How Dharma Changed My Life
“Making a thousand friends a year is not a miracle. The MIRACLE is to make A FRIEND who stands by you A THOUSAND YEARS” – H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche
I never knew that meeting H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche more than 20 years ago would change my perception of life so completely. In 1995, bored with doing nothing much with my life, I grabbed the opportunity to visit Gaden Monastery in India with a group of relatives and friends upon invitation from Rinpoche who asked us to stay in his residence, Tsem Ladrang in Mundgod, India as his guests. Rinpoche was very friendly and warm and our group spent time with him in his small little room which he used for prayer, work and sleep. Watching Rinpoche work made me realise that it was the first time I had met someone who was so caring, compassionate and giving.
I grew up in a very comfortable and sheltered environment yet was not content and complained that life should be better for me. But there in the cramped room, Rinpoche was working so hard on administrative works, correspondence, sorting out funds and items to be given out to the monks and the poor needy families, as well as sharing Dharma with us. His teachings were logical, practical, full of wisdom and conveyed in a relaxed manner. I then realised that he was not an ordinary monk but a special yet down-to-earth Lama. I also realised that there was so much for me to learn in order to cut away my self-cherishing mind and that Rinpoche would be the perfect teacher to guide me as I liked Rinpoche’s approach to Dharma.
Rinpoche told us to “change ourselves inwardly, not outwardly” and that real Dharma practice is about mind transformation. He told us to remain as we are from the outside but to read, to learn, to gain knowledge and to incorporate the Buddha’s teachings into our lives and transform from within. Rinpoche makes Dharma and everything so logical and easy to understand and he is so sincere and full of compassion. That one week stay in Tsem Ladrang changed my view of life completely and I am glad that I went.
Rinpoche’s kindness did not stop even after we left. He was guiding me all the time from afar and I received letters, Dharma books, gifts and advice from him very frequently. I finally met Rinpoche again when he came to Malaysia and I had the opportunity to host and serve him occasionally. I also observed the hardship Rinpoche had to face while spreading Dharma in Malaysia. It was very challenging yet Rinpoche persevered out of compassion for sentient beings. It is through his kindness, hard work, perseverance and strong Guru devotion that we have Kechara today.
Throughout the years, I learned so much from Rinpoche’s teachings and many years ago, when there was an economy crisis and my family was facing financial difficulties, Rinpoche was kind enough to introduce Dorje Shugden’s practice to us. It was through Dorje Shugden’s help, blessings, protection and guidance that we were able to overcome the financial obstacles that we were facing. Another time, just a few years ago, when my daughter was having serious health problems while in the UK furthering her studies, she was mentally strong enough to undergo an operation because she had strong faith in Dorje Shugden and was confident that her operation would be smooth. She told me that she was reciting Dorje Shugden’s mantra all the way to the operation theatre.
I am a normal housewife who raised three children. I am blessed with a good life, a good family and everything a woman could ask for. Why should I get my hands dirty for others? I guess that despite all the comfort and material needs that I have, I felt something was missing in my life and one of Rinpoche’s wise quotes “Stop counting what you cannot do, but count what you CAN do and start doing it” was in me all the time. So it was in 2009 that I decided to get out from my comfort zone to set up a Dharma outlet in the Northern region of Malaysia to spread Rinpoche’s teachings and activities with the hope that it would benefit others as much as it had benefited me.
It was not an easy task, especially as I had minimal experience with working life, but with the blessings of Rinpoche and my two Dharma Protectors, Setrap and Dorje Shugden, I found the premises, raised the funds for the renovations and oversaw the operations of the Dharma outlet. While approaching sponsors for the renovation works, I learned to let go of my ego, be tolerant and skilful when dealing with people. I feel that Dharma work is Dharma practice and I represent my Guru and Kechara; so I had to do it well and do it right. As the saying goes “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching” so I pushed myself into doing it. Many asked me whether I found my work stressful. I told them I love what I am doing and explained to them that working hard for things we do not care about is called stress but working hard for the things that we love is called passion. And when we have passion in our work, we can excel and succeed.
A year after setting up the Dharma outlet, again through the blessings of Rinpoche, Setrap and Dorje Shugden, I set up a branch of Kechara Soup Kitchen in Penang to feed the homeless and urban poor. Rinpoche always taught us about practising compassion through action and I had seen Rinpoche helping the poor and destitute in India even though he had so little. That taught me to be giving and caring, and to be content with what I have. Through seeing the sufferings of the less fortunate, I realise that I am so blessed to be born with such conducive conditions and I should not waste this golden opportunity to make this human life more meaningful so that at the end, I can die without regrets. I still think, “Wouldn’t it be good to bring happiness to others too in whatever small ways I can contribute?”
Whether we engage in secular or Dharma work, it is not always easy and there will be many challenges. However, if we have faith in our Guru and Dharma Protector, then our works will be easier. In 2015, I decided to set up a Dharma centre in the Northern region so that the people here can have a strong spiritual bond with the Three Jewels and the Dharma Protectors Setrap and Dorje Shugden. It is also a place for them to take refuge, to seek solace, guidance, blessings and protection.
Many have asked me how Dharma Protectors can help us since they can’t remove our negative karma. Yes, that is correct but they have great compassion and are ever ready to help us. However, they can be hampered by our lack of merits so by doing their practice, it generates great merit and that in turn creates the causes for them to come to our assistance and for us to receive their help.
Throughout all these years, Rinpoche is still the same whether in private or in public. His compassion, wisdom, care and unconditional love is still the same as the first day I met him. Why it never changes is because Rinpoche’s motivation never changes. “Kindness emerges from someone who is confident and comfortable with themselves. A kind person is loving and giving out of their good heart” and this is exactly what Rinpoche embodies.
I am glad that I found my spiritual path although my spiritual journey has its ups and downs. It wasn’t smooth sailing all the way but the results and ensuing transformation are priceless. All I want now is to spend the rest of my life doing Dharma work and I pray that my life may be of benefit to others.
“Spiritual friends that guide us to do Dharma are true friends of wisdom and virtue”,
I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt appreciation to Rinpoche for being my spiritual guide and friend in this life and hopefully in all future lives. Thank you for being a friend who will stand by me a thousand years and giving me the best gift…the gift of Dharma.
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