My recollection of H.E. Guru Deva Rinpoche 忆念尊贵的古鲁迪瓦仁波切
One of the lamas to have had a huge impact on my life both spiritually and on a physical level is Guru Deva Rinpoche, also known as Sogpu Rinpoche by some (‘Sogpu’ being the Tibetan word for Mongolian). Guru Deva Rinpoche was an incredible lama who lived until 100 years. He was very witty, sharp, highly accomplished and extremely generous. Although I did not get to spend a lot of time with this enlightened being who is said to be an emanation of Gyenze himself, connecting with him led to many positive developments in my life. Through Guru Deva Rinpoche’s kindness, I was able to reconnect with my birth father who later became one of my first major sponsors.
Not once did Guru Deva Rinpoche ever hint, ask or even suggest what he would be able to get in return for helping me. This grand old lama just wanted to help and benefit, and it was never with an agenda. I am forever very grateful to Guru Deva Rinpoche for the assistance he rendered to me in some of the most difficult times of my life, and for bringing to me a clarity about my parentage and background which I never had since birth.
I would like to thank Mr. Martin Chow for taking the care, time and enthusiasm to do such a good job on my recollection of this great lama which I wish to share with you below. Martin has a style of writing that is accurate, poignant and it touches the heart deeply because of his passion to share something that can benefit others.
I thank His Eminence Guru Deva Rinpoche for his great compassion, time and all he did for me. I will never forget. I wish to meet him in his future incarnation again. May we all meet this deeply compassionate lama.
H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche
speaks about H.E. Guru Deva Rinpoche
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Remembering Guru Deva Rinpoche
By Martin Chow
Spending time with H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche is always a joyous time. It is a time of great learning, it is a time when Rinpoche uses a range of methods for us to show us our mind, and it is a time of bonding and character building. And all the while Rinpoche makes these occasions full of fun and laughter. Often, Rinpoche will tell us stories and when Rinpoche shares his stories, it is like a magical portal that opens up giving very close insights and an almost personal experience of places, people and situations that Rinpoche has encountered. Amongst the many stories Rinpoche has told, one of my favourite is the story of Guru Deva Rinpoche.
The Guru Deva Rinpoche story is a tale of extraordinary and selfless giving and generosity. It is a story of how the kindness of one great Tibetan lama changed the life of our own guru, Tsem Rinpoche. In many ways, we have Tsem Rinpoche today because Guru Deva Rinpoche contributed immensely towards Rinpoche’s journey to becoming the most important person in our life today. But there is a parallel story, which is an important narrative of the quality of the person who became our Guru. It speaks of Tsem Rinpoche’s courage, strength, gentleness, hope and kindness in the face of incredible and punishing odds, under which most people would crumble and claim valid reasons to fail and become bitter and fearful. The Guru Deva Rinpoche tale is providentially also a declaration of Tsem Rinpoche’s love and trust for the Dharma, which now illuminates so many people’s path away from samsara.
But to understand the story of Guru Deva Rinpoche you first need to know the circumstances that led to Tsem Rinpoche’s meeting with Guru Deva Rinpoche.
When anyone asks Rinpoche what his earliest memories are, Rinpoche will say his earliest memories are that of him as boy nicknamed ‘Siaw Niu’ (Little Bull) walking down a lane in Taiwan – Taipei to be exact – to go for a haircut. The school Siaw Niu attended when he was a little boy had a rule that all students are to sport crew cuts and so when it was time, the couple that Siaw Niu assumed were his parents would give him just enough money and send him down the street to get a haircut. But in fact, Siaw Niu’s ‘parents’ in Taiwan were just caretakers paid to look after him. To them the young Rinpoche was merely a job and so they did just enough to get paid.
The lama so many of us know as Tsem Rinpoche and whom many in the world trust and depend on today grew up as ‘Siaw Niu’, an unwanted child who used to run around in the streets of Taipei. As a child Rinpoche had very little in terms of toys, clothes, affection and attention. Rinpoche recalls that as a toddler, he would look forward to the visit of an elderly lady who came to see him from time to time. Her name was Dechen Minh and she would bring ‘Siaw Niu’ sweets, new clothes and toys. Those visits would be the only time Rinpoche as a little boy was shown any love or affection. Rinpoche was told that Dechen Minh was his grandmother but being a child the significance of that was lost on him. Neither did Rinpoche know that Dechen Minh was in fact a Queen and therefore he himself was of Mongolian royal parentage.
One day Dechen Minh came and said to Rinpoche, “We are going to America.” There was no explanation why they were going and what he was to do there. Rinpoche was six years old then and being a child, he didn’t really know what America was or what to think of it. But he went along with Dechen Minh because over the many occasions she had visited him, she had been kind and shown him a lot of love, and the two of them had developed a warm and affectionate relationship. Still Rinpoche the boy was sad to leave his guardian – although they had not treated him properly (some would even say they treated him cruelly), still he had regarded them as his parents. Rinpoche was the kind of boy who appreciated every single little thing done for him and he would grow up with this uncommon attribute and be known for having a love for all beings, and with no capacity to bear hatred and grudges.
Rinpoche slept throughout the long PanAm Airlines flight and when he woke up they had arrived in this new place, America. And just like that, the life, place and people that Rinpoche had known up until that moment was over and uncertainty awaited him.
Having arrived in America, Dechen Minh took Rinpoche to a lady’s house in Philadelphia. Her name was Dewa Nimbo and she had a husband and two sons. Dechen Minh told Rinpoche that the lady was her daughter but being very young, he did not draw any conclusions about the relationship between his grandmother and Dewa Nimbo, to him. Rinpoche was in a strange new land where everything seemed strange and incomprehensible, but there would be no time to rest. The next day, a Mongolian couple came to the house and Rinpoche was told they had driven up from Howell, New Jersey. Introduced to Rinpoche as Dana and Boris Bugayeff, Rinpoche was told that the couple he had met just moments ago were his real parents and that he was to call them ‘mother’ and ‘father’.
