Assisting Khensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Phende
Su Ming with Khensur Rinpoche and his attendants. Su Ming is one of the Changtso of Tsem Rinpoche
A few months ago, when a few of my students visited Shar Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, India; my students visited Khensur Ladrang (lama’s household) to bring some supplements and Dharma offerings for Khensur Rinpoche. We knew from a previous visit that Khensur Rinpoche was diabetic, so this time, my students came with some supplements that are good for people with diabetes and to find out about Khensur Rinpoche’s health. It was during this time that I found out that Khensur Rinpoche’s diabetes is not under control… It saddened me a lot, as Khensur Rinpoche is such a beautiful, wise, and great Dharma practitioner, whom has gone through so many tribulations throughout his life. He held his abbot position so superbly benefitting the monastery so much. Now that he is retired, we cannot just ‘forget’ about him. I’ve known Khensur Rinpoche for over 27 years now. Yes over 27 years now. We will be friends for the rest of my life.
I’ve sponsored the medical costs and procedures for hundreds of monks. I was also able to raise funds to build a hospital in Gaden monastery. Taking care of the monks medically has always been a priority for myself.
When I heard that Khensur Rinpoche was not well, I thought… I must do something. I cannot allow such a highly respected and precious Lama, whom have dedicated his whole life to take care hundreds of monks in the monastery during their most difficult time, to fall ill and have his physical body deteriorate pre-maturely. He held the abbot’s position for 7 years successfully and led the Shar Gaden Monastery during it’s most difficult period. He was the first abbot also chosen. So, I told Su Ming, whom is a wonderful and caring person, to bring Khensur Rinpoche and his attendants to Bombay, where proper medical care can be obtained. Khensur Rinpoche, due to his humility, he initially rejected the offer; but I begged Khensur Rinpoche through the phone to allow me to take care of him, so that he may live long and continue to turn the wheel of Dharma, and at the same time allow me, the sponsors and Kechara to collect such huge merits for healing such a great Lama as Khensur Rinpoche. Only after I insisted in this way did Khensur Rinpoche allowed us to take him for a medical checkup.
Many years ago, I used to take care my teacher, Khensur Jampa Yeshe in Gaden. Khensur Jampa Yeshe had diabetes too, and it was during that time I met with a very very compassionate doctor, Dr Nadeem Rais. I have kept contact with Dr Nadeem all these years, as I have never forgotten how kind and how well he took care of my teacher. He is a very famous doctor in Bombay, and usually his schedule is packed back to back… however when Su Ming called him, he knew that it was urgent and made some time for us to bring Khensur Rinpoche for a checkup.
So, Su Ming and her wonderful team consisting of Carmen, Karen and Vinnie; took Khensur Rinpoche, Gen Wangyal (Khensur Rinpoche’s close attendant), Gen Nyima (Khensur Rinpoche’s young attendant) and Gen Kunga (English translator) to Bombay. I am very appreciative of Su Ming and her team for doing such a good job taking Khensur Rinpoche and making sure every detail was orderly. They updated me every step of the way. It was a great honor to be able to be part of healing Khensur Rinpoche… I am really glad I had this chance to serve this great Lama. With good health, Khensur Rinpoche will be able to confer precious initiations to the new generation of monks.
Escorting Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende for a Medical Checkup
[Written by the Gift Team]
A private audience with an eminent scholar Khensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Phende on the afternoon of 11th October 2014 unraveled into a holy mission to Bombay, where we sought treatment for Khensur Rinpoche’s diabetes and a full medical examination.
As Kechara House’s president, Datuk May Phng, Changtso of Tsem Rinpoche Su Ming Chuah, and students Abby Foo, Jace Chong, Vinnie Tan, Sarah Yap, Karen Chong and Carmen Koo along with Gen Wangyal (Khensur Rinpoche’s main attendant) and Gen Jangchup Kunga were in the presence of Khensur Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche made a phone call from USA to speak with Khensur Rinpoche. Two old friends spoke on the phone for at least 30 minutes, and at the end of the conversation, Tsem Rinpoche spoke to us to give some advice on creating the causes and generating the necessary merits for a pure, holy, senior monk to live long. Khensur Rinpoche is very learned, a supreme ritual master and scholar, who dedicated his entire life to propagating, learning, practising, and upholding the Dharma and has much knowledge to pass on to the younger Sangha members to preserve the lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa therefore his health and long life is of extreme importance.
