The Promise – Tsem Rinpoche’s inspiring biography now in ebook format!

Jun 8, 2018 | Views: 118,539

The 4th Edition of The Promise is a bilingual book in both English and Chinese. Click to purchase a printed copy.

It has been over 20 years since our teacher His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche was first advised to write his biography. Back then, Rinpoche had humbly declined his teacher’s suggestion, saying that no one would be interested in or benefit from his story. Unperturbed, Rinpoche’s teacher pressed on, insisting that the biography be published because it would benefit many people. He then went on to elicit a promise from Rinpoche that it would be done.

This would be one of many promises that Rinpoche has made and kept throughout his life and as Rinpoche’s students, we are very happy to present to you the 4th (and latest!) edition of Rinpoche’s pictorial biography, The Promise. This edition includes many more details about Rinpoche’s life, especially in reference to the enlightened Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden — such as how Rinpoche was first introduced to Dorje Shugden and how he received Dorje Shugden life entrustment (sogtae) from His Holiness Kyabje Zong Dorjechang.

There is also new information and photographs about Rinpoche’s time in Gaden Shartse Monastery, the influential lamas and gurus who inspired and taught him, as well as his experience and works for Dorje Shugden’s lineage.

Along with all this additional information, we were of course able to include many more photographs!

A young Tsem Rinpoche in Los Angeles, USA

A young Tsem Rinpoche in Los Angeles, USA

Hence what you will find below is the pictorial biography of a unique being whose story has come to embody the breadth and depth of the human experience, inspiring many to establish what has grown to become a force in the Tibetan Buddhist world. It is the story of a person who has lived a life of intense trials and tribulations, all for the sake of keeping a promise.

What was supposed to be a golden rebirth instead turned into a childhood characterised by abuse, attempted suicides and runaway attempts before a triumphant rise above these challenges to fulfil his spiritual destiny. In Rinpoche, people will find elements of both East and West, his upbringing, education and experiences encapsulating the best of both worlds.

Those who read about Rinpoche’s life may be tempted to put it down to a series of incredible coincidences. Yet, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, his life is none other than that of a Bodhisattva, a divine being who has taken rebirth solely to benefit others.

Rinpoche's contemporary approach

Rinpoche’s contemporary approach to Buddhism has attracted students and followers from all around the world

This is the story of a man who has turned a life of vicissitudes into one that is lived in service of others. He delivers the ancient wisdom of the Buddha not just from books, but from personal experience too. He knows what it is like to suffer, to feel hunger, disappointment and pain. He also knows what it is like to experience hope, love, care and gratitude. He is the proverbial golden child, traversing test after enduring test, to become a man who continues to maintain his optimism, hope and sense of humanity. When he gives advice on how to cope with suffering and develop happiness, it is not gleaned from dry texts but from applying the teachings himself through his own experiences.

Perhaps there are aspects of his journey that you identify with. Perhaps there is something about this modern-day approach to Tibetan mysticism that taps into your subconscious. We know this is true for many who have benefited from hearing his story. And so, as his students, we wish very much to make Rinpoche’s journey known to others, in the hope that it will inspire them to rise above challenges and to know that it is possible to go through deeply traumatic experiences yet emerge free from anger, bitterness and sadness. We also wish to inspire a commitment to always be of benefit and service to others. So we very much hope that you will enjoy this book and share this incredible story with others.

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please visit



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178 Responses to The Promise – Tsem Rinpoche’s inspiring biography now in ebook format!


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  1. Jacinta on Sep 6, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I’m not here because I’ve any realisation of Rinpoche’s biography but instead to commemorate the journey of Rinpoche in this world.

    Rinpoche has passed into Parinirvava at the time I’m writing this. I believe many Kecharians share the same grief as I’m now but more so those who were once close to Rinpoche.

    ” We all leave footprints as we journey through life. But Rinpoche, yours are worth following ?. ”

    Thank you Rinpoche. Please return swiftly to continue turning the Dharma Wheel. We all need you. I need you Rinpoche.

    Much love,

  2. Tsem Rinpoche on Feb 21, 2019 at 8:48 am

    With deep devotion to the guru, higher meditational insights will arise. Because of not having higher meditational insights, one will not realize the need to have devotion to the guru in order to gain higher insights. They are interdependent.~Tsem Rinpoche

    With deep devotion to the guru, higher meditational insights will arise. If one does not have deep devotion to the guru, it is a clear sign one does not have higher meditational insights.~Tsem Rinpoche

    meme temp

    Good meme

  3. sarassitham on Jan 31, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    The Promise- Chapter 2

    Every page of this biography seems to be very interesting. A childhood of a royal child was undecided and has to grow up with his foster parents. The poor child has to go through many hardship time and was able to accept his situation even though he suffered great physical and psychological abused. People around him was not aware that he was a abuse child because his braveness, being mischievous and his cheerful look.

    The only things that he know is praying and chanting mantras whenever he was able to do so. He never stop going to temple and seeing his guru even he was avoided by his family. This little boy always had a strong connection to Buddha. He was very much attracted to Buddha Manjushri and Vajrayogini. He always kept the images of the Buddha secretly and brought it with him where ever he moved.

    Throughout his childhood he met many of his family members and friends. Some took great care where Rinpoche was able to share them some of his Buddha mantras. He used to meditate and chant mantra at some occasion when they needed protection. Rinpoche
    shared some of his memorable photos of his family and friends when he was in Los Angeles.

  4. sarassitham on Jan 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    The Promise – Chapter 2

    By fate the young Rinpoche found his first guru Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin. Being overwhelming joy and very happy of meeting his Guru just nearby his home. He expressed so great of being found his actual home and started to have all his imagination after seeing the statues of Buddha. He was so young but was naturally attracted to spiritual and enjoyed all his time praying and meditating to Dharma Protector Palden Lhamo.

    He often prayed to Palden Lhamo even he was advised to prayed to Buddha Shakyamuni. The young Rinpoche continued to spend all his time doing dharma in the temple even though he had many objections from his parents. All his parents dreams was unveil when they came to know about Rinpoche’s is deeply obsessing with religious.

    In many occasion Rinpoche left home to go to temple without his parents knowledge. He would do anything in temple just to be close by his Guru. Knowing his conditions to come to temple often without reasons he was advised to stay home by his Guru.

  5. sarassitham on Jan 26, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Chapter 2 – The Promise

    As far Rinpoche their parents dislike seeing him practice dharma. Naturally Rinpoche was more adore to and peace he too enjoyed most of his times meditating and chanting mantras. Even if he had opportunity to play and cycle around with his friends he used to look for cave to meditate and recite mantras. Eventually Rinpoche just enjoyed all his leisure time chanting mantras and meditating.

    One of his favourite destination for meditation was at Turkey Swamp Park. He loved the environment of the Park so much and often had a lot of imagination of Buddha. His powerful imagination has always kept him floating the Buddha forms and visualising all his mantras. He was only about 12 years old he can see great compassion, happy, emotions and forgiveness by this way.

    The natural devotion, prayers, mantras and meditation and dharma practice longing Rinpoche towards Buddhist practice. By coincidence Rinpoche managed to get to see his first Guru at the Kalmyk Buddhist Temple nearby his home in Howell, West America.

  6. sarassitham on Jan 25, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Chapter 2 – The Promise ( page 50-70 )

    Another journey of Rinpoche started where he was only six year old in America. Usually at this age children are given full attention and supported to all their needs with love and courage but for Rinpoche it was different. He was taken to America and to be introduced to his second foster family as his real parents. The child was not able to understand what was going around but seems to accept whatever was given to him.

    Life changed him tremendously to the little boy was had gone through many difficult situation since he was a baby. From whatever needs was neglected in his life he seems to be showering him. Life have been luxury to him with everything new including full of love comfort and caring. He was always well groomed and was very intelligent, he too had many capabilities and was good at science and art. Many early days cheerful look of Rinpoche’ photograph was taken in America and some was the people that he met in his life when he was young.

    Life changed to another scenario has Rinpoches was growing up. There was lack of courage, support and comfort when he needed the most. He went through horrible time and was abused. He too faced a lot of discouragement and he felt nothing truly beneficial and started to avoid. Life was truly unpleasant to the young boy who supposed to live happy but always was in full of fear. The good part of Rinpoche was, he always kept silent and never showed his anger. His became lonely and constantly prayed and involved in dharma practice and aspired to be a monk

  7. sarassitham on Jan 23, 2019 at 11:21 am

    After reading chapter 1 of the Promise

    The background life of Tsem Rinpoche. Interestingly, Tsem Rinpoche was born to a Mongolian princess Dewa Nimbo and Lobsang Gyatso. The couple was unable to build a family she discovered about Labsang Gyatso was a family man. The distress princess was unable to bare her situation left Labsang Gyatso has she was already going to have a baby.

    Before Tsem Rinpoche was born, many wonderful dream made the mother to think about auspicious baby. After his was born, the baby had many attention from monks who actually was impress and recognize his previous spiritual life and was told to send to monastery for spiritual studies. The mother refused has her identity will revealed and decided to get a foster parents before he attend school.

    Life went very miserable for the child, he was ill-treated, abused and was neglected to all his needs including food and care at his foster parents place. It’s heart wrenching to know at the age of three he was often seen roaming all around the street begging for food and back home late just to sleep. Out of some bad times there was some good time for Rinpoche after meeting Kwan Mama. A friend of his mother who took great care of Rinpoche. She was very fond of Rinpoche and wanted to adopt him without knowing who really he was.

  8. sarassitham on Jan 21, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I have been reading Tsem Rinpoche biography for the couple of weeks. This books covers many lifetimes stories and the spiritual lineage of Lord Buddha. I was surprise to know that Tsem Rinpoche is the 2nd with us but in reincarnation of Tsem Rinpoche. I was glad to be introduce to this biography and to know the full expedition of Tsem Rinpoche.

    I just started to read and felt sad to hear his early childhood story was very taught. He went through many hurdles and hindrance in his life because of his parents. A Mongolian and Tibetan heritage who was born in Taiwan and grew up America for his monastic studies, and always has a strong inclined towards dharma since childhood. on

    It was also said that he was born in many incarnation and forms. In every incarnation he was born he was recognized by his lama’s. They even had identify him as Dorje Shugden.
    In all his incarnation there have been many deeds of dharma teaching was done. I too came to know that all his wealth of knowledge traveled from India to Tibet. In his journey of life he always make a promise that in what ever things he do he will continue to do it in future.

    I’m going to explore the full story of 25th Tsem Rinpoche, from the day he was born and his lifelong commitment and the promise he made that changes his life .

  9. Choong on Dec 16, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    The 4th Edition of “The Promise” which incorporates narrations of Rinpoche’s previous lives, details Rinpoche’s very strong affinity for the Dharma and Rinpoche’s tremendous propensity to carry out Dharmic actions – literally continuously.

    These qualities are extremely rare and can only come from many, many lifetimes of habitual behavior; an etching of these qualities on the mindstream; or simply what we call practice.

    We are extremely fortunate to be able to encounter and hopefully emulate a mindstream such as Rinpoche’s. Rinpoche leads, practices, teaches, empowers, and mothers us to states closer and closer to enlightenment, I have no doubt. In other words, Rinpoche is the Dharma.

    Thank you Rinpoche for being here for all of us and may all sentient beings benefit from Rinpoche’s mindstream.

    May Rinpoche live a thousand years and continue to turn the wheel of Dharma!

  10. Choi Sheem on Dec 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Chapter 2- Page 55 – 124
    This chapter covers Rinpoche’s life with the new adopted family in the USA. Although Rinpoche’s new parents in the USA paid a lot of attention to him and showered Rinpoche with their love, they did not encourage the practice of spirituality. They were very much against Rinpoche’s wishes to learn dharma, go to the temple and Rinpoche’s wish to become a monk.
    All of the family photographs showed so happy family moments but deep down in Rinpoche’s heart there are thoughts of running away from this family and even attempts to end his own life. All of this is because Rinpoche was denied the opportunity to practice dharma.
    The Buddha drawings by the young Rinpoche is the highlight to this chapter.

  11. Pastor Adeline on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    We have completed the reading of Rinpoche’s biography today. To sum it up, it was a journey full of inspirational sharing. It is one that brings us hope and light, to never give and find ways to succeed, to follow your heart to do the right regardless. Rinpoche’s life story is a spiritual path that focuses on benefitting others, to bring joy and love to others, to be grateful of what we have and never forget to give no matter how poor we think we are.

    Rinpoche started this life in a small family in Taiwan though being born with royal blood, suffered from malnutrition and hunger. He was brought to the US to a supposedly good life ended up with physical and mental abuse for practising dharma. When he finally received ordination in India, he was so poor that he was always hungry and living in a room next to the cowshed with mosquitos and snakes. Life in India was primitive with a latrine in the field, mud everywhere when it rains, yet he would fed half of what Rinpoche had to the birds outside the window. When Rinpoche recalled his life in India, Rinpoche never once focus on the poor conditions Rinpoche experienced but the erudite masters Rinpoche met and learned from, the dharma teachings, the dharma and charity work Rinpoche did.

    When Rinpoche was asked to leave India to Malaysia, it was almost like another bad dream for being away from Rinpoche’s home – monastery. Rinpoche reluctantly left again due to Rinpoche’s strong Guru Devotion. Rinpoche brought joy and tears to Kyabje Lati Rinpoche’s and Kensur Jamapa Yeshe Rinpoche’s eyes when Rinpoche returned from the first trip to Malaysia, bringing with Rinpoche all the needed funds to build the monks’ quarter at Gaden Shartse Monastery. Rinpoche always proves Rinpoche’s teachers to be right: right about the immediate beneficial outcome, right about Rinpoche’s ability, right about the future direction Rinpoche would benefit many more, and most importantly right about Rinpoche’s spiritual attainments.

    Rinpoche has shown us that it is ok to fail but never to be defeated, it is ok to be wrong but never stops trying, it is perfectly fine to chase your dream when it benefits others and ourselves, it is necessary to go against the grains because not many understand the benefit of dharma. Rinpoche’s life is an example of a fearless dharma warrior who would go as far as Rinpoche would to actualise a promise Rinpoche has made to brings benefits to many.


  12. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    [Reading from page 402- end]

    Today was the last part of “The Promise”, where we went through the many photographs of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche with various great masters. These photos gave us a glimpse into the relationships that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche shared with them.

    1. H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s not only met, but also received teachings, spent time, and for some, served and travelled with these great masters of Tibetan Buddhism. It is very rare to meet with an esteemed lama, yet Rinpoche had tremendous merits to meet and study with some of these great lamas, scholars and practitioners of our time. These include His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, His Holiness the 101st Gaden Trisur Rinpoche Lungrik Namgyel, His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Chocktrul Rinpoche, and many more. All these are a testament that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is not ordinary, and that Rinpoche have been a great practitioner and have kept his samaya clean to be able to study and met with so many masters in this degenerate age.

    2. Going through the pictures reminded me of not only how many people Rinpoche had met, but rather how many people Rinpoche has helped. I know for a fact that wherever Rinpoche went, and whoever Rinpoche met, Rinpoche would always make a lot of offerings to or support/sponsor the activities of these lamas.

    3. It’s nice to read about how Rinpoche live with or spent time with these inspiring great masters and teachers. Rinpoche always shared with us the story of these older masters/lamas/geshes, and how their practice was, how humble they were, and how much hardship they went through. Because of that, I had developed greater respects for Tibetan Buddhism, not for just the doctrine itself, but for its sincere practitioners who went through tremendous hardship to propagate, promote and ensure its continuity to benefit sentient beings.

    4. I’ve not known of any of Rinpoche’s peer who had to go through so much hardship to ‘get’ to the monastery on their spiritual journey, and even today, had to continue to endure so much hardship for the sole purpose of benefiting others. Despite all that, with death threats, ostracisation from his family and friends, despised by his own (Tibetan) community, Rinpoche holds on dearly to the promise and samaya with H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, a shining example of integrity and loyalty, a ‘walk-the-talk’ example of what Rinpoche teaches/preaches. It’s no wonder that when Rinpoche teaches, it moves many because what Rinpoche teaches is not from the text, but sharing his own experience and learning from applying the Dharma in his life.

    Thank you Rinpoche for taking on a life of hardship to promote the Dharma, and to use your own life as a lesson for many ?

  13. P Lanse on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    My thought after reading chapter 5 (pg 402 – end)

    This part of the book is a collection of photos of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche with His gurus, other high lamas and monks. Looking at this pictures, there are two things that strike me most.

    – The damage done by Dorje Shugden ban: Many lamas who used to be so closed to Rinpoche are now no longer in contact with Rinpoche anymore. Dorje Shugden ban not only created disharmony and separation among the sangha community but also slow down the spreading of the holy Dharma in general.

    – The continuation of lineage: Many high lamas in the photos had passed away and many of them have reincarnated back, some even started to teach the Dharma again. These high lamas had chosen to reincarnated again and again in order to spread the Dharma. It is through their compassion and effort that the holy lineage can be preserved. Their prayers, aspiration and effort to be reincarnated back again and again to spread the Dharma is not a one life fight but a continuous fight that seems never end. I think Rinpoche’s poem on page 443 sums it up perfectly.

  14. Joy Kam on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Dear Rinpoche,

    From the very first time I met Rinpoche and I heard bits and pieces of Rinpoche’s life story, I felt I was literally watching a real-life Hollywood drama come to life about a golden child. I know for a fact if Rinpoche’s story was made into a movie, it would be an inspiring movie because as it is now, just reading it through this pictorial biography, without that much details as a full-fledged biography, there is already so much inspiring events and incidences that teaches us something. It teaches us about courage, perseverance, hope, love, forgiveness, kindness, generosity. There is always something one can take with away from just one particular event of Rinpoche’s life. A lesson, a realisation or a reflection of our own life. It makes the problems that we face, I face seems mild, but in essence, the overall quality I admire and noticed throughout, which I find applicable for not just myself but for everyone in general, for anything we face in life, is Rinpoche’s “never give up” attitude and how Rinpoche pushed and fought to his way through samsara just to get to Dharma and to be thrown back into the ocean of samsara to battle it some more. I guess this is what it means that Rinpoche is a Mahasattva.

    Overall, Rinpoche’s life-story is not just extraordinary, but it is real, it is something relatable, it is not about the thrones, the pomps and fancy golden crowns/hats, but it is a battle of a human being who wishes to do good, in search of perfection, to learn about the higher purposes in life, and who wishes to reach a higher state of enlightenment. And most importantly it is to show us, that we can do this too if we make the effort and if we wanted to improve ourselves to go higher and get out of this cyclic existence. Thank you Rinpoche for creating this book club for us to learn and expand our mind.

  15. Edward Ooi on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    We (the reading group) have just completed reading Rinpoche’s book (The Promise) and below are my thoughts.

    1) It showed me how important life is. When Rinpoche was really young, his parents did not support him to learn the Dharma and forced him to follow the path of a ‘normal life’ where one should get married and have children. Due to the immense pressure and abuse, Rinpoche tried to take his own life several times but fortunately failed to. The reason why Rinpoche tried taking his own life was not because he wanted to get back to his parents or any of that sort, it was because Rinpoche wanted to take a new rebirth and practice the Dharma in the next life. Because Rinpoche did not successfully take his own life and continue practicing the Dharma no matter how difficult the situation was for him, today Rinpoche has been able to learn the Dharma, become a monk and literally benefit thousands and thousands of lives spiritually and physically. This has taught me that no matter how difficult life can be, taking your own life never the answer, we just have to find new ways to achieve our goals and we will be able to achieve it if we believe and practice the Dharma.

    2) This has taught me a lot about my guru, how, where Rinpoche grew up, what did Rinpoche do throughout his life, how is he a perfect example for us to follow if we want to gain higher spiritual attainments in Buddhist practice. This is so that I can share my guru’s stories to my friends and inspire them to become better people or even to introduce them towards the path of Buddhism in a new way.

    3) Rinpoche has shown us how one should treat their gurus and that is very important because gurus are the ones that will bring us to the higher state of mind or to become enlightened. We shouldn’t try our best but we should make sure to do our best to support and help our guru is every way that we can so that he can focus on spreading the Dharma. We may not have the merits to receive initiations to practice higher forms of meditation yet, however; we can collect merits by doing more virtuous works along with good motivation to generate merits so that we may have the chance the practice the Dharma more strongly in the future.

  16. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Comment on the Promise Chapter 5 part 2

    Today we went through many pictures of Rinpoche with many high lamas and other tulkus. What I noticed from this pictures are the high lamas are treating Rinpoche as their equal. It was very nice to see a courageous Dorje Shugden lama like Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche visiting Tsem Rinpoche in New York. It is also very nice to see Rinpoche’s root teacher, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is very fond of Tsem Rinpoche since he was a child. I believe that these high lamas respect Rinpoche for his wisdom and compassion and they could recognize Rinpoche’s qualities

    Overall as this last day of the Promise book reading, Tsem Rinpoche’s life is very colorful with its many ups and downs. There is two consistent qualities that I could see from my teacher. Firstly, no matter what challenges come to him, they have never broken him down. Secondly, Rinpoche always cares for those around him regardless of whether they can repay his kindness or not. I admire Rinpoche for these qualities.

  17. Martin Chow on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 9 [Overall

    I feel The Promise is a success story. Not the typical type of ‘success’ that meets all the worldly preconditions such wealth, fame, material gain and power. Those stories are a dime a dozen these days. Tsem Rinpoche’s story is the triumph of a life lived according to the Six Perfections (Generosity, Discipline, Patience, Diligence, Meditative focus and Wisdom).

    It is difficult to believe that a single individual who has had to face adversity all his life could accomplish so much to benefit so many people. In fact there is not a single stretch of time in Rinpoche’s life when Rinpoche had it easy – not when Rinpoche was a young child who was moved from one place after another, not when Rinpoche was in LA and having to work multiple jobs to survive and yet learn the Dharma and serve Rinpoche’s Gurus, certainly not when Rinpoche was a poor monk in the monasteries when Rinpoche had to learn new languages and reacclimatise to a totally new life, and for sure not after Rinpoche came to Malaysia to teach the Dharma and face all kinds of challenges, characters and personalities and taking on all manner of physical, financial and mental burdens. And all this was even before Rinpoche decided to sacrifice Rinpoche’s own reputation, peace of mind and fellowship with friends and family, to uphold the Dorje Shugden lineage. Even today, things are not easy and this is to say nothing of the karma, pain and suffering that Rinpoche quietly absorbs from others. When we ask ourselves, what’s in it for someone to endure all these for others, we may begin to understand who Rinpoche is.

    The Promise is not a glorification of Tsem Rinpoche but an open invitation for those who are fortunate enough to have come across Rinpoche’s teachings, to embrace the teachings and a Bodhisattva’s kindness unconditionally and unreservedly.

  18. abby foo on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Today, we finished reading the whole book. This new version of The Promise has many precious photos of our Rinpoche from young age, with all the high lamas, geshes, monks from India, Nepal, Tibet. From page 402 onwards, you can see all that. You can see our Rinpoche is well connected to the Tibetan Buddhism world and the His path from Taiwan to Unites states, and from United States to India, and eventually from India to Malaysia. Along the path, Rinpoche met different kind of people, but what touches Rinpoche’s life, is always the Gurus and Buddhadharma and sangha.

    This biography book records the life stories of Rinpoche, the struggle Rinpoche went through, how Rinpoche thrives and the very stories that shapes who Rinpoche is today.

    I feel very encouraging from reading Rinpoche’s stories. Rinpoche is very ‘closed’ to us, in a way because Rinpoche went through what the usual lay people would go through. I can always relate myself to Rinpoche’s experiences and this helps me in many of my decision making in life.

    If you want to have a physical book to read, purchase it here:

  19. CindyH on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Having completed the reading of The Promise, it is truly a humbling and inspirational experience to bear witness to (i) Rinpoche’s deep yearning for Dharma as seen in the (extreme) extent in which Rinpoche was willing to go in order to have the Dharma in his life (ii) the utmost guru devotion and complete dedication to fulfilling the Guru’s instructions and (iii) the exemplary steadfast application of Dharma especially compassion and gratitude.

    It is definitely an understatement to say that Rinpoche is extraordinary and exemplary. From the magnitude of Rinpoche’s past deeds to Rinpoche’s steadfast application of Dharma throughout all the trials and tribulations and unquestionable guru devotion, Rinpoche not only reveal how one should practice Dharma but also demonstrate it is always a choice not to give up. It also never ceases to amaze me that to Rinpoche, alleviating the suffering of others is so paramount that Rinpoche would continuously and unconditionally give so much to everyone else, be it the Dharma or worldly aids, even to Rinpoche’s detriment.

    Words are truly not sufficient to express how grateful (and fortunate) I am to be able to encounter and receive Rinpoche’s teachings and care.

  20. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Today we concluded the remainder of Chapter 5 during our reading session. Overall The Promise provides a very good overview of Rinpoche’s life and works, but only scatches the surface of what Rinpoche’s life has really been about.

    Throughout he life we see that Rinpoche has persevered through hardship in order to pursue what the wanted, which is a spirituallyl fulfilled life in the service of others. This is what the Dharma teaches us but it is through Rinpoche’s life that we see this in action. The hardship Rinpoche faced could have led Rinpoche down another path, as it does a lot of people. But what Rinpoche’s life teaches us is to remain firm in our strength of resolve for spiritual attainments and success and we can and will achieve it.

    As students who are far removed from the monastic environment, especially someone like myself who has not been on pilgrimage to the monasteries yet, it is all too easy to not realise what it can be like in the monastery and why Rinpoche loves it so much. But from the stories in the books and the fantastic pictures of Rinpoche together with such high masters of learning, study and practice, it is clear why it is the perfect environment to be in.

    Rinpoche has always had strong Dharma motivations, obviously from his great imprints from previous lives as great masters, and this has led Rinpoche’s journey in life from the very beginning. This is clearly evident from Rinpoche’s determination to get to the monastery, studying in the monastery and then teaching in Malaysia. When reading the biography it really inspires me. Despite everything that can happen on the spiritual path, here Rinpoche’s life gives a us a very powerful example of how to practice and what to follow on our spiritual path.

  21. Pastor David Lai on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    We had just completed reading of the Promise here in Kechara Forest Retreat. Looking back on the stories contained within the book, there were much to glean from Rinpoche’s story. It was such an epic journey, spanning Taiwan, American, India and Malaysia. Rinpoche’s life was one spent completely on Dharma, sacrifice, devotion and Dorje Shugden. Each aspect speaks to me in a different manner and one that different groups would relate to and glean an inspiration.

    It is rare these days for people to devote themselves wholeheartedly to a spiritual cause. Hence, stories like Rinpoche’s should be told. People need to know how to lead their lives in the light of Dharma according to today’s conditions. Although there are numerous stories of lamas and teachers that displayed miraculous signs and so forth but that may not necessarily inspire people these days.

    Hence, Rinpoche’s down to earth story of perseverance, keeping promises and utter devotion is more relateable. I can see Rinpoche’s teacher, Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche’s wisdom and foresight for having Rinpoche’s story available for others. I rejoice and enjoyed the stories very much.

  22. Sharon Ong on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    My thoughts on The Promise

    Having completed this edition of The Promise, my faith in my precious Lama has increased even more because it further highlights Rinpoche’s enlightened qualities as all of Rinpoche’s past incarnations have contributed significantly to Tibetan Buddhism, from Magadha Sangmo, Buddha’s female disciple who led the people of Gokhara to Buddhism, right to Rinpoche’s current life, whose methods of propagating the Dharma may be current and different from his predecessors but motivation is still the same.

    It is truly amazing that we have a Mahasattva right here in Malaysia whose past lives’ works continues today and the people of Malaysia are fortunate to be the beneficiary of Rinpoche’s good work – Kechara Soup Kitchen and Kechara Forest Retreat, just to name 2 of Rinpoche’s major works.

    What is enduring about all of Rinpoche’s past incarnations and this current one is Guru Devotion, the basis of all Rinpoche’s works and success in preserving and spreading Buddhism. Rinpoche’s life stories just prove that with pure Guru Devotion, anything is possible.

    Thank you to all those who made this incredible biography possible.

    May Tsem Rinpoche’s works manifest swiftly.

  23. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 14), what stood out for me was the pervasiveness of Dorje Shugden practice, and the calibre of the lamas who relied on them. As we flipped through the photos and the final pages of the pictorial biography, it was one luminary name after another. I just thought it is so sad that the Tibetan leadership denied all of these lamas the opportunity and ability to manifest the full scale and scope of their teachings, and denied so many people the opportunity to connect with and remain connected with the lamas. It works both ways.

    For example, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche who stayed with Gaden Shartse. How many people who did not give up their Shugden practice, were denied the opportunity to receive teachings from this great being?

    And Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche who went to Shar Gaden. How many people who gave up their Shugden practice, were denied the opportunity to receive teachings from him?