While uncertainties and capriciousness have marked Rinpoche’s life all these years, the shock of being thrown from one set of parents to another, and from one home to another, was too much for him and he resisted saying, “No, they’re not my parents. I don’t know who they are.” But Dechen Minh was firm and insisted the boy accept his new family, and to greet his new mother and father. With no emotional connection to these people he had just met, the small boy found it very hard to just call them ‘mother’ and ‘father’. Though lost and confused and very afraid, Rinpoche obeyed anyway.
And so, just like that, Rinpoche was again packed off into a car, a huge Ford LTD, and he was driven back to New Jersey. There he was, a child amongst strangers, living with a Mongolian couple and their daughter who had suddenly become his family. ‘Siaw Niu’ was now ‘Burcha’, named after his new father Boris (‘Boris’ being the Westernized version of the Mongolian name ‘Burcha’). In a matter of days, he had gone from being a Chinese-speaking boy in Taipei to being a Mongolian child with a foreign name, whose parents were in reality strangers, speaking a language the boy could not understand. No one had asked what such upheavals would do to the mind of a child and it would appear, no one cared. From that moment, the boy Burcha Bugayeff had to live in yet another forced reality.
Once in a while, the nice lady whom Rinpoche had met in Philadelphia, Dewa Nimbo would come and visit him in Howell, New Jersey. The boy who was now known as Burcha just couldn’t figure out who she was and why she would come visit him. Also, Rinpoche’s grandmother, Dechen Minh visited him frequently. In the meantime, Dewa Nimbo told Burcha that she was his aunt and that Burcha’s grandmother Dechen Minh was his mother. It was not only painfully difficult but also extremely unnerving for the young Rinpoche to work out who his real mother was – the lady in Taipei who was his caretaker, his grandmother Dechen Minh as Dewa Nimbo had told him, or this new Mongolian lady, Dana Bugayeff whom Dechen Minh had insisted was his mother. And who was Dewa Nimbo anyway and why was it that others were so eager to claim that another was his mother, as if everyone could be his mother and yet none was confidently his mother?
To Burcha, none of that made any sense and he could not work out who his real mother was, and why Dechen Minh who was supposed to be his grandmother was not in fact related to the Bugayeffs, supposedly his real parents. If all this complexity sounds disturbing, one shudders to think how it affected the mind of a child at a time when he needed stable foundations to develop. It was all very confusing and those around the young boy continued to subject Burcha to live his life amidst lies and deception. Being a powerless child, Rinpoche had to accept what the adults told him. Although it unsettled his mind greatly Rinpoche behaved himself well and pretended that his new environment was normal. But that was not the end of the trauma as more rude shocks awaited the boy.
One day, a few years later, after Rinpoche had grown accustomed to these new surroundings and the myriad circumstances and changes that dominated his life, he was dealt another devastating blow. One day when Rinpoche was in one of his cousin, Tsagan’s house Rinpoche and the other kids were playing when he had a little argument with Tsagan. After a few childish exchanges, Tsagan in her anger blurted, “You’re only adopted and they [Dana and Boris Bugayeff] are not your family.” That shocked and hurt Rinpoche very much and his mind went blank. After having endured years of unsettling confusion and finding a place in the chaos to survive within, Rinpoche’s world was crushed again. Just when Rinpoche the boy had allowed himself to believe that the Bugayeffs were his real parents that was taken from him yet again.
The young boy who was Rinpoche was only 10 or 11 years old and it had been very difficult for him growing up being unsure all his life who his parents were and what to believe, and what aspects his life were truth and what were lies. What cousin Tsagan said shocked and hurt him, but things were becoming clear to him. Rinpoche wanted to know the truth but no one would tell him much except for a cousin he was close to and whom he loved very much, Toktun. He had constantly asked Gaga Toktun (‘Gaga’ being Mongolian for Auntie or elder cousin), “Are we really family? Who am I?” and she would tell Burcha little bits and pieces of information. She was careful in what she said because she did love the boy and wanted to protect his mind.
Finally, one day after the incident with Tsagan, Gaga Toktun finally told Rinpoche gently that Queen Dechen Minh was his grandmother and the nice lady he liked, Dewa Nimbo was in fact his mother. A lot of things began to make sense, like why Dewa Nimbo would visit him and why things were the way they were. Rinpoche had been told the truth but that did nothing to soothe the hurt knowing that his real mother didn’t want him.
Dewa Nimbo continued to visit Rinpoche and even though he already knew who she was, he had to pretend that he didn’t. There were times when Dewa Nimbo brought Rinpoche to her home in Philadelphia. Rinpoche remembers those moments very fondly and even though a lot still didn’t make sense to him, Rinpoche knew in his heart that this lady whom he was very fond of and admired was his real mother. Simply knowing that there was a person whom in Rinpoche’s eyes was beautiful, intelligent, educated and real, made Rinpoche very proud and valued for a change and that filled his heart with joy. Over time, Rinpoche got closer to Dewa Nimbo and although he knew who she truly was, he continued to greet her as ‘Auntie Dewa’. It was enough that he was able to spend precious time with her.
In the years Rinpoche grew from a little child by the name of ‘Siaw Niu’ to become a teenager called Burcha Bugayeff, he had developed a growing passion for Buddhism and when other kids were playing with toys and make-believe heroes, Burcha was totally fascinated with the Buddha’s teachings, images of Tibetan Buddhist deities and prayers and meditations. What was uncanny about Rinpoche’s intense draw to Buddhism was that no one taught him and instilled in him that passion. Somehow Rinpoche just knew. The zeal and devotion to the Dharma seemed to be innate in Rinpoche from young and it was unquenchable even if it meant that Rinpoche was in constant risk of being beaten up and berated by his parents who had other ambitions for him. The irony was that from a young child who was uncared for, roaming the streets of Taipei, Rinpoche could now have a comfortable life and a family that would provide for all Rinpoche’s needs and yet, all he dreamed of and craved for, was the Dharma.