From speaking with Khensur Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche learned that Khensur Rinpoche has serious diabetes which tires him very easily. On the spiritual level, we requested Khensur Rinpoche to accept a Tenshug for his long life. In addition, we requested Khensur Rinpoche to kindly allow us to escort him for a medical examination and to treat his diabetes which Khensur Rinpoche agreed to bestow us with such honor.
Rinpoche had told us about a lovely caring doctor in Bombay, whom Rinpoche had previously met whilst in charge of helping Khensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche with his fight against diabetes. His name is Dr Nadeem Rais, and he had controlled Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche’s diabetes so well that Khensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche had his life extended by 14 years.
Preparations and thorough arrangements then went underway for a group of 8 to travel to Bombay. Escorting Khensur Rinpoche to Bombay was his attendant Gen. Wangyal, Gen. Kunga, who helped tremendously in being our translator, Gen Nyima, a young monk working at the Menkhang (hospital) of the monastery, as well as Su Ming, Vinnie, Karen and Carmen.
Khensur Rinpoche speaking with Tsem Rinpoche on the phone during our group’s private audience with Khensur Rinpoche. Khensur Rinpoche said that he felt very lucky to be able to speak with Tsem Rinpoche, on the other hand, Tsem Rinpoche told us he was so fortunate to be able to speak to Khensur Rinpoche. Both are great, humble Dharma masters
Datuk May Phng, President of Kechara House, respectfully requesting Khensur Rinpoche to allow us the opportunity to escort him for a medical checkup in Bombay
DAY 1: 14th OCTOBER 2014
We began our journey at 6 AM from the monastery to Goa so the 5 hour car ride brought us through many states and beautiful views along the way. Ample of rest stops were made so we could stretch and have refreshments as well. We arrived at Goa International Airport (commonly known as Dabolim Airport) around 12 PM, checked in, passed the immigration, had our lunch in the only restaurant at the airport, and boarded our flight which was scheduled to depart for Bombay at 2.50 PM.
Just before boarding our flight from Goa to Bombay, the entire team with Khensur Rinpoche
Its a full flight to Bombay, and for Gen Nyima (far left), it was his first time on a plane and away from the monastery. Gen Kunga (centre) served as our English translator; and Khensur Rinpoche (right)
In no time, we had arrived in Bombay, and before we knew it, we were at the hotel checking in and preparing dinner for Khensur Rinpoche and the monks. After things were settled, the team went to a nearby grocery store to buy some groceries as well as a gift basket of organic and healthy consumables for Dr Nadeem Rais. We were lucky to find this store close by the hotel – we were told that most of the shops close at 8PM, and 24 hour convenient stores like 7-eleven are unheard of in Bombay.
DAY 2: 15th OCTOBER 2014
We arrived at Chowpatty Medical Centre (CMC) for Khensur Rinpoche’s first consultation appointment at 2:00PM. Su Ming and Vinnie had gone earlier to the clinic to brief Dr Nadeem Rais on Khensur Rinpoche’s condition as well as update Dr Nadeem on Tsem Rinpoche and Kechara as Dr Nadeem and Rinpoche have known each other for a long time. On behalf of Rinpoche, Su Ming presented a bouquet of flowers and a basket of organic food products to Dr Nadeem which he appreciated very much. Dr Nadeem assured Su Ming that he will personally take very good care of Khensur Rinpoche and make sure that he is well. What a caring, kind, and compassionate doctor, who is generous with his time and care towards every patient’s well-being.
The outside of Dr Nadeem Rais’s clinic, Chowpatty Medical Centre (CMC)
Su Ming giving Dr Nadeem Rais a run through of The Promise, Tsem Rinpoche’s biography. Dr Nadeem was very happy to hear about Rinpoche’s good works in Malaysia and USA
Before the consultation with Dr Nadeem, both Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal had an initial observation with another doctor at the clinic (we thought it would be good for Gen Wangyal to receive a full medical checkup and treatment as well). They were interviewed on their medical history, diet habits, had their blood and pressure tested, underwent a few other examinations, weight, height and BMI measured as well as an ECG done for them. The nurses, assistants and doctors at CMC were all very professional, helpful and generous with their advice. After listening to Khensur Rinpoche’s daily diet intake, they recommended an alternative diet consisting of skim milk, egg whites, less oil, butter and salt, brown rice, atta flour, fruits, and fresh green salad, whilst eliminating fruits like banana, grape, custard apples, jackfruit, dates, mango, figs, coconut juice, fruit juices as well as sugarcane juice as they are all high in sugar content and unsuitable for diabetic patients. Most importantly, exercising (a 15 minutes walk), is highly recommended after each meal as it metabolises the fat in the body.