    Lati Rinpoche would’ve been able to reach out to and benefit so many more people than he already did, if his activities had not had his activities forcibly limited by the Tibetan leadership, and likewise for Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche who would be able to benefit so many more people if the Tibetan leadership stop segregating one segment of the population from him.

    The Tibetan leadership, who are supposed to be guardians and propagators of their culture and religion, are instead becoming the causes for its decline.

    I also feel both sad and fortunate that I was able to meet some of these great masters. At the time, I knew they were powerful and special but it wasn’t until many years later that I realized just how special they really are because of the stories Rinpoche has told of them, and the way their student (our Rinpoche) is and what he has done for me and everyone else. Everyone should think how they represent their teachers through their actions and accomplishments, and if they are a good or poor reflection of their lamas’ qualities. It is a good guide for us on how to adjust our behaviour to become better reflections if it’s true when we say we love our teachers.

  24. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Such an inspiring life-story of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche (and still going on). Unlike many other reincarnated “golden child”, Rinpoche was not put on the throne when he was a toddler, on the contrary, he grew up in a bad childhood, abandoned by his parents, abused by his nanny and foster mother, yet he found his own way, and he traversed the path in such a spectacular manner that made most other high lamas path pale in comparison. This is not to say that the other high lamas do not have attainments, but Tsem Rinpoche chose a path which he could demonstrate fully the qualities that are taught in the Dharma – the six paramitas, and Rinpoche life story since birth till now is nothing short of the perfect examples of all the six paramitas. Tsem Rinpoche is truly someone whom we can learn the Dharma from, from the entry path all the way to enlightenment. And with the advancement of technology, we are so fortunate that we can learn from Rinpoche anytime, anywhere. Rinpoche, like many of his previous lives, has brought on yet another “renaissance”of the Dharma via the digital way,

  25. Wei on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    My thoughts on the closing pages and the book overall:

    The picture section illuminated only a fraction of Rinpoche’s life, yet it appears so full of meetings with different Sangha members, including many high lamas. To learn from so many masters, this highlights how involved Rinpoche is in learning and spreading the Dharma. The result of this is Rinpoche now being akin to a natural spring of Dharma knowledge, an oasis in an arid desert of spirituality. The pictures demonstrate how well respected and connected Rinpoche is within the community of high lamas which further supports his authenticity of pure Dharma teachings.

    Overall, the book was a good reminder for me, since I had transcribed much of the story beforehand. The pictures throughout were very helpful at identifying certain events and people. Reading the book in a group did not feel like a struggle at all, even having known about much of it before, simply because I find the story interesting. The events of the story are quite ‘far fetched’ in the sense that many people have not lived through so much struggle and overcome it for the sake of spirituality and benefiting others. However, I found I could understand and empathise with many of the events in the story, and I have more respect for Rinpoche’s activities and decisions due to his motivations to benefit others and follow through with his promises to his gurus. Some people might say it is a miracle of sorts that Rinpoche is doing so much for others today, but by reading his story, I feel like he would nearly always end up achieving so much for the Dharma or die trying. It is the difference between a large wave that dies out as it crashes on the shore and a tsunami wave that pushes through all obstacles, a force of nature packed with energy. Rinpoche’s drive for the Dharma is like a force of nature that refused to be stopped by so many obstacles and the results are quite evident. Much respect.

  26. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    End of Last Chapter – Afterthoughts

    After reading Rinpoche’s biography, it occurs to me that Rinpoche’s life story is an actual teaching itself. As Rinpoche is not an ordinary being, he could have chosen a better rebirth/ family to practise the Dharma. Instead, he had chosen to be born into a family that has so many issues that do not aid Rinpoche with his spiritual practice. Born into such circumstances, Rinpoche still did not give up pursuing his dharma practice, this alone is very inspiring.

    We always complain that we have many problems doing dharma work, we don’t have the time, we have a family to look after, we are too busy with this and that, we have a pet to take care and etc. But if we look at Rinpoche’s life, he made no excuse to do dharma work and in fact, he would give up everything just to do dharma work to benefit sentient beings. This is how compassionate Rinpoche is, he would always go through troubles to benefit others.

  27. Kenneth Chan on Dec 14, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    The collection of photos at the end of The Promise truly tell more than a thousand words for each. From past great masters, their present incarnations, esteemed scholars and monks who exemplify humility, compassion and wisdom, Lama Vajradhara has encountered them all. To see these heartwarming moments captured for posterity is a fitting end to the 4th edition of The Promise.

    Truly, a picture can tell more than a thousand words.


  28. Joy Kam on Dec 14, 2018 at 4:18 am

    1984 Los Angeles-Left to right: Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, monk assistant to Zong Rinpoche and the 18-year-old Tsem Rinpoche prior to ordination. Read more-


  29. Pastor Adeline Woon on Dec 13, 2018 at 4:15 am

    Today’s book reading covers most part of Chapter 5, focusing on Rinpoche’s great deeds throughout his stay in Malaysia in particular. Rinpoche transformed his passion and hobbies all into beneficial aspects of Rinpoche’s work. Rinpoche’s experience of hunger, poverty and insecurity are transformed into the Kechara Soup Kitchen where thousands of hungry stomach are fed and constant efforts are put into getting people back on their feet. Rinpoche also design many pedants, Buddha statues and etc. for people to invite home for protection. Rinpoche’s longing for meditation and nature transformed into the 70 acres of a retreat centre in Bentong, Malaysia.

    Rinpoche is known to be doing many things at a time, learning, helping the poor, raise funds, take care of the monastery and gurus, nurture people and teaching, the list goes on. Rinpoche is constantly finding ways to help, to give, to support, to protect, to love, to care. Rinpoche always worry about how people are being treated and if they have what they need and enough. Rinpoche does the same for animals too! All these are very obvious as they manifested in Rinpoche’s works through Kechara. Among Rinpoche’s qualities, the most obvious one is Rinpoche’s guru devotion. Rinpoche is well-known for that especially on how Rinpoche took care of Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche to make sure Kensur Rinpoche’s diabetes is under control. Rinpoche also invited Kensur Rinpoche to live with Rinpoche at Tsem Ladrang built by Rinpoche’s biological father and later donated to Kensur Rinpoche so the ladrang becomes Kensur ladrang.

    The Sangha who has experience with Rinpoche knew about Rinpoche’s passion for dharma and Rinpoche’s guru devotion. Rinpoche is the sponsor of many monasteries as well. Often, Rinpoche’s sponsorship is abundance and huge that no single person would make. Rinpoche also took students on pilgrimage and gave them guidance on various prayers and meritorious actions to be done. Rinpoche founded the Kechara organisation for many to connect with themselves through practising dharma in the form of dharma work. These are just some of the many things Rinpoche does to guide us to purify our negative karmas and accumulate a vast amount of merits.

    Rinpoche takes on the burden to look after and guide all of us out of samsara. It is a lot of works for Rinpoche and a challenging task due to our stubbornness and strong attachment. Nevertheless, Rinpoche fearlessly take on the role and continue to show us the path towards final enlightenment.

  30. Joy Kam on Dec 13, 2018 at 12:18 am

    Today’s book reading session of The Promise, we entered into Rinpoche’s legacy in coming into Malaysia and creating a conscious community and planting Dharma roots here. In this last chapter, it is especially significant as we go through the pages and stories of significant pilgrimages we took with Rinpoche and it brought back a lot of memories of the early years of my involvement with Rinpoche and Kechara.

    I will always remember the two significant trip in life – visiting Bodhgaya and Kathmandu. One was having the great fortune to take refuge in where Buddha gained enlightenment and the other visiting all the great Vajrayogini chapels in the mystical enchanting land of Nepal. But most of all the great fortune of meeting very significant lamas during our Nepal trip with Rinpoche. Wow, what great blessings we had, meeting Dagom Rinpoche, Phutok Rinpoche and H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche and witnessing for the first time in my life, an oracle in trance of Dorje Shugden which really freaked me out as I’ve never seen or experienced anything like that before in my life. The title written for these pages were Bringing Buddha to the World is really really apt. I remembered Rinpoche firmly informed me that I must find a way to get myself to join Nepal pilgrimage and by hook or crook I managed. So that was very fortunate for me because no way would I have done it if Rinpoche had not firmly asked me to, and I would have missed a great opportunity and blessing of a lifetime. I thank Rinpoche very much for making us grab the opportunity to go to these significant places with Rinpoche, because going there with Rinpoche is what makes the pilgrimage trip all the more meaningful and significant as it was 100% filled with pure Dharma from Rinpoche’s heart! Thank you so much Rinpoche.

    Another significant milestone was witnessing the blossoming of Kechara House, the 13 departments and the good and bad times we had, the obstacles we had to go through, my first car accident right outside Kechara House as it was in the final touch up stage before it opens its doors to the public. Boy, what a journey and it is really so quick, one year after another, the challenges we all had to go through. All I can say was what a journey and how Rinpoche held and guided us all the way and was involved in every aspect of the building of Kechara House right up to the deco and it’s incredible because up until today, Rinpoche’s care for every single detail in 30 acres Kechara Forest Retreat is still the same.

    Another significant thing that stood out was how much people in Rinpoche’s life that were previously close to Rinpoche, that Rinpoche cared about and that sang praises of admiration towards Rinpoche (tow nuns), can suddenly turn ice cold towards Rinpoche just because Rinpoche came out as a Dorje Shugden practitioner. That must really hurt, and this just goes to show how the ban on Dorje Shugden just tears everyone apart and make people so un-dharmic. How could we be so cold to those we were so close to or to those we love and at the drop of a hat just turn our back and pretend they never even existed? This is what I cannot understand because even if you are not a Buddhist, you do not treat your friends of people you love this way at all. So this is a true lesson, a real-life lesson of how EVERYTHING is truly an illusion and is impermanent. One day they are your beloved friends, the next they are not. It reminds me of the verse in “A Song Of Longing For Tara The Infallible”
    By Lozang Tanpa Gyalts’an

    11. Not fit to be trusted even for one day,
    Their thoughts determinedly set on misbehaviour,
    Just acting friendly, these friends of no virtue
    Play the friend when they wish, the enemy when they don’t.

    Everything in Rinpoche’s life is a teaching, is Dharma, is life lessons for us. Hopefully, we will be able to realise it and not waste whatever time we have left in our fleeting fragile life as a human now. Thank you Rinpoche for existing and for teaching us through your own hardships, experiences and journey, it gives people like me some kind of courage, strength not to give up and some kind of hope that I can make it, and I can be better, and that I do not wish to end up being in Dharma but not harvesting the fruits of Dharma. The longing to be in retreats becomes most significant each time.

  31. P Lanse on Dec 13, 2018 at 12:00 am

    My thought after reading chapter 5 (pg 283 – 401)

    From this part of the book, we learned about H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s work in Malaysia as well as how others see him through their own eyes. From Rinpoche’s work in Malaysia alone, there are many things that have been covered, and under “Through the eyes of others”, there are also accounts from many different people. However, things that stood out for me are quite straigh forward, which is, they all show Rinpoche’s qualities such as passion in spreading the Dharma, strong guru devotion, compassion, kindness and generosity etc. Rinpoche is the embodiment of six paramitas – giving, morality, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom.

    In monastery, He served the gurus, studied the Dharma, and helped the needy. In Malaysia, He guides the students, teaches the Dharma, and helps the poor and needy too. No matter where He is and what He does, Rinpoche’s sole purpose in life is always about Dharma. Also, His good qualities doesn’t change over years. We can see that from the eyes of his childhood friends, seniors, monks in monasteries and through our own eyes. I think these all are due to Rinpoche’s selflessness. Due to this selflessness, He is able to give his all for the Dharma, fully dedicates to the gurus and continuously giving to others without asking for any rewards.

  32. Pastor Shin on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    “Tulkus are the emanation bodies of bodhisattvas who choose to return to this world life after life to help relieve the sufferings of beings, and are especially precious for the compassion, kindness and joy they inspire.” – His Holiness the 101st Gaden Trisur Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche (Foreword, “Compassion Conquers All”)

    From tonight’s reading (12th Dec), it is apparent that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche had these qualities naturally, and so many people, from the monks of temples which Rinpoche visited during his childhood, to the visitors who benefitted from the teachings from Rinpoche’s blog, – all had similar things to say about how the acts and deeds of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche helped and inspired them. The good news is that all of us have this capacity to develop these qualities, and as a student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, it is important for me to emulate this on my spiritual path, especially with a great role model like Rinpoche.

    1. From bringing 2 bags to Malaysia, to the building of 35-acre retreat centre, Kechara Forest Retreat, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s activities grew into the various branches – this is a testament of Rinpoche’s compassion and care to benefit all sentient beings. From a homeless person whose hunger was relieved through 1 free meal from Kechara Soup Kitchen, to the fortunate students working and living in Kechara Forest Retreat created by Rinpoche, all, including myself are recipients of a Mahasattva’s kindness.

    2. Reading through some of the comments by people who have had interaction with Rinpoche, another quality of Rinpoche that stood out for me was the great humility that Rinpoche has. Rinpoche never spoke about how well he studied, which was the cause of many ‘attacks’ on social media from people who didn’t know Rinpoche, spreading rumours that Rinpoche didn’t spend much time studying in the monastery. It’s clear to us that senior monastics like H.E. Kensur Dakpa Tenzin Rinpoche, Abbot Emeritus of Gaden Shartse Monastery, and Ven. Geshe Namgyal Wangchen of Drepung Loseling Monastery, praises not only of Rinpoche’s learning, but also Rinpoche’s teachings. From the sharing of many interviewees, Rinpoche’s generosity always comes into the picture, at every stage of Rinpoche’s life and no matter where Rinpoche was/is, even when Rinpoche was very poor.

    3. In this degenerate times, when it’s difficult to practice and grow the Buddhadharma, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s work help not only the monasteries, but Rinpoche’s teachings are “going to the whole world” and hence benefiting many more beings, as mentioned by H.E. Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche. This reminded me of the tremendous challenges and hardship that Rinpoche had to go through because Rinpoche’s actions and deeds are much greater than Rinpoche’s previous lives’ work.

    4. H.E. Tsem Rinpoche life story itself is a great teaching, and one of the reasons why H.E. Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche has asked for the biography to be written. Much more important than Rinpoche’s glorious previous lives and spiritual lineage, is Rinpoche’s current life’s activities and deeds, and how Rinpoche transformed all hardship and challenges into experiences of light, with Rinpoche’s unwavering tenacity, compassion, patience and untiring strength of the human spirit. Rinpoche shows us that all of us too has the capacity to transcend what Rinpoche went through, by applying the same tenacity, compassion, patience and mental strength. This is something inspiring that I will definitely share with many.

    Thank you Rinpoche for using your life to benefit others, and showing us by being the role model.

  33. Choi Sheem on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    Page 283-401
    In today’s reading, it was interesting to read that Rinpoche have brought so many students on pilgrimages to holy sites giving them teachings, explanations and personalised prayers.
    Today we read more of Rinpoche’s giving nature of giving to the needy and also offering of Buddha statues to monks and Buddhist centre. From all of the activities Rinpoche did in the early days with his sudents, we see the rise of the various departments in Kechara.
    I like reading the comments from the monks who have known Rinpoche from various stages of his life. All of the comments points to Rinpoche’s generous nature and keeping promises.

  34. Martin Chow on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 8 [covering Bringing Buddha To World the until the end of ‘Through The Eyes of Others…]

    A couple of things really stand out:

    (i) how much Rinpoche does for the monastery and for the Dharma and the sheer scale of Rinpoche projects. These are not ordinary tasks especially the way Rinpoche brought Kechara from one rented shop lot to what it is now, a fully established Dharma centre with a Gompa in Kuala Lumpur and of course Kechara Forest Retreat in just a few years. And that is not to mention the Dharma that Rinpoche spreads especially online. Amongst other things, these incredible works reveal the scope of Rinpoche’s thoughts and intentions which are not ordinary.

    It would not be wrong to say that Rinpoche is today singlehandedly preserving and spreading the Dorje Shugden lineage. This is important not because Dorje Shugden needs to be upheld and protected but because the Protector practice is closely linked to the great pillars of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage like Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, Trijang Dorje Chang and Zong Dorje Chang. No one beyond those who work closely with Rinpoche knows how much Rinpoche has sacrificed. I do no exaggerate when I say that I have seen Rinpoche’s Dharma works spreading to all corners of the world, touching people and bringing them to the Dharma.

    (ii) I am especially moved by the testimonials of the various Abbotts, Geshes and monk. So many speak of Rinpoche’s kindness, exceptional guru devotion and Rinpoche’s love for the monastery. As we marvel at Rinpoche’s great Dharma deeds, I am reminded that what Rinpoche wishes for is to be in the monastery and to engage in retreats. And yet Rinpoche has spent the bulk of Rinpoche’s life doing what is good for others instead of what Rinpoche truly wishes to do. And so I read the sections in The Promise mentioned above with much gratitude and some sadness.

    We read about the Dharma deeds of Lama Tsongkhapa and his main disciples and we read of Lord Atisha giving up years of his life to go teach Dharma in Tibet. But we easily overlook the massive Dharma works of living Bodhisattva who is doing so much more and under much harder circumstances, because this Bodhisattva does it so ‘casually’ and without fanfare and glorifications.

    It is impossible not to be touched and inspired by Tsem Rinpoche’s story. It is a story that makes the reader in the possibility of being a better and kinder human being. It is a story that attests to the power of the enlightened mind and imprints and reincarnation.

  35. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Comment on Chapter 5 “Creating a Legacy” Part 2

    There are several things that stand out to me from today’s reading:

    – Rinpoche is very passionate about benefiting others. Even when Rinpoche only has a Kechara Paradise shop available to him, Rinpoche continued to share dharma from that shop. Rinpoche told me about two years ago on how he started Kechara Paradise Dharma shop. However, I failed to appreciate fully about Rinpoche’s effort. I truly regret the fact that I failed to appreciate the struggle, many things may have been different if I internalize the precious information that Rinpoche has kindly given me.

    – Rinpoche has always been very generous with many people. I have witnessed this myself when Rinpoche is stopping the car to make sure a complete stranger is ok. Rinpoche then would make sure that everyone would have food, drinks, and other necessities. Rinpoche even feed animals on the street. Rinpoche always cares for others and not himself. It is a great lesson for someone like me who tend to discriminate and always favor pet, friends, family members more than others. Rinpoche has shown through his life example that love and compassion should be without boundary. Whatever Rinpoche advised me to do, Rinpoche has done so himself.

    – Before Kechara had any premise, Rinpoche taught Dharma in people’s houses. Although Rinpoche is a high lama from the illustrious Gaden Monastery, Rinpoche is willing to go to such length to introduce Dharma to the Malaysians. This shows that Rinpoche has not ego and Rinpoche’s motivation is purely to benefit others.

    – Rinpoche started Kechara from a small shop lot and pushed for growth. Rinpoche created so many departments, initiate so many activities and built the beautiful Kechara Forest Retreat to attract people to Dharma. Sometimes I wonder what motivated Rinpoche to work so hard to build and initiate so many activities to attract people to Dharma. If I examine deeply, none of these departments and buildings are for Rinpoche. They are initiated or built to benefit others.

    Rinpoche’s life story alone is a precious lesson to me to practice compassion without boundaries, and that I should not be afraid that anything will go wrong because I am relying on a very protector Dorje Shugden.

  36. Edward Ooi on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    From page 283 to 402

    This is all true. Rinpoche is an extremely kind person who never stops giving, whether to people or animals, and when Rinpoche helps people he would always do whatever he can in his ability to help them without any expecting anything in return. Rinpoche would constantly give gifts to people even they may not have done anything for Rinpoche, Rinpoche simply just wants people to be happy.

    Older people would always tells me that I am good kid but I never noticed it because I was brought up in this loving and kind community that Rinpoche has founded. This is normal in our community, to be loving and caring towards one and another. Growing up, I was a very naughty kid but because I had the merits to be in such a pleasant environment, I learnt to be respectful and helpful even to strangers which shaped me to who I am today. There are many other people who turned out beautifully in this community, far better than who I am and they are the perfect of how Rinpoche’s loving kindness affects children from a young age.

    I have never seen Rinpoche being selfish, whenever he manifests anger, it is always to a person’s benefit. To teach them to be more aware, to be more careful with animals around, to never burden others with our laziness and selfishness. He is definitely the pure example of a Buddha. Thank you.

  37. Kenneth Chan on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    As we reach the end of the book, the stories of Lama Vajradhara guiding his students and leading them to be involved in the growth of the Dharma in Malaysia, and founding the Kechara Buddhist Organisation was written such, that it could only have been by one of Lama Vajradhara’s students recalling the early days with Lama Vajradhara only with the fondest memories. Reading about their experiences, the journeys with Lama Vajradhara on pilgrimages to Bodhgaya, Nepal and Tibet, must have been an incredible adventure as it was spiritually enriching.

    I, especially love reading the first person accounts of distinguished lamas and monks who have known Lama Vajradhara. Their memories of him are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that when put together, form a colourful assemblage of Lama Vajradhara’s qualities through his numerous virtuous deeds. Reading these reaches deep into my very being to evoke emotions of wonder and tremendous gratitude to be able to encounter Lama Vajradhara and the Dharma teachings that are as unique as Lama Vajradhara.

    Although, we are coming to the end of this book, the story of Lama Vajradhara is far from over. I look forward in anticipation to new chapters in future editions of The Promise. I am sure that these will, when published, contain many more insightful teachings and inspire moments that will redirect one’s life towards more fulfilling destinations.

  38. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 12), what stood out for me was the universality of the opinions about Rinpoche. Everyone, from childhood all the way up to adulthood, had the same current themes:

    (1) that Rinpoche’s draw to the Dharma was natural and not forced. From Geshe Yonten who met Rinpoche in Nitsan in New Jersey, all the way to the abbots and abbot emeritus in the monastery, up to Rinpoche’s close students today, everyone knows that in public and in private, Rinpoche is exactly the same in terms of his love for and practice of the Dharma.

    (2) that Rinpoche’s learning was extraordinarily fast, and Rinpoche picked things up very quickly, almost as though Rinpoche was remembering something previously learned (as opposed to trying to memorize something new). And despite having spent less time studying in the monastery than usual, Rinpoche’s mastery, knowledge and understanding of the scriptures is equal compared to everyone else’s.

    (3) that Rinpoche has always, regardless of his own personal circumstances, sought to benefit others. No matter how poor or destitute or physically uncomfortable Rinpoche was, the suffering of others came first. To me, that reflects Rinpoche’s abiding in bodhicitta, as opposed to having to force it or consciously act from it.

    (4) that Rinpoche helped or connected with everyone regardless of their affiliation. You have monks from Drepung, from Gaden Jangtse talking about Rinpoche helping them or receiving teachings from, or speaking about Rinpoche’s qualities. How often do you hear monks from different monasteries speak that glowingly about one another? Sure, they’ll praise the Dalai Lama or Lati Rinpoche or Ling Rinpoche or Trijang Rinpoche or the Gaden Tripas, regardless of whatever monastery they are from. But outside of this circle, most monks stick to their own institutions so the praise only comes from within their own institutions. And yet, you have luminaries like Geshe Wangchen from Drepung speak in-depth about Rinpoche from Gaden Shartse. Rinpoche, in his assistance and truly non-sectarian ways, transcended boundaries of monastery to assist all.

    (5) that Rinpoche’s devotion to his teachers came naturally and through that, Rinpoche was able to benefit thousands more people by preserving and saving the lives of masters like Kensur Jampa Yeshe.

    What saddens me is that after the ban, all of this goes out the window and the one thing that the CTA has orced everyone to make important is whether a person practices Dorje Shugden or not, as though that is the sole defining factor of a person’s character or spirituality.

    I was reading what Gen Gelong and Geshe Jangchup Dorje of Gaden Shartse Monastery said about the extent to which Rinpoche benefited the monastery. Gen Gelong even said that even with 10-12 groups of monks going out to raise funds, Rinpoche was the monastery’s main benefactor. It also saddens me that everything Rinpoche has done for the monasteries and sangha is all forgotten, simply because of the Dorje Shugden ban.

    The CTA has done such an unimaginable number on these great seats of learning that it is going to take years to recover from the split that they imposed on the sangha.

  39. abby foo on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    From the reading session on 12th December, which covered from page 283 to page 401, I learned the below:

    – It’s Rinpoche’s compassion and skilful means that Kechara is established, thus here I am working, learning and practicing the Buddhadharma under Rinpoche’s guidance. I am grateful for this and I understand clearly without Rinpoche’s perseverance in bringing the Buddhadharma to all sentient beings, I wouldn’t be benefitted as much as I do now. What Rinpoche gave and is giving me are life changing.

    – Rinpoche is extremely skilful in bringing the Buddhadharma to all. The teachings that Rinpoche gives transcend age, gender, race and background. The many departments Kechara has is the doorways to attract people from all walks of lives to come and learn the Buddhadharma. There’s never a dull moment in Rinpoche’s teachings and no matter what background you are coming from, from Rinpoche’s speech, you will definitely learn something. This is my first hand experience and it matches perfectly with what the other hight lamas and geshes said about our Rinpoche in this Promise book. The high lamas and geshes talked about the skilful means Rinpoche has in this life is from the previous lives and said Rinpoche’s previous lives were teaching the Buddhadharma too. This is so exciting to know.

    – Rinpoche’s qualities are seen in the eyes of many high lamas, high geshes, like the 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche, H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche, H.E. Kensur Lobsang Phende Rinpoche, H.E. Kensur Konchok Tsering Rinpoche, H.E. Kensur Dakpa Tenzin Rinpoche, Ven. Geshe Namgyal Wangchen from Drepung Loseling Monastery, Ven. Geshe Lobsang Phuntsok from Shar Gaden Monastery and many more. Rinpoche’s devotion to His Gurus, to the lineage and to Dorje Shugden are seen. As a student, it is indeed inspiring to know and proud to hear from these high lamas and high geshes.

    – This book also shows how close our Rinpoche is with the sangha community and with all the high lamas. It also tells how much people respect our Rinpoche, which I don’t feel surprise at all. Rinpoche’s contribution to the monastery is so great, for example Rinpoche sponsored thousand of statues, robes and books to the sangha in Gaden monastery. Rinpoche’s intention is solely to allow the sangha in monastery to practice without worries and encourage their practices and studies. I once heard from a Geshe from Gaden monastery that Rinpoche once sponsored a group of monks who were going to take Geshe lharam’s exam. Our Rinpoche gave encouragement to the monks and made offerings to them and wish them all the best so that they could learn well and get good results in the exam to benefit sentient beings in the future.

  40. Pastor David Lai on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    My thoughts on today’s reading of the Promise that covered the section on the various departments of Kechara and the various anecdotes by various fellow lamas, geshes and monk friends of Rinpoche.

    With regards to the various departments of Kechara, what was evident to me was how ingenious that Rinpoche would setup this empire of the Dharma. Each department caters to various dispositions and interests. In this way, they deliver the Dharma in the most creative manner and each department also function as a unique doorway that caters to a unique audience inherent to each department based on the nature of each department. Hence, the organization is setup in such a way as to bring Dharma to a much wider audience than say, a traditional Dharma center.

    With regards to the various anecdotes, they recount the wonderful memories, opinions and impressions that these fellow lamas, geshes and monk friends may have. They offer valuable insight from the perspective of the Dharma and from fellow peers. What they most commented was mainly about the level of Rinpoche’s guru devotion and from that they attribute all the success that Rinpoche had experience in bringing Dharma to others.

    In fact, rinpoche’s devotion is unusual because it closely resembles what you read about in stories of great lamas and mahasiddhas of old, which we hardly see or hear off these days. It is nice because such devotion creates powerful causes for success in his work to bring Dharma to others.

  41. Sharon Ong on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 5 – Part 2

    Some of the things that stood out for me about Rinpoche that is inspiring are:
    * Generosity – Eg: Sponsoring 3000 Manjushri statues knowing that how the monks would not be able to afford to invite a statue themselves and Manjushri would be so beneficial for their studies and spiritual path.
    * Courage – In spite the backlash from the Dorje Shugden ban, Rinpoche has kept his commitment to his teacher and continues to speak out.
    * Forward thinking – Rinpoche’s methods in disseminating Dharma is not only relevant and suitable for practitioners of this era but also far more reaching than his own Gurus. This blog is a good example.
    * Compassion – Rinpoche would consistently help this in need whether the homeless, poor or strays.
    * Care – The level of care that Rinpoche has demonstrated from how Rinpoche was serving Zong Rinpoche (in the earlier chapters) to how Rinpoche took care of elderly monks of poor health by getting them supplements and treatments. This care is extended to this day even with students and their families.

  42. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    Chapter 5 – Afterthoughts

    In this particular chapter, the fruits of Rinpoche’s hard work and unshakable guru devotion are evident. All these qualities of Rinpoche has helped him to achieve the impossible.