What was equally unexplainable was how Rinpoche had somehow found his way to live in close proximity to some of the most qualified and erudite Tibetan Buddhist lamas of the time, as if a divine plot was afoot. In the pursuit of his love the Dharma, Rinpoche suffered tremendously as his adopted parents would at times go to extreme measures to stop him from practicing the Dharma. They saw Rinpoche’s love for Buddhism as an end to the plans and purpose they had for their son. Many times in the young Rinpoche’s life he would be mercilessly beaten by his mother for engaging in any form of Dharma activities. Caught helplessly between the weight of a very tumultuous life and compounded by the way his adoptive parents would violently refuse his deep need for the Dharma, Rinpoche considered many times to end his life. In the end, Rinpoche would decide to give up the only home and the only stable family he had known after a lifetime of rejection, leaving this relative stability to find a life in Dharma. To have the Dharma, to be able to gaze at the holy images of the Buddhas, to be able to utter the holy mantras and to be able to engage in the prayers, meant more to Rinpoche than all the comforts and pleasures of the world.
Dewa Nimbo and Rinpoche continued to stay in contact over the years and talked about many things, writing frequently to one another. Rinpoche learned that his mother was a direct student of a very great Mongolian lama by the name of Sogpu Rinpoche, also lovingly known as Guru Deva Rinpoche. Tibetans called him ‘Sogpu Rinpoche’ which means the ‘Rinpoche of the Mongols’ but like many Mongolians, Rinpoche’s mother referred to him as ‘Guru Deva’, which means ‘Teacher of the Gods’, which was a very respectful name. Rinpoche didn’t know it then but Guru Deva Rinpoche would one day play a significant hand in changing the course of his life.
Many years passed and when Rinpoche was around 21 or 22 years of age, he went to Indianapolis to attend a teaching by his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Indianapolis was also where Dewa Nimbo, Rinpoche’s real mother, lived. By then the young man known as Burcha Bugayeff had also decided to become a monk. Rinpoche called Dewa Nimbo over the telephone and asked to meet with her as he was going to go to India soon and didn’t know when he would see her again. At first Rinpoche’s mother agreed to meet but she changed her mind at the last minute, citing some urgent other engagements. Having become accustomed to disappointments, Rinpoche had no choice but to accept the situation.
But Dewa Nimbo then said something to Rinpoche that would prove to be fortuitous. She said, “You’re going to India, you’re going to Nepal and it’s quite far away and you’ll be alone but if you need any help, if you need any assistance, if you’re in trouble in any way, go contact Guru Deva Rinpoche and tell him that Dewa Nimbo said so.” Rinpoche had no idea then that her advice would impact on his life profoundly. He was just glad that his mother had said what she did because to Rinpoche, that meant that she cared for him and wanted him to be well and safe. That was the last time Rinpoche spoke with his natural mom. He went to India after that to fulfill a promise made to his root guru Kyabje Zong Rinpoche to become a monk.
When Burcha was 22 years old, he was ordained by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and was given the name Tenzin Zopa. The year was 1987. After that, Rinpoche made a trip to Nepal and whilst there, he decided to seek an audience with Guru Deva Rinpoche, his mother’s teacher. Arrangements were made and finally when they met, Rinpoche was pleasantly surprised to find that this great lama was extremely friendly, very good-humored and welcoming. They conversed in Mongolian which Rinpoche was already proficient in by then, having lived amongst the Kalmyk Mongolian community in Howell.
To Rinpoche, meeting Guru Deva Rinpoche was an honor because the senior lama was a very accomplished master who had the merits to study under and held the lineage of the most learned and realized grandmasters of Tibetan Buddhism at the time – Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche. Guru Deva Rinpoche had also been instrumental in the re-establishment of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage in India. But Rinpoche thought nothing more of that auspicious meeting and soon after, Rinpoche hurried south to India, where life as an ordinary monk awaited him in Gaden Monastery.
Gaden Monastery was impoverished and Rinpoche and the monks had very little to eat – very little rice, very little bread and there were some days when they didn’t even have food. On those days, Rinpoche would be content eating just flour rolled in tea. Poverty was simply a fact of life and even though Rinpoche was extremely poor, he was very happy to be there. It was a journey that began a long time ago in the heart and mind of a very young boy that ended in Gaden, the holy institution of the Second Buddha, Lama Tsongkhapa. There was nothing else Rinpoche desired and he didn’t care about the poor conditions at all. A lot of the time, the monks didn’t have electricity supply and getting water was just as difficult. Often they had to draw water from the ground with manual pumps.
With food being scarce as well, Rinpoche also lost a lot of weight and yet nothing could diminish the joy in Rinpoche’s heart. He was exactly where he had longed to be and what was more important, Rinpoche was fulfilling a promise he made to his beloved Guru, Zong Rinpoche, even though Zong Rinpoche was no longer there. If ever there was a need to ask what kind of a person, what kind of a monk was Tsem Rinpoche, the answer was there being played out for all to see. Rinpoche was and still is the kind of person who would give up everything, all comforts and leisures, and all the assurances that people desperately seek for all their lives, in order to fulfill a promise. Rinpoche was a monk whose life epitomized the Dharma even before the robes touched his skin. Why else would a man leave behind what would have been a good life to be in a monastery, starving and with no regrets?
Nevertheless, poverty was a very harsh reality and Rinpoche continued to languish under the terrible conditions. After being there for three to four years, Rinpoche was in strife and literally starving. It was around 1991 when Rinpoche remembered what his mother said to him a few years before – that should he needed any help, he was to call Guru Deva in her name. So, in desperation, Rinpoche wrote a letter to Guru Deva Rinpoche and explained his dire situation. Rinpoche requested for Guru Deva Rinpoche’s help to find a sponsor so that he could buy food and supplies, soap and other basics. It was a shot in the dark and Rinpoche had no way of knowing if Guru Deva Rinpoche would respond, if he would or could help, or if the letter would even reach Guru Deva Rinpoche. Rinpoche dared not hope too much.
