the course of two person’s life. We’ve just changed someone’s karma for the better. That was the most exhilaratingly experience – changing someone’s karma. From that experience I also realised that what Rinpoche is trying to share with us is that every one of us have the potential to help others, to make a difference, to change our lives and other people lives for the better. Things are not “fixed” and we can transform our negative karma or put it on hold for just a wee while, while we collect some more merits through virtuous deeds. And this is what Rinpoche is offering to us; to work together with our Guru to benefit others. I don’t have clairvoyance to see into someone’s future, but I believe my Guru does because I’ve seen too many of Rinpoche’s predictions come true. Rinpoche has the foresight to stir and guide us especially at the darkest hour. He is our Guru and the captain of the ship that sails through the huge ocean of samsara, pulling as many who are suffering out of it along the way. This is just one case. There are countless of such cases and Rinpoche never stops helping, especially those whom no one would ever give a second chance. Even for those who have left with vengeful hearts, Rinpoche still prays and makes offerings for them to collect merits, in hopes that one day they may see the light again. Rinpoche never gives up on anyone because to give up would be to give up on Buddha, hope, ourselves.
Thank you Rinpoche for showing me there is more to it in life then just taking care of ourselves, to see the potential goodness in ourselves and others, and that true liberation comes from selflessness that we can all achieve if we choose to.
I do this with all humility, care and sincerity to benefit others. When I see others in problems it really moves me to do something. ~ Tsem Rinpoche
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