At Dr Nadeem’s clinic, which is perpetually filled with patients
Khensur Rinpoche getting a sample of his blood for blood test by Dr Nadeem Rais’s assistant
Gen Wangyal, who has been best friends with Khensur Rinpoche since they were young, is getting his blood test done
The consultation with Dr Nadeem went well. Dr Nadeem was reassuring and made everyone feel comfortable. Initial reports obtained via the pre-examination showed positive results. Dr Nadeem advised that with diabetes, there are 5 things that we need to look out for and do. This includes:
- Food/Diet – consume foods that are low in sugar content and high GI
- Exercise – regular exercise should be done to keep one healthy and use excess fat storage
- Stress/Worry – it can play a role in affecting one’s diabetes as the body reacts to the stress and worries it undergoes
- Treatment – medication needed to control the diabetes level if needed
- Checking & Monitoring – of the blood sugar level on a daily basis to ensure that everthing is in check, and determine whether a change in treatment (medication) is needed.
More detailed tests were scheduled for us by Dr Nadeem at other medical facilities, so we set a date for another appointment with Dr Nadeem where we would then be able to go through the complete medical examination results of Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal.
Some preliminary observations from Dr Nadeem from the immediate results of some basic tests done:
- ECG – both Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal had very good results for this, and Dr Nadeem said that both of them have a healthy heart, equivalent to that of a 17 year old teenager.
- Creatinin Test – this was to test the function of the kidneys, and both of them came back with good clear results.
- Urine Test – there was no infection that was found through the urine.
- Blood Pressure – Both had normal readings.
In Dr Nadeem’s consultation room, while Dr Nadeem goes through the initial observation reports of Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal
Before parting from CMC, Rinpoche called to speak with Dr Nadeem and Khensur Rinpoche, to reassure Khensur Rinpoche that he is having the best treatment, and to thank Dr Nadeem for his unwavering care in treating and helping others. We bought a blood sugar reading machine which would be used everyday to test Khensur Rinpoche’s blood sugar level, as well as a supply of test strips. The lovely assistants taught Gen Nyima and Gen Kunga how to operate the simple machine so that they can keep up with the monitoring of Khensur Rinpoche’s blood sugar levels.
Tsem Rinpoche in the USA on the phone with Dr Nadeem Rais in India. Tsem Rinpoche’s care goes beyond boundaries. Dr Nadeem was very happy to speak with Rinpoche. Tsem Rinpoche wanted to let Dr Nadeem know Khensur Rinpoche is his good friend and please lend all possible assistance.
We are all learning how to use the machine that reads blood sugar level from Dr Nadeem’s assistant. Gen Nyima (behind) checks Khensur Rinpoche’s blood sugar level everyday
Back Row, from left – Vinnie, Su Ming, Gen Kunga, Gen Nyima.
Front Row, from left – Dr Nadeem, Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal
We rushed to our next appointment at 5.30PM, which Dr Nadeem and his team kindly helped to arrange immediately for us on the very same day. It was with Dr. Rumi Jehangir, who is an Ophthalmic Surgeon2. Getting a good eye check-up for a diabetic is very important as diabetes degenerates the eyes and can cause bleeding when it is in its advanced stages. This was also necessary, so that we could make them new glasses which can help very much in the monastery. Khensur Rinpoche reads and studies a lot of sutra texts as he gives many teachings, therefore, a good pair of glasses will help him very much. At Dr Rumi’s, Khensur Rinpoche was shown to have a little cataract in his left eye, and will have to have continuous check up on a yearly basis. The doctor recommended that a surgery to remove it is not necessary at the moment, but we will have to monitor it well. Khensur Rinpoche has operated the cataract on his right eye previously. With the current pair of glasses that he had on, Khensur Rinpoche’s vision was near-perfect.
