With the Pad Yatra in Sri Lanka postponing to March next year, I now have a bit of time to finish up some work and do some retreat. Besides going out to put compassion and love into action, I feel that keeping time away to do some form of formal practices such as retreats, recitation, prostrations, meditation, etc. is also very important to keep our mind focused and grounded.
Since 17 years old, my personal doctor used to tell me to swim and exercise, but my type of life never allowed me to do this. My doctor said recently, “You have followed all of my advice except this. If you are now having problems, don’t blame me.” So now I am looking for a chance to jump into a pool at least to soak my feet, because I hate swimiing. I guess I had never been taking rebirth as a fish for at least 1,000 years. Can you believe that I don’t even like to be soaked in bathtub? It gives me a very funny feeling, and I feel very dizzy after being in water for a short time, especially with soapy water bubbling out of jacuzzi. It’s really scary for me. I don’t understand why people are spending a lot of money and talking very positively about having a bath tub and jacuzzi. I feel suffocated in this kind of conditions. After spending 3 minutes, I have to jump up. What a way to waste water, expensive soap and bath salt.
We need to be trained to look within ourselves for solutions and also for strength to face the world out there. Whatever beneficial activities we are doing outside or externally should be supporting our inner understanding. Through the different methods of formal practices, we will be able to take the inner understanding deeper into our heart. Experiential understanding has to be developed by inner or formal practice. This will bring to perfection the secret understanding, some call this “enlightenment”.
In the middle of the day, one of my senior nuns asked me to watch a video of Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. If I remember correctly, it’s called the “Mind Blowing Video” on YouTube. She asked, “Are you in the mood of watching anything? There is a very interesting and mind blowing video on YouTube that you have to watch. But it is 2 hours long.” I never thought that I would have the patience to watch a 2 hour teaching, anyway I did. I must say that it was really “mind blowing” because the teaching was beyond human concept, based on Mahamudra and Madyamika. I myself being a so-called spiritual guru, surely know what a genuine teaching is about. So I was very moved to watch Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teaching on YouTube. I was told that he has been having health problems, I pray from the depth of my heart that he will recover completely and continue to actively teach in this world for many, many years to come. We need genuine masters like Lama Zopa Rinpoche to benefit beings through their realisation and skills.
After watching two hours of video of Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, my nun asked if I had any more time and energy to watch another one. It was a wonderful video on a female teacher, I didn’t know who she was initially. But the sight of her and listening to her were really something so inspiring that I had to immediately ask some of my colleagues and students who she was. I found out that she is the oracle Khandro Tseringma. I was told that she even visited Druk Amitabha Mountain while paying homage to my beloved late guru, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche. She is one of the important disciples of His Holiness Dalai Lama. This made me so happy and so moved.
I read about her life in one of the interviews and it gives some idea of her background and her motivation. Female practitioners, whether nuns or lay, have to follow her example, with genuine conditions, genuine cause and genuine devotion. One of the most important facts I read about her is that she has complete devotion in Bodhicitta for the sake of all beings. She says, “In my mind I have a very strong belief that the essence of life is only to have the realization of Bodhicitta and Emptiness. Though it is difficult to gain, my primary wish is to achieve indestructible faith in these two before I die. If I cannot help people to generate these things, our meeting is just a waste of time. Other than that, I am the poorest by inner, outer and secret perspectives. The best side of me is only that I met the best Dharma, best practice and the best lamas.” This kind of motivation and aspiration is very important for a spiritual practitioner. This is something I want to share with everyone and I hope all the female practitioners will develop this kind of pure motivation. If you do have that, whatever you are working for will be realised.
Khandrola is the oracle or medium for Goddess Tseringma, the consort of Milarepa. She goes into trance from time to time and sees His Holiness Dalai Lama who believes that she is the authentic messenger for Tseringma. I am quite happy that she is doing what she is doing, especially being a woman. She carries herself very nicely, thanks to the support and recognition from His Holiness. In many poojas, she sits just next to Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who is a great master of Gelugpa school, and also sits on higher throne than the rest of the seemingly quite big monks, playing damarus and practising with them. She is very confident in what she is doing. In this way, she is great in achieving a lot in terms of promoting gender equality.
I have strong confidence and I have also convinced myself that even ordinary women can make it, they can do it, they can really genuinely practise without needing to hide themselves. The most important thing is to practise genuinely, rather than fighting for women’s rights or men’s rights. I don’t believe and I don’t like the idea of fighting, like fighting for female rights, I guess it’s because of me being a man. But I strongly stand behind the female practitioners, to push them so that they will be able to practise more genuinely from their own religious backgrounds, from their own lineages, be it Gelugpa, be it Nyingmapa or any kind of lineage or any kind of spiritual belief. For example, if they are practising the Drukpa Lineage, then they should be genuinely practising Vajrayogini, the skills of meditation and Six yogas of Naropa, etc. Each lineage has different and special practice and teaching.
When I say “practise”, it sounds as if it is only for monks and nuns, it’s not. As you know, I always encourage everyone to practise, especially the lay people or the lay women, really have to engage in spiritual practice to gain some insights or understanding, because they can really support many people in the society, much more than the nuns. Therefore lay practitioners have to take a more active role of practising Buddha Dharma and Bodhicitta very seriously if they are Buddhists. I heard His Holiness Dalai Lama said many times that lay people have to practise together with the monks and nuns. Bearing his advice in mind, we all should be following.
There are lots of girls in this world who want to be known as Khandrolas or Dakinis. What’s the point of being known as a Khandro or Dakini when in actual fact you lack the quality and Bodhicitta motivation? It is better not to pretend to be what you are not. Be honest on the spiritual path, because it is YOUR path and YOUR enlightenment. Pretending will not be taking you any where. Be an honest practitioner, the quality that you progressively develop will make you glow naturally, without needing any fabrication.
I would say the same thing to the male practitioners, to the monks. They should not be pretending to be Rinpoches or masters, if they don’t have the quality and qualification. It will not help others, it will not help them. It will eventually ruin one’s own life. There is no point.