But about a month later a telegram arrived for Rinpoche, which conveyed this urgent message from Guru Deva:
“Come to Nepal as soon as possible. Immediately. Come now.”
Guru Deva Rinpoche had replied but Rinpoche’s situation was so desperate than the telegram created another predicament. On the one hand, Rinpoche needed help very badly and had to explore every opportunity. Yet he didn’t even have money for the basic necessities, let alone to make his way to Nepal in response to a somewhat cryptic telegram. Lost, Rinpoche consulted his teacher, Lati Rinpoche who was the Abbot Emeritus of Gaden Shartse. Rinpoche requested Lati Rinpoche for divination because Rinpoche had to know if he should go to Nepal, which was going to take a lot of time, effort and money, which he didn’t have.
Lati Rinpoche did the divination with three dice, which returned with a firm result. Years later, Rinpoche would recount Lati Rinpoche’s fateful advice:
“Whatever your obstacle is, whatever your problem is, whatever you’re finding difficult to get to Nepal, forget about it, overcome it, borrow the money. Go to Nepal. It will be very good for you. Good news will come. Don’t miss it.”
In effect, Lati Rinpoche told Rinpoche to go to Nepal at any costs. Rinpoche trusted Lati Rinpoche; to him, the result of Lati Rinpoche’s divination was nothing short of divine clairvoyance. But still Rinpoche didn’t have the money to travel so he went to Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe, who was Rinpoche’s teacher as well as the Abbot incumbent of the monastery. Rinpoche sought from Kensur Rinpoche permission to leave the monastery and a loan of 5,000 rupees, which was a lot of money at the time. With that Rinpoche went to Nepal.
Guru Deva Rinpoche’s residence was a three- or four-storey house just off the world famous Boudhanath Stupa. Upon arrival, Rinpoche was given a special room by Guru Deva Rinpoche’s assistant Tenzin Drakpa. It had been a few years since Rinpoche met Guru Deva Rinpoche and by that time Rinpoche’s Mongolian had degenerated considerably and his Tibetan was only slightly better. So Rinpoche related his problems to Guru Deva Rinpoche in broken Mongolian and very basic Tibetan but somehow they managed to communicate.
What Guru Deva Rinpoche said to Rinpoche moved him very much. Guru Deva Rinpoche said, “In a few days’ time, I’m going to introduce you to a sponsor. This sponsor, if you act well and behave well, will take care of all your needs, and take care of all your finances and be very good to you. And this sponsor is wealthy and he is one of my sponsors too.”
In that instant, Guru Deva Rinpoche showed himself to be the incredibly generous and selfless lama he was. It was not easy to find a sponsor and yet there was Guru Deva Rinpoche who hardly knew Rinpoche but was willing to give to Rinpoche one of his own. But that was precisely the calibre of lama Guru Deva Rinpoche was. The great three pillars of the Gelug lineage – Gaden, Sera and Drepung Monasteries – managed to re-establish themselves after the 1959 Tibetan exodus, due in no small part to Guru Deva Rinpoche’s contribution and generosity.
Guru Deva Rinpoche gave Rinpoche more information about this sponsor. His name was Lobsang Gyatso and he was a wealthy Tibetan man who also sponsored Guru Deva Rinpoche. Guru Deva Rinpoche had dispatched that urgent telegram because Mr Gyatso was coming to Nepal and Rinpoche could not miss this chance to meet him. But Guru Deva Rinpoche warned that this sponsor was not easily fooled and that Rinpoche would have to work hard impress him.
In the days that followed and whilst waiting for Mr Gyatso to arrive, Rinpoche kept company with Guru Deva Rinpoche and discovered, to Rinpoche’s delight, that this great lama was in fact very humorous. Rinpoche remembers Guru Deva Rinpoche fondly as a lama who “told [me] very interesting stories and he was very direct, very funny, extremely witty and had very funny facial expressions. After he said something he would look at you in such a way that you would just have to burst out laughing. He was so entertaining, very warm, and was just like everyone’s gentle and loving grandfather and at the same time he was a really great lama.” In the years that followed Rinpoche would recall with great affection the time he spent with this exceptional lama but as Rinpoche would soon discover, beyond the kindness and friendship and mentoring of Guru Deva Rinpoche, he would owe Guru Deva Rinpoche much more.
Anyway, after two or three days, Mr Lobsang Gyatso arrived and on first impression, he was a regular Tibetan man of medium height, with strong features and very penetrating eyes. Guru Deva Rinpoche urged Rinpoche to spend time with Mr Gyatso and for them to become acquainted.
Mr Gyatso asked about Rinpoche’s background and who Rinpoche’s mother was. After surviving years of doubts about his parentage, the uncertainties emerged yet again to prick Rinpoche. Rinpoche answered honestly that he didn’t know. The sponsor asked Rinpoche who his father was, and Rinpoche told Mr Gyatso that he has never met his father and never known his father. Rinpoche could only say, “Honestly Mr Gyatso, I don’t even know what race I am. I don’t know if I am Chinese, Mongolian or Tibetan and I have no idea because nobody will tell me who my parents are.”
And the conversation went on like that. Then Mr Gyatso asked Rinpoche a strange question, “What if you knew who your father was, what would you do?” Rinpoche was taken aback because not only had he not thought of that question before, having accepted he would never know whom his parents truly are, but it was also not common for strangers to ask. But Rinpoche thought about the question and answered from his heart that if Rinpoche was lucky enough to ever know who his real father was, Rinpoche would visit him often, speak to him like a loving son would his father, find reasons to be proud of him and protect the relationship with his father. Mostly, Rinpoche would just love him as Rinpoche’s father. If Rinpoche’s answer was swift and eloquent, it was because that had been the great wish of a boy who grew to become a man and then a monk, and that wish had been played out in Rinpoche’s innermost thoughts for years. Mr Gyatso, in between his cigarettes, considered Rinpoche’s answer carefully and just said, “Ok” and that was that.