    There are many great teachers and masters who have witnessed the amazing things Rinpoche has done for his Gurus, for the monastic and lay community in India. I feel very fortunate that we were able to document all the things about Rinpoche for the future generation, to benefit and to inspire them so that they become better human beings.

    By watching Rinpoche’s actions and reading his biography, I’d conclude that there’s a very strong parallel between what people said about Rinpoche and what I’ve observed with my own eyes. Rinpoche is exactly as described in this biography, all Rinpoche is interested in is practising and spreading the Dharma and benefitting sentient beings, it is still the same even to this day. We are extremely fortunate to have such a high level bodhisattva living amongst us.

  43. CindyH on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    I find the following passages aptly surmises what stood out for me in today’s reading up to page 401,
    “No story of Tsem Rinpoche would be complete without accounts of his immense kindness and generosity. The donations Rinpoche receives are only used for four purposes – the monasteries, Dharma organisations, his teachers and his students.
    His life itself is a study of the Six Perfections and Rinpoche has made it a practice to offer material assistance and compassionate care to both individuals and communities who need them, even if they are perfect strangers. In his eyes, there is nothing that separates one sentient being from another and in his care for all sentient beings, we see the teachings of equanimity come to life”.

    Indeed, Rinpoche’s selfless deeds are aplenty regardless of Rinpoche’s (financial) state. To Rinpoche, alleviating the suffering of others is so paramount that Rinpoche would continuously and unconditionally give so much to everyone else, be it the Dharma or worldly aids, even to Rinpoche’s detriment.

    It is also fascinating to read the glowing testimonies about Rinpoche which reveal such consistent pattern of generosity, compassion and kindness.

  44. Wei on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    My thoughts on the latter part of chapter 5:

    The results of Rinpoche’s spiritual practice, through learning the Dharma, to strong guru devotion, and consistency above all, many people have benefited on an international scale. From moving to Malaysia initially, Rinpoche managed to build up Kechara from nothing to the most active Tibetan Buddhist organisation in Malaysia. Then, setting up this blog, Rinpoche has been able to spread the Dharma to thousands if not millions of people overseas. None of it would exist if not for Rinpoche choosing to follow Zong Rinpoche’s advice to become a monk, and following through with the promise, and going above and beyond to benefit others. Rinpoche’s practice of bodhicitta, that others can physically see has inspired his students to follow in his example and this has allowed Kechara to grow so large so quickly. It definitely takes a special person to absorb all the burdens and struggles of setting up a Dharma centre, to learn and to teach. The patience and kindness is very special, and if we contemplate on it, such a person is more rare and precious than any type of celebrity. Of course, what we do is important, but even more important is how we do it and the sacrifices we make to get it done.

    For me personally, I have never been much interested in the technical academic studies of Buddhism, but when I see compassion in action, that resonates with me much more. Rinpoche demonstrated compassion and when I grew up and was able to understand more, it made sense and made me able to tolerate much more. In the past I would easily get annoyed by people being selfish, even if it was very subtle I would notice it. Now I understand that most people are just selfish by bad habit and lack of education (on thinking of others), including myself, so now I focus more on how people are trying to overcome their selfishness. I think that in Dharma, it does not matter much where you start the journey in this life, the most important thing is to be consistently improving. We all start at different places and we don’t have much choice in that, but we can choose to move forward towards spirituality or fall away from it. For me, Kechara has been invaluable as I probably would not be interested in Dharma teachings at relatively young age. I don’t like to talk about hypothetical situations much, and I don’t like to talk much about how invaluable some things in my life can be. Most of these things cannot be paid back, but through my actions and the efforts of others, I can be beneficial to others as a demonstration of my gratitude.

  45. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 5: Malaysia. H.E. Tsem Rinpoche first set foot on Malaysia in 1992, and now, some 26 years later, Malaysia is now Rinpoche’s permanent home. Kechara is the Dharma organization that Rinpoche started in Malaysia, Kechara’s growth is phenomenal, no doubt the disciples’ hard work plays a part of it, but it is mainly attributed to Rinpoche great mind, great vision, hard work, great leadership that made this possible. One has to know that when Rinpoche first came to Malaysia in 1992, he only had two suitcases, one was his personal belongings, another contained blessing items to give people, THAT’S ALL! Rinpoche is not a Malaysia citizen, he brought with him only two suitcases, yet what he accomplished in Malaysia today is phenomenal, so much more than what many people who are natives to their own countries can do. These achievements and accomplishments are from the six perfections (paramitas) that Rinpoche truly embodies, along with his great knowledge in Dharma, great compassion and wisdom, and worldly knowledge and leadership, with very high EQ. We are so lucky to have a precious beings like Rinpoche who brought Dharma to our doorstep, we do not have to travel far like many others, Rinpoche establish all that is needed to connect us with the Dharma, with the very precious teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, and with the omni-potent Dharma protector Dorje Shugden. We should seize this very opportunity to participate in Kechara’s activities, to go to Kechara House and Kechara Forest Retreat to do spiritual practice, we are so fortunate and we must have great merits to have H.E. Tsem Rinpoche so near to us!

  46. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Today’s reading covered the majority of Chapter 5, which is the last section of The Promise. This part of the chapter covered Rinpoche’s actions and activities in Malaysia after Rinpoche moved to Malaysia permanently. Rinpoche has managed to establish the Kechara organisation with so many different departments. In fact, each of these departments are based on Rinpoche’s experiences in life. The most evident would be that of Kechara House, as a temple for prayers, classes and activities. Another, however, is Kechara Soup Kitchen to feed the underprivileged and homeless. You can see that Rinpoche’s life experiences are now benefiting others as Rinpoche is teaching us that people should not suffer as he did.

    What is more inspiring is that the organisation not simply one that performs charitable works, but one that is based on the spiritual foundations as taught by Rinpoche, developing teamwork, harmony, patience, commitment, responsibility, care and compassion. All of these qualities are corner stones for a spiritually fulfilled life, and all have a basis in what Rinpoche’s life can teach us.

    Rinpoche also makes a deep and lasting impact in the lives of everyone he meets, even from the time of his youth. The monks in Howell, New Jersey where he grew up can remember his devotion to the Dharma and the monks in the monasteries remember the same and the ways he changed the lives of the monk and lay people for the better. It is clear to see that Rinpoche is a person that has created waves of positive change in the world, and continues to do so through his various activities, especially sharing the Dharma online and in many different formats. This is so people who would not ordinarily have had the chance to come across the teachings are able to do so in a format that can help them.

  47. Choong on Dec 12, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    The numerous testimonials regarding Rinpoche’s personal qualities and his activities, serve to show their consistent nature, that is from the earlier days in India right up to the present day in Malaysia. Such a track record speaks for itself and cannot be challenged.

    It is the same way with regards to Rinpoche’s guru devotion and the holding of promises made. As such, there cannot be any doubt that Rinpoche has and will continue to hold on to his practice of Dorje Shugden out of guru devotion and this is the only way to reap the blessings and benefit from the lineage masters.


  48. Choi Sheem on Dec 11, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Chapter !
    – It is amazing that Rinpoche’s family tree traces all the way back to Genghis Khan. To me is similiar to Buddha Shakyamuni who was also a prince.
    – Rinpoche’s early childhood certainly was tough, being in the care of strangers who showed no love and ill treated an innocent young boy.
    – Thankfully there was a fairy godmother in the form of Kwan mama who showered some love and care towards the young abused boy.

  49. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 4 & 5 (till page 282)

    1. Limitless Generosity
    When Rinpoche was poor, emaciated, and only had tsampa (roasted barley flour) to eat, Rinpoche would still give half of what Rinpoche had to the birds outside his room. Rinpoche would raise funds to help fix other monks’ room and facilities while suffering a leaking roof with no complains. Apart from helping the Tibetan refugee community, Rinpoche was also known to help the Indian refugees, which is not common in the Tibetan community in exile. Later on, Rinpoche became a model and helped many in the industry (including saving someone from being shot), in order to share Dharma with many. This shows that Rinpoche gives without any agenda or hoping for anything in return, truly embodying the Paramita of giving – material giving and more importantly, giving of the Dharma.

    2. Becoming a Dharma Teacher
    I find the story of how Rinpoche was sent to Malaysia was quite amusing, with two High Lamas insisting that Rinpoche take on the task, even Protector Dorje Shugden was involved in advising/instructing Rinpoche. However, this again shows Rinpoche’s devotion towards his Gurus and Dorje Shugden, and left with two bags to an unknown country, working hard for months to raise fund for the monastery. The tremendous challenges that Rinpoche went through was not for him to become a monk, but rather a pioneering Dharma teacher in a foreign land, whose work impact many beings, as we read further on in the chapter. Rinpoche always puts aside his personal aspiration for retreats aside in order to serve the Sangha, the monastery, the lineage even up till today. I am also reminded of the origins of the Bodhgaya Vajrayogini, which is a holy icon that perhaps foretells Rinpoche establishment of Kechara in Malaysia.

    3. Challenges never end, have faith and just keep going
    Despite returning to the monastery with funds to build the monk hostels, of which his teachers cried joyful tears, Rinpoche was instructed to leave his home and to remain in Malaysia. It seems that the challenges will never end for Rinpoche, yet Rinpoche took every challenge graciously. Despite the closing of some centres in Rinpoche’s early days, Rinpoche kept persevering, and this led what Kechara is today. Rinpoche’s life has not been one where Rinpoche can sit back and ‘relax’. I am sure there are many instances when things have become too much, but Rinpoche never let them become a reason to stop, always contemplating on the wisdom of the protector Dorje Shugden, and the kindness of Rinpoche’s lamas. This is something that I would remind myself to emulate, and also share with others.

    Thank you Rinpoche for teachings us the Dharma through your actions, deeds and most of all, your life story. ??

  50. Pastor David Lai on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    In today’s reading of the Promise covers chapter 4 and the start of chapter 5. This covers the time when Rinpoche got connected with Reverend Khoon and the Malaysian monk who offered the Vajrayogini under the Bodhi tree. It was indeed serendipitous moment that connects Malaysia, Vajrayogini and Rinpoche. Ever since, the Delhi mould of the Vajrayogini statue that was offered to Rinpoche has held tremendous significance for Rinpoche’s friends and followers.

    It was interesting that the initial incident that heralded his coming to Malaysia was via Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche’s special instruction for the young Tsem Rinpoche to teach a group of Malaysians. All these led to Kyabje Lati Rinpoche instructing RInpoche to come to Malaysia to raise funds and teach the Dharma. Rinpoche finally agreed upon Dorje Shugden telling Rinpoche that he should go to Malaysia.

    I also love the little anecdotes for each of the Rinpoche’s 14 Gurus. My favourite stories came with Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche and how Tsem Rinpoche had met him in Nepal accidentally right in the heart of Thamel. It was Kyabje Gangchen Rinpoche who gave Rinpoche his unofficial recognition and insisted that he go down to the monastery to ask him teacher, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche to formally recognise him. One thing led to another and Rinpoche was finally and formally recognised as Tsem Rinpoche, the incarnation of Genden Nyendrak and Thubten Lamsang.

  51. Choi Sheem on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    (Page 225-282)
    Today’s reading brought more details of Rinpoche’s generosity and helpfulness to everyone around him despite having so little.
    In this chapter, we see Rinpoche being asked to travel to Malaysia to raise much needed fund for the construction of accomodation for the monks in his monastery. Once again Rinpoche’s personal wishes of doing retreats, study and living a hermit life have to be set aside. Rinpoche would have to travel to a foreign land to teach dharma and raise funds so that many monks would not need to sleep in the open spaces.
    The thing that stands out to me is that Dorje Shugden is always there to assist Rinpoche overcome serious obstacles throughout Rinpoche’s mission to Malaysia.

  52. CindyH on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Today’s reading up to page 282 primarily reminded me of how natural and ready Rinpoche is always to put others over self. Rinpoche totally embodies this when it something that requires so much deliberation and effort for us to do. Take for example, Rinpoche clearly “desire” to stay and do retreat in furtherance of Rinpoche’s practice but pushed forward with doing what is the most beneficial for the needs of others. Even when Rinpoche seemingly manifest reluctance, like Rinpoche’s polite debate to decline going abroad to fundraise and reference of the matter to Dorje Shugden, is pretty much a lesson for us on going all the way with faith in the protector and putting others over self in the end. In addition, its also fascinating and humbling to see how Rinpoche spontaneously and constantly put the needs of others over himself at every point in Rinpoche’s life. I am further reminded of how I have not met anyone who would literally prioritise and help others to his detriment until I met Rinpoche as well as how fortunate I am to be able to meet Rinpoche. Words also fail to convey how grateful I am for the young Malaysian and Rev Khoon for creating that connection with Rinpoche culminating to Rinpoche being based here allowing us this incredible opportunity to encounter Rinpoche’s teachings and care.

  53. Joy Kam on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    In today’s reading of The Promise, we read about Rinpoche’s great compassion whereby even though Rinpoche was struggling himself, but Rinpoche still made a lot of offerings and helped the poor around Gaden Monastery. This goes to show that Rinpoche’s wish to help others is just natural and Rinpoche generosity does not discriminate. It also tells us that Rinpoche’s generous nature came from many previous lives of giving.

    What really stood out for me in this chapter was Rinpoche’s amazing relationship/Samaya with so many different Gurus and Rinpoche even had a Guru of a different sect – Drigung Rinpoche, who is a lay high lama of the Kagyu school! This goes to show that in reality there is actually no issues and no problems about sectarianism if we are truly practising the Dharma. All are unique and different yet equal and the same, all are Lord Buddha’s teachings, so what is the problem? And that’s how it should be.

    I also liked the story of Mahasiddha Gangchen Rinpoche recognised Rinpoche as a high incarnate Tulku and asked Rinpoche to be recognised and to write Rinpoche’s biography as it will be inspirational! I liked how Gangchen Rinpoche would ask Rinpoche to teach spontaneously and the spontaneous things Gangchen Rinpoche did to prepare Rinpoche to be a Dharma teacher. Gangchen Rinpoche also helped Rinpoche to loosen up a little so that Rinpoche’s teaching style would appeal more to the lay.

    The other significant part about Chapter 4 was how Rinpoche received the Bodhgaya Vajrayogini from a young Malaysian man who seems to be the cause that was created for Rinpoche to come to Malaysia. Otherwise, of all countries, which there were many, why Malaysia? That really shows there is no such thing as coincidence, nothing happens in life randomly. How very fortunate we are to have Rinpoche here in Malaysia.

  54. Sharon Ong on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 4 – Part 2 & Chapter 5 – Part 1
    One of the things that stood out for me in Chapter 4 is how selfless Tsem Rinpoche is. One example is how Rinpoche had raised funds to repair a monk’s (Lobsang Dhargye) leaky roof. Rinpoche had selflessly put other’s needs before his although Rinpoche’s own room was leaking badly and was in a worse shape. This has continued to this day as Rinpoche has on countless occasions helped students, friends and others, many times anonymously.

    Rinpoche did not have any money himself but did a lot of fundraising to help improve the monastery’s facilities such and retiling the main prayer hall and building more accommodation for incoming monks. All these are evidence of Rinpoche’s altruistic nature which stems from lifetimes before this one and also how much Rinpoche values the Sangha and does everything possible to support the Sangha community.

    Rinpoche’s exemplary Guru devotion was once again demonstrated when Lati Rinpoche sent Rinpoche to teach and fundraise in Malaysia. Although Rinpoche was very reluctant to teach as Rinpoche felt that he was a young monk that lacked experience, Rinpoche still followed his Guru’s instructions setting aside his personal preferences. Due to Rinpoche’s unwavering Guru devotion, his teachings were well-received and Rinpoche soon became much sought after.

    Coming to Malaysia as a Dharma pioneer, where Tibetan Buddhism is practically unknown, Tsem Rinpoche’s work draws parallels to his previous incarnation Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche’s life’s deed where he made Buddhism flourish in Phari, a region that had no Buddhism. Malaysians are indeed a fortunate lot to have a great master like Tsem Rinpoche living right here to make the Dharma grow in this region.

  55. Kenneth Chan on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    The contributions of Lama Vajradhara to the Sangha and lay community in India – building schools, hospitals, dormitories for the monastery, residences for lamas are just a portion – is what moves me in the remaining half of Chapter 4. Putting aside his own difficulties to alleviate the difficulties of others first, Lama Vajradhara again teaches by being his own example of what it means to serve.

    I also enjoyed reading about the origins of Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s Vajrayoginī statue from Bodhgaya. There are many examples of how Lama Vajradhara’s meets and makes deep connections with people, inspiring them, being a source of comfort and healing, and moving them to cast off their old selves like an old, worn coat and embracing change for a more virtuous and fulfilling life, whether as a monk or a model, but out of all those, it is the story of the young Malaysian Lama Vajradhara met in Bodhgaya is the one that is most moving. I am grateful to that young man, for I it is through him that Lama Vajradhara became connected to Malaysia.

    The accounts of all sixteen of Lama Vajradhara’s gurus was very insightful, it shows how learned Lama Vajradhara is. Coupled with the fact that Lama Vajradhara entered the monastery at an age older than most and learned all of that in such a short period of time is not just remarkable but it is a sign of a realised being, that the teachings he received were, as I see it, a ‘refresher course’ of knowledge he had gained many times in Lama Vajradhara’s past lives.

    Lama Vajradhara’s early foray into Malaysia which is covered in the first pages of Chapter 5. As a Malaysian, it comes with a sense of familiarity with the locations that are described, and feelings of wonder at how Lama Vajradhara, in his capability to make connections, is so quick to adapt to being in an unknown country, meeting new people and again, forging relationships that bring about change in the people he meets. In the case of Malaysia, Lama Vajradhara also has changed the landscape for spiritual seekers, creating a community and a centre in the region for the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, and the profound practices of Vajrayoginī and Gyalchen Dorje Shugden to take grow. For all of this, I am deeply moved and prostrate to Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche.

  56. Choong on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Having been steadfast in his pursuit of the Dharma from a young age, and combined with the strong imprints from previous lives, Rinpoche continued to meet many foremost lamas and geshes in India where he continued on his spiritual path that would eventually lead him to Malaysia.

    This sort of occured by chance and due to two Malaysians who made friends with Rinpoche in the holy cradle of Bodhgaya, one who through his generosity sponsored a Vajrayogini statue which Rinpoche wanted so much.

    Because Malaysians understood English and because of these two Malaysians, Malaysia was the destination that Rinpoche picked by default when asked by Kyabje Lati Rinpoche to venture abroad to teach and to raise badly needed funds for Ganden Shartse. It was only logical and the rest, as they say, is history.

  57. Edward Ooi on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    From page 226 to 280.

    Rinpoche has a great sense of humour and would crack jokes literally about almost everything except for when it comes to talking about his gurus or stories of old monks, and the Dharma. Rinpoche always holds his teachers to the highest regards, never making a joke about them or say anything negative about them. This shows the level of respect Rinpoche has for his teachers and Rinpoche is just such an inspiring example of what a student should be like.

    Amazing to see what Tsem Rinpoche has done for Shartse Monastery and the local community. Even after being away from his monastic community and started his new life in Malaysia, Rinpoche never stopped helping the local poor communities in Malaysia by starting Kechara Soup Kitchen, which helps to feed the homeless and poor, help them find jobs so that they are able to earn money, gives some medical assistance to the needy, and some even to help them find their families. Rinpoche’s love and care never changed, it didn’t matter if he was in America, India or Malaysia, Rinpoche was always helping others. Rinpoche on his own has been able to fund large sum of funds to help improve the living conditions in Shartse Monastery, such as building domiteries for monks, building water pumps in the monastery so monks have accessible water source, re-tiling the floor of Gaden Lachi just to name a few. If my parents did not have the karma to have met Rinpoche and learn so much from him and teach such qualities to me, I probably would not be a person who enjoys helping other people and animals. Rinpoche has been such an important figure throughout my childhood and whole life and will continue to be for the rest of my life. I am very lucky to be reading this book along with the groups of writers from Tsem Ladrang during my time volunteering here.

  58. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 9), what stood out for me was how much struggling Rinpoche has had to do throughout his life. It was a struggle to go to temple without abuse in Howell; it was a struggle on his way to Los Angeles; it was a struggle to get to India and after all of that, it became a struggle to stay in India because Kensur Lati Rinpoche, in his great compassion, instructed Rinpoche to come to Malaysia.

    And what struck me was that throughout all of this struggle, the oasis for Rinpoche was Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, the Dharma and Dorje Shugden. Rinpoche shows, with his own example, that the rock in our life, the one point of consistency and stability can be derived from reliance on our guru.

    And once again, this is totally contrary to the behaviour of ordinary people. What do ordinary people do? They struggle to go to temple because they don’t WANT to go to temple. They struggle to work in charity because they don’t WANT to work in charity. They find an oasis and refuge in shopping malls, clubs, restaurants and pubs.

    In the end, where does it get us when we do this? Heartache, misery and a million unanswered questions for why our life turned out this way. Yet, when the answers are presented to us, so carefully safeguarded by the high lamas and practising Geshes, we scoff at it. “I’m too young to practise. It’s so boring. It’s so uncool.”Such is our bad karma in this degenerate time that we view the answers to our suffering as uncool, boring and not deserving of our time and attention ?‍♀️

  59. Pastor Adeline Woon on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Today’s reading covers the remaining content of Chapter 4 and the beginning of Chapter 5. The content highlighted Rinpoche’s wish to always benefit. Rinpoche has always wanted to be in retreat and to meditate in a green and lush environment near a clear lake. Rinpoche often shares with us how Rinpoche wished to be that environment with no work (to meet people, to do social media, to train students, to solve problems, to think of strategies and etc.) and obligations, just relax and make thousands of butter lamps offering to a large Manjushri with a lot of sang burning. Rinpoche would have veggies plant in the garden and be self-sustain. I would personally like that too but that would mean many who will be helped by Rinpoche would not be helped and that is never Rinpoche’s focus for sure.

    Since young, apart from finally ordained as a monk, Rinpoche had never had any of his personal wishes fulfilled. Rinpoche is always caught in between choosing to benefit others and Rinpoche’s own retreat preference. The former always wins. Rinpoche also cares about every single person who has helped and learned from Rinpoche. Often, Rinpoche would conduct pujas, light candles or arrange for pujas to be done in the monastery for people to help them at an important juncture of their lives without them knowing. There are many things Rinpoche does behind the scene for people and students that no ordinary person can comprehend or even thought of.

    From the time in India and now in Malaysia, Rinpoche has not stopped a single moment in helping others and in releasing them from their pain. Rinpoche would buy food, clothes, necessities, gifts, give monetary support, teach dharma and care to everyone as long as Rinpoche sees fit. There is no one who has met Rinpoche not receive anything from Rinpoche.

    Rinpoche willingness to move and base in Malaysia purely out of Guru Devotion and Rinpoche’s love for Dorje Shugden are keeping Rinpoche going even though Rinpoche longed for the life in the monastery and retreat. Rinpoche always keeps the promise made regardless how insignificant we thought it might be. And because of this, millions of us are fortunate to come across Rinpoche’s teachings and have transformations in our lives positively. For one Rinpoche who focuses on others, many have hope and reason to live. Otherwise, our lives would be a total darkness with no light to the end of our suffering.

  60. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Comment on the chapter “Going Home” part 2

    There are several things that stand out for me from this reading:

    – Tsem Rinpoche has many teachers, and he manages to keep their promise and devotion to all of them. By receiving the teachings and practice from many attained masters, Rinpoche has become a precious vehicle of Buddha’s teachings.

    – When he was living in India, Rinpoche was an epitome of generosity. Not only he helped the monastic community, but he also helped the surrounding community. Throughout the years that I have known Rinpoche, he always places the need of others before himself and encourages his students to do the same. In this chapter, I learned that Rinpoche helped to fix the roof of a fellow monk while his own roof was leaking. Rinpoche is a living example of his own teaching

    – Although Rinpoche had only spent 4 years in the monastery, his teachers and Dorje Shugden sent Rinpoche abroad to teach and raise fund for the monk quarters. This is a testament that Rinpoche was very intelligent and could retain a lot of knowledge within a short period of time because his teacher would not have sent an unqualified monk to represent Gaden monastery overseas. His success in fundraising is a testament that Rinpoche’s teacher and Dorje Shugden were correct in choosing Rinpoche.

    – Rinpoche always put others’ need before his own. Rinpoche liked to stay in the monastery and Rinpoche had a comfortable home sponsored by his father. However, realizing that others’ need is more important than his preference, Rinpoche went abroad and undergo various trials and difficulties to bring dharma to people overseas. This is another testament that Rinpoche is not an ordinary person.

  61. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    My thoughts of today’s reading, which completes the chapter 4 and the start of chapter 5:

    Today’s section covered Rinpoche’s later years in India and his coming to Malaysia. Rinpoche really did want to leave the monastery because that is where he wanted to be but following his gurus’ advice to serve the sangha, Rinpoche traveled to Malaysia to raise badly needed funds for the monks in the monastery.

    This goes to show that Rinpoche’s connection with Malaysia and Malaysian Dharma practitioners was especially strong, but not only that, it was from Malaysia that Rinpoche was able to spread the Dharma online to many more people. I am one such person that has benefited from Rinpoche’s Dharma teachings online, which is how I came to Malaysia.

    The section also covers some of the teachings Rinpoche received from many high and esteemed teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, showing the Dharma that Rinpoche teaches is from a lineage and masters that are themselves very highly realised and some of the greatest teachers of the recent past.

    Rinpoche’s fundraising trip was grueling to say the least, but Rinpoche was successful in raising enough funds for the monks. It was during this time that Rinpoche left a strong and lasting impact on his Malaysian students which is why he came back to Malaysia on the advice of his gurus to stay here permanently to teach the Dharma. The people of this region really do have the good merits and strong connection with Rinpoche for Rinpoche to be here in this part of the world.

    Of not however, is that Rinpoche’s early life in Malaysia was not problem-free however. Rinpoche barely had a penny to his name when he arrived, and as was recounted, life was not easy at the start. However, Rinpoche persevered and taught the Dharma to many students following his gurus’ advice. This goes to show that Rinpoche is extremely devoted to his teachers and by following the teachers advice one can achieve success whether in spiritual or secular terms.

  62. abby foo on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    From the reading session on 9th December, which covered from page 226 to page 282, I learned the below:

    – Rinpoche really loves the monastery, loves being in the monastery and loves the Lamas and monks and truly care for the monastery. I heard from some monks that know Tsem Rinpoche, they told me: usually the Lamas would just sponsor the dratsang they come from, but for Tsem Rinpoche, He sponsored both the dratsang, which is Ganden Shartse and Ganden Jangtse. Young Rinpoche even chose to sacrifice His own comfort for the sake of other monks to go to Malaysia to raise funds.

    – I like how this biography book explains the relationship between Tsem Rinpoche and all His 16 Gurus. The explanation is clear and is written in a way that is very easy to read and understand. It is important to know where our lineage comes from and through this biography book, we know clearly where did Tsem Rinpoche got His lineage from.

    – Also, from this book, I can see how much the monks in the monastery have respect to Rinpoche and Rinpoche’s devotion to His Lamas are evident. Rinpoche’s generosity and compassion are evident too, I can see clearly in this book. Many high lamas speak highly about our Rinpoche, and this is something really inspire me in many ways. If my Lama can be this good, I should have faith in Him that He would bless me to become someone that is beneficial too.

    – Rinpoche’s faith and trust in Dorje Shugden are deep. And Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden are very close to each other. Dorje Shugden is a kind and swift protector to give assistance to anyone that is spreading the Buddhadharma with pure intention. This is what I like about Dorje Shugden the most. Dorje Shugden said to Rinpoche to go abroad to raise funds and give assurance that he would help when needed. This shows Dorje Shugden is an enlightened protector that working hard to preserve and spread the lineage teachings.

    – Rinpoche is also very courageous. He was only 27 years old but out of devotion and love to the monastery, He just went alone to a new place with very little (near to none) money and literally to teach there and knew almost no one there. Rinpoche had to endure so much uncertainties and challenges in Malaysia and He had to start everything from scratch at such young age but He did it anyway. Finally, He raised the full funds and returned to the monastery. It was a tough job.

  63. Wei on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    My thoughts on the latter part of chapter 4 and early chapter 5:

    In many ways today’s reading strongly continued the themes of yesterday’s reading. That is, Rinpoche demonstrated immovable guru devotion to several gurus and he had to travel to another foreign country without much support, for the sake of other monks.

    Firstly, Rinpoche had many gurus of high rank and had many spiritual commitments starting at an young age. During his time in India, Rinpoche also engaged in many Dharma activities outside the usual responsibilities of a monk, such as raising funds to repair buildings and installing facilities for the other monks, and feeding some of the struggling people of India with the relatively little that he had. Respect.

