It was passed midnight and we had just finished doing some shopping with Rinpoche, getting gifts for students and friends, at the heart of KL shopping’s district – Bukit Bintang. Just around the corner is a famous street called Jalan Alor with 24 hours hawkers for supper lovers amongst other night life activities. We decided to take a break, rest our tired feet and get some supper to refuel before heading back home.
As we were eating, Rinpoche would throw jokes and tease us. Rinpoche alerted us to be aware of our surroundings and observe everything around us, and what came with it was an unusual, unconventional profound dharma teaching. Although this event happened many years back but I will always remember the gist of Rinpoche’s teaching because the whole experience was quite out of this world.
Rinpoche asked us to look around and notice that we were in the heart of samsara, in this case Jalan Alor, where the energy of samsara; desire, sin, and non-virtuous activities are strong. Yet here we are… a bunch of dharma aspirants, trying to benefit others, with a highly attained Tibetan Lama who is definitely benefiting others.
Rinpoche asked us to take in our surroundings and realise how fortunate we are to have encountered the dharma when there are so many people out there who do not have the merits to do so. Instead what they do drives them further in to the abyss of samsara. We should be grateful for this. As Rinpoche explained all this, it seemed time had just suddenly slowed right down and as if in a dream like state, we were looking in to this dimension’s reality from another side. It was quite surreal and I will never forget this moment as I felt Rinpoche offered us a glimpse of samsara’s illusion and for a moment it seems like we were “awake”.
Rinpoche continued explaining that even in the heart of samsara; in the dirtiest, most degenerate, gross part of world, still there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that can appear to benefit people. Like a lotus that blossom from the in muddy waters, the Buddhas and Boddhisattvas are without duality and they can appear anywhere that needs them. Basically we should never judge a book by its cover and never underestimate the powers of the compassionate enlightened beings who are like peacocks thriving on the poisonous groves (samsara). Hence if we have a Guru and the dharma we should seize every opportunity to practice, to trust as the Guru guides us to find a way out of samsara, out of suffering, to wake up before it is all too late.
I wonder if this is what Rinpoche means by “we may be in the middle of samsara but samsara is not in us”. Perhaps it is, but one thing’s for sure I am so grateful for my good fortune and merits to have a real Boddhisttava as my Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Without Rinpoche, I know I would never have a chance to collect any merits or do any dharma, instead I would be blinded by samsara’s illusion of happiness, chasing after a fake security and never finding true peace. Thank you Rinpoche for you have changed my life, shown that there is still goodness in this world and given me hope and faith when I almost gave up on it.
“Although outwardly we have so much, we have so many conveniences, inwardly we have become more unhappy, so, acquisition is not the secret to happiness. The more we get, the more we have, the more unhappy we become.” ~ Tsem Rinpoche the 25th