After that, Mr Gyatso asked what Rinpoche intended to do and Rinpoche replied, “Well, I intend to go to Gaden to study. And I want to do retreats, and I’m living with a very great lama, you know, and I have a great teacher there. My root teacher has passed away but his student, Kensur Rinpoche is my teacher, and I’m very fortunate.” Mr Gyatso further asked, “What do you want, what do you want now?” to which Rinpoche replied that he needed some sponsorship and assistance to get robes, necessities such as food and medical treatment, and money to travel to attend teachings in Dharamsala and other monasteries.
Mr Gyatso simply said, “Ok. Well, you be a good monk, you study well and I’ll send you money every month.” Hearing that was a great relief to Rinpoche and at the same time Rinpoche felt a deep sense of gratitude towards Mr Gyatso. Although he did not specify how much he was willing to sponsor Rinpoche, in Rinpoche’s mind whatever Mr Gyatso was willing to give would be a great help. Just as he was as a child, Rinpoche was thankful for every little thing that was offered to him.
Over the course of the next few days Rinpoche became more acquainted with Mr Gyatso and learned that he was originally from Golok in the Amdo area of Tibet. Rinpoche also learned that when Mr Gyatso was very young he had journeyed to Trehor where he lived during his adult years. Later Mr Gyatso was a monk from Drepung Monastery and served Trungsar Rinpoche as his assistant. Much later on he began travelling and subsequently disrobed, got married and had a wife, two sons and a daughter. He continued to serve Trungsar Rinpoche as his sponsor. Mr Gyatso also had a school in Taiwan that taught Tibetan language and culture, which resulted in his close relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama because the Dalai Lama wanted very much to preserve Tibetan culture.
Around the time when Guru Deva Rinpoche introduced Rinpoche to Mr Gyatso, it was nearing Losar, the Tibetan New Year and Guru Deva Rinpoche’s household was abuzz with activities and preparation. One day Mr Gyatso gave Rinpoche 5,000 rupees as a gift, which was a lot of money at that time. Rinpoche in fact needed the money but felt that he should first use the sponsorship to express his gratitude to the people he had just met and had been kind towards him. Rinpoche spent about 3,000 rupees and bought gifts for Guru Deva Rinpoche, his assistant Tenzin Drakpa and his wife, and also gifts for Mr Lobsang Gyatso. Rinpoche planned to present the gifts to them on New Year’s Day as a surprise. Incidentally while Rinpoche was in Nepal, Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche was also staying nearby so Rinpoche went to visit his teacher. Rinpoche updated Gangchen Rinpoche about exactly what had happened, and Gangchen Rinpoche was clearly very happy that Rinpoche had found a sponsor.
Losar came around and the first thing Rinpoche did that morning was to hurry to Gangchen Rinpoche’s house where he made prostrations and offerings. Rinpoche then returned to Guru Deva Rinpoche’s house, prepared his gifts and proceeded to Guru Deva Rinpoche’s room. There were queues of people waiting to see Guru Deva Rinpoche to receive Losar blessings. Rinpoche remembers the day very distinctively and recalled that Guru Deva Rinpoche was sitting on his throne. Opposite Guru Deva Rinpoche, with his back against the wall, was Rinpoche’s new sponsor Mr Lobsang Gyatso. Rinpoche made three prostrations to Guru Deva Rinpoche, made a mandala offering then presented the simple gifts that he had bought. Rinpoche then stood up to leave, so that Guru Deva Rinpoche could continue with meeting everyone who was queuing up. As Rinpoche was about to leave Guru Deva Rinpoche motioned Rinpoche to sit down, and indicated that he had something to tell Rinpoche.
What Guru Deva Rinpoche said that morning had such a great impact that even more than 20 years later, Rinpoche remembers Guru Deva Rinpoche’s words almost verbatim. Guru Deva Rinpoche said, “A long time ago your father was already married, then your father met your mother in Taiwan and they were interested in each other, and they did something in the middle of the night and you were produced.” Guru Deva Rinpoche said those words very gently in Tibetan in his grandfatherly way and told Rinpoche the truth that had eluded Rinpoche all his life – Rinpoche’s father was already married when he met Dewa Nimbo, Rinpoche’s real mother and they conceived Rinpoche. Because Rinpoche’s father was already married, they could not be together and that shattered Rinpoche’s mother who left for America after giving birth to Rinpoche, leaving him behind in Taiwan. To Rinpoche’s mother, the blameless infant was a reminder of his father’s deception and Rinpoche’s very existence became a symbol of Dewa Nimbo’s shame.
Guru Deva Rinpoche told Rinpoche that Rinpoche’s parents had made a mistake which they regretted and instead of harbouring ill will, he should move on with his life. But all of that was just a precursor to what Guru Deva Rinpoche really wanted to say to Rinpoche, which was that the man seated behind Rinpoche against the wall was Rinpoche’s father!
Rinpoche turned around and there was Mr Lobsang Gyatso who a few moments ago were his sponsor and suddenly he was the father Rinpoche had not known until that moment. A barrage of thoughts rammed Rinpoche’s mind and he was immobilized in the shock.
A significant part of Rinpoche was dying to believe the news. Rinpoche had spent an entire childhood right until that moment looking for his father. Yet, another big part of Rinpoche dared not believe, after being told a few times who his parents were only to learn later that they weren’t his real parents. Those short-lived moments of deceptive joy had hurt Rinpoche tremendously and he just couldn’t bring himself to believe it. Rinpoche froze and looked at Guru Deva Rinpoche, who then said to Rinpoche, “Aren’t you going to turn around and say “Losar Tashi Delek” (Happy New Year) to your dad?”