    Secondly, when Rinpoche was instructed to go to Malaysia to teach Dharma, although he was reluctant at first, through his faith in Setrap and Dorje Shugden, he agreed to do so, even whilst knowing the immense obstacles that he would face. Similar to how he initially traveled to India on his own, a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language, Malaysia was also a foreign country and although he knew English, he was unfamiliar with the culture and did not know many people there. Furthermore, in the early days, he was not well funded and much of the donations he received were put towards the building of a hostel in Gaden Shartse, back in India. Rinpoche has always demonstrated this quality of prioritising the welfare of others before himself, even if he has to suffer in silence to absorb it for others.

    Lastly, Rinpoche’s modelling career similarly reflects the themes of his clubbing days in the USA. That is, unconventionally, Rinpoche put himself in a position where he would be able to reach people who would otherwise not actively search for the Dharma. In the same way he talked Dharma to people in his clubbing days, he would also talk Dharma to the people involved in the modelling business. Furthermore, despite success as a model, he demonstrated the same level of top priority for his spiritual commitments and did not get swept up in the worldly nature of his career as a model.

  64. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche only joined Gaden Monastery at 22, a relatively “old” age as compared with the other Tibetan monks, he had to overcome the language barrier, among many other things. Yet Rinpoche demonstrated qualities that impressed even the most senior high lamas. His guru devotion towards Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche was the most inspiring and praise-worthy virtuous act. Kensur Rinpoche had severe diabetic illness, if not for Tsem Rinpoche’s care of raising fund to bring Kensur Rinpoche to see various doctors, as well as managing Kensur Rinpoche’s medicine and strict diet, Kensur Rinpoche most likely would not have lived so long, which means he would not be benefitting more people by living longer and teaching the Dharma. Besides, Tsem Rinpoche also helped other monks and lay people, he was very active in charity work despite his own poor living condition. Rinpoche is truly a selfless Bodhisattva from his actions.

  65. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 9, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    End of Chapter 4 – Afterthoughts

    In this chapter, it showcases how selfless Rinpoche is, how he would always put aside his personal preferences, all his likes and dislikes for the sake of benefitting sentient beings. For instance, when Rinpoche was asked to travel and raise funds for the monastery, initially Rinpoche didn’t want to do it. Rinpoche’s purpose of joining the monastery was to learn the Dharma and to be able to engage in deep retreats. Thus, when Rinpoche was asked to travel abroad, Rinpoche was reluctant. But out of his strong Guru devotion, respect and compassion for Rinpoche’s teacher and the monastery, Rinpoche went ahead with his Guru’s advice.

    Life in Malaysia was extremely tough, there were times when Rinpoche was met with a lot of difficulties, be it human resource problems, nightmare students, problems with raising funds and etc, but Rinpoche did not let these problems/ obstacles deter him. This shows how strong Rinpoche’s faith is in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, that even though there were a lot of obstacles manifested to stop the spread of Dharma, Rinpoche was able to pull it through and become the person Rinpoche is today. Reading Rinpoche’s biography itself is a Dharma teaching, it encourages me to persevere my Dharma practices though conditions may be extremely difficult.

  66. Joy Kam on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    In today’s reading session of The Promise which took us through how Rinpoche went to Gaden, right up to where Rinpoche was recognised and enthroned. What stood out for me in this chapter was Rinpoche great courage to go all the way to an entirely different environment, India and to the monastery Gaden was admirable. For many people, this would be scary. On top of that Rinpoche could not speak, read or write the Tibetan language.

    The other part that stood out was how Rinpoche had to stay in such a horrible condition, where Rinpoche’s room was next to a cowshed and that there were many nights Rinpoche would cry at night was really sad. It’s sad and at the same time inspiring to find out what Rinpoche had to go through just to receive the Dharma. It made me reflects on how fortunate we are, I am and how in fact very very spoiled some of us are. My days of walking out to the guard house and taking a taxi to and from KFR seems like a breeze and walk in the park! It is humbling reading Rinpoche’s journey and all the hardships Rinpoche had to go through to receive the Dharma. It also dawned on to me all these hardships actually helped enhanced Rinpoche character and made Rinpoche more alert, more sensitive, warm, and compassionate even further.

    The part where Rinpoche had attempted to run away and left Gaden, hiding in Hubli until Kensur Rinpoche said he’ll personally go to Hubli to bring Rinpoche back, made me feel somewhat comforted that even a Mahasattva can think of giving up, what more us? It is not to say that this is good or something we should do or follow, but it makes me feel… “okay you can get depressed, and you can feel jaded, you feel like giving up because you are not “perfect” and only human, but what is important is know that Dharma is still important and you can get back up on your feet, and you can bounce back and that is what’s vital.” This part is inspiring to me, because it tells me, that he even if I am at the bottom of the barrel right now and even if the tunnel seems very dark with one tiny light shining through a tiny hole… I can still make it out alright if I trust my Lama and if surrender and that nothing is permanent. What goes up, must come down, and what goes down must come up… well, I do hope that once we are up, we should be alert not to let it go back down. Thank you, Rinpoche for sharing your life’s journey with us, for it gives people like me hope for a better tomorrow/future/life.

  67. P Lanse on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    My thoughts after reading Chapter 4 (pg 181- )
    – H.E. Tsem Rinpoche endured a lot of difficulties when he first arrived in India, either financially or culturally. However, the toughest challenge that Rinpoche was facing and still facing until today is the ban of Dorje Shugden practice. It’s very hard for Rinpoche to make the perfect decision as either way, He would still not 100% following his gurus’ instruction. However, Rinpoche finally chose to continue Dorje Shugden practice as this practice was given to him by H.H.Zong Rinpoche and when the ban started, Zong Rinpoche has already passed away. If he gives up the practice, it would mean that he’s breaking samaya with Zong Rinpoche who gave him the practice. How Rinpoche handled this dilemma is a good, logic and clear example and reference for us to follow. What I learn from that is we shouldn’t blindly follow the crowd yet must make decision based on always putting samaya with guru as the priority.

    – Rinpoche finally reconnected with Zong Rinpoche and the current Zong Rinpoche immediately recognized him as his junior and a Rinpoche even though Tsem Rinpoche was not officially recognized as a reincarnated tulku at that time. This indicates that Zong Rinpoche and Tsem Rinpoche must have a close relationship in their previous lives and also proof that clairvoyance does exist.

    – The reconnection of Tsem Rinpoche with his father though improved his financial status, yet it further deteriorates his relationship with his birth mother. Until today, Tsem Rinpoche’s birth mother still doesn’t reconnects with him. However, Tsem Rinpoche never once blame his parents for abandoning him and he still wish to reconnect with his mother before it’s too late. This is the level of forgiveness we all should learn.

    – Many high lamas and protectors, including H.H. the Dalai Lama, recognized Tsem Rinpoche not only as a reincarnated tulku, but also identified that His incarnantions date further back than the official recognition at that time. It has been confirmed by Dorje Shugden during a trance in 2015. It proved to me that enlightened mind will alway recognized the truth to be truth without contradiction.

  68. Edward Ooi on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    From page 181 to 225

    This again proves that Tsem Rinpoche is not an ordinary being. Not only that he was recognised by the Panglung Oracle, he was also recognised by many other highly attained masters such as H.H Zong Rinpoche’s current incarnation, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, and even H.H the 14th Dalai Lama. Tsem Rinpoche is such an inspiration, no matter how tough his situation was, he never lost faith in both the Dharma and his Gurus. Around page 193, the book explains how difficult Rinpoche’s living condition in Zong Ladrang was, that he had no sponsors to support him for daily expenses and how Rinpoche was starving, that the water in India was not clean and had upsetted Rinpoche’s stomach for months before finally adjusting to it. Despite these and many other factors, Rinpoche persevered before finally meeting his birth father who was Rinpoche’s first ever sponsor. When Rinpoche’s father Lobsang Gyatso built Rinpoche his own Ladrang in Gaden Shartse monastery, Rinpoche invited his Guru, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche who was previously living in Zong Ladrang with Tsem Rinpoche, to come stay with him in Tsem Ladrang. When Kensur Rinpoche moved in with Rinpoche, our Rinpoche very kindly and respectfully offered his guru to live in the upper floor while Rinpoche lived in the bottom floor, even though this was Rinpoche’s personal Ladrang. This shows how much respect and devotion has for his all gurus.

    I really loved the bond between our Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche’s current incarnation. Zong Rinpoche met Tsem Rinpoche when Rinpoche had not been officially recognised as a Rinpoche, yet Zong Rinpoche addressed him as Zopa Rinpoche. From the pictures shown in the book, you can clearly tell that Rinpoche was immensely happy to be with his root guru once again, and that Zong Rinpoche was very happy to have met Rinpoche again in this lifetime. This goes to show how the deep relationship between these two from lifetimes ago has brought them this life. It is simply such a good read, I really enjoy it.

  69. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Start to Mid of Chapter 4 – Afterthoughts

    What stood out to me in this chapter was the number of high lamas that had given both verbal and formal recognitions of Rinpoche’s previous incarnations. Many of these lamas are extremely attained and learned including H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, so Rinpoche’s line of incarnations is definitely irrefutable. It also makes sense that even at a young age, having Guru devotion and strong passion towards Dharma was something natural for Rinpoche.

    Again in this chapter, Guru devotion is mentioned over and over again. From going to India to become a monk to being enthroned as a Rinpoche then to having his own Ladrang which later Rinpoche offered it up to his Guru, Kensur Rinpoche. This entire process has clearly demonstrated how strong was Rinpoche’s faith towards the Dharma and how much respect, love and devotion Rinpoche has for his Gurus.

    Another event that moved me very much was how Rinpoche stayed unaffected by his family issues. It must be very painful to be reunited to Rinpoche’s birth father at the cost of losing contact with Rinpoche’s birth mother. How can anyone possibly choose between their parents? Similarly, coming to the Dorje Shugden controversy, how can anyone possibly choose between their teachers? It was an extremely difficult period of Rinpoche’s life yet Rinpoche pulled it through and rose above it. Many people would have been thrown off by situations like this, they will either give up or become depressed. But Rinpoche’s Dharma practice has kept Rinpoche going for the sake of benefitting sentient beings. This is an act of a truly selfless person.

  70. Pastor Adeline on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    Today’s reading session covers about half of the content where Rinpoche was finally granted the wish to be ordained as a monk. With the kind help of Robert Stone at Thubten Dargye Ling, Rinpoche managed to clear the remaining US$5,000 loan and embarked the journey back to the spiritual home – Gaden Monastery in South India.

    The condition at the monastery was poor and Rinpoche can barely sustain the minimum living expenses. With only a small amount of a mixture of barley flour and milk, Rinpoche often goes hungry. Even with so little Rinpoche had, Rinpoche would still share half of it with the birds outside the room. Rinpoche has always shown sign of true generosity, the generosity paramita, which was done without consideration of Rinpoche’s own needs. Everything that Rinpoche does and every word Rinpoche says are premeditated for others’ benefits. Before Rinpoche was recognised, Rinpoche has already started helping the poor and needy while studying and performing the duties in the monastery.

    Guru Deva Rinpoche, an emanation of Dorje Shugden Gyenze, reunited Rinpoche with Lobsang Gyatso, Rinpoche’s biological father who then started to sponsor Rinpoche and lifted Rinpoche out of many financial difficulties. Unfortunately, Rinpoche’s communication with Dewa Nimbo, Rinpoche’s biological mother, stopped after she learned about the news. Perhaps it reminded her about the pain and the deception she experienced that were too overwhelming for her. Rinpoche never hear from Dewa Nimbo until today.

    Zong Choktrul Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Zong Rinpoche was brought back to Gaden Monastery where Zong Rinpoche continues to learn and to be trained. Zong Rinpoche recognised Tsem Rinpoche immediately and referred Tsem Rinpoche as Zopa Rinpoche upon sight. Zong Rinpoche again recognised Tsem Rinpoche as a reincarnated lama while Rinpoche was still known as by the ordained name Tenzin Zopa. Both of them had some precious time together at teachings and play. The relationship continues just like before.

    Until Rinpoche was officially recognised, Rinpoche continues to show the strong Guru Devotion that is embodied in Rinpoche. As soon as Tsem Ladrang was built, Rinpoche immediately invited Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche to stay with Rinpoche but as an assistant rather than a host of the house. Rinpoche has always been humble and always put others in a higher position as Rinpoche thinks highly of everyone.

    All these good qualities are the ingredients of Rinpoche’s high attainments and extremely beneficial works to benefit others to this day.

  71. Choi Sheem on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Chapter 4
    My thoughts after reading this chapter :
    – Rinpoche’s childhood dream of becoming a monk finally comes true.
    – Rinpoche’s biological mother must have been proud of him for she was corresponding with Rinpoche and giving encouragements.
    -In this chapter, again we read of Rinpoche’s generous and giving nature in sharing the little food he had with the birds and starving himself and later on to sharing his ladrang with his teacher and eventually giving it to his teacher.
    – Rinpoche’s care for others was apparent in this time when we read that during Rinpoche’s time at the monastery, besides studying, Rinpoche was benefiting others by serving the monastic and lay community.

  72. Pastor David Lai on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    In today’s reading of the Promise, we covered the section of the biography from the point where Tsem Rinpoche was ordained and entered Gaden Monastery. The narrative at this point captured the poignancy of leaving behind America and all that was familiar and comfortable and plunging into a totally different country, language and culture. It must have been a huge culture shock for the young Rinpoche and this is not to mentioned the years of abject poverty where RInpoche could hardly make ends meet.

    However, Rinpoche did it anyway and Rinpoche experienced hardship until the sponsorship from Anila Thubten Chonyid came through. It was this sponsorship that brought about some betterment with Rinpoche’s living conditions. From there on, Rinpoche was able to improve his living conditions and although it would never be the same as it was in America but it was where Rinpoche felt at home and happy to be in living in his Guru’s home.
Later came Rinpoche’s recognition and there was a number of people who recognised Rinpoche throughout his life but it was the monastery’s recognition that was important at this point. Rinpoche was recognized to be the reincarnation of the ex-Abbot of Gaden Shartse, Gendun Nyedrak. There was an anecdote of Kensur Rinpoche showing Rinpoche the old black and white picture of his previous life as well. There was a mention of Dorje Shugden subsequent and recent recognition of 25 lifetimes, spanning all the way from Magadha Sangmo, who lived during the Buddha’s lifetime till this day.

  73. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 4 Going Home (pg 137-180)

    1. Tough challenges after America
    Arriving ‘home’ to Gaden Monastery in south India, although H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s wish to be ordained was fulfilled, Rinpoche again faced many challenges – being in a different country/culture, not knowing the language, and on top of that, living in difficult physical conditions and having no money. Luckily, Rinpoche received some help from Ani Thupten Chonyid, and later his biological father. Another huge challenge comes in the form of the restriction of Protector Dorje Shugden’s practice. Again, Rinpoche managed to get through the obstacle and determined to continue the practice. I find H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s sheer determination and firm resolution in staying true to his spiritual path and keeping his promise to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is one that is exceptional and exemplary. In this degenerate age, many people gave up their ordination because of obstacles, it is amazing that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche stayed firm despite severe hardship.

    2. Reuniting with Gurus and connection from previous lives
    Apart from meeting the reincarnation of H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche again, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche also had a close relationship with H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, who came from the same monastery and who had a connection with H.E. Tsem Rinpoche from Rinpoche’s immediate previous life. H.H. Trijang Rinpoche’s young incarnation, who lived next door to Rinpoche, would often wave at Rinpoche across the courtyard. H.H. Trijang Rinpoche was the root guru of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s immediate previous incarnation, Kentrul Thubten Lamsang. This again goes to show that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche had maintained pure samaya with these teachers, that in this life, again they meet and are all staying in Gaden Monastery.

    3. Rinpoche’s impeccable Guru Devotion
    Although H.E. Tsem Rinpoche considered H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche as his root guru, Rinpoche had equal devotion and respect to his other Gurus, such as H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche. H.E. Tsem Rinpoche invited H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche to stay with him out of great concern, and took care of Kensur Rinpoche to eventually becoming his Main Assistant (changtso). H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is well-known in Gaden for his Guru Devotion, especially taking good care of Kensur Rinpoche, curing him from his diabetes. Later on, Rinpoche offered up his Ladrang in Gaden to Kensur Rinpoche.

  74. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Comment on the chapter “Going Home”

    There are several things that stand out for me:

    – How little support that Rinpoche had when he first came to India. I do think that Rinpoche tried to run away from the monastery because things were challenging at the time provided a human touch to the story and inspire us that it is normal to feel frustrated at our situation, but the key is to have strong enough guru devotion to be able to continue with our dharma practice.

    – Rinpoche’s quarters at Zong Ladrang was very simple and lacking in the bare necessities. But it is amazing that Rinpoche still said that he spent some of the happiest years of his life in that simple living quarters. It just shows that Rinpoche is not attached to outside comforts.

    – I am really touched that Rinpoche readily forgave his father, Lobsang Gyatso. It just showed that Rinpoche did not harbor any hurtful feeling toward his difficult childhood and situation. If Lobsang Gyatso did not deceive Dewa Nimbo, Rinpoche’s life would have been very different.

    – I really like the part and rejoice when Rinpoche invited his aging guru, Kensur Rinpoche, to stay with him in the Tsem Ladrang Gaden Monastery. Rinpoche did not only invite Kensur Rinpoche to stay but also took charge of his teacher’s health and the day-to-day running of the ladrang. Rinpoche’s really showed us about how we should take care of our teacher.

  75. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 8), what stood out for me was the ease with which Rinpoche assimilated into monastic life. It feels as though Rinpoche was preparing for it his entire life. Everything that Rinpoche does is “opposite” to what ordinary people do. For example:

    (1) Becoming a monk was natural while remaining a layperson was actually unnatural. For ordinary folk these days, they think becoming a monk is weird.

    (2) Being devoted to one’s teacher was natural while showing disrespect was unnatural. Rinpoche simply carried over the guru devotion he had demonstrated towards Kensur Lobsang Tharchin, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, and showed the same level of devotion towards Kensur Jampa Yeshe.

    (3) Physically suffering for the Dharma is fine, while being physically comfortable but without the Dharma is intolerable. We know that life in Gaden Shartse was not physically easy but Rinpoche was very happy because it was a spiritual environment. That is opposite of how ordinary people behave. For ordinary people, they prefer to sacrifice spiritual practice for the sake of physical comfort; for Rinpoche, physical comfort was the least of his concerns. (Besides, Rinpoche had already experienced a much more physically abusive environment back in New Jersey).

    What was also significant was the calibre of the people from whom Rinpoche received his recognition. They were the highest of the high in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, they came at different points in Rinpoche’s life and they came not just from the Gelug lineage but from other traditions too (like the Drikung Kagyu). The interesting thing is that these multiple recognitions didn’t give rise to pride in Rinpoche, unlike ordinary people who might be led to think they are someone or something special. With each recognition, it almost seems like it made Rinpoche even more humble, kind of like Rinpoche doubled down and worked even harder to show that these lamas who recognised him were not wrong for doing so.

    Thank you Rinpoche for the opportunity to go through The Promise as a group. I’m looking forward to the future readings to come!

  76. Sharon Ong on Dec 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 4 – Part 1

    Although the living conditions in India was really unhygienic and filled with difficulties, Rinpoche said that it was one of the happiest times in his life. This shows how important the Dharma and being a monk is to Rinpoche. It also shows how strong Rinpoche’s Guru Devotion is to continue fulfilling his promise to his Root Guru, Zong Rinpoche although Zong Rinpoche has passed on.

    It was also an important milestone for the young Rinpoche when he was recognised and enthroned as a Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s enthronement was joyous yet poignant. During Rinpoche’s enthronement, he was all alone, unlike the others who had parents, family and friends to celebrate such a joyous occasion. This is a life lesson to remind us that ultimately, it is we ourselves who is responsible for our own spiritual journey.

    One of the things we can see is how compassionate Rinpoche is especially towards animals. Although back then Rinpoche had very little food for himself, he would still share a portion of his tsampa with the birds. Rinpoche’s love for animals is evident to this day.

  77. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    From today’s reading of the starting sections of Chapter 4, it is clear that Rinpoche’s suffering did not cease when Rinpoche first got to India and took ordination. Things were still very difficult for Rinpoche especially his living conditions. His room was next to a cowshed, but Rinpoche was still happy to be in the monastery in fulfillment of his promise to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. Despite not even having enough food to feed himself, Rinpoche would share his food with the birds, an act that we should learn from and emulate in our practice. We should always ensure that those around us, including animals have food and are not hungry. In fact, Rinpoche often himself still personally ensures that students, friends and even pets and wild animals have enough food to survive and be happy.

    What is remarkable though is Rinpoche’s perseverance in continuing to stay in the monastery and those conditions despite the fact that he had no sponsors to send him money to live, eat and survive. After all, monks live off sponsorship and donations from the lay community. Neither his parents, nor his friends sent any sponsorship for Rinpoche and that must have been extremely hard. Not only was Rinpoche suffering physically but financially too.

    I find the story of Rinpoche meeting his birth father inspiring because Guru Deva Rinpoche had a part to play in the story in the lama went out of his way to heal the relationship between father and son. While many would take this a normal life story, it should be taken as an example for our own practice. We should be compassionate enough to help those we can to heal their relationships before it is too late.

    Rinpoche’s recognition as a reincarnated lama is without dispute also. Looking at all the recognition Rinpoche received throughout his lifetime, spanning from Kyabje Zong Rinpoche all the way to the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden himself, it is undeniable. And rightly so, as it recounts in the biography Rinpoche was enthroned as such within Gaden Shartse Monastery, thereby continuing on his legacy from previous lives in teaching the Dharma to help countless.

  78. CindyH on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    In today’s reading up of Chapter 4 up to page 225, the following stood out for me;
    -Considering that Rinpoche had a very high threshold for hardships (as evident from Rinpoche’s trials and tribulations from childhood and Rinpoche’s pursuit of Dharma), one can just imagine how dire the situation must be for Rinpoche to cry and be sorely tempted to break his resolve to stay at the monastery. Fortunately for us, it was just another lesson for us to learn about perseverance, tenacity and guru devotion, taking into account how Rinpoche returned after being told that should Rinpoche not return, Kensur Rinpoche would come to Hubli where Rinpoche is and prostrate to Rinpoche to request for Rinpoche’s return.
    -How Rinpoche easily forgave his biological father and reflects that Rinpoche truly embodies not only the Dharma but also reveals the devotion to his Guru’s instructions.
    -How deep Rinpoche’s faith is that Rinpoche spontaneously turns to practices to remove obstacles like serkym and sang when Rinpoche manifest being “troubled”. At this juncture, it is also obvious how steadfast is Rinpoche with his practice with his resolve to continue with the practice after seriously “mulling” over it.
    – The exemplary level of clean samaya/guru devotion which is pervasive in Rinpoche’s conduct and service to all of Rinpoche’s guru, as can be seen from Rinpoche’s consistent dedication and care to Zong Rinpoche and Kensur Rinpoche.

  79. Kenneth Chan on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    The first half of Chapter 4 on Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche year’s in Gaden Monastery is a beautiful story of a young man living his dream as a monk. There is a distinct shift, despite still being financially challenged, it is a story of hope. If the first three chapters were a tunnel of uncertainty for the young Lama Vajradhara, this chapter is the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Although there is a bittersweet event when Lama Vajradhara had after 25 years, finally discovered the truth of his birth and found his biological father but as a result, lost the relationship with his mother.

    This brings me to think about how life is a sea of impermanence, people, like waves coming and going from the shores of our lives.

    The latter half of the chapter takes a drastic turn for the better. Reading about the recognition of Lama Vajradhara as the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, by more than a handful of high lamas, Lama Osel Rinpoche, H.H. Kyabje Zong Vajradhara, H.E. Ayang Drupchen Rinpoche, H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche, H.E. Drikung Kyabgon Rinpoche, H.E Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche and even H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama was what stood out for me in this chapter. It was very insightful to learn about the Tulku recognition process. It builds faith in the high lamas of Tibetan Buddhism and the practices.

    It makes me wonder what looking at a person and seeing their past lives is like.

    The chapter also contains many pictures, from the official recognition letters of Lama Vajradhara as a Tulku (which is something rare to see and to rejoice), to snapshots of the young Tulku‘s life while in the monastery – seeing Lama Vajradhara looking so at peace and happy really warms the heart.

  80. abby foo on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    From the reading session on 8th December, which covered from page 181 to page 225, I learned the below:

    – It is never easy to become a monk (or nun), contradict the view of many which thought it is an easy way out to go to a monastery and becoming a monk or nun. People thought becoming a monk or nun is an escape, but in fact, it is the opposite. In our times, to become a monk or nun is harder, as people have high expectation of a monk or nun, and the condition and circumstances make it harder for people to leave the comfort and renounce to ‘give up’ the ‘leisure’ of lay lives. There are more distractions nowadays and we hardly heard people becoming a monk or nun in this era but sadly we heard monks or nuns disrobed, giving up their monks and nuns’ vows.

    – Rinpoche goes against all odds to finally arrived in India and stayed in His root Lama’s house, Zong ladrang as per His promise to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. But that doesn’t mean Rinpoche’s hardships end, but it is just a new beginning of new struggles and challenges. Rinpoche hardly get food and doesn’t even have a proper place to stay. Yet, Rinpoche’s determination and devotion are strong enough to make Him keep continue His path and keep His promise to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. Rinpoche find reasons to stay in the monastery and continue His journey, not finding reasons to leave monastery and go back to America because if Rinpoche chose the latter, it will be much easier to justify. But Rinpoche did not chose that.

    – The list of Rinpoche’s previous incarnations does not surprise me as I can see Rinpoche’s qualities in this life. It is no surprise that my Lama has had so many great incarnations because Rinpoche’s current life’s qualities reflect who His previous lives were. Rinpoche wholeheartedly works for the spreading of Buddhadharma and using His own body, speech and mind to give teachings to the closer students and guide the students gradually on the path with immense love, patience, care and the sole intention of liberating the students.

  81. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    H.E. Tsem Rinpoche courageously left the comfort and security of the USA to India to become a monk, for Dharma. It is very sad that when Rinpoche asked for financial help from his parents, relatives and friends, they all declined. Supporting sangha is a very virtuous thing to do, yet Rinpoche’s parents, relatives and friends as “Buddhists” refused to help even when Rinpoche requested them to, this is mind-boggling. The lifr in Gaden was so harsh as described in Chapter 3, for most people, they would have given up very soon because the physical discomfort and hunger were sinply too much to bear, yet Rinpoche persisted, showing his exceptional Dharmic mind, this is literally pursuing the Dharma even at the cost of one’s life. It is very inspiring to see this, we have seen and experienced so many people in our lives who gave up for very small reason, when very small obstacle arose, in comparison, it just showed how strong Rinpoche’s mind is, this is truly the 4th of the 6 paramitas – perseverance, and Rinpoche embodies this paramita fully.

  82. Choong on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    In Chapter 4 we continue to see how the very strong Dharmic imprints of Rinpoche’s previous lives kept Rinpoche on the monastic path despite an avalanche of poor conditions in India where many would have surrendered, especially so if one were from the very materially developed America.

    Instead, through high realizations, imprints and the fortitude to keep his promise to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, and sometimes together with help from the unseen hand of the Bodhisattvas, Rinpoche pushed on and conditions improved.

    All this I suppose comes from the merits gained as a serious practitioner.

  83. Wei on Dec 8, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    My thoughts on the first half of Chapter 4:

    Fulfilling his promise to the late incarnation of Zong Rinpoche, Rinpoche traveled to India on his with some financial assistance from Robert Stone of TDL. However, due to the conditions of India, Rinpoche was on his own financially, only able to stay in relatively poor conditions in the Gaden Shartse monastery. Although this is a strong example of guru devotion and integrity to keep his promises, it must have been unimaginably difficult, physically and emotionally. The heat of India, the mosquitoes, his room being next to a cowshed… and his family and most of his Dharma friends from USA refusing to send financial assistance to him…(and to remember that a relatively small amount of USD has much more living value in Indian Rupees). When we read this part, I could feel how difficult it would have been for Rinpoche, which is probably just a fraction of how difficult it was. However, even through tough times, and moments of doubt, he continued to absorb all the struggles because of his guru devotion, which is very inspiring and respectable. Definitely only a strong and stable mind would be able to fulfill such a promise to the end.

    The next interesting topic we covered so far, was that Rinpoche had many good relations with monks and lamas in the monastery. Despite all the troubles, he was in the place he always dreamed to be, doing the thing he dreamed to do from such a young age. Furthermore, this was the time Rinpoche began to discover his legitimate birth parents and origins, which he probably would not have the opportunity to if he had not gone to the monastery in India. Even more so, Rinpoche had several encounters that verified his status as a Rinpoche and some of his previous lives as high lamas. Therefore, due to the advise of Zong Rinpoche, Rinpoche was able to discover a large part of himself that would otherwise be inaccessible from the comfort of the USA. This is an example of how following the advise of a qualified guru, with strong guru devotion can produce invaluable results despite all the struggles we eventually have to overcome.