Gen Wangyal was diagnosed to have white spots on his cornea, which Gen-la claimed has been there for 6 years. He has had an operation done on his eyes 3 years ago. Results from examination showed that Gen Wangyal is both near and far sighted therefore we decided to get him a bi-focal spectacle which would be easy and convenient for him. Dr Rumi recommended to us an optometrist not far from the hotel to get their prescribed spectacles done.
Dr Rumi checking Khensur Rinpoche’s eyes. Khensur Rinpoche’s eyesight was really good as he could read the smallest font alphabets on the board in front of him.
Gen Wangyal gets his eyes checked by Dr Rumi, who prescibed Gen Wangyal bi-focal glasses as he is both near and far sighted
DAY 3: 16th OCTOBER 2014
Gen Nyima is always seen support and helping Khensur Rinpoche. Serving senior lamas creates tremendous merits for the individual
We had an 11AM appointment at NM Medical Centre for more medical tests. The monks had to fast two hours before the tests. The tests that were done included:
- Chest X-Ray
- Sonography, like ultrasound, to check the internal organs of the body. It will give a better understanding of the current health of the liver, pancreas, and kidney.
- 2D Echocardiogram and Stress Test – to see the condition and health of the heart
This was completed in less than 2 hours. Results from tests showed that both Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal are doing well for their ages. Their heart functions are healthy and good, comparable to many younger people. The effects of high blood pressure can be seen for Gen Wangyal, though it is not worrying as he continues to take his medication. It was recommended that salt intake is to be reduced. When we arrived at NM Medical Centre, Su Ming and Karen already had all the paperwork done so that waiting time for Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal would be less
Gen Wangyal waiting for his turn to take the 2D Echo-cardiogram and then the stress test. Another patient, who was in line, seeking blessings and paying her utmost respect to a pure and holy monk. Such deep seeded spirituality within the Indian culture
Khensur Rinpoche undergoing the 2D Echo-cardiogram. After Khensur Rinpoche had his Echo-cardiogram, Gen Wangyal did the same scan on his heart done. Gen Wangyal has high blood pressure but medication kept the condition under good control
Having lunch at a nearby vegetarian restaurant. There is no problems or difficulty at all in finding vegetarian cuisine in India, as a vegetarian diet is very common there
After lunch, we proceeded to the Dentist, which was also recommended by Dr. Nadeem, who had his clinic schedule in the appointment for us. We met Dr. Ravindra at his clinic, who did initial observations on Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal. Khensur Rinpoche had an x-ray on this teeth done at the clinic whilst Gen Wangyal had to do it at another location as he required a much more comprehensive scan as most of his teeth are broken. We had made another appointment to visit Dr. Ravi, as he would then have the x-ray films to determine what treatment they needed.
Towards the evening, we went to Baliwalla & Homi Optometrists to make prescriptive glasses; 2 pairs of bi-focal glasses with transition lens for Khensur Rinpoche and a pair for Gen Wangyal. We were happy to sponsor everything.
The front signboard to Dr Ravi’s dental clinic
Khensur Rinpoche getting a dental check up and x-ray scan. Gen Wangyal had the same tests after Khensur Rinpoche.
Trying on some frames in the optometrist…
Khensur Rinpoche looking on happily in approval of Gen Wangyal’s frames. They have been best of friends, and fled Tibet together by foot to India. Gen Wangyal loyally serves Khensur Rinpoche all these years
DAY 4: 17th OCTOBER 2014
By now, most of the preliminary tests were done so we were going around to collect the medical reports for our evening appointment with Dr Nadeem Rais. After breakfast, Khensur Rinpoche went for a morning stroll together with Karen and Vinnie along the marine drive. It was lovely, and very good exercise for Khensur Rinpoche as diabetes patients need to do at least 15minute walk after each of their meals to help metabolize the intake of food.
Consultation with Dr Nadeem went well, as both Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal were overall both deemed to be very healthy for their ages. After going through the results of all reports, Dr Nadeem confirmed that Khensur Rinpoche has class 2 diabetes. However, Khensur Rinpoche has been on medication, and that has controlled his condition fairly well. Some new medications were given to replace his existing one.