And when Rinpoche turned around and looked at the man who was his father and saw how he was trembling uncontrollably and had tears running down his face, Rinpoche knew that the man he had known as Mr Lobsang Gyatso was his real father as those were tears of a parent for a child. Just like that, the man whose mistake had caused Rinpoche to be an unwanted child, and to be shunned as an embarrassment, and to be moved about without much regard, and forced to grow up in an abusive environment, and whose misdeed had led to countless maltreatment being inflicted upon an innocent child, was before Rinpoche. No one could have blamed Rinpoche if he had shown some anger for over 20 years of pain and yet Rinpoche just got up from his seat, went up to his father and embraced him lovingly. In Rinpoche’s mind he had found his real father after all these years of wondering and hoping and disappointments. As Rinpoche’s father hugged Rinpoche, he said to Rinpoche, “Please forgive me.” In the 20 years, a lot of emotions had welled up and now finally it was a time of release as Rinpoche’s father asked forgiveness for the years that he didn’t take care of Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s father cried and cried but he also didn’t want Rinpoche to see him in that state and after a while he gathered himself and said, “Ok, ok…you go now…”
All this happened before Guru Deva Rinpoche who looked at Rinpoche with a smile on his face and indicated that Rinpoche should leave the room now and that he would see Rinpoche later. As Rinpoche stepped out, Tenzin Drakpa’s wife asked, “Are you happy that you met your father?” Rinpoche said, “Yes” and Rinpoche was truly happy.
But it was also a lot of emotions to take in for one day after a lifetime of wondering who Rinpoche’s real parents were. When Rinpoche got to his room, he was finally completely overwhelmed and Rinpoche cried. Rinpoche cried and then washed his face, and cried again and in all the time not really knowing what to think. In his heart he was overjoyed and yet Rinpoche was very afraid that someone was going to come along and take this joy and relief away and tell him that the whole thing had been a mistake or a lie. As a child, Rinpoche was told that he had one set of parents in Taiwan, and that his guardians were his parents. Then later, Rinpoche was told that they were not and he was whisked off to America where suddenly he had another set of parents, but was later yet again told that they were not his real parents. Now, after all the turbulence, finally Rinpoche knew his real father and again, became afraid someone would come along and take that away too. It is difficult to comprehend the fear and anxiety that plagued Rinpoche all his life.
Rinpoche stayed in Guru Deva Rinpoche’s house for another two or three days. In that time Rinpoche and his father talked and ate together. Rinpoche called his father ‘Pa-la’ (Tibetan for father), and Mr Gyatso showed him pictures of his other two sons and his daughter, Rinpoche’s half-brothers and sister. One of Rinpoche’s half-brothers looked exactly like Rinpoche as if they were twins. Later, when this particular brother visited Rinpoche in Gaden, everybody would say to Rinpoche “Hey, your brother’s here.”
Finally after spending a few more precious days with his father, Rinpoche’s father told him that it was time to return to Gaden, saying, “Go back to your studies and be a good monk and don’t waste time here.” Rinpoche’s dad said that he would stay in touch with Rinpoche and that he will go to Gaden to visit, and that he will always take care of Rinpoche. Then he gave Rinpoche another 5,000 rupees, which Rinpoche was thankful for because he could now repay the loan he took from Kensur Rinpoche to travel to Nepal. It had been an eventful time but it was now time for Rinpoche to resume his studies in the monastery. Rinpoche said goodbye to Guru Deva Rinpoche and left.
A few months after that, Rinpoche was recognized to be an reincarnate lama and received a chakdak (seal of recognition) from the Oracle as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s approval for the Abbot, Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe to enthrone Rinpoche. As Rinpoche’s father had promised he would, he visited the monastery to see Rinpoche’s living conditions. He also sponsored the entire enthronement ceremony as per tradition – offering of tea and bread to all the monks in the monastery, a set of gifts to the monastery itself and an offering to Phukhang Khangtsen, which was the house Rinpoche belonged to in Gaden. In addition, Rinpoche received from his father enough money to build Tsem Ladrang, a new house for the newly enthroned Rinpoche, which still stands in Gaden today. From then on, Rinpoche’s father took care of his needs every month.
A few months after that, Rinpoche’s brother from Taiwan visited Rinpoche. From him, Rinpoche learned that their family had been looking for Rinpoche for many years and had finally found him. Those words meant very much to Rinpoche; for once in his life, after years of being lied to about his real parentage, those who were really his family had actually been concerned all along for his wellbeing. And to think that the joy and closure Rinpoche experienced came about because of Guru Deva Rinpoche’s kind-heartedness.
It was only because of this very kind and giving lama that a huge void in Rinpoche’s life was finally filled and Rinpoche was able to learn the truth about his parents, his roots and family. Not knowing had been very unsettling for Rinpoche growing up and for the longest time, it seemed like Rinpoche’s existence lacked legitimacy. Now that wound was finally closed. Because of a very generous lama who had sought to connect Rinpoche with Rinpoche’s father even though he did not know Rinpoche very well and was never obligated to Rinpoche in any way, Rinpoche finally had family and a sponsor and with that, Rinpoche was able to alleviate the struggles he had been facing. Throughout all his giving, Guru Deva Rinpoche never once asked for anything in return.
Reading Tsem Rinpoche’s account of his experience with Guru Deva Rinpoche, I saw how kind Guru Deva Rinpoche was, and how generous and extremely giving he was, only wanting good things to happen for others. Rinpoche’s story of Guru Deva Rinpoche also spoke clearly of his tremendous guru devotion. When Rinpoche was with this great and kind lama, Guru Deva Rinpoche would speak gently about his beloved teacher Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Guru Deva Rinpoche would immediately be in tears at the mere memory of his teacher. Guru Deva Rinpoche would always fold his hands, and his voice would become softer, and he would be very reverential whenever he uttered Trijang Rinpoche’s name.
In the years that followed, Rinpoche would learn from other eminent lamas of Guru Deva Rinpoche’s very high incarnation, his renown for being an emanation of Gyenze (the increase form of Dorje Shugden) and his unwavering devotion to Trijang Rinpoche. Rinpoche learned how Guru Deva Rinpoche had printed thousands upon thousands of rare textbooks for Gaden, Sera and Drepung, and also sponsored huge statues and gatherings for teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other great teachers. Guru Deva Rinpoche has also taken care of many poor and ordinary monks, as well as the needs of Gaden, Sera, and Drepung. In Tsem Rinpoche’s story we see a great lama in Guru Deva Rinpoche who was extremely learned and kind, and at the same time very devoted to his teacher.