  84. Pastor Adeline on Dec 8, 2018 at 12:03 am

    Today we have covered the remaining content of Chapter 3. This chapter gives more details as to how Rinpoche was treating H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. The level of trust and love Rinpoche has for Zong Rinpoche was definitely extraordinary. The feeling of closeness way surpassed even love to ones’ parent. Rinpoche himself believing and trusting Guru Devotion is a clear sign that Rinpoche has been practising it repeatedly for many lifetimes.

    For an 18-year-old to work three jobs at that time to prepare breakfast and dinner for a group of 8 people, as well as preparing the room for teachings etc., doing his own sadhana practice, there was hardly any time for rest or sleep. Yet, it didn’t bother Rinpoche and everything continues as a usual business because Rinpoche understands the significance and high value of Guru Devotion. This is the basis of all attainments and Rinpoche does that without hesitation.

    Even in between parties, Rinpoche will find time to get his sadhana done. Rinpoche and Diane Ukalovich would enjoy disco but kept each other awake to finish their sadhanas after parties so they will complete it before sleeping. Until today, Rinpoche still make sure the sadhana is completed before Rinpoche goes to bed daily. Rinpoche will always make sure if he missed a session, which is only twice since Rinpoche to do so begin practising. For the twice Rinpoche has missed, Rinpoche made sure those missed ones are replaced.

    No adult would do what Rinpoche as 18, either would any teen would do the same. Rinpoche always says he is a nobody, but alll these behaviours and examples show us otherwise.

  85. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 7), what predominantly stood out for me was the energy with which Rinpoche approached Dharma practice despite being such a relatively young age. This is especially striking considering Rinpoche was in Los Angeles in its 1980s heyday, when it was the epitome of everything samsara has to offer (i.e. drugs, sex, fame and rock&roll). Yet none of it distracted Rinpoche from spiritual practice.

    I also find it interesting that Rinpoche’s guru devotion, service to his teachers, and dedication to his practice was viewed as extraordinary by others, but to Rinpoche it all felt very natural. Rinpoche did not have to make an additional effort to do any of it; to Rinpoche, it always was just the way it should be. For me, it reflects how much more advanced in practice Rinpoche is compared to the rest of us, because what appears as normal to Rinpoche requires so much more effort from others.

    What also strikes me is that Rinpoche did all of this in Rinpoche’s trademark way, without losing his ‘personality’. Rinpoche didn’t become bland, or feel the need to conform to Tibetan cultural norms (some people these days think the more ‘Tibetan’ you are, the more Dharma practice you’re doing but that’s not true). That is, Rinpoche had fun, Rinpoche had friends, Rinpoche was still engaging in ‘Western’ activities, Rinpoche went out, Rinpoche was still mischievous and cheeky, BUT Rinpoche was always remarkably devoted to his teachers. How many people think that Dharma has to be one or the other i.e. you either do Dharma and ‘sacrifice’ fun, or have fun and sacrifice Dharma? For Rinpoche, it never had to be one or the other, and it could always be both because Dharma permeates every aspect of Rinpoche’s life; Dharma wasn’t a hobby, something to pick up on the weekends but something that was (and still is) an inherent part of Rinpoche’s life.

    Thank you Rinpoche for the opportunity to go through The Promise as a group. I’m looking forward to the future readings to come!

  86. P Lanse on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    My thoughts after reading chapter 3 (page 137 – 180)

    Things that stood out for me during this part of reading are as below:

    1. Extremely strong guru devotion
    – When H.H. Zong Rinpoche was in L.A., Rinpoche had given up partying, dedicated whole-heartedly in providing the best care to Zong Rinpoche, at the same time, he still need to work to support his living.
    – Rinpoche was always alert and attentive, and he would make sure Zong Rinpoche was not left alone unattended at anytime.
    – Rinpoche agreed immediately to be a monk after Zong Rinpoche’s advice, and He even carry on to fulfill his promise even after Zong Rinpoche passed away. He has been keeping to his promise since 18 years old until today and this is not an easy decision at all for anyone.
    – Whatever Zong Rinpoche asked Rinpoche to do, he would agree and committed to it all the way. One of the examples is He never missed his sadhana no matter how busy and tired he is, and this continues until today.
    – Whatever is good for Zong Rinpoche, it is good for Rinpoche. Rinpoche would not have a second thought. This shows how devoted He is. One of the example is even though Rinpoche has strong affinity to Palden Lhamo since very young, he immediately agreed to make Zong Rinpoche’s protector as his own protector without even asking which protector it is.

    2. His ability to attract people to Dharma
    – As a teenager, Rinpoche was not influenced by people and environment around him, yet he managed to do the opposite by bringing them to Dharma. One of the very good example is Diane Ukalovich whom he first met at a bus stop. It has been Rinpoche’s special qualities until today where He managed to bring many people to Dharma even through online platforms.

  87. Kenneth Chan on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:56 pm

    Chapter 3 which is on the period in Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s life in L.A. is probably the most interesting and important chapters in The Promise. What stands out for me, is Lama Vajradhara’s dedication to practice Dharma. After enduring so much difficulty in the years up till this period, and after having run away from his abusive foster parents household and reached California, instead of having it easier, Lama Vajradhara had to work several jobs, but still found the time to volunteer at the Dharma centre, Thubten Dargye Ling, cleaning and helping with chores, and still attend Dharma teachings. Lama Vajradhara’s passion for the Dharma, not missing his daily sadhana, despite the amount of work at his job and at the centre is something I really admire, a lot. That Lama Vajradhara had the energy to have a social life and go partying at night, but still not forego his sadhana is truly admirable. Even anyone who does not know anything about Tibetan Buddhism or the aspects of attained beings with attainments would be able to see that Lama Vajradhara is anything but ordinary.

    The other thing about Chapter 3 that moves me is how Lama Vajradhara meeting Kyabje Zong Vajradhara had a profound effect, resulting in great renunciation and the wish to dedicate life to Dharma. The devotion Lama Vajradhara had for his root guru and his actions is a manual for devotion to one’s spiritual teacher.

    This chapter relates how the meeting of one’s spiritual teacher is a defining and life changing event.

  88. Choi Sheem on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    Chapter 3
    What stood out for me:
    -How Rinpoche shared everything he had. Even though Rinpoche had to work at 3 jobs to make ends meet, he still gave to the centre and bought food for everyone. Rinpoche always cared for everyone around him.
    – It is remarkable for a teenager to work at 3 jobs and at the same time cook dinner and breakfast for his teacher and entourage everyday.
    -Rinpoche kept his promise to his teacher even after the passing of Zong Rinpoche. Rinpoche went to India to the monastery just as he had promised Zong Rinpoche although Zong Rinpoche is not there as he have passed away.

  89. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 3 The Promise

    1. Rinpoche’s determination to stay on the spiritual path
    It is not easy for Rinpoche to pursue his spiritual path, and to do that, after running away from home, Rinpoche as a teenager had to work 3 jobs to make ends meet while serving Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen and studying at the centre, as well as having a social life in Los Angeles. This type of focus shows the sign of a high practitioner, of which circumstances and challenges could never deter them from their practice or path.

    2. Rinpoche’s Guru Devotion and integrity
    Although H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche had passed away, Rinpoche took it seriously to fulfil his promise to become a monk at Gaden Monastery in India because of his promise to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. We may not think it is a big deal travelling to India, but it really was. Rinpoche had a lot of debt and had to work very hard to clear them, while saving up for plane tickets etc. Also, going to India to become ordained was to go to a foreign country and giving up what Rinpoche had in USA (his teacher Geshe-la, the centre, jobs, security/freedom, and perhaps a career in Hollywood) and just trust that it will all turn out to be alright.

    3. Rinpoche’s extraordinary care
    A very prominent quality of Rinpoche is Rinpoche’s care and concern for everyone. From Ani Lobsang Drolma’s sharing, we see how Rinpoche gave whatever little he had to the centre and shared with others. Rinpoche was also the only one who took notice and cared for Ani Lobsang Drolma when she was sick. Not forgetting Diana’s kindness, decades later, Rinpoche planned for Diana to visit the monastery and to meet the reincarnation of her teacher, H.H. Kyabje Zong Chocktrul Rinpoche. The poem “Dry Your Tears with Dharma” clearly reveals Rinpoche’s motivation to care for everyone and to dry their tears with Dharma, in return to having received the kindness and care from the holy Sangha, especially from Rinpoche’s teachers.

    4. Rinpoche’s strong bond with H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche
    Even before meeting H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche already had strong faith in H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche when H.E. Tsem Rinpoche saw Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s picture on the dashboard. Rinpoche’s act of devotion of making 100 prostrations daily to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s image before the arrival of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is another sign of respect and devotion. What is remarkable about this relationship is that this connection was fostered from a previous life, and it is the result of a very pure and clean relationship (samaya) of Vajra brothers. This again shows that H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s previous life led a life of practice and devotion, that Kyabje Zong Rinpoche had recognised Rinpoche as a tulku/Rinpoche, and shown so much affection to Rinpoche although they were meeting for the first time in this life and had only spent 6 months together. Till this day, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s devotion to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche never diminished, and in time of adversities or despair, the thought of H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche would ignite hope and the drive in H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to continue, no matter how bleak the situation was.

  90. Choong on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    The pictures and narrative about Rinpoche’s life in L.A. at Thubten Dhargye Ling shows just how natural it was for Rinpoche to be serving the Dharma. In addition, Rinpoche also “naturally” and “coincidentally” reunited with his friend of his previous live Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. This to me has to be karmic in nature and nothing less than that.

  91. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    *My thoughts on concluding Chapter 3*

    Rinpoche has an extremely varied and colourful life. Even as a young teenager in LA, surrounded by all the lures of modern and worldly life, Rinpoche was in the middle of it all but still remained true his practice of the Dharma like the calm in the centre of the storm.

    *Connection with Zong Rinpoche*
    As can be seen throughout the story of Rinpoche in LA, Rinpoche had an extremely strong connection with Zong Rinpoche. From the first time Rinpoche saw Zong Rinpoche’s picture on the dashboard of his friends car, he knew Zong Rinpoche was a special being, even making prostrations to the picture after he asked if he could have it. The emotional outburst Rinpoche had when first meeting Zong Rinpoche goes to show that there was a connection from previous lives and Zong Rinpoche’s own uncharacteristic behaviour of being close to such a foreign young man, even holding his hand goes to show that Zong Rinpoche knew Tsem Rinpoche from previous lives. These events is not just a teaching about two high lamas knowing each other from previous lives but a teaching to us ordinary people in how imprints can and does effect our lives. What we did in previous lives has an impact in how we behave in this life. Therefore, we should strive to achieve somethings greater and better than we are used to. We should develop ourselves spiritually and develop the qualities that we know are beneficial such as wisdom and compassion, so we can have better lives in the future and progress on our spiritual path at an earlier age.

    *Rinpoche’s tenacity in Dharma practice*
    As a young man, Rinpoche was very much into modern life, going out to have fun with friends and the like. However, Rinpoche always remembered his Dharma practice and though would spend nights out having fun, would always return home and make sure he engaged in his practices to ensure that he did not break his commitments. He would even phone his friends late at night after they got home to make sure that they did their sadhanas together. Rinpoche’s serving Zong Rinpoche despite a heavy schedule and having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet is also inspirational because it speaks of the lengths one should strive to in order to do Dharma work.

    *Meeting Dorje Shugden*
    It is clear from Rinpoche’s experiences of needing to get a better job, and then meeting Dorje Shugden’s thangka and making prostrations that the practice of the deity is one that is extremely beneficial. In fact, it was Zong Rinpoche’s personal Dharma protector that he gave to Tsem Rinpoche, even bestowing Dorje Shugden Sogtae to many students. For such high lamas like Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen and His Holiness Zong Rinpoche to have practised Dorje Shugden and then passed the practice on to their own students goes to show that these high lamas held the practice in high regards indeed.

  92. Joy Kam on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    We’ve just finished reading up to the end of Chapter 3 from “Three Jobs” onwards, and what stood out for me the most in this chapter was the part where Rinpoche was partying and having the time of his life as a teenager but at the same time, Rinpoche was extremely disciplined and would still do his sadhana no matter what. Most seventeen, eighteen-year-olds would definitely not have that kind of mindset to take their sadhana that seriously. I mean I look at myself and what was I doing back then when I was 18? I just finished high school and I went straight to Singapore to be with my sister who introduced me to parties and the nightlife. There was no such thing as a sadhana or anything spiritual for that matter. So when I read this part of Rinpoche’s life, it is admirable and it is very relatable especially the partying and Madonna part as me and my sister grew up listening to Madonna and clubbing was part and parcel of life.

    I guess what was impressive was that Rinpoche would sometimes actually go back home to do his sadhana and then return to party on. And how Rinpoche would call Diane up and make sure she is awake to do her sadhana, to keep her awake to ensure she does her sadhana goes to show you that this was no ordinary teenage boy at all.

    Another thing that stood out or puzzled me was how Rinpoche could handle working three jobs, cook for Geshela, attend teachings, then go out partying… like does this boy ever sleep or get exhausted. To me this is not any normal teen can do that is for sure. It is as if Rinpoche basically did not need to rest at all. Where does Rinpoche get all this energy and strength and focus from? I think this is extraordinary because most teenagers would not be able to do what Rinpoche did, which sets Rinpoche apart from the rest. This is what’s inspirational because normal teenagers don’t do that sort of thing. At least I have never heard of any.

    The other thing that moved me was how Rinpoche, in the end, found the courage to continue his journey and to keep his promise to Kyabja Zong Rinpoche and become a monk. I think most people would not especially if their Guru has passed away. Again this shows what kind of mindset this young Rinpoche has, so young yet so mature and so devoted to his Guru. Again a clear sign and indication of an extraordinary being with extremely strong imprints of the Dharma, and the rest is in Chapter 4, another great chapter of Rinpoche’s life… entering Gaden.

  93. CindyH on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    In today’s reading covering the entire Chapter 3, what stood out the most for me was how serious Rinpoche took his practice. This is primarily reflected in Rinpoche’s unwavering pursuit of Dharma against all odds be it physical hardship (e.g. Rinpoche willingly taking on a “punishing” schedule – 3 jobs just to sustain Rinpoche’s stay in the Dharma centre and undertaking so many responsibilities at the Dharma centre including serving his Guru etc) or the emotional turmoil (from Rinpoche’s mother further rejection to dealing with Zong Rinpoche’s passing) (ii) Rinpoche’s uncompromising attitude when it comes to practice and keeping commitments – Rinpoche never missed his daily commitments and even did what Rinpoche could to ensure others don’t miss it as seen in the case of the phone call to do sadhana together with Diane (iii) Rinpoche’s exceptional guru devotion as seen from how Rinpoche served and valued everything from Zong Rinpoche to Rinpoche keeping his promise to Zong Rinpoche even when Zong Rinpoche was no longer around.

  94. Edward Ooi on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    From page 137 to 180.

    It first started with how Rinpoche was struggling with financial issues and working up to three jobs at a time. Before Zong Rinpoche’s visit to Los Angeles, Rinpoche would spend his time working for most part and then going to clubs to party just like any young teenager would do when they have the time to. However, Rinpoche never drank despite his frequent visit to the clubs, Rinpoche was there because he enjoyed dancing very much. Moreover, Rinpoche would also talk to new people about Dharma and even some followed Rinpoche to TDL to receive teachings after Rinpoche shared with them. Rinpoche would always complete his sadhana no matter what time in the morning Rinpoche came back from clubbing, this shows how much the Dharma rank in Rinpoche’s heart.

    Later when Zong Rinpoche and his assistants arrived in LA, in TDL to give teachings for the next 6 months, Rinpoche completely stopped clubbing with his friends and instead become Zong Rinpoche’s assistant, helping Zong Rinpoche in every way possible. Not only that, Tsem Rinpoche was also in charge of preparing and serving Zong Rinpoche and his pupils breakfast and dinner everyday. Bear in mind that Rinpoche was only at the age of 18, he prepared their breakfast, cleaned it thoroughly before heading to work, then returning to TDL around 3pm after work to immediately preparing their dinner again. In addition, after cleaning up the dishes and cutleries for dinner, Tsem Rinpoche would then resume to attending Zong Rinpoche’s teachings till 2am in the morning. Then after a long day of hard work, Rinpoche complete his day with 100 prostrations to Zong Rinpoche and his sadhana. He did this without fail for the 6 months that Zong Rinpoche stayed in LA. So much responsibility for a person of age 18, yet Rinpoche handled it flawlessly.

    This has taught me how important one should regard the Dharma and their guru to their heart, if we want to create the merit to be released from samsara. All others should come in second because they are impermanent and will not help us in the way of achieving enlightenment. This book showed we should all be treating our gurus, it is not something to be lightly taken off. We must serve our gurus with utmost care and respect as they are the one who would guide us to the path of enlightenment.

  95. Pastor David Lai on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    In today’s reading of the Promise, we covered the section in which Tsem Rinpoche worked three jobs to support himself at Thubten Dhargye Ling center in LA. Then, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to the center and there was this special bond that was formed within a short span of 6 months. Rinpoche received much teachings but it was the amazing commitment that he made of promising to be a monk and receiving the Protector Shugden from Kyabje Zong Rinpoche.

    The whole time, it was evident that Rinpoche had tremendous devotion to his teachers and much of it seemed to come naturally from him. Some of the things he did was something he learnt from observing his own teacher Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen. One thing about rinpoche is that when it comes to matters of devoting to a guru, it was natural to him and that he didn’t need to be reminded or taught. He just observe and he would pick it up for life. That part struct me the most and I enjoyed reading this section because I can feel the joy that Rinpoche felt in serving his teachers and the extraordinary amount of effort that he put in seemed effortless. This is certainly one very clear hallmark of Rinpoche’s ‘tulkuship’, so to speak.

    I felt that Rinpoche leaving America to go to India to be a monk was an extraordinary step for a young American boy who is leaving behind all that was familiar and comfortable. I think for Rinpoche, it was a sort of home-coming because he must have felt that he was reconnecting with his previous lives, who were certainly had been very pure and learned monk-scholars. In this way, Rinpoche’s story inspires me and others to take our practice to the next step in renunciation of our excuses and gross attachments that prevents us from practicing the Dharma.

  96. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    End of Chapter 3 – Afterthoughts

    In this chapter, it has clearly demonstrated how much Guru devotion Rinpoche has towards Rinpoche’s Gurus. What really shocked me was how as a young child, Rinpoche would go out and have fun BUT at the same time, was able to fulfill Rinpoche’s spiritual commitments i.e. Rinpoche’s daily sadhanas and etc. This goes to show that Rinpoche is in fact someone extraordinary, the imprint of Dharma practice is very strong in Rinpoche as a child thus Rinpoche would not dare to miss the daily practices because it is so so sacred and important for Rinpoche.

    Another thing that stood out to me is how hard Rinpoche has worked to be in the Thubten Dargye Ling (TDL) to learn and serve Rinpoche’s Gurus. Rinpoche would work 3 jobs to sustain Rinpoche himself and the Dharma centre and would not miss the opportunity to be around the Dharma centre. It’s incredible to me because it shows how much devotion Rinpoche has towards the Dharma, and Rinpoche would often “suffer” to learn Dharma. Nevertheless, Rinpoche did it happily without complaining. Even to this day, when Rinpoche talks about staying in TDL, you can tell that Rinpoche truly misses those times, working 24/7 serving Rinpoche’s Gurus whole-heartedly.

    As recounted by Ani Lobsang Drolma, even Rinpoche didn’t have a lot of money back then, Rinpoche was extremely generous and would often buy food and necessities for others. This is truly inspiring because it’s very seldom for people who do not have a lot to think of others and go out their way to help them, Rinpoche is one of these very few kind souls.

  97. abby foo on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    From the reading session on 7th December, which covered from page 137 to page 180, I learned the below:

    – Since young Rinpoche experienced tough life, surviving on His own by working 3 jobs and paid for His rental Himself. Rinpoche learned to be sensitive, observant and learned so many skills in secular world. Rinpoche is very different compared with the other reincarnated Lamas that were sent back to monasteries soon after they were born. Rinpoche’s unusual experience made Him to have complete understanding of how secular people think and act, thus making Him to be able to connect with the lay students and guide them perfectly by knowing the lay students’ mentality.

    – Rinpoche’s devotion to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is incredible. This shows Rinpoche has deep faith in the Buddhadharma and the devotion comes very naturally, which also shows Rinpoche must have practice Guru Devotion in many previous lives. Guru Devotion is not something foreign to Rinpoche, even when Rinpoche was only a teenager. Rinpoche’s previous lives like Naropa, Dulzin Drakpa Gyeltsen were known be devoted students. It is not surprise to me that our Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche could be so devoted to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and all His other Gurus.

    – Rinpoche was like any young people out there, who likes to party and sing. But what differentiate Rinpoche and the other young people out there is Rinpoche is not attached to have fun and neglect Buddhadharma practice because of having fun. While Rinpoche was partying, He brought people to the Buddhadharma, shared the teachings with them and influence them in a positive way. The young Rinpoche always prioritise the Buddhadharma is what amazed me. Rinpoche never skip His sadhana even He was out to party. One point stood out for me is that even when the young Rinpoche drove out from the center to join the party, Rinpoche would never forget to not disturb His Guru who lives in the center. This shows how deep the respect Rinpoche has for His Guru.

    – Young Rinpoche took care for His Dharma sister Majorie who was sick. Majorie was not a nun back then and when she was sick, Rinpoche took care of her when no one else did that. This reminds me of the story of Buddha Shakyamuni taking care of a sick person, who is a nobody and a total stranger to Buddha Shakyamuni Himself. This is an act of compassion and selflessness. Boddhisattva can really go all the way to benefit beings.

    – The close relationship between the young Rinpoche and H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche also amazed me very very much. In that short 6 months, Rinpoche built such a close and strong relationship with Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. The way Rinpoche took care Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is inspiring and amazing – the rigorous, the care and the carefulness, and most importantly, the faith that Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is a living Buddha. And the pictures of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche holding young Rinpoche’s hand when they were walking on the street and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche cutting young Rinpoche’s hair are extremely heart-warming to see.

    – Lastly, Rinpoche’s integrity to keep His promise to His root Lama Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is what that will keep me reminded on this path and journey. It was a tough decision for the young Rinpoche to keep His promise to become a monk and go Gaden Monastery in India after Kyabje Zong Rinpoche has passed away. To left America where the young Rinpoche is familiar and comfortable with was not easy at all, but to keep His promise to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was, and is the top priority in life for our Rinpoche..

  98. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 3: H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s strong guru devotion towards Zong Rinpoche was exceptional and exemplary, yet what was even more inspiring was that Tsem Rinpoche was together with Zong Rinpoche for a mere 6 months, they never saw each other again after that 6 months. Yet, with “only” that 6 months serving Zong Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche developed great faith in Zong Rinpoche and kept his promise until now, some 35 year later. And bear in mind that at that time, Tsem Rinpoche was just a teenager. How many people were not stable and firm in their mind in their teens? I think most people are like that. Yet Tsem Rinpoche’s drive and passion towards the Dharma, towards his gurus, stayed firmed since his teens, and it extends to the rest of his life. Guru devotion is the root of all attainments, and Tsem Rinpoche shows all of us what is real guru devotion: loyal, steadfast, keeping promise, even though he only stayed with his guru for mere 6 months throughout his life, and was in his teens. That’s what make Tsem Rinpoche a genuine great Dharma master today.

  99. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Comment on Chapter 3: The Promise

    Several things that stand out for me in this chapter:

    – Despite his young age and being cut off from his family, Tsem Rinpoche managed to establish himself in Los Angeles. Rinpoche did not mind working multiple jobs to support himself. Other people that I know including myself were still very much depended on our parents at that age. Rinpoche was truly brave to go through all kinds of hardships to support himself in LA.

    – Even with limited financial resources, Rinpoche still managed to practice generosity by buying tsog offering at TDL

    – Rinpoche did everything that many normal teenagers do like going to the clubs and parties, and yet he had never missed his sadhana and neglected his tasks at TDL.

    – Rinpoche was very devoted to his teachers, especially Zong Rinpoche. Whatever Zong Rinpoche advised him to do, Rinpoche would agree and do as he promised.

    The above points stand out for me because my experience in my late teens and early twenties could not have been more different. My parents protected me and ensured that I had everything I needed. I had it very easy. I am very grateful to both of my parents for everything they have done for me.

    Just like Rinpoche, I too liked to party and hang out with my friends, but when I did that, I was focusing on the experience and the fun. I was not focusing on spiritual life or my tasks at home. I cannot imagine how can a teenager could go to one party, then go home to do his sadhana, come back to another party, end the day at dawn, and wake up at 10 am to do chores. It just shows that since he was very young, Rinpoche has a strong discipline.

    This chapter is very inspiring for average teenager and young people. Rinpoche has proven once again, and we can work to sustain ourselves, have fun, but still be responsible and spiritual persons.

  100. Sharon Ong on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 3 – Part 2
    1. Tsem Rinpoche displayed extraordinary Guru devotion. Even before Zong Rinpoche arrived in LA, Rinpoche was doing 100 prostrations to an image of Zong Rinpoche. The level of care in serving Zong Rinpoche like much effort Rinpoche put into ensuring that his Guru would want nothing also showed Tsem Rinpoche’s exemplary Guru devotion.

    2. Rinpoche was working 3 jobs while serving at Thubten Dhargye Ling (TDL). This already consumed a large part of Rinpoche’s time. Yet in between Rinpoche’s active social life (like many ordinary American teens), Rinpoche stayed true to his practice, sometimes even doing his daily prayers in between discos. This was how much Rinpoche valued the Dharma and how committed Rinpoche is in his practice.

    3. The special displays of affection between Zong Rinpoche and Tsem Rinpoche is a clear sign of a close bond that spans across lifetimes.

    I really like this quote by Tsem Rinpoche: I made prostrations because I did not know how long I could be with him, and I did not want to prostrate to a statue; I wanted to prostrate at a living Buddha.

    This is a reminder for us to serve our Guru well while he is still alive.

  101. Wei on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    My thoughts on the larger, latter part of chapter 3:

    Throughout chapter 3, there is an overshadowing theme of Rinpoche’s strong guru devotion and keeping of spiritual commitments. The entire time at TDL, he was also working multiple jobs in order to keep up with rent, without any support from his family. Rinpoche was only around 18 at the time, but always kept his spiritual commitments, which would be time consuming on their own. There are many events and demonstrations of Rinpoche’s strong guru devotion, such as preparing meals for Zong Rinpoche and his entourage, and Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen. He was always extra aware and accommodating towards his gurus. He even kept his promise to Zong Rinpoche to travel to India to be a monk, even after his primary reason for going had passed away. There are many things we might analyse about many of Rinpoche’s actions, but even from this, going from a developed country like USA to India, an unfamiliar country, would be incredibly difficult for anyone, let alone a young person without much support. Most people would not, especially if the alternative was to have a successful career in Hollywood.

    Another theme that stood out to me is found in Rinpoche frequently clubbing with other people. Despite the worldly nature of clubbing, Rinpoche always remembered to keep his spiritual commitments, such as completing his daily sadhana or waking up for Dharma teachings after a long night out. This demonstrated an understanding of how his spiritual practice was always top priority, and despite his enjoyment of clubbing, they came second place. This is further demonstrated when Zong Rinpoche arrived at TDL, Rinpoche devoted all his time to assisting and accommodating Zong Rinpoche that he did not see his friends in the context of clubbing. However, even more so, Rinpoche did not merely just dance at clubs, he also shared Dharma to the people he met there. In a way, he was already bringing Dharma to different types of people who may not have been able interested in receiving the Dharma in an orthodox manner. Therefore, at a young age, Rinpoche was transforming the worldly activity of clubbing, into a spiritual practice of teaching and sharing Dharma to others.

  102. P Lanse on Dec 7, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    My thoughts after reading chapter 2 until page 105:

    – What impressed me the most is despite all the hardship Rinpoche went through, his aspiration is still to become holy beings like Arya Lokeshvara, full of love, compassion, forgiveness, courage and acceptance. He didn’t show bitterness, didn’t want to take revenge nor did he even blame anyone. For a young boy at his age to show this kind of thinking, I believe it must have come from his strong imprint from his many past lives where he practiced compassion to all sentient beings.

    – On top of that, how Rinpoche described about his visualization of Arya Lokeshvara at Turkey Swamp is unbelievably clear and vivid. The level of clarity is very unusual for a young boy at his age, many adults can’t achieve this level of visualization. Again, I believe it’s another sign of strong Dharma imprint.

    – Rinpoche has shown sign of compassion since young. One of the example is how he photocopied Buddha images and distributed to friends so that they too can have the blessings and protection from the Buddhas.

