Gratitude Series 59 – Keep Calm, You’re in KFR

The past week has been such an amazing spiritual busy week with so many activities happening in Kechara Forest Retreat, undoubtedly it has been a week buzzing with blessings abound. Yet when everyone is gone and all the fussing has settled down, you come to appreciate the stillness of nature that brings a sense of calmness, a sense of inner peace you cannot find in the chaos of the modern world.

I love this quote from my Rinpoche, it truly sums up exactly how I feel right at this present moment and what perfect timing it popped up as I was writing this post…

“Such calmness is achieved when we connect with spiritual nature and not urban confusion” ~ Tsem Rinpoche

I am ever so grateful for all of Rinpoche’s love and guidance so that I can be here at this juncture; to be at Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR). Rinpoche used to tell me a few years back that I will love living amongst nature. At that time we had not even found the land for KFR yet and I was very comfortable with my urban lifestyle. Never in my dreams did I imagine myself living in the forest… never in my dreams did I see myself enjoying it and feeling so fortunate to be here. Fortunate because I am doing Dharma, fortunate because even if I had to work 24 hours with no sleep just to finish off a painting, it is okay because it is so worth it as it’s for a much higher purpose. A purpose where it can benefit someone for the better. It is definitely way more worth it than staying up, schlepping it off for some “boss” to get richer, and the end result is just about a bigger pay cheque, a name, a status and some fame, that are just all fleeting because for the self-cherishing mind has no end in satisfying.

Just last week at one of our special prayer events, right before a blessed puja (prayer) commence, a man who was a friend, a colleague, a father suddenly collapsed and passed away within a few minutes.  Hearing of another person who we knew passed away reminded me again of how fragile we all are. How temporary we all are. How we are all actually waiting for that very same moment where we would breathe our last breath and like a candle flame being blown out in a second, we are gone. The lesson of impermanence is being taught again, as I recall how similar this incident was with my late husband Justin Ripley’s death (a close student of Rinpoche); they both had the good fortune to pass away in the mandala of their Guru.

Justin went in Rinpoche’s ladrang itself, this person right outside our prayer hall, Wisdom Hall. Some may ask why were they not “protected” seeing they are on such holy grounds? Well, if you know the Dharma, you would know it is probably the perfect place to take our last breath. There is no better place to go, then to go on holy grounds where one’s Guru reside and where highly attained monks are present to give blessings. This is what we consider as great merits. Like it or not death is inevitable for that is the nature of things in samsara. When our karma has ripened and our life force for this life has come to an end, nothing can stop death, not even the Buddhas. But what the Gurus, Buddhas and Dharma Protectors can do, and will do if one has the merits through the good deeds done in this life, and due to ones good relation and strong connection with one’s spiritual guide (Guru), they will guide us to take on a good rebirth. With a good rebirth as a human, we can then continue where we left off on our spiritual path. Hence it is considered very meritorious for a person to pass away in a place whereby enlightened spiritual energy is most potent. I too wish someday I would be able to die on this holy ground. It will be a great blessing for one’s final day and for one’s next destination.

I understand, see, feel and experience Rinpoche’s divine manifesto of what Kechara Forest Retreat is supposed to be now; a place where inner and outer healing takes place, a place for those spiritual seekers of the enlightened path, a place that gives hope, to bless mind streams and where wisdom and compassion is active in every corner. Rinpoche used to tell us that “Kechara” which is the name of Vajra Yogini’s pure land is a paradise where one can take rebirth in and continue learning the Dharma. Its beauty is beyond one’s imagination and that the Dharma can even be heard in the leaves, wind, streams, birds, animals everywhere. Somehow I sense Rinpoche is creating a replica of it here in KFR. So when people say heaven is a place on earth, I can comprehend this now when I look at KFR.

Words can never thank Rinpoche enough for creating this heaven on earth for so many beings… including me, and which will continue to bring benefit to countless more in the future. With much gratefulness, I am truly thankful for Rinpoche’s guidance thus far. I shall continue to work harder in eliminating the negative mind set, transform within to find true peace and from here extend externally to others. Glad I am here and would never trade places to fall back into the delusional world of samsara’s false happiness again.


The glorious Lama Tsongkhapa, our lineage Buddha that is Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani in one blesses the entire Kechara Forest Retreat with love, peace and stability

The glorious Lama Tsongkhapa, our lineage Buddha that is Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani in one blesses the entire Kechara Forest Retreat with wisdom, love, peace and stability


The beauty of Kechara Forest Retreat Vajra Yogini stupa by dawn is breathtaking….

The sacred Vajra Yogini stupa at sunset...

The sacred Vajra Yogini stupa at sunset…


The blessings of Manjushri’s wisdom is bestowed upon all living beings big and small…



Beautiful lush green Tara Walk covered with passion fruit vines. Excellent for walking meditation.


In the near future, we will be placing 21 Taras strategically along Tara walk to bless those doing their walking meditation


The unique and exotic flowers of KFR… this one is a passion fruit’s flower


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