Still, in Tsem Rinpoche’s opinion no words can fully do justice to all that Guru Deva Rinpoche did in his life and which is beyond the description of mere words. For sure, Guru Deva Rinpoche was an exceptional lama and Rinpoche, like many in the world, owe a debt they feel they can never repay. Such is the magnitude and scale of assistance Guru Deva had offered them.
In the subsequent years, Rinpoche met Guru Deva Rinpoche again a few more times. Later, Guru Deva Rinpoche moved to Mongolia and after that, Rinpoche did not see the great lama again. Rinpoche learned that Guru Deva Rinpoche passed away at 100 years old, physically old but his mind very clear and lucid.
What is equally remarkable is how Tsem Rinpoche emerged from a childhood of torment and anguish and instead of becoming bitter and angry, took all the pain he endured and turned them into realizations of everyone’s personal pain. That in turn filled Rinpoche with a great wish to heal everyone’s misery. In a harsh world that naturally cultivates self-preservation and fosters innate distrust and defence mechanisms, Rinpoche somehow turned all his bitter experiences turned into food for his practice, as the scriptures tell us is what Bodhisattvas do. For me, I have read volumes of biographies of high lamas and I cannot recall reading similar stories where a lama has had to overcome so many obstacles and give up so incredibly much to bring the Dharma to the people. Tsem Rinpoche’s story reminds me of a phrase that is often used to describe how we are supposed to be in our Dharma walk – “Like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface, we can rise above our defilements and sufferings of life”. Tsem Rinpoche has lived his entire life and continues to, in attestation to this wise counsel as if to show everyone, it can be done.
文 / 曹铭光
在尊贵的詹杜固仁波切身边的时光总是充满了乐趣。仁波切会使用各种方式来让我们看清自己的心识，使得那不仅是一个极佳的学习机会，也是一个增进感情和进行性格重塑的时刻。 仁波切总会让这种时刻充满欢乐和笑声。 他常会跟我们分享许多故事，而当他分享自己的个人经历时，仿佛开启了一道神奇的门户，让我们能近距离观察，宛如身历其境地面对仁波切所遭遇过的人、事和境。 仁波切所讲述的众多故事中，我最喜欢的其中一个，就是关于古鲁迪瓦仁波切的故事。
古鲁迪瓦仁波切的故事是一个关于慷慨、无私付出的非一般故事。 这是一个讲述一位伟大的西藏上师如何以慈悲改变我们的上师——詹杜固仁波切的生命的故事。 我们今天有幸遇到詹杜固仁波切，让仁波切成为我们生命中最重要的一个人，古鲁迪瓦仁波切在各方面的巨大贡献功不可没。 然而，这当中还有一段故事，对描述今日作为我们上师的这个人之特质十分重要。 故事讲述了詹杜固仁波切在面对艰苛环境时所表现出来的勇气、力量、温和、希望和慈悲，而多数人若遭遇同样的处境时往往都会崩溃和为自己找寻各种失败的借口，并变得充满怨气和恐惧。 古鲁迪瓦仁波切的故事既是上天的眷顾，也显示了詹杜固仁波切对佛法的爱与信任。到了今天，仁波切这种对佛法的爱与信任已经成为引领许多人远离娑婆的指路明灯。
Biography | 生平
Guru Deva Rinpoche is an emanation of one of the 84 Mahasiddhas. In order to benefit countless mother sentient beings, Rinpoche took rebirth in 1909 in Ordos, a city which has many temples in the Hanchen area.
Since young, Rinpoche was enthroned as a Hutugtu (“Incarnate Saint of the first rank”). At the age of 7, Rinpoche started to give Dharma teachings. Up till the age of 20, Rinpoche studied the Tripitaka (three baskets) and Trisiksa (threefold training) in Ordos, after which Rinpoche travelled to Tibet and studied in Drepung Gomang Monastic University. Under the tutelage of great masters like Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Yongzin Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche, Kyabje Khangser Ripoche, and others, Rinpoche mastered the Sutras and Tantras, and adhere to his teachers’ advice to benefit sentient beings throughout his life.
When the Dalai Lama emigrated with the Sangha and lay Tibetans to the land where Lord Buddha was born, Rinpoche helped to rebuild the refugees’ accommodations, the three Great Monastic Universities of Sera, Drepung and Gaden, as well as other monasteries. For example, in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, Rinpoche established the first Gelug monastery Gaden Chopel Ling (later renamed Samtenling) near the holy stupa of Boudhanath, which together with Gaden Jamgonling near the holy stupa of Swayambhu, enhance each other’s glory.
When Buddhism was going through revival in Mongolia, Guru Deva Rinpoche generously helped many Mongolian poor and homeless. In 1991, Rinpoche rebuilt the largest monastery in Mongolia, Amarbayasgalant, (Amarbayasgalant Khiid, built in the year 1727 or the 5th year of Chinese Emperor Yongzheng’s reign, known as “Monastery of Tranquil Felicity” in Chinese), re-establishing the ordained community, scripture learning or education, rainy season retreat and so on. This very important monastery of the pure Gelugpa lineage was built as the final resting place for Zanabazar (1635–1723), the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, or spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. This became the seat of the subsequent Jebtsundamba Khutuktu. Located 137 miles to the northwest of Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator, the main hall contains the statue of Guru Deva Rinpoche. During the opening ceremony of the monastery in 1992, Bakula Rinpoche and the President of Mongolia also came for the ceremony. In 1996, the monastery was selected as one of the world heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Dozens of monks visits Ulan Bator monthly to receive teachings from Rinpoche. In 1936, the number of monks in the monastery totalled more than two thousand.