    – Rinpoche met his first Guru, H.E. Kensur Lobsang Tharchin when He was 7 years old and met H.H. the Dalai Lama when he was 14 years old. As a Buddhist, we know in order for a samsaric being to get a precious human rebirth is not easy, the chances of meeting the holy Dharma is even rarer. If someone has the opportuniy to find a true guru during his lifetime, he must have collected a lot of good merit. Hence, for H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to have met someone like Kensur Lobsang Tharchin and H.H. the Dalai Lama at this very young age, it must be that he must have very strong karmic connection with the lineage and he must have collected huge amount of merits during his past lives.

    – Rinpoche’s only interest is Dharma, he would always find way to go to Dharma centre despite all the opposition and he also has very strong guru devotion. All these is very unusual to us, but to Him, it comes so naturally. Merits and strong imprints are the only reasons I can think of.

  103. Choi Sheem on Dec 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    My thoughts after reading :
    – There were many previous lifetimes where Rinpoche was born with royal blood.
    – In all lifetimes, Rinpoche played a crucial role in propagating the Buddha’s teachings to lay people and also towards monastic communities.
    – In his previous lifes, Rinpoche built monasteries, facilities for people to practice Dharma and creating large images of Buddhas.
    – The strong guru devotion.

  104. Edward Ooi on Dec 6, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    From page 106-136

    Points that I have picked up and can confirm is that Rinpoche has tremendous love and care for all animals. Not just for Rinpoche’s three cute doggies, but also for the animals that we have in Kechara Forest Retreat. Rinpoche would tell us to feed them well, make sure that they are healthy in every single way and always show them a lot of compassion. To think that a 16 year-old boy hitchhiking over 4000 kilometres alone and sleeping on the roadside along most of the way is simply unimaginable. Through Rinpoche’s experience of being hungry and alone, he has a lot of compassion to start up Kechara Soup Kitchen 10 years ago which has been thousands of people to this very day. Due to Rinpoche’s love and kindness, I was able to learn to be helpful to those in need, be it whether they are humans or animals. My parents knew that bringing my sister and I into the Dharma will help shape us into much better people and I must say that it is one of the best, if not the best thing that has ever happened to me. I learnt that helping others is more important than any statuses or any amount of money. I have been volunteering in Kechara Forest Retreat for the passed 6 months after graduating from high school and I strongly believe that what I have learnt from here will be more useful than anything else the education system can ever teach me.

  105. Choi Sheem on Dec 6, 2018 at 3:23 am

    From reading session 5 December 2018
    Page 106-136

    Points that stood out to me:
    – Rinpoche’s love for animals. How a eight year old boy tried so hard to take care of a very active dog from escaping. This is after the bad experience of losing a dog that was ran over by a car. Even then it didn’t help much as his mom got the dog pound to take his dog away after many attempts to keep it from escaping. It is so traumatic to see one’s beloved pet being dragged away and being brought to the dog pound.

    -How the yearning to practice dharma is so strong in the young Rinpoche that he is willing to leave the safety and comfort of home so that he can continue his spiritual practice without the constant scoldings from his mother and to prevent his mom from harrassing his teacher.

  106. Pastor Shin on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 2 The American Dream

    1. Running away at 9!
    I feel sad to know that Rinpoche’s multiple running away attempts started when Rinpoche was 9 years old! Rinpoche was very courageous to make that decision to leave his home or end his life, for the sole reason that Rinpoche could practice the Dharma. Rinpoche’s determination is shown through these attempts to leave home, or to end his own life.

    2. Turning pain into fuel
    Negative experiences that Rinpoche had as a child inspires Rinpoche to ensure others do not suffer the same fate. As we learnt from this and the previous chapter, Rinpoche had a friendly disposition, that’s why not many people had any idea that Rinpoche was abused in both Taiwan and America. The loss of Rinpoche’s 2 dogs at a young age is the fuel for Rinpoche to, later on, had large aviary and areas cordoned off to house and take care of rescued/stray animals. Rinpoche’s short period of being homeless while running away from New Jersey to Los Angeles was also why Rinpoche founded Kechara Soup Kitchen, to take care of the homeless and urban poor who couldn’t make ends meet. Rinpoche is the real-life breathing walking example of how we never let adversities and negative experiences drag us down.

    3 Surviving the journey of 2,500 miles at 16 and working 3 jobs in California
    Rinpoche had to forsake the comfort of living under a roof and go towards the unknown, although Rinpoche had already planned and marked out his runaway route. We may find it awe-inspiring reading the story from our comfortable armchair, but it was extremely dangerous for a young teenager. Not only did Rinpoche suffer from hunger and fear, but also being held at gunpoint. Later, although Rinpoche had the freedom to study and learn the Dharma, Rinpoche had to study for GED, worked 3 jobs, served his teacher at the centre, and tried to make ends meet without support from any family members. Truly, Rinpoche is a survivor in every sense of the word.

    4. Rinpoche’s tremendous respect for Lamas
    There are many small things that we can see, which reflects Rinpoche’s tremendous respect for lamas. Because of the promise to Geshe Wangyal, Rinpoche had to abandon his plans to run away/leave home. Not knowing who Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen was, Rinpoche immediately prostrated to him, when Rinpoche was introduced to Geshe-la by Dr. Leo Pruden. Rinpoche also prostrated to the phone after speaking to Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche. All these despite growing up in a secular lay community and not because of monastic protocols, this shows that the respect and devotion Rinpoche had was second-nature and had strong imprints from previous lives.

    There are a lot of successful and inspiring people out there, but just reading Rinpoche’s account in this chapter, one cannot help but be awed and respect Rinpoche for such courage to run away from home, and also to have put up with the abuse for so many years, unscathed by the trauma or tribulations because Rinpoche was really practising Dharma.

  107. Pastor Adeline on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    From today’s sharing after completing Chapter 2 and reading a few pages on Chapter 3, it has become apparent that Rinpoche’s unwavering determination to practice Dharma is that of an extraordinary being. Rinpoche’s strong desire to learn and practice Dharma, single-pointedly focus on achieving that had led Rinpoche to several suicidal and runaway attempts. Rinpoche would do anything even to risk Rinpoche’s life so that Rinpoche can practice Dharma. It was a ‘simple’ wish yet the obstructions were overwhelming.

    When Rinpoche attempted to ran away, especially on the second attempt, Rinpoche had a violent incident at gunpoint. Instead of being consoled and cared for, Rinpoche received further abuse from Dana and Boris when the police brought Rinpoche home after a night in jail. Imagine a young mind having to go through all that just because Rinpoche refused to lead an ordinary life. For 16 years, Rinpoche was abandoned, ignored, abused and ill-treated on many levels but Rinpoche turned those experiences into becoming a kinder, more responsible, protective and caring person especially to the poor and needy as well as those who cannot speak for themselves. Rinpoche always says, do not use the hurt we have received as an excuse to hurt others. It shows us how strong and steady Rinpoche’s mind is in wanting to benefit others.

    Apart from Rinpoche’s family, Dana and Boris and Lishma, all Rinpoche’s relatives except for Aunt Matza and Uncle Bob who treated Rinpoche badly after, did not extend their help to Rinpoche who was young and helpless. They let Rinpoche wonder on the street and exposed to the hardships that may end Rinpoche’s life. However, when Rinpoche shared the fond memories Rinpoche had with them, it was always shared with love and affection. It made us believed that they were loving and caring. However, that was far from the truth. Their relationship with Rinpoche was one that stays together when times were good but takes care of yourself when the times were bad.

    Rinpoche also remember the kindness Rinpoche had received throughout Rinpoche’s life. Rinpoche had shown us a dark brown colour notebook where Rinpoche note the name of the people, their contact details, where they have met and etc. who Rinpoche will always appreciate because of the kindness they have shown to Rinpoche.

    In 2013, when Rinpoche went back to the US after 26 years, Rinpoche visited the At 9 Motel to thank the owner for the one-night free stay he had given to Rinpoche at Rinpoche’s last and successful attempt to run away. To the young Rinpoche, it was more than just a free stay but a night of security, peace and protection from the cold and harsh condition of the street. The owner was no longer looking after the motel and his son was there. He was told about the story by his dad and was happy that Rinpoche came back. He was very happy to receive the token of appreciation one behalf of his father.

    In 1987, before the request for ordination was made to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at Geshe Ngawang Wangyal’s centre in Washington, New Jersey, Rinpoche visited the centre earlier before Geshe Wangyal passed away in 1983. Rinpoche remembered the $50 Rinpoche had promised to return that was kindly loaned to Rinpoche after the second attempt to run away from home. Rinpoche found Geshe Wangyal’s assistant who had given him the $50 as instructed by Geshe Wangyal and explained to the assistant who Rinpoche was and that Rinpoche was returning the $50.

    The assistant was happy to see Rinpoche well and insisted that Rinpoche gave the money back to Geshe Wangyal himself. She took Rinpoche to Geshe Wangyal and refreshed Geshe Wangyal’s memory of the young boy who had wanted to join Geshe Wangyal’s centre and that Geshe Wangyal had instructed her to give the young boy $50 so that he could stay in a hotel before returning home to his parents. Geshe Wangyal by that time was in a wheelchair and hard of hearing but remembered the boy and the incident clearly. The assistant introduced Rinpoche as that boy and Rinpoche returned the money to Geshe Wangyal directly. Geshe Wangyal was very pleased that Rinpoche was well also and accepted the money. Geshe Wangyal was happy that Rinpoche had used the money to get back to the parents successfully.

    To this day, Rinpoche continues to show signs of gratefulness, appreciation and integrity. Rinpoche kept every promise Rinpoche has made and never forget any of them regardless who the person was. These admirable and inspiring attitudes and qualities were nurtured from the most misfortune experiences Rinpoche had gone through in life. Those experiences didn’t stop at 16 but continue until today.

  108. P Lanse on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    My thoughts after reading chapter 2 (page 106 – 124) and chapter 3 (pg 125 – 136 )

    This second part of chapter 2 and first part of chapter 3 is basically about H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s love for animal and his strong yearn for Dharma since very young.

    H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is not only a man of compassion but also a man of action. His sad experience in losing his beloved pets in his childhood doesn’t turn him away from keeping animals or makes him bitter, instead this experience has made him become even more caring about animals. Today, Rinpoche has created places such as aviary in Kechara Forest Retreat to take care of the birds, not only that, he also encourages his students to always feed strays and take good care of every single animals in Kechara Forest Retreat up to the level of making daily updates of the animals when He would read, response and give advice on every aspect despite his busy schedule. This is the level of care I observe with my own eyes.

    His strong yearn for Dharma is extraordinary and most probably is due to his many past lives’ imprint and strong aspiration to benefit others through Dharma. He knew exactly what he wants and doesn’t want even when he was still a child. He was of no interest in worldly affairs and he was willing to do anything just to learn and practice Dharma. Failing to do that, he is even willing to commit suicide as he thought without Dharma, his life would be wasted. From here, we can see that his sole purpose of taking rebirth in this world is for Dharma but nothing else.

    After he ran away from home and settled down in Thubten Dhargye Ling, he worked 3 jobs a day just to make sure he can continue to stay in the Dharma centre and to receive the holy Dharma. Once again later in his life, he has turned this experience into something beneficial to other spiritual seekers. In Kechara (a Buddhist organization founded by H.E.Tsem Rinpoche), those who sincerely want to learn and practice Dharma on full time basis would be offered a job with stipend so that they don’t have to worry about making ends meet, hence they can focus more on the dharma learning.

    For ordinary beings like us, when we experience something, we just merely experience it. However, H.E Tsem Rinpoche would turn every single life experience into creating something that is beneficial to others especially those that can bring positive impact to one’s spiritual journey.

  109. P Lanse on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    My thoughts after reading Chapter 1:

    Chapter 1 is about H.E.Tsem Rinpoche’s childhood in Taiwan.

    H.E.Tsem Rinpoche’s childhood is both typical and non-typical as an reincarnated tulku. The typical part is the incidences and signs appeared during his mother’s pregnancy and when He was born. All these shows that He is a reincarnated lama.

    However, unlike majority of the reincarnated tulkus, he was not brought back to the monastery immediately and received formal monastic education since young due to the objection from his mother. He was adopted in a family who didn’t treat him well and later had to be brought to US and adopted by the second family.

    Tulkus are those who come back again and again on their will in order to benefit sentient beings. Unlike us who take uncontrolled rebirths under the force of karma, tulkus are able to choose their own rebirth. Hence I believe whatever happened to H.E. Tsem Rinpoche and his childhood are under his will even though the sufferings that he went through are real. He must have chosen this specific rebirth, enduring all the hardships and sufferings in his Dharma journey with altruistic motivation so that modern practitioners can relate more and inspired by his life story.

  110. abby foo on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    From the reading session on 5th December, which covered from page 106 to page 136, I learned the below:

    – Rinpoche’s protective and love towards animals start since very young. Even now, Rinpoche is particularly careful with taking care of animals, from strays to Rinpoche’s own furry kids. For example, Rinpoche would always have foods and water for stray animals and would feed them whenever Rinpoche sees them. Rinpoche also encourage His own students to do the same and myself have picked this up and practice the same.

    – Young Rinpoche went through many emotional abuses. However, those abuses did not make Rinpoche a hard, cold person, but it turned Rinpoche to become someone who is extremely sensitive to others’ feelings and emotions, bringing only pure love and care to whoever He encounters in life. Those experiences enables Rinpoche to understand others’ pain very easily and Rinpoche is able to help people to overcome their pain.

    – For Buddhadharma, young Rinpoche was very courageous. Young Rinpoche ran away from home for the first time at merely 9 years old. This shows how much courage and determination He has. Also, this shows how important Buddhadharma is to Rinpoche. Discomfort and danger to the young Rinpoche were nothing compared to having no opportunity to practice Buddhadharma. Rinpoche would ‘sacrifice’ His own comfort and safety for Buddhadharma. This is very very unusual, Buddhadharma is equal to life to Rinpoche. That’s also why Rinpoche tried to kill Himself when he was very young for not been able to practice Buddhadharma due to the strong opposition from the adoptive parents.

    – Rinpoche has deep respect and faith towards the Buddhist masters, even though He never have meet them. For instance, Rinpoche listened to The Kalmyk-Mongolian Geshe Ngawang Wangyal’s advice to return home after he ran away from the adoptive parents even though the young Rinpoche knew what was going to happen to Him after He returned – which was to get more severe abuses and screaming for again running away from home. Rinpoche kept His promise to return home. Whatever Rinpoche has promised, He would never go against His promise. This quality is so rare nowadays and it is an inspiration to many, including myself.

    – Rinpoche’s experience of being homeless made Him to become someone who has so much compassion and kindness towards the other homeless and this is the pure motivation Rinpoche established Kechara Soup Kitchen in Malaysia to give support to the homeless. Rinpoche teaches the students not to have bad views for the homeless but to really understand them and help them. Also, Rinpoche is extremely protective towards the younger people as they are vulnerable, and gives extra care and extra guidance to them as Rinpoche believes in giving care and guidance, young people can grow up to become someone that is kind and beneficial to the world. I myself benefited from Rinpoche’s care and guidance since I met Rinpoche when I was only 21 years old. Rinpoche taught me to become someone that is forgiving, kind and always have kind heart, to look at things and people. I am grateful for this.

    – Rinpoche has a very strong connection to Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s lineage. Since Rinpoche was only 7 years old, the direct disciple of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche – the ex abbot of Sera May Monastery, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin has moved to Howell New Jersey which the young Rinpoche lived at. Then young Rinpoche received Vajrayogini’s initiation from this great master and this master received the initiation from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Later on when Rinpoche moved to Los Angeles, Rinpoche met another great Gelug master, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen who is also connected to the lineage masters. I deeply believe that there’s no such thing as coincidence. This must be the very strong imprints from Rinpoche’s previous lives.

  111. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Comment on “The American Dream Part 2”

    What impressed me with this section of the book was Rinpoche’s determination to practice Dharma. When his adopted parents disagreed with his Dharma aspiration, Rinpoche chose to renounce the relative comfort of his home and run away to Los Angeles. Even in Los Angeles, he could meet an authentic teacher in the form of Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen who welcome him with an open arm and gave Rinpoche many teachings and initiation. This is another proof that Rinpoche has a strong affinity with the Dharma.

    I could imagine what Rinpoche felt when Geshe Tsultrim asked him to apologize to his adoptive parents for hurting them. Regardless of whether Rinpoche was at fault. I think it is beautiful that Rinpoche followed his teacher’s advice and called his parents, and therefore giving himself an opportunity to heal. I am a believer that most of us are indebted to our parents since we have received their kindness and generosity at the time we were most vulnerable.

    May Rinpoche’s life story that contains his struggle, trials, and many triumphs continue to serve as an inspiration to many generations to come.

  112. Joy Kam on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Today’s reading of The Promise took us on a journey where Rinpoche finally managed to be “free” from being controlled by his foster parents and to gain one more step closer to his destiny to do Dharma. This to me was another clear sign of an enlightened being, who choose to be reborn into our planet to not only spread the Dharma but to inspire and guide us through his own real-life experiences. No ordinary person would have that much drive and passion to seek the Dharma out with such fearless conviction.

    What really stood out for me in this chapter, that I thought was really significant was how Geshe-la, Rinpoche’s Guru asked Rinpoche to call his foster mother Dana and say he is sorry and to basically ask for forgiveness. How Rinpoche reacted to Geshe-la and asked why is that he needs to apologise when it was Dana who abused him throughout entire time living with them.

    What Geshe-la said to Rinpoche as Rinpoche was voicing out the unfairness he was perceiving when Geshe-la asks him to call Dana is a huge Dharma teaching in itself. Geshe-la asking Rinpoche to see the good qualities of his mother and telling him to forgive and to let go. This to me was a very important lesson I myself can learn from. So, see the good in other instead of the negatives. No matter how “bad” one’s mother may be, she still carried us, cared about, fed us, clothe us, and basically where we are today is due to the kindness of our mother and father, no matter how bad they are. The calling up to speak to Rinpoche’s mother, that whole event that Geshe-la wanted Rinpoche to do, I am sure was a very emotional situation and that would take a lot of courage. But it was the beginning of a healing process and the ending of a negative karma.

    I guess if my mother was alive today, and I was presented this same opportunity, I would have done so too. To realise that they must have had tremendous pain to have caused pain to us, was not because they did not love us, but because they themselves were trapped in their pain and did not know any better or other ways to express release their pain. Just like Rinpoche’s mother, my mom felt unjust from her husband. A lesson in life that marriage can bring us our hell immediately, and it is always the kids that suffer. So again Rinpoche’s story makes us feel closer and more relatable with Rinpoche,

  113. CindyH on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    In today’s reading which primarily covered Rinpoche’s runaway attempts and the basis for such attempts, it reinforces not only (i) Rinpoche’s deep yearning for Dharma and (ii) the (extreme) extent in which Rinpoche was willing to go in order to have the Dharma in his life, but also (iii) the exemplary application of compassion and gratitude. The part about Rinpoche’s adherence to his Guru’s advice to apologise to his mother despite Rinpoche bearing the brunt of abuse, the emotions Rinpoche manifest to grapple with, and the reasoning for the same, remains as impactful for me now as it was when I first read it. Today’s reading is also very telling of how Rinpoche never forgets any kindness which was extended to him and a true lesson about gratitude.

  114. Sharon Ong on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 2 – Part 2

    1. Rinpoche’s yearning to engage in Dharma practice is extremely strong and this is clearly demonstrated by the number of attempts of running away from home and suicide. It is extraordinary for someone so young to have such a deep longing for the Dharma and this is stemmed from Rinpoche’s imprints.

    2. Rinpoche’s huge love for animals continues to this day as we have seen the numerous animal rescues and the construction of the large airy Aviary in Kechara Forest Retreat for rescued birds. Rinpoche’s compassion for animals is also evident through Rinpoche’s efforts to have more people embracing compassionate dining and adopting a lifestyle of non-harming animals.

    3. Despite the terrible abuse Rinpoche had to endure at home, he chose not to live with Aunt Matza as he did not want Aunt Matza to take on his sufferings. This not only shows Rinpoche’s level of maturity but how compassionate he is to want to take on the sufferings by himself. This is a sign of a Bodhisattva.

    My thoughts on Chapter 3 – Part 1

    1. The events that led Rinpoche to eventually find his way all across US to LA is as if a path that was already pre-set due to his imprints. It would seem like such a coincidence that Rinpoche would met Dr. Leo Pruden who took him to Thubten Dhargye Ling (TDL) only to meet his second teacher, Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen.

    2. When Rinpoche sought his first teacher’s (Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin) permission to study under Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen, the humility demonstrated by both Rinpoche’s teachers, shows us what true high level practitioners they are. (Pg 129) Kensur Rinpoche also displayed what a spiritual guide should be – Someone who cares only for is student’s Dharma path.

    3. It may seem strange for Rinpoche to apologise to his mothere, Dana, as he was the one who was abused but in doing so, Rinpoche not only followed his Guru’s instructions but accepted his situation and let go of the past. And this is the Buddhist way of healing.

  115. Pastor David Lai on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    In today’s reading of the Promise, we covered the section on Rinpoche’s problems that he faced in New Jersey that led him on 4 successive attempts to runaway from home.

    It was an incredibly emotional and tumultuous part of his life where he was facing the increasing wrath of his foster mother who was suffering from schizophrenia and at tremendous emotional pain due to the husband’s philandering and abusive ways. It was obvious that Rinpoche had become emotionally scarred by it and it was through Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen tutelage that Rinpoche healed through make that fateful phone call to his mother.

    It’s amazing how Rinpoche’s faith in his lama saved him from the decades of emotional pain that he could be carrying later on his life. However, there will always be a part of Rinpoche that will always be sore and insecure because the original pain was tremendous and deep-seated. What’s amazing is that Rinpoche had never used it to justify misbehaviour or the hurting of others. Instead, Rinpoche had turned it around to help others, mend broken ties of others with their parents and so forth. This goes to show the healing and transformative effect of the Dharma upon Rinpoche.

  116. Wei on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    My thoughts of second half of chapter 2:

    Having concluded chapter 2, it was quite obvious that Rinpoche has a strong affinity to caring for animals at such a young age. This is a theme that Rinpoche has continued to teach to other people for many years. It is understood by many people that we should take care of our pets, but Rinpoche takes his care for animals to another level. Unfortunately it was beyond his ability to provide the necessary environment for his dogs in his childhood, but that motivated him to take extra care of animals in the future. For example, feeding stray dogs, or building a large aviary for birds. If we think of the ways we can improve the lives of animals, there are many things we could be doing better.

    In this contemporary time, I hear many people throw out the term ‘I am depressed’. Not to deny that, but when it comes down to it, many people are depressed due selfish reasons. For example, “I can’t afford this lifestyle”, or “I have so much stress and anxiety”. So many times people throw around terms like “I want to kill myself”. They often say this because they don’t think about the potential for themselves to benefit others, or they never contemplate on what they already have and to be grateful for it. In the closing pages of chapter 2, Rinpoche became suicidal and tried to end his life, albeit not through very lethal methods. However the reason for this mindset did not arise out of selfishness. Instead, it was due to being denied the chance to learn and practice about Dharma at a deeper level. By ending his life, he thought he could be reborn in a different human form where he could learn and practice more. This is definitely not recommended, however, this demonstrates a strong passion to be of benefit to others which is often not reflected in the suicidal motivations of most people.

    Running away by himself and crossing the country at around 16 years old, Rinpoche put himself in great danger just to get away from an environment that obstructed his spiritual growth. Once again, this shows how passionate he was about learning and practicing the Dharma. Many people would not go to such lengths and risk so much to pursue their dreams and passions. Respect. It is inspiring for sure. Often when I think about this, I feel urged to do more to transform myself, since I have good opportunities at relatively little risk.

    Onto first parts of chapter 3, one thing that stood out to me was Rinpoche’s guru at the time, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, asking him to call his mother and apologise to her. Although reluctantly, this allowed Rinpoche to begin a process of healing from the years of physical and emotional abuse that he had been subjected to. We do not always have the opportunity to interact with people who have hurt is in this way, so if we do, we should try to severe any resentful feelings towards those people. That will be helpful for us moving forward. Even if we cannot fully recover, and maybe we still have some resentment, it is better than always being angry at someone. In many cases, the people we are angry at may not even ‘exist’ anymore, in the sense that people change or pass away. So we become hateful at someone that doesn’t exist and that is very unhealthy for our mind. It’s not that we should forget what happened, but we should try to let go of the feeling of anger and wanting revenge.

  117. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 5, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    The world out there is full of danger, especially in developed nations like the USA. Running away from home at such young age for Rinpoche (early teens) was what almost no kids had the courage to do. He didn’t have money to buy food, there was no more shelter like home, the winter was harsh and people literally froze to death out there, bad people were out there ready to exploit innocent teenagers…No teenagers would leave all the comfort and security to wander out into the unknown and danger, yet Rinpoche did with so much determination and with many attempts, he was serious about it, and the only reason that he did so was so that he could have the freedom to practice the Dharma, not for money, relationship, fun…but for Dharma. He was willing to risk his life for Dharma. This courage is unexceptional, especially when it came from a teenager. Just like what was taught in the scriptures, we should have the courage to practice Dharma at all cost, even at the cost of our lives, and Buddhas like Vajrapani etc have the qualities of such “power and courage”, and Rinpoche just demonstrated to all of us such quality in real life.

  118. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    My thoughts on Chapter 2 and the beginning of Chapter 3:

    In the face of all the difficulties Rinpoche faced because of his parent’s opposition to his Dharma practice, Rinpoche still persevered in his practice and this even led him to wanting to leave home so he could practice the Dharma in peace. But understanding this, what do we learn? We actually learn that our spiritual practice is important and that we should persevere in our spiritual practice because that is the only way we will end the life of suffering that we go through. Rinpoche’s story, especially earlier life, is one of overcoming adversities to achieve something. For Rinpoche, this was the wanting to practice the Dharma, which should inspire us to go all the way in our own spiritual journey. But even on a more secular level, success can only be achieved when we persevere in something.

    Even after Rinpoche left home he went through harrowing experiences while hitchhiking across the breadth of the United States from New Jersey on the East Coast, all the way to California on the East Coast. Despite the immense and emotionally scaring experiences along the way, being homeless, hungry, cold, wet, lonely, and even facing violent incidents, even at such a young age, Rinpoche’s resolve was resolute. It is a story embodying the perfection of effort. Something that we should learn from and try to emulate in our spiritual practice.

    *Dharma Imprints*
    Again the point of Rinpoche’s strong Dharma imprints surfaces in the story when Rinpoche arrives in Los Angeles. At this point of the Rinpoche’s story, when Rinpoche was looking for a Dharma centre, even though there were other centres in the area, things manifested in such as way that Rinpoche ended up at Thubten Dargye Ling under the tutleage of Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, a great master in the same lineage as Rinpoche had studied in during his time with Kensur Lobsang Tharchin in New Jersey. From one side of the United States to the other, what are the possibilities that Rinpoche would end up studying in the same lineage? It is an extremely slim change. But the fact that Rinpoche did speaks volumes of his connection to this particular lineage.

    Rinpoche mentioned the other day, that no matter who your teacher was in your previous life, if you have a strong connection to a particular lineage in that life and have generated enough merits, in the future life it will mean that you will meet a teacher of that lineage again so you can continue the practices. Even if you teacher is not the same teacher, the teachings you receive in that future life will be the same as you practiced in previous lifetimes. And you can see this is exactly what happened in Rinpoche’s case. First Rinpoche had met the lineage of teachings in New Jersey, and then again in Los Angeles are he had run away from home.

  119. Kenneth Chan on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    In the second half of Chapter 2 of The Promise, we get to see Lama Vajradhara’s dedication in pursuing the path of Dharma. I also admire how, despite having a way out (through his Aunt Matza) of the abuses Lama Vajradhara suffered in his household, Lama Vajradhara knowing the suffering she would have to experience from his adopted mother, declined Aunt Matza’s offer to stay at her house and instead chose to return to taking abuse to spare Aunt Matza from Dana’s vengeance. Even in his teenage years, Lama Vajradhara displayed incredible maturity and compassion. Reading this humbled me incredibly and for this, I am grateful.

    Without looking at Lama Vajradhara’s incarnation line and high Tulku position, and just by looking at his deeds as a human being, Lama Vajradhara is exemplary for being wise far beyond his age and acting with kindness and compassion far beyond any other.

    Getting into chapter 3, we see a new beginning in Lama Vajradhara’s life in Los Angeles. The stand out portion in this chapter for me is how “as fate (or more correctly, karma) would have it,” Lama Vajradhara would find himself in a centre led another distinguished master, Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen and who would also just happen to be in the same lineage and a contemporary of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin. Considering that Lama Vajradhara had first visited Chogyam Trungpa’s centre but as the story goes, even though the lights and people were clearly in and didn’t come to open the door, goes to show how powerful karma is. There are just too many ‘coincidences’ here for Lama Vajradhara to end up at Thubten Dargye Ling for it to be a coincidence. As I think of this, I am in awe of the working of karma and its consequence on us with life.