Vinnie entertaining Khensur Rinpoche, Gen Nyima, Gen Wangyal and Gen Kunga with her stories during their morning exercise
This was how the monks stored their medication, in a simple white plastic bag. We helped them reorganize it and got them pill boxes
At Dr Nadeem Rais’s clinic for our 2nd consultation after we collected the full set of medical reports. Khensur Rinpoche had his medications changed to suit his condition of Class 2 Diabetes
When we discovered the gym…Khensur Rinpoche is very sporting
DAY 5: 18th OCTOBER 2014
The weekend allowed us to take the monks shopping to get the essentials we needed for Khensur Rinpoche’s change in diet. We had gone shopping for shoes and sandals, groceries including rock salt, multigrain atta flour, green tea, brown rice, diabetic honey, and oats to name a few, electronics such as a juicer and rice cooker. The monks do not really get a chance to leave the monastery grounds as they, especially Khensur Rinpoche, spend most of their time teaching the many scholars and monks and serving the monastery in whatever ways they are able to. It was a joy to be able to take them shopping.
Trying on new shoes. It is important to use proper footwear especially for those with diabetes. The shoes will help them as they walk around the large compound of the monastery, and will provide more grip and safety
Purchasing atta multigrain flour, rock salt, brown rice and other commodities suitable for diabetic patients
Purchasing a few months supply of medication for Khensur Rinpoche
Getting all the necessary supplies needed from the Pharmacy. They have many things, and is very convenient to purchase prescribed medication here
Choosing stationaries and toys for the young monks of Khensur Ladrang
Our purchase from Bombay as offerings to Khensur Rinpoche, Khensur Ladrang, and other monks of Shar Gaden monastery!
DAY 6: 19th OCTOBER 2014
We made a trip to Kanheri Caves, a Buddhist Pilgrimage site. The many caves found in this site were once used for meditation by many Bodhisattvas, and it was also believed that Lord Buddha had delivered a discourse at one of the sites. With tremendous blessings and such holy energy pervading, Khensur Rinpoche led a Lama Chopa puja in one of the caves, dedicating it to the long life and excellent health of Tsem Rinpoche and Kecharians. It was strenuous as the paths were unsteady and some required a steep climb but it was a blessed day nonetheless which everyone enjoyed very much.
If you go to Bombay, do make a trip here
Khensur Rinpoche, struggling up many flights of stairs. Although it must be very tiring, Khensur Rinpoche is still very happy as the destination was to a holy temple
Making a prayer
The start of the Lama Chopa puja which Khensur Rinpoche did in dedication of Tsem Rinpoche’s good health and long life
Other visitors joined in the prayer too
DAY 7 & 8: 20th & 21st OCTOBER 2014
In these two days before departing Bombay, we made our second trip to the dentist where Khensur Rinpoche got some cavities cleaned, and filling for a decay tooth. There are more extensive treatments needed for both Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal, which will continue in Hubli when time permits. Gen Wangyal has all but four of his teeth broken thus they need to be extracted and have dentures made, while Khensur Rinpoche requires root canal. We had also collected the prescriptive glasses which took a few days for the optometrist to make.
Back at the dentist again for filling and removal of decay
Group picture before leaving Bombay back to Goa
What we consider as basic medical and dental care, is precious for sanghas like Khensur Rinpoche and Gen Wangyal who spend their entire lives in the monastic community teaching, preserving the lineage, holding their vows, and studying. It is evident that they do not focus on their own needs and wants, as they focus more on the needs of others, therefore it was an honor and privilege for us to be granted a precious opportunity to gain merits in serving pure and holy monks. Back in the monastery, we made sure that we had Khensur Rinpoche’s Ladrang in order and arranged to suit Khensur Rinpoche’s dietary needs.
Buying more groceries and essentials from Hubli for Khensur Rinpoche and the Ladrang
Gen Kunga translating notes into Tibetan to put on the walls
Organizing Khensur Rinpoche’s daily medication into a pill box with Tibetan translation
Toys and Puzzles for Khensur Rinpoche’s students
Giving out some much needed stationaries to his students
We are truly grateful to be able to be part of this fortunate holy pilgrimage, not only were we able to visit holy places, but we were able to directly serve a holy lama like Khensur Rinpoche, whom have brought so much goodness to so many people’s lives and will continue to do so with a healthier body. We will continuously take care of Khensur Rinpoche from this point forward. Up to date, Tsem Rinpoche has sponsored for the medical fees and everything else. If there is anyone that wish to contribute to the medical fund for Khensur Rinpoche, please kindly contact Chuah Su Ming or Carmen Koo for more details.
With sincere thanks and gratitude,
Gift Team of Kechara House
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