Guru Deva Rinpoche compiled as well as printed many scriptures throughout his life, and until today, many of the commentaries or writing quoted the books or scriptures that Guru Deva Rinpoche published. The scripture room of Amarbayasgalant Monastery contained not only the Tibetan-Mongolian Kangyur, it also has the Chinese Kangyur. Guru Deva Rinpoche also established the Tsongkhapa Buddhist Society in Taiwan in 1990 where 5 resident monks from Sera Monastery are based to promote Buddhadharma. Guru Deva Rinpoche’s disciples in Taiwan also donated to the rebuilding of Amarbayasgalant and various other monasteries. Guru Deva Rinpoche’s contribution towards the Buddhadharma garnered much respect from the Mongolians, Tibetans, and Indians as Rinpoche’s work benefitted the seven classes of disciples.
当蒙古国佛教重振之初，仁波切便帮助众多蒙古穷人与流浪汉，1991年更重建蒙古国最大的寺庙阿玛尔巴雅斯噶兰特寺（Amarbayasgalant Khiid，建于雍正 5年，公元1727年建，汉称庆宁寺），安立僧团，学经，结夏等；此重要清净格鲁派教法寺庙，当年主要是建立做为第一世哲布尊丹巴呼图克图（Rje Btsun Dam Pa）的陵寝，此后为历代哲布尊仁波切的驻锡圣地，其位于蒙古国首都乌兰巴托的西北方 137英里，大殿中供有古鲁迪瓦仁波切等身像，当1992年寺庙开光之时，巴古拉仁波切与蒙古国总统皆亲自莅临。1996年此寺获选为联合国世界文化遗产(UNESCO)。寺内数十位僧众每月分批前往乌兰巴托向仁波切请法，1936年时僧众超过二千人。
Amarbayasgalant Monastery | 庆宁寺
Amarbayasgalant monastery is dedicated to Zanabazar’s main tutelary deity, Maitreya. Unlike Erdene Zuu Monastery, which is an ensemble of temple halls of different styles, Amarbayasgalant shows great stylistic unity. The overriding style is Chinese, with some Mongol and Tibetan influence. The monastery resembles Yongzheng’s own palace Yonghegong in Beijing (converted by his son the QianAmarbayasgalant Monastery (Mongolian: Амарбаясгалант хийд Amurbayasqulangtu keyid) or the “Monastery of Tranquil Felicity”, is one of the three largest Buddhist monastic centers in Mongolia.
The monastery complex is located in the Iven Valley near the Selenge River, at the foot of Mount Büren-Khaan in Baruunbüren sum (district) of Selenge Province in northern Mongolia. The nearest town is Erdenet which is about 60 km to the southwest.
Amarbayasgalant Monastery was established and funded by order of Manchu Yongzheng Emperor (and completed under his successor the Qianlong Emperor) to serve as a final resting place for Zanabazar (1635–1723), the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, or spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism for the Khalkha in Outer Mongolia and a spiritual mentor to both emperors’ ancestor, the Kangxi Emperor. Tradition holds that while searching for an appropriate site to build the monastery, the exploratory group came across two young boys, Amur and Bayasqulangtu, playing on the steppe. They were inspired to build the monastery on that very spot and to name it after the two children, Amur-Bayasqulangtu. More likely, the location was chosen because it stood at the place where the lama’s traveling Da Khuree (his mobile monastery and prime residence) was encamped at the moment of the his death. Construction took place between 1727 and 1736 and Zanabazar’s remains were transferred there in 1779.
Originally consisting of over 40 temples, the monastery was laid out in a symmetrical pattern, with the main buildings succeeding one another along a North-South axis, while the secondary buildings are laid out on parallel sides.
Amarbayasgalant was one of the very few monasteries to have partly escaped destruction during the Stalinist purges of 1937, after which only the buildings of the central section remained. Many of the monks were executed by the country’s Communist regime and the monastery’s artifacts, including thangkas, statues, and manuscripts were looted.
All cultural elements including pastureland, location, settings, sacred sites and temples within the Monastery, burial sites and graves are an entirely authentic testimony to the Buddhist religious and sacred associations of the proposed property. Amarbayasgalant Monastery is the most authentic of the Buddhist monasteries that have been preserved in Mongolia after the 1930s political upheavals. Although, it has been damaged during these political victimization of national and religious culture, 28 temples were survived and protected by the State since 1944. The work of measuring and restoring this monastery began in 1972 with funds provided by UNESCO and private sources. The restorations of the Temple were performed with Monastery’s original materials and design archive photos.
庆宁寺（蒙古语：Амарбаясгалантхийд Amurbayasqulangtu keyid）阿玛尔巴雅斯嘎朗寺或“宁静幸福寺”是蒙古三大寺院的佛教中心之一。寺庙群位于色愣格河附近的伊芬谷， 蒙古北部色楞格省巴伦布兰苏木区布艾仑- 思汗山的脚下。最近的城镇是额尔登特, 大约西南60公里。
For more interesting information:
- The Dorje Shugden category on my blog
- The Zong Rinpoche category on my blog
- The Great Lamas & Masters category on my blog
- My Precious Teachers
- Complete Commentary on 50 Verses of Guru Devotion
- Brief Commentary on 50 Verses of Guru Devotion
- Dorje Shugden: My side of the story
- Сам хувилгаан эрдэнэ (Tsem Rinpoche’s biography in Mongolian)
- My First Guru in New Jersey
- Kyabje Zong Rinpoche Cuts My Hair
- His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang
- H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s biography
- Choose your guru always
- It’s been hard…
- I did something right
- A Poem To My Teacher…
- Gurus love their students
- 84 Mahasiddhas
- THE COWSHED THAT WAS MY HOME IN GADEN
- Respects to Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche
- Emperor Kangxi / 康熙皇帝
- H.H. KYABJE PABONGKA RINPOCHE (1878–1941)
- Did you know this about Pabongka Rinpoche?
- Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche in Tantric Dress
- Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche’s Clairvoyance
- Incomparable Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche
- What Others Say About H.H. Pabongka Rinpoche
- Taking Refuge by Pabongka Rinpoche
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