    I look forward to discovering hitherto unknown gems of Dharma practice in Lama Vajradhara’s autobiography.

  120. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    In his early teens, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche was already so eager to receive initiation, to the point of obsession, that is extremely unusual. Look at ourselves, what were we thinking and doing when we were in our early teens? Fun, friends, schooling, that’s about it for most people, yet for Rinpoche to have such an unusual “obsession” at that age, it could only be explained by the fact that previous lives exist, and that whatever we did in our previous lives, good, neutral or bad, we will bring the same inclination to the next lives. So many people are dying to pursue the American Dream, yet for Rinpoche, being brought to the USA at such young age, he was totally disinterest in worldly things, he was not interested in secular school studies because he thought it was a waste of time, while for the rest of the people, they would be serious about their studies because that would lead to a good degree thus a good job, a process to fulfill the American Dream. The fact is, Rinpoche never likes the western culture of materialism, he always wanted to leave for the east to pursue spirituality. Rinpoche showed so much wisdom even at such young age, back then he already realized that pursuing materialism will not bring true happiness, therefore even though he grew up in one the world’s most materialistic countries, he demonstrated much non-attachment, just like what we would expect from a wise sage, except that this was a teenage kid.

  121. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    End of Chapter 2 and Start of Chapter 3 – Afterthoughts

    A lot of Rinpoche’s qualities when Rinpoche was a young boy are still being brought over to Rinpoche’s later years and in fact these qualities are getting more prominent. For example, Rinpoche’s love towards animals has taken form of the aviary in Kechara Forest Retreat. Those birds that now fly freely in the aviary are birds rescued from various pet shops and owners as they were living in a very bad condition, deprived of basic care prior to the rescue. When Rinpoche goes out, Rinpoche would always have some dog food available in the car so that when Rinpoche comes across some stray dogs, Rinpoche will stop the car to feed them. Rinpoche sometimes would purposely pack some food from the restaurants or bakery and feed it to the stray dogs. Not many people would go to that extent of caring for stray animals.

    Another quality of Rinpoche which inspires me very much is how much respect and guru devotion Rinpoche has towards Rinpoche’s gurus since a very young age. Like how Rinpoche would not go back with Rinpoche’s promise to Geshe Wangyal which is to return home after his attempt of running away. This particular event stood out to me very much because with the amount of abuse, anger and violence hurled at Rinpoche at home, Rinpoche still would not break his promise to Geshe Wangyal and returned home to more violence. This is truly an act of an extraordinary person, not many people would go through hell to keep their promises.

  122. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    From today’s book reading (December 5), what predominantly stood out for me was the fact that the kindness that Rinpoche received from strangers, was much more than the kindness Rinpoche should’ve received from his own family. There’s Geshe Wangyal’s advice to Rinpoche, the nice policeman in Indiana who kindly advised Rinpoche, the Indian man who gave Rinpoche a free room in the motel, the half-Native American lady who drove Rinpoche nearly all the way to California, the kindness of Dr Leo Pruden to go out of his way and bring Rinpoche to Thubten Dhargye Ling. Contrast that with Rinpoche’s abusive parents, Bob’s machinations to get Rinpoche kicked out of his house, Rinpoche’s sister not stepping in to offer a helping hand when she knew what Rinpoche must’ve been going through at home… the only person who was willing to stick their necks out was Aunt Matza who offered to risk her family’s peace in order to alleviate Rinpoche’s suffering. It just makes you reflect on the emptiness of ‘family’ as a label.

    It also struck me how quickly Rinpoche was forced to grow up, as a result of the circumstances around him. It has never failed to amaze me the distance Rinpoche hitchhiked in order to leave New Jersey and I think that’s something very difficult for Malaysians to comprehend because our country’s land mass is so much smaller compared to the United States’. And each time I hear about the experiences Rinpoche had along the way, like how Rinpoche learned to wear shoes when sleeping to always be ready to run and escape, what 16 year old teenager has to worry about something like that? We all take for granted the comfort and security with which we live.

    Thank you Rinpoche for the opportunity to go through The Promise as a group. I’m looking forward to the future readings to come!

  123. Edward Ooi on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    It was horrible what happened to Rinpoche during his early years in this current incarnation. It is really inspiring despite what Rinpoche went through in his life that he eventually still came back to the path of Dharma and spreading it to this very day. If all this abuse happened to me, I know for sure I wouldn’t be able to take it at all. And, I definitely would not become a person who would be wise enough to follow the path of Dharma, I might actually follow a life filled with hatred and desire. It has taught me that no matter how hard my life may become in the future, as long as I trust the Dharma and accept whatever that has happened to me as my karma, I will be able to move on becoming a better person. I’m really grateful to my parents for giving me such a comforting life and also who brought me into the path of Dharma. I appreciate having this sort of life very much as now I know how many didn’t and do not have the opportunity to practice the Dharma strongly.

  124. Choong on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Chapter 2 also reads like a Dharma teaching. At every turn, concepts such as renunciation, the 4 opponent powers, karma, merits, the 8 worldly concerns, guru devotion, compassion, the noble eightfold path, come into mind, all in the form of the actions Rinpoche took and the advice and instructions that his teachers gave him.

  125. P Lanse on Dec 5, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    My thoughts after reading The Prologue:

    The Prologue is about H.E.Tsem Rinpoche’s past lives. There are a few things in common that stood out for me:

    1. Compassion: For every single life time, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche had work tirelessly in spreading the dharma.

    2. Wisdom and skilfull means: His contribution comes in many different ways, but all are in great scale and have created significant impact in keeping the lineage and the growth of dharma. Some of the examples are Magadha Sangmo who began the tradition of offering food and incense to the Buddha and monastic community; Mahasiddha Virupa who performed miracles to bring countless beings to the Dharma; Thonmi Sambhota who developed the Tibetan script which plays a key factor in preserving the ancient Buddhist text; King Trisong Detsen who invited great Indian masters such as Shantaraksita, Padmasambhava and Kamalashila to come to Tibet for the dissemination of Buddhist teachings, he also founded the first Buddhist Monastery in Tibet and by organizing a two years debate between Chinese and Indian master to make India as the source of pure Dharma teachings; Mahasiddha Naropa who is the founder of Vajrayogini Tantra; Lotsawa Loden Sherab who translated 135,000 verses from Sanskrit to Tibetan; Ra Lotsawa who brought Yamantaka Tantra to Tibet; Shakya Shri Bhadra who set up guiding principles of monastic rules; Sakya Pandita who was the first to spread Tibetan Buddhism outside Tibet, created Mongolian alphabet and composed over 100 highly infuential Buddhist texts; Buton Rinchen Drub who compiled Kangyur and Tangyur collection; Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen who founded Gaden Monastery which is the first Gelug monastery; Panchen Sonam Drakpa was the abbot of three great Gelug monasteris and who composed texts that are still studied in major Gelug monasteries until today; Emperor Kangxi who built many Tibetan monasteries in China; And Kentrul Thubten Lamsang who spreaded dharma to the remote area.

    3. Guru devotion: His past incarnation showed strong Guru devotion.

    4. All the above qualities are still being carry on until this life time. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche has shown extremely strong guru devotion to his gurus. Some of the examples are he chosed to become a monk following H.H. Zong Rinpoche’s advice; under H.E. Lati Rinpoche’s request, he comes to Malaysia to spread the Dharma when his will is to stay in monastery and engage in retreat. He also showed wisdom and skilfull means by his modern and unconventional way of spreading the dharma to the lay communities and showed his compassion by tirelessly spreading the dharma via online platform so that even people in remote area who don’t have access to the dharma can still learn dharma through his youtube channel and blog which is an encyclopedia of modern buddhism. His work is not only beneficial to our generation, but will become a legacy and reference for future generation.

  126. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 5, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Comment on “The American Dream”

    The chapter titled “The American Dream” tells a story of the young Tsem Rinpoche from the time he came to the United States, adopted by the Bugayeff family, and until his teenage years (1972 – 1982).

    There are several things from this chapter that stand out to me:

    – Dewa Nimbo’s husband wanted to adopt Rinpoche, but Dewa Nimbo was against the idea. She must have been very hurt and ashamed. Somehow, I feel sad for the innocent little boy who was denied of his birth mother’s love.

    – When I read about Rinpoche’s initial years with the Bugayeff, I felt some sense of relief. At least the family was accommodating toward Rinpoche’s need. It was lovely for Dana and Lidshma to go under the table to eat with the young Rinpoche and for them to provide him with the necessary medical care, and for Boris to be so fond of Rinpoche and dress the boy like him. Unlike the horrible Shi Mama family, at least the Bugayeff cared for Rinpoche, regardless of their secular motivation.

    – The happy time did not last long, as the adopted parents were not agreeable with Rinpoche’s Dharma aspiration, and Dana succumbed to Schizophrenia and became erratic. It must have been very scared for Rinpoche always to have to tiptoe around his parents and did not know when he would get the scoldings, beatings, and screamings.

    – I am also amazed that although Rinpoche lived in a small town in New Jersey, he could still meet one of the greatest living masters of the time and be connected to Dharma again.

  127. abby foo on Dec 5, 2018 at 4:58 am

    From the reading session on 4th December, which covered from the beginning of chapter 2 to page 105.

    Points and parts that stood out for me are as below:

    – Despite the tragedies Rinpoche went through since young, it is almost like natural for Rinpoche to accept, forgive and still practice love. To me this is beyond what a kind soul is, it is unusual. Rinpoche is indeed a Bodhisattva. For example, Rinpoche would absorbed all the pain and bully at such a young age and Rinpoche never react with anger or hatred.

    – Rinpoche’s pure faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is spectacular. Rinpoche need not anyone to instill the Buddhist values and views, the faith just arises naturally. Again, to me, this is absolutely unusual. It must be the imprints of many lifetimes of practicing the Buddhadharma. For example, Rinpoche would pray to Manjushri so that he can do well in study, pray to Medicine Buddha so that the rain would stop for him to walk to school, also pray to Chenrezig to relieve his own pain within.

    – What excite Rinpoche the most is any activity to do with the Buddhadharma. As a young kid, this is again extremely unusual. Till now, Rinpoche feel most excited when Buddhadharma’s activity is carry out. This shows Rinpoche’s body, speech and mind are all for Buddhadharma.

    – Rinpoche’s guru devotion started since very young age. Rinpoche may be very young, but somehow he respect his guru Kensur Lobsang Tahrchin Rinpoche very very much. And Rinpoche’s favourite things to do at such young age is to be near with the guru and to please the guru.

    – Rinpoche is a very determined person. From insisting to pray to Palden Lhamo, to continue carry out his practices despite the strong opposition from the adoptive parents. This quality is shown since young age. Rinpoche’s determination in practicing Buddhadharma is very admiring and inspiring. Nothing is in Rinpoche’s way when it comes to Buddhadharma, and it is exactly this determination, so many of Rinpoche’s students today are benefited from Rinpoche’s teachings.

  128. Pastor Adeline on Dec 5, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Today’s reading session covers some part of Chapter 2 that highlights Rinpoche’s life in America when he was between 7 and 14 years old. More and more signs of Rinpoche’s very strong dharmic imprints were manifesting stronger in America through his actions and his exceptional strong desire for dharma. No ordinary young children would share the same interest and intense love towards the Buddha and dharma.

    Young Rinpoche was taken to New Jersey by his grandma Queen Dechen. His biological mother Dewa Nimbo was already married and had children of her own in the US. Her husband was very fond of Rinpoche and wanted to adopt Rinpoche but Dewa Nimbo was adamant not to. With all her good intentions, Queen Dechen handed Rinpoche to Dana and Boris Bugayeff. Rinpoche was told that they were his ‘real’ parents and was assured to a good and comfortable life with love.

    In reality, it was a complete opposite. Not knowing she was suffering from Schizophrenia, Rinpoche experienced extreme mental and physical abuses especially when Dana found out Boris was cheated on her. It was not long after that Dana’s daughter Lishma decided to leave home, leaving Rinpoche the only person at home to receive all mental and physical abuses from Dana. She would scream and hit Rinpoche for no apparent reasons, threatened Rinpoche she would kill him with a knife in her and etc. She would take her anger out on Rinpoche instead of Burcha who has hurt her deeply with his dishonesty and deceptions.

    The life at home was like walking on eggshells, one wrong move would break the egg and serious consequences would follow. Going to the Turkey Swamp and Rashi Gempil Ling (RGL) were Rinpoche’s best asylum at that time. Rinpoche would do meditation on the Buddha of Compassion, Chenresig, and embrace in His great compassion and kindness by the lakeside at Turkey Swamp. No one taught Rinpoche the meditation nor the mani mantra. It all came naturally and easily. Instead of feeling angry and depressed with Dana’s abuse, Rinpoche would meditate on kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness. At RGL, Rinpoche was attracted to the Palden Lhamo thangka and often did prayers in front of Her despite Rinpoche’s first Guru, His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin, instruction to pray in front of the Buddha. It was a very strong connection and attraction Rinpoche had on Palden Lhamo that is beyond logical explanation.

    Rinpoche’s strong guru devotion was very much seen already in those years where Rinpoche would write beautiful note and make flowers offering to please Kensur Rinpoche, to listen to Kensur Rinpoche’s advice to minimising Dana’s and Boris’ displease of Rinpoche’s frequent visit to RGL, does everything Rinpoche knew at the temple out of devotion to Kensur Rinpoche and the dharma. No one taught Rinpoche to do any of these. Rinpoche just knew what to do. It is a clear sign of being at home, doing everything very naturally and knew where things should go without being told.

    No ordinary being would have such kind of behaviour and wisdom to meditate and learn dharma since young without being prompted. All of us in samsara carry out actions that hurt others without efforts because we function from ignorant and selfishness. We would not naturally think of forgiving those who hurt us. Rinpoche is completely different. When Rinpoche received the lojong teaching and mani mantra from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Rinpoche knew very clearly the importance of lojong which Rinpoche already realised and practised. Rinpoche’s drawing of the Buddha images and giving them out for protection is a sign of generosity paramita in manifestation. Rinpoche gives without hesitation even until today. It is very natural for Rinpoche to give and it is a pleasure still for Rinpoche to give until today.

    Rinpoche once told a few of us, “I like to buy Buddha statues at a high price and sell it at a very cheap price, so that many can have a Buddha to pray to at home.” This makes Rinpoche the worst businessman in the world but the most compassionate and generous person who genuinely wish to bring benefits to others. The strong karmic imprints to benefit will never cease.

  129. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 5, 2018 at 2:49 am

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 2 The American Dream

    What stood out for me in this chapter is that there were many signs that Rinpoche was not ordinary, and Rinpoche had to again go through so much hardship as a teenager, just because he wanted to pursue his spiritual path. However, nothing could stop Rinpoche.

    1. Strong imprints from previous life’s activities
    What Rinpoche enjoyed as a child is not what an ordinary boy would do – being in forests and sitting beside lakes to meditate. Morever, Rinpoche had a whole visualisation of how Avalokiteshvara arose, iconographically correct, with rays of lights emanated from His body filing Rinpoche’s body, contemplating on His qualities while reciting His mantra, and communed with this Bodhisattva of Compassion. This is almost like a sadhana and how did a kid know all this, and was able to focus for an extended period of time doing this on his own and reciting 5000-6000 mantras while his friends went to play? This tells us in Rinpoche’s previous life, he must have been in many retreats or did extended practice and meditation that at such a young age, this was what Rinpoche had strong inclination to.

    2. Meeting the first teacher and connecting with his lineage practices from previous lives
    Rinpoche met, studied and received initiations from Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin, a very qualified master of the Gelug lineage, a student of H.H. Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. Pabongka Rinpoche. H.H. Trijang Rinpoche happened to be Rinpoche’s immediate previous life’s teacher! Rinpoche didn’t have to go the monasteries, but a qualified teacher was readily available for Rinpoche, 10-minute bike ride away. This is a sign that H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche had kept a very clean and strong samaya (bond/vows) with his teacher in his previous life that at a young age, Rinpoche was able to reconnect with his lineage practices again, despite being shipped away to a small town in America.

    3. Rinpoche’s determination and obsession with the Dharma
    At the risk of being grounded, punished and abused, Rinpoche still went to the temple to be near his teacher Kensur Rinpoche, engaged in meditations at night, read Dharma books by torchlight under the covers, voraciously read up Carmen’s Dharma books from her library and talked for hours with her about Dharma. The determination and almost obsession to study and practise the Dharma are quite unusual for a child who was born in Taiwan (not exposed to Tibetan Buddhism or any Buddhist practice back then) and was starting a new life in a small town in America. These traits were not planted in this lifetime and hence it can be conluded that they came from Rinpoche’s previous life.

    4. Rinpoche’s devotion and making a connection with masters from his previous lives
    Rinpoche had such deep devotion and reverence to his teachers and masters of the lienage that when he found images of H.H. Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. Pabongka in books, he photocopied them, keeping these images sacred and pray to them without knowing who they were. Rinpoche also had strong faith and devotion towards H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, having met and received teachings/initiations from H.H. the Dalai Lama in America. It is amazing that these great lamas just showed up in America and Rinpoche was there at the right time.

    5. Rinpoche’s patience and perseverance to get Vajrayogini initiation
    At age 14, Rinpoche attended a Vajrayogini initiation but didn’t receive the initiation fully, due to interference from Rinpoche’s adoptive father. This made Rinpoche work conscientiously around the house for a year (one year!) to ensure that Rinpoche receives the Vajrayogini initiation again the next year. Rinpoche’s determination and focus at such a young age is amazing, and that happened amidst being bullied at school, suffering from domestic violence, and not being allowed to go to meet his teacher or visit the temple.

  130. Joy Kam on Dec 5, 2018 at 2:24 am

    Today we covered the chapter on the “The American Dream” in our book reading up to “The First Initiation”. What stood out for me the most in this chapter was how Rinpoche would do anything for the Dharma even at such a young age.

    The story about how Rinpoche would make the extra effort and took great pains do all household chores well so that Rinpoche’s parents would allow Rinpoche to go for the Vajrayogini’s initiation was remarkable. It shows us who Rinpoche really is, at only age 14, Rinpoche had such strong yearning and drive for the Dharma is exceptional because no ordinary kid would be this interested in spirituality at that age. I thought to myself, geez what was I doing at that age… nothing spiritual that is for sure. The only thing I did that was anywhere remotely spiritual was praying that I would survive another day without any issues with my mother who was in depression at that time.

    I guess I can somewhat relate to Rinpoche on how Rinpoche had to tiptoe all around his mother and to be extra careful and alert because any wrong move could trigger his mother in a frenzy. This kinda sounded like what I had to go through with my mother although she was not as physically abusive as Rinpoche’s mother who would use anything to hit and lash out on Rinpoche. But there were definitely verbal and some physical abuse. Rinpoche had to basically be on guard and learn to be “smart” to survive another day without abuse, pretending he is sleeping while he was doing his prayers and meditation. Not many people can understand the fear a child being abused daily and how they have to live in constant stress and alert, and it is like being trapped in hell, wishing and praying that it will be over soon.

    Rinpoche’s ability to endure so much abuse is remarkable. It shows Rinpoche’s great qualities of someone who has great tolerance, strength, courage, and kindness. Rinpoche is inspirational and is definitely someone very special because how can someone so young put up with so much pain and yet he can still put up a happy front and no one knew what he has to go through. Most kids would already have some kind of mental instability or insecurity issues if this is what they have to go through day in day out. Yet Rinpoche can still be positive and warm and to still persevere to find all kinds of ways to reach the Dharma, in this case, to go to the temple and be with his Guru. This is so amazing, so inspirational.

    It reaffirms that Rinpoche definitely choose to be reborn in such a horrible situation to teach us a lesson in life and Dharma. It seems like Rinpoche’s entire life’s journey is one great Dharma teaching in itself, and this is just the beginning.

  131. Sharon Ong on Dec 5, 2018 at 1:20 am

    My thoughts on Chapter 2 – Part 1

    Rinpoche’s past lives’ imprints manifested when Rinpoche was still a young child in the form of Rinpoche’s fascination and strong draw towards Dharma, spiritual practices, meditation, Buddha images and the longing for a life of an ordained instead of the American dream. To see such a young child practising The Three Principal Aspects of the Path such as Renunciation and Bodhicitta is a clear sign that this was an extraordinary being.

    For the ordinary child to experience Rinpoche’s abusive and neglected childhood, the child would surely be traumatised and would grow up to be a damaged adult. But Rinpoche remained stable as a child and progressed spiritually as Rinpoche grew bigger. As a young adult, Rinpoche requested to be ordained. All these are signs of a Bodhisattva who choses to return in the most difficult circumstances to inspire in the course of helping beings out of suffering.

    It is amazing how much Rinpoche valued the Dharma at such a young age and Rinpoche’s insatiable thirst for the Dharma has kept him focused on his quest for his spiritual path no matter how much obstacles he encountered.

  132. CindyH on Dec 5, 2018 at 1:02 am

    In today’s reading until page 105 of Chapter 2, apart from the insights into Rinpoche’s familial ties, what stood out the most for me was how Rinpoche’s further childhood tribulations in USA not only makes Rinpoche more relatable but also adds a lot of weight in attesting to the value of applying Dharma, primarily, compassion to get through the difficult and even hurtful situations.

    This is considering that the challenges that Rinpoche endured are quite common life problems/issues which many can connect to their own struggles. Hence, it would be more, for lack of a better word, convincing testament to the application of Dharma as means to come out unscathed from such traumatic experience.

    I have heard people saying that Rinpoche is extraordinary and hence taking the high road would be easier for Rinpoche. Be as it may, it still does not detract from the proven effectiveness of the (Dharmic) method applied by Rinpoche. It boils down to how “badly” we want to overcome our suffering and to that end, Rinpoche’s tenacity to keep pursuing the Dharma against all odds ought to be emulated.

    On a more personal note, it is really humbling to revisit the point that despite what transpired, Rinpoche compassionately bears not even an iota resentment towards who ill-treated Rinpoche or developed anguish or any other self-damaging emotional side effects, be it now or even when Rinpoche was but a very young child.

  133. Kenneth Chan on Dec 5, 2018 at 1:00 am

    Today’s reading of Chapter 2 continues where we left from Chapter 1 of Lama Vajradhara’s childhood years. Leaving Taiwan and brought to America by his grandmother only to be given away for adoption days after arriving is one of those instances that would make one pause and think about all the things in life we take for granted — family.

    Again, I am led to think about the notion of family and what it means. Although, the blood relations one is born into is the legal definition of family, that is not necessarily so, especially in the example of Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche who has so much faith in the Buddha’s spiritual teachings and displaying renunciation even at such young age. Choosing spiritual brethren over his blood family is not a difficult decision when one has non-attachment, free from societal constructs and projections.

    At 14 years, my only thoughts were about going out and having a good time, and the pretty girls I met. At the same age, Lama Vajradhara was committed to the spiritual path, practicing daily without fail, attending Dharma teachings and receiving initiations into highest tantric practices.

    On hindsight, I now recognise the folly and my foolishness of the last forty years. For this I am humbled, and am grateful for being able to encounter with Lama Vajradhara who is truly rare and precious.

  134. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:56 am

    From today’s book reading (December 4), the following aspects stood out for me:

    (1) Rinpoche’s life has always been fraught with physical discomfort and pain starting from infancy until adulthood. But physical difficulties never deterred Rinpoche’s single-mindedness in pursuing the Dharma.

    (2) that it was the people who were supposed to love Rinpoche, who were always the ones abandoning Rinpoche. In a normal sense, I can imagine how this would be extremely painful and confusing, and it always pains me to think of how distressed that little boy must’ve been. On the other hand, it also makes me think that even though the abandonment was not of Rinpoche’s choosing, Rinpoche’s life was already becoming a teaching in renunciation.

    (3) that of the millions of towns Rinpoche could’ve been adopted into, it was Howell with the Kalmyks, near Kensur Rinpoche. It seems that even though Rinpoche was deprived of being raised in a traditional monastic setting, things were still somehow always conspiring to reconnect Rinpoche with the lineage.

    (4) I really got the sense that each lama was a guardian caring for the young Rinpoche in a foreign land, until Rinpoche met Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and that resulted in a different relationship altogether. I think it was probably because of the age difference – that Rinpoche was so young when with Kensur Rinpoche, compared to Rinpoche’s age when meeting Kyabje Zong Rinpoche – but I get the sense that Kensur Rinpoche was taking care of Rinpoche until Geshe-la stepped in to fill the role, before Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came along.

    Thank you Rinpoche for the opportunity to go through The Promise as a group. I’m looking forward to the future readings to come!

  135. Edward Ooi on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:28 am

    Reading about Rinpoche’s incarnation line in Rinpoche’s book “4th Edition, The Promise”, I find it very interesting and fascinating to see how Rinpoche’s reincarnation line worked throughout these thousands of years. It is fascinating for me especially due to the different and extremely creative ways how Rinpoche’s previous lives brought Dharma to the people. Rinpoche’s previous lives drew ordinary people to the Dharma path through extraordinary methods
    including display of magical powers (Virupa), inventing the Tibetan texts and brought Buddhism from India to Tibet, spreading Buddhism to ten thousands of people (Thonmi Sambhota) and many more. In Rinpoche’s current incarnation, Rinpoche is strategically spreading the Dharma widely through the internet which is trend or the tool used to teach people from all around the world. So again we see the similarities between Tsem Rinpoche and his previous lives.

    Another fact that shows us the similarities between Tsem Rinpoche and his previous lives is their Guru Devotion. With incarnations of Magadha Sangmo, Naropa, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche just to name a few, they all had extremely strong Guru devotion. Naropa was beaten and rejected for teachings from his guru, Tilopa for 12 years but he never gave up. Magadha Sangmo had such strong Guru Devotion that even the Lord Buddha himself and his disciples came from Tushita Heaven as a response to her offerings of incense and prayers. Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen who loved his guru Lama Tsongkhapa very much and built Gaden Monastery when Lama Tsongkhapa was in his later years so he didn’t have to travel far. This level of love and guru devotion is still shown to us by Tsem Rinpoche when he mentions Zong Rinpoche who is Rinpoche’s root guru. And it teaches us how important guru devotion is if we want to pursue our practice in Dharma. These are the two key points that I’ve learnt about Rinpoche and his reincarnation line in the beginning of this book.

  136. Wei on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:13 am

    My thoughts on the first half of chapter 2:

    Continuing the theme from chapter 1, it is clear that even in America, life was not easy for Rinpoche as a young child. Even more to this point, Rinpoche had to leave his life in Taiwan to live in America, with a different family, and he did not even speak the native language. He could not even communicate with his new foster parents when he arrived. I can only imagine how confusing it was and also quite intimidating to suddenly have to live with a new family in a foreign country.

    Further into the timeline, during his residence in America, Rinpoche was faced with many obstacles in his spiritual path. Primarily from his parents, who strongly opposed his deep interest in things related to Buddhism. I think many people can resonate with the feeling of being obstructed by their parents in doing something they want, but often times it is not against a spiritual aspiration. Personally, I am fortunate for my parents who did not oppose my spiritual path in this way, as I probably would not have continued to pursue it as passionately as Rinpoche did. It is important to remind ourselves that everyone faces their own set of unique obstacles, whether it is external or internal. In Rinpoche’s case, his external obstacles were quite large in the form of his parents, although fortunately there was a close temple relatively nearby with a very qualified teacher there and he did not have much internal obstacles.

    Therefore, I think it is very important to be consistent internally, because a lot of the time external obstacles will decrease at some point in time. Then the internal force can push us into seeking a situation where we can achieve our goals. If the internal force is weak, then it doesn’t matter much how good the external conditions are, usually the results will be inconsistent or short-lived. In other words, a strong and stable mind will most likely achieve some spiritual results that is worthwhile so we should practice in making our mind as such. If we just focus on creating the external environment to enable our spiritual practice, without developing our mind, then it not be very effective at achieving spiritual results. It would be like building a magnificent mansion on a foundation of quicksand.

  137. Pastor David Lai on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:10 am

    For today’s reading of the Promise, we covered the chapter on Rinpoche’s formative years in America. What struct me was quite a number of obvious signs that Rinpoche was not a normal child. He had a depth of wisdom not normally seen in a child and hence, he would yearn for teachings and are attracted to monks, temples and Buddha deities. Although experiencing abuse and hardship, he never vented it out on others showed that he was more concerned with others than himself.

    Furthermore, Rinpoche at his age can see the value in the Dharma and also the faults of the typical American dream of chasing a university degree, job and starting a family. That led Rinpoche down the path that was at odds with the wishes of his foster parents. They simply could not understand Rinpoche and tried their best to suppress Rinpoche’s spiritual inclination. Fortunately, Rinpoche’s boundless determination had led him to forge a path unto himself.

    We can see that Rinpoche experience great hardship on many aspects of him acquiring teachings. The best example would be the amount of effort Rinpoche had to put towards receiving the Vajrayogini initiation. I feel that the more obstacle i feel, the more connected Rinpoche is towards the lineage and practice. It seemd likely that obstacles are merely purification of negative karma of many beings that Rinpoche would benefit in the future.

  138. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 5, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Some thoughts on Chapter 2: The American Dream

    Dharma Imprints
    It is quite clear from Rinpoche’s early life in the United States that Rinpoche has a lot of Dharma imprints and spiritual inclinations that stem from his previous incarnations. From a young age Rinpoche’s actions from sharing his Buddha painting with those at school, his passion for reading Dharma books, pretending to be giving teachings, or providing comfort for his cousins during thunderstorms by reciting prayers all go to show that what Buddha taught about imprints really does exist. These are not the actions of an ordinary child. Again, Rinpoche through his life is teachings us the Dharma. These activities all teach us about previous lives and how they effect this life. When these imprints are positive, as in the case of Rinpoche’s life, they provide people with a source of comfort and strength. They propel our lives in a manner that seeks only to help others and for the development of even higher spiritual attainments. While Rinpoche didn’t really need to manifest in this life in that manner, he did so as a teaching to all who know his story or read about it.

    As with Rinpoche’s earlier childhood, the suffering Rinpoche suffered under his parents in New Jersey, from the physical abuse to the psychological abuse is another teaching in and of itself. Even though Rinpoche went through so much, he did not let it affect his dreams of becoming a monk and doing something beneficial with his life. And i personally think that Rinpoche uses those experiences to understand the sufferings other people go through, and is therefore able to help others better now. It is all too easy to let suffering overrun one’s mind but it speaks of one’s inner strength when one is able to overcome it. Rinpoche did overcome it and went on to become the teacher he is today.

  139. Choong on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    A comment on Chapter 2:

    My comment on Chapter 1 below is of significance to Chapter 2 because it would seem like the “selection” of parents was the trigger to many subsequent events such as in Chapter 2 which brought the young Rinpoche all the way to Rashi Gempil Ling in Howell, New Jersey and teacher Geshe Lobsang Tharchin. Not by the slightest chance would this have happen under different circumstances.

  140. Choong on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    A comment on Chapter 1

    I cannot imagine the karmic confluence that must have arisen for Rinpoche to be conceived and born into such circumstances – a child out of wedlock, of a Tibetan father who is close to the Panchen Lama and a Mongolian mother who is of royal descent. It is beyond all probabilities hence to me it must be from strong (unseen) karmic causes.

  141. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Chapter 2 Afterthoughts:

    What stood out to me from this chapter was how Rinpoche has already started to practise and develop compassion for those who ill-treated Rinpoche even though Rinpoche was a very young child. This is a very special quality and I don’t believe that anyone can just develop this without having to practise it in their previous life. This alone is a sign that Rinpoche is someone extraordinary.

    From being abused at home to being bullied in school, there wasn’t any anger or resentment felt from Rinpoche. Even when Rinpoche talks about it nowadays, Rinpoche does not hold a grudge and in fact when Rinpoche talks about Dana (Rinpoche’s mother) especially, it is with a lot of love, respect, and genuine care even though she had hurt Rinpoche a lot when Rinpoche was a child. This quality of Rinpoche has always inspired me very much, it has taught me the proper/correct way to treat others even with those who are not nice to you. Compassion can only be genuine if it is without the expectation of reciprocation.

  142. Beatrix Ooi on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Chapter 1 Afterthoughts:

    A lot of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche’s present-day qualities or way of doing things very much resemble Rinpoche’s previous incarnations. For example, establishing a whole new Buddhist empire in Malaysia is definitely not something easy, it requires someone with special qualities and if I may say, abilities to establish and sustain a centre here.

    If we observe carefully, all of the works of Rinpoche’s previous incarnations have left behind something significant for the benefit of the later generations. Take for example, Thonmi Sambhota invented the Tibetan script which is extremely beneficial for the monastic institutions especially for the preservation of the Buddha’s teachings. Another example would be Ra Lotsawa who endured much hardship to bring the practice of Yamantaka/ Vajrabhairava to Tibet, Yamantaka today is one of the most prominent practices within Tibetan Buddhism.

    Rinpoche’s current incarnation is doing something similar as well, by H.E. establishing a Buddhist centre in Malaysia and spreading the practice of Dorje Shugden, it is too for the benefit of those who may come across this practice. I find it very incredible that although Rinpoche has gone through a lot of hardships and downfalls, Rinpoche did not let all these become the stumbling block for him to continue to help and benefit people. Such action can only come from a bodhisattva.

  143. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 4, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Thoughts on Chapter 1: Auspicious Beginning

    Some may think, if H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is such a high level incarnation, who was his childhood full of sufferings? Abandonment, hunger, beatings, physical abuse…but the truth is, this is what Rinpoche chose to go through in this life. He purposely chose to be reborn in a broken family, where he was abandoned right after he was born, not only that, he was physically abused and left hungry for many years but the caretaker, yet he could emerged emotionally unscathed, and could even treat others with compassion. How many times do we hear serial killers or the likes took revenge on the society because they were ill-treated when they were young? But if that is the definite cause for them to react like that, then how come Rinpoche did not turn out like one of them, but is full of forgiveness and compassion instead?? That shows us mind cultivation and transformation is real, that there is a mind we can observe and change to let us not suffer further, as well as not bringing further sufferings to others.

  144. Pastor Loh Seng Piow on Dec 4, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Even one of the many incarnations of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is exceptional and legendary, not to mention 25 of them. They are all movers and shakers of the Buddhist world, whose great deeds have great impact not on a small scale but on a very large scale, sometimes the impact is felt in the whole nation, the whole lineage, even until today. Just to name a few: the practice of Yamantaka, the existence of the Tibetan language system, the practice of Naro Kacho Vajrayogini), the Kangyur and Tangyur, the presence of Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava in Tibet, great monasteries of Gelug – Gaden, precious texts that are being used even today by all the Gelug monasteries for Geshe exams…and in this life, again H.E. Tsem Rinpoche accomplished similar impactual deeds are bringing Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden’s lineage and practice to the Malaysian people, and beyond,, via the internet throught his blog, Youtube etc. This is a truly exceptional Buddhist master reincarnating again and and again to bring Dharma to sentient beings in a massive scale, the creme de la creme of Budddhist masters from the beginning of Buddhism until now.

  145. Choong on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:54 am

    In the first section which covers Rinpoche’s previous lives or incarnation lineage, a common trait, one of carrying out a myriad of great deeds in overcoming obstacles to spread the Dharma, can be seen.

    From inviting the Buddha Dharma to new lands (Magadha Sangmo, King Trisong Detsen) to Thonmi Sambhota who invented the Tibetan script so as to enable the proper translation of the Kangyur and Tangyur (which was later done by incarnation Lotsawa Loden Sherab and even later compiled by Buton); to King Trisong Detsen who was the second Dharma King of Tibet and Emperor Kangxi who repeated the same in China;

    to tantric siddhas of different lineages such as Virupa (Hevajra), Mahasiddha Naropa (Naro Kacho, the 6 Yogas), Ra Lotsawa (Yamantaka), Buton Rinchen Drub (many including the Kalachakra); Sakya, Gelug and other stalwarts such as Sakya Pandita, Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen; the significance of these masters for the transmission of the Buddha Dharma cannot be understated.

    And Buddha Dharma includes protector practices such as Amitabha Setrap who was invited to Tibet by Lotsawa Loden Sherab and now Manjushri Dorje Shugden who arose from incarnation Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and taking its beneficial place as the protector of Buddha Dharma in our lifetime and more. I have no doubt and have faith.

    With folded hands.

  146. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 4, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – CHAPTER 1 Auspicious Beginnings

    What stood out for me:

    1. In this lifetime as H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, apart from bringing Buddhism to the global community through online platforms, H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche is a fervent spokesperson for Dorje Shugden practitioners worldwide, consistently seeking a peaceful end to a conflict while battling death threats, defamations, ostracisation from his family and friends, and being constant attacks on the social media for being loyal to his practice up till today. I believe that in order to assume the role of such a courageous leader, H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche chose to undergo much hardship since childhood, including suffering abandonment by his biological parents and abuse from his caretakers in Taiwan and his adoptive mother. All these are perhaps lessons that H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche try to show us, that we cannot let circumstances control us as we are the master of our mind.

    2. I was surprised when I first found out that Rinpoche was an illegitimate child born out of wedlock, yet there were many auspicious signs such as Dewa Nimbo’s dream of a white baby elephant entering the courtyard every night, and her painless labour, which foretold the arrival of a special being. Although some may have the thought that it’s a pity Rinpoche was not taken to the monastery to have a traditional education of a Tulku, what Dewa Nimbo said did come true, that Rinpoche ” would eventually find his own way to his spiritual path”. Fortunately, Rinpoche managed to ‘make up’ for it by studying with Sermey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche as a child, and later on with Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen before returning to his spiritual home of many lifetimes, Gaden Shartse Monastery much later in life. This is due to Rinpoche’s clean samaya (bond/vows) with his teacher and the lineage that despite not being able to return to the monastery, he was able to continue his studies and practice.

    3. I wonder why did Rinpoche choose to be born with Mongolian-Tibetan heritage? Perhaps it was because both cultures are powerhouses and stronghold of Buddhist practice. Rinpoche biological father was an assistant to H.E. Trungsar Rinpoche and an ex-monk, while the royal family of Rinpoche’s biological mother were supporters of the 13th Dalai Lama and Mongolian lamas like Guru Deva Rinpoche. Rinpoche later grew up having Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader of the Kalmyk people as his cousin. All these cannot be mere coincidence. It also makes me wonder how/when did Kentrul Thubten Lamsang learn Mongolian to be able to understand Namkar Barzin in trance?
    [See this post about Panchen Lama’s Hat ( that belonged to Rinpoche’s mother, and the Vajrayogini statue of Tashilunpo Monastery ( that belonged to Rinpoche’s father.]

    4. Although Rinpoche was mistreated by his caretakers in Taiwan, Rinpoche was known to be a strong, friendly and likeable boy who never lets his childhood emotional wounds and trauma become a burden. This again reflects a being who has mastered and tamed his mind to not be bound by their experiences.

    Thank you Rinpoche for using your life as a lesson for all of us. Look forward to reading more about Rinpoche’s childhood in New Jersey in Chapter 2.

  147. Kenneth Chan on Dec 4, 2018 at 10:47 am

    To be religious or spiritual, as I’ve discovered, is not only academic learning. Knowledge is an important aspect, however, without committing what we have learnt into practice, all our learnings on the workings of life are just printed characters on paper, or (as it is mostly these days) symbols on the screen.

    Fortunately for all of us conditioned by the society we have been born into and the projections of what our lives are supposed to be, there are those who not only have the transcendental knowledge to know what ultimate freedom is but also, most importantly, have lived their lives accordingly. Putting the knowledge they have into practice, breathing and living spiritually.

    As the bible is an account of the life of the prophets and Jesus, and the Koran an account of the Prophet Muhammad, so too, the lives of the Buddha and great Buddhist masters are the single most important teachings we have from them. To know the story of their lives is to understand what spirituality is and how to live spiritually.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to study the life of Lama Vajradhara Tsem Rinpoche. Extraordinary as a term to describe what I’ve read so far in the prologue and the first chapter is an understatement.

    The thing that stood out most in the early incarnations of Lama Vajradhara’s life is how they made crucial contributions to Buddhist practice and the dissemination of Buddhism into Tibet.

    The lives of Magadha Sangmo followed by legendary Mahasiddhas Virupa and Naropa bring to life the essence of being devoted to one’s spiritual teacher and how such devotion translates into the transformation of one’s life, putting the spiritual knowledge imparted by the teacher into a life practice.

    Thonmi Sambhota, King Trisong Detsen, Lotsawa Loden Sherab, Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak and Shakya Shri Bhadra were all early incarnations who are pioneers in bringing Buddhism from India into Tibet. From the Tibetan script devised for the intention of translating the original Sanskrit Buddhist sutras, deity yoga and the monastic discipline, all of which form the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism.

    That Buddhism flourished in Tibet, after its demise in India after the fall of the great Buddhist institution Nalanda shows how important the early lives of Lama Vajradhara are. I am deeply moved and grateful for their being.

    Lama Vajradhara’s ensuing incarnations, Sakya Pandita, Buton Rinchen Drub, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Emperor Kangxi, Gedun Nyedrak and Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche extended the work of their previous lives by putting practice fully into their living, having total devotion to their spiritual teacher, increasing academic knowledge and continuing to bring Dharma to new places and reviving Dharma where it was in decline. All of them, equally important in ensuring the continuity and purity of the Buddha’s teachings in Tibet.

    Of the second list, Sakya Pandita and Emperor Kangxi deserve special mentions because it was the former who established the ‘priest-patron’ relationship with the Mongol Khans who over several generations provided Tibet with military defence and the safe environment for Dharma to grow in Tibet. Sakya Pandita also contributed significantly towards seeding the growth of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. Likewise, Emperor Kangxi who was tutored by Zanabazar, the spiritual leader of Mongols (equivalent in the role to the Dalai Lama), was instrumental for the growth of Tibetan Buddhism in China, especially at Wu Tai Shan. A relationship with China that, except for one dark occasion, ensured the safety of Tibetans and the development of Tibet.

    The stark difference between the current incarnation of Lama Vajradhara H.E. Tsem Rinpoche and those previously, as I’ve noticed, was that while many of his early incarnations were born into a life of privilege — either as royalty or in affluent families, the current was born into the opposite extreme of having a childhood which would not be wrong to describe as miserable.

    Just as the world has changed, it would be plausible to hypothesise that this is because in our age, we will be, and in fact, are more inspired by a “rags to riches” story. As spiritual living and thought are not new to us in this time, renouncing material wealth for a life of spiritual adventure would move us less than one who endured emotional and physical difficulties, overcoming them only to become not just “a better person”, but the best one can be.

    That Lama Vajradhara had to be born and experience such pain to be an example for us is telling of how degenerate our world and lives have become. For this, I am even more deeply moved and grateful for Lama Vajradhara’s return.

    Although this is not my first reading of The Promise, I have come to realise that there is so much more that I have not seen or picked up on in the previous reading.

    I look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge and awareness on how to live a spiritual life by studying the lives of great spiritual masters.

    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful opportunity.

    Yours humbly,


  148. Pastor Adeline on Dec 4, 2018 at 9:51 am

    In today’s sharing, I have learned the below after going through the:
    – remaining reincarnations: Buton Rinpoche to Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche
    – Chapter 1 Auspicious Beginnings

    Rinpoche’s reincarnations continue to create significant meritorious deeds for many to follow until today that parallel with the great deeds done in previous lifetimes:
    1) Buton Rinchen Drub swiftly studied and mastered the breadth and width of Sutra and Tantra in a very short period of time. He also created a Kangyur and Tengyur catalogue that Buddhist scholars today must refer to due to its reliability and accuracy. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche entered Gaden Shartse monastery in 1988 and started to travel to give teachings in 1992 before eventually settled in Malaysia. Within a short period of 4 years, Rinpoche studied and mastered all Sutra and Tantra teachings that would normally take an intelligent person 30 years to learn. Rinpoche also created this blog with Dorje Shugden information that no other sites can provide and maintain.

    2) Dulzin Drakpa Gyaltsen was known to uphold all three sets of vows (Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva, and Tantric) purely and extremely well to earn the name Dulzin (Vinaya holder). He also built the first ever Gaden monastery in Lhasa, Tibet to preserve his master’s teachings and lineage for future generation. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, although required to manifest lay appearance in the earlier years during Rinpoche’s stay in Malaysia and Singapore, kept Rinpoche’s vows intact and purely while continuing Rinpoche’s meritorious works to benefit others. Rinpoche also build Kechara House and its 13 departments, as well as Kechara Forest Retreat (70 acres land in Bentong) to preserve Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and 15 others precious gurus’ teachings and authentic Lama Tsongkhapa, Naro Kacho and Dorje Shugden lineages for future generation while continuing to support monasteries in India and Tibet from afar.

    3) Panchen Sonam Drakpa was the only person in history to become the Abbot of the three great Gelugpa monasteries, Abbot of Gyuto Tantric College and the 15th Gaden throne holder all in a lifetime. His works are still studied at Gaden Shartse, Drepung Loseling and Rato monasteries today as part of the Geshe programme, as well as in Gyuto Tantric monastery. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche is the only person who advocates the lifting of the Dorje Shugden ban and preserving the precious lineage through various means, especially on the world wide web, to educate many logically, fearlessly and tirelessly. Rinpoche’s blog is the only source for everything about Dorje Shugden and created many materials in print and in digital format; in forms of statues, artworks, gifts and etc. to suit every physical and spiritual need of a Dorje Shugden practitioners.

    4) Emperor Kangxi was China greatest and the most benevolent emperors who protected his land and people from invasion, preserved harmony within his kingdom and even expanded the empire to the Northwest. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche protects and maintains the Kechara organisation and people from negative karmas, disturbances, mental and physical harm while preserving the harmony within the Kechara organisation and Buddhism as a whole with great works also being carried out in Nepal, India and the world wide web.

    5) Gendun Nyedrak as the Abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery restored monastery buildings and reinstated strict adherence to the monastic rules, regulations and administrative systems of the community. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche remains committed and dedicated to Gaden Monastery in every aspect. Rinpoche started to build the much-needed monastic quarters at a young age, as well as restoring and developing the monastery’s main prayer hall and debate hall that are the monastery most significant places of learning, prayer and gathering for the sangha at the monastery.

    6) Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche was well known for his abilities to bring dharma and make it widespread in the most barbaric part of Tibet called Phari, as well as taking care his students’ secular and spiritual needs so that they can focus on dharma practices. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche brought dharma to Malaysia where Buddhism is still in its infancy. Today, many accepted Lama Tsongkhapa they called a demon when Rinpoche first introduced him to them. Dorje Shugden is widely spread in Peninsular Malaysia with chapels and shrines everywhere connecting people to the deity and practice. These chapels and shrines provide free distribution printed materials and pendants also. In addition, Rinpoche took care of all the students’ needs ranging from rental, loan, food, medicine, clothing, children’s education, family and relatives needs, travel means and needs, wedding reception, funerals and the list goes on so that they can concentrate with their dharma works without distractions. In this way, Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, is revived in this land just like how it was in Phari.

    Chapter 1
    Rinpoche was born out of wedlock and therefore being disowned almost immediately after he was born. Rinpoche’s biological father was an ex Tibetan monk Lobsang Gyatso married with a family in Tibet and Rinpoche’s biological mother is a Mongolian Princess Dewa Nimbo who got romantically involved was made unaware of his marital status. When Dewa Nimbo was pregnant with Rinpoche, she received many auspicious signs that resemble the Buddha’s mother’s dream, signifying a great being will be born to the world.

    Young Rinpoche was given to a nanny for care at US$50 per month. However, the family didn’t take care of Rinpoche and often left Rinpoche to wonder on the street begging for food. When Rinpoche is being fed sometimes, only white rice mix with sugar water will be given. Rinpoche also were denied toys bought by Rinpoche’s maternal grandma, Queen Dechen, unless during her visits. Rinpoche was often being punished by kneeling on dry rice for no apparent reasons and were often bullied by the nanny’s children.

    Despite the ill-treatment, young Rinpoche was always pleasant and mischievous without showing a single sign of distress and abuse. This is the sign of a completely trained and stable mind that regardless of difficulties, its nature continues to shrine. As Rinpoche is a reincarnation of various illustrious and highly attained masters, Rinpoche can definitely control Rinpoche’s death and reincarnation. By choosing to be born in such a harsh and loveless environment, Rinpoche has planned for a life that is relatable with people of this time so that they can relate to the dharma Rinpoche teaches easily. Also, Rinpoche has chosen to train and shape this reincarnation for greater spiritual achievements by going through unimaginable difficulties which we will read in the following chapters.

  149. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 4, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Comment on Chapter 1: Auspicious Beginning

    By any standard, Rinpoche’s childhood is horrible. Rinpoche’s birth parents disowned him, and Rinpoche was given to a horrible foster family who treated him badly. But yet what impressed me is when I see Rinpoche’s childhood pictures, Rinpoche looks very happy. I did not see traces of abuse or unhappiness in him. It really touched my heart that even in his small body, he still tried not to make the people around him worry.

    As an attained practitioner, Rinpoche has full control of his rebirth. It is very kind of Rinpoche to choose to be born in that situation and show us that we should not let the negative situation to define who we are.

  150. Pastor Adeline on Dec 4, 2018 at 6:51 am

    From yesterday’s sharing, I have learned the below after going through the:
    – Foreword
    – A short biography
    – Prologue
    – The spiritual lineage of a Buddha
    – Reincarnation: Magadha Sangmo to Sakya Pandita

    Most of Rinpoche’s reincarnations started significant meritorious deeds for many to follow even until today. Rinpoche continues to exhibit parallel great deeds in this lifetime:
    1) Magadha Sangmo started the incense offering practise and prayer. In this life, H. E. Tsem Rinpoche composed various prayers such as A short prayer to Dorje Shugden that is widely recited by people today.

    2) Mahasiddha Virupa manifested outrages behaviour and strong clairvoyant abilities and brought many to dharma. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche through unconventional and relatable methods brought dharma to many.

    3) Thonmi Sambhota created the Tibetan script and grammar for the ease to translate Buddhist texts in ancient Indian languages such as Sanskrit to Tibetan. Many contemporary Buddhist scholars are able to reverse sutras in the Kangyur back to its original Sanskrit language due to this. Also, he was the only students sent to India who successfully return to Tibet. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche created the Buddhist Pastors to bridge the gap between the lay and ordained so that many more people have access to the dharma and spiritual practice.

    4) King Trisong Detsen who provided Tibet with a strong foundation for Buddhism to flourish by leading the first dissemination of Buddhist teachings in Tibet. He was an emanation of Manjushri. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche founded the Kechara Buddhist organisation and thus setting the foundation for Tibetan Buddhism to be proliferated in this land, especially to preserve the Dorje Shugden lineage.

    5) Mahasiddha Naropa introduced the powerful and one of the most efficacious practices called the Six Yogas of Naropa for practitioners of our time. He gained the vision of Vajravarahi in the form of Vajrayogini. It was Vajrayogini who initiated him to this new practice based on the Cakrasamvara cycle of tantra teachings. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche continues to spread, proliferate and preserve this sacred tantra by training his students to be the suitable vessels for this practice to be initiated into them.

    6) Lotsawa Loden Sherab the great translator who single-handedly translated 135,000 verses from Sanskrit to Tibetan. He was the one who brought Setrap practice to Tibet. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche brought Lama Tsongkhapa, Vajrayogini tantra and Dorje Shugden practices no one has heard of prior to Rinpoche’s arrival in Malaysia. Rinpoche single-handedly created this blog that is considered the treasure mansion of a vast variety of knowledge and spiritual practices that suit different mind.

    7) Ra Lotsawa proliferated Yamantaka tantra practice in Tibet at the cost of his life. Many at that time in Tibet said he was transmitting a demon practice due to ignorance. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop him from continue doing so. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche with the unwavering commitment tirelessly and fearlessly clearing the stigma that has been unlawfully placed on Dorje Shugden practice against all odds with Rinpoche’s life at stake.

    8) Shakya Shri Bhadra ordained countless monks into the Kashmiri Vinaya system that eventually became the monastic rules’ guiding principles for the Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche created the vegetarian vows, community vows and Buddhist pastor vows that has become the guiding principles of Buddhist practitioners today.

    9) Sakya Pandita spontaneously spoke Sanskrit without being taught and memorising holy scriptures in his dream. In this life, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche at a tender age naturally:
    – recited different mantras and often meditate on Avalokitesvara without being taught.
    – drew Buddha images to give it to friends as a form of protection spontaneously.
    – sat like a lama on the throne giving teaching to a group of unseen audience in his foster mother’s prayer room.

    This is a clear sign that Rinpoche and his previous reincarnations are of the same mindstream and therefore their great meritorious deeds match naturally.

  151. Pastor Niral Patel on Dec 4, 2018 at 5:18 am

    Here are some of my thoughts from our group reading:

    His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s incarnation lineage is vast and varied. The very fact that the lineage starts with a disciple of Lord Buddha himself speaks volumes of the spiritual history and deep devotion contained within his previous lives. But more than that, Rinpoche’s previous lives have been great kings, translators of the Buddha’s teachings, scholars, debators, tantric masters, mahasiddhas, abbots, and so much more. But one lesson that I learned is that throughout the many lifetimes, Rinpoche has been teaching us that attaining an enlightened state can be achieved through a variety of ways and paths. One can gain attainments by walking many paths and throughout his previous lives Rinpoche was showing us that this is possible. Whether you are a ruler, an ardent disciple, a renunciate, a lay person, it is possible for all. But this leads me to the next part…

    Chapter 1
    In this life Rinpoche manifested in a way to show practitioners that no matter who you are and where you come from you can achieve spiritual success. Rinpoche was born out of wedlock and was then given to a foster mother who abused the child Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s life is an example of the Buddha’s 1st of the Four Noble Truths and that is that life is suffering. What is remarkable however, was even in this suffering there was a glimmer of hope and love. For Rinpoche, this was in the form of Kwan Mama who loved Rinpoche a lot. But from a spiritual point of view the story showed more, it is an example that within the suffering that we all face in our lives, the ray of light is the practice of the Dharma and of the path of compassion in particular. When we develop compassion, we not only progress spiritual but bring hope to the lives of others who are also suffering, just as Kwan Mama was to the young Rinpoche. This is the Mahayana motivation of helping others.

  152. Joy Kam on Dec 4, 2018 at 3:44 am

    In today’s chapter Auspicious Beginnings, it seems that Rinpoche has purposely chosen to incarnate into a situation where he will have to go through so many hardships and abuse, yet turn out positive, and what more, a great Buddhist master.

    It is very sad reading the stories and how Shi Mama can be so cruel to feed Rinpoche with just rice and sugar! Even as a little boy who went through so much pain, but Rinpoche did not show it or express it or complained about it shows me the kind of strength and character Rinpoche had which is not normal. Most kids would have voiced out of their abused and cried for help unless of course they were threatened. But usually most kids would turn out quite negative when they grow up, or they would have some psychological problems or unresolved issues, insecurities.

    However, Rinpoche seems to rise above it all and came out positively. Hence, I feel that Rinpoche being born into such horrible situations so that it makes Rinpoche more relatable and approachable is an act of Mahastavva deed to be closer/relatable to sentient beings in order to help them.

  153. Joy Kam on Dec 4, 2018 at 2:59 am

    After finishing the chapter “Across Many Lifetimes”. What stood out for me is that in every single incarnation life did something impactful for the preservation and the spread of Buddhism far into the future. Starting from the very first incarnation, Magadha Sangmo who invited Lord Buddha to receive alms in her home and because of this an entire city converted into Buddhism. Her invocation prayer to Lord Buddha has since become archetypal for ritual invocations we do today.

    Then there is Virupa who showed many miraculous powers like stopping the sun! From there he converted the King and an entire kingdom! From Thonmi Sambhota who invented the Tibetan script to Ra Lotsawa who introduced Yamantaka practice, which caused a huge controversy, whereby he had to defend himself from being condemned and life threated because people at that time could not accept such a wrathful looking Buddha practice. This sounds so familiar with what Rinpoche has to go through with Dorje Shugden practice today.

    All the works that Rinpoche’s previous incarnations did, all have huge impacts and affect the entire society or nation, and the future of Buddhism. It is no doubt that Rinpoche was also a great leader, which we can see from his past, being the Emperor Kangxi who united his people. This is the same as what Rinpoche is trying to do now/today, to find ways to unite all Buddhist, to reunite with the Dalai Lama and to resolve the Dorje Shugden conflict. Overall, it looks like everything Rinpoche does, it is always BIG and leaves a BIG impact on this world.

  154. Pastor David Lai on Dec 4, 2018 at 2:01 am

    Herein lies my thoughts on the reading of the first chapter of The Promise which was largely about Rinpoche’s previous lives. The list is a long line of incredible masters that performed great works to benefit others on a massive scale. This is a hallmark of Rinpoche incarnation line and this trait can be seen even in this lifetime, with Rinpoche working to promote and proliferate Dorje Shugden to the masses.

    Rinpoche’s recognition, which contains a descriptive of a ‘mahasattva’ or a great being clearly illustrates the scale of work of rinpoche’s previous lives. In fact, this can be seen when one examines the lives of rinpoche’s previous lives who had revealed and proliferated the great tantric lineages like Vajrayogini, Yamantaka and Kalacakra. Furthermore, there are incarnations that invited the script to facilitate translation of Buddhist texts and teachings into Tibetan. Then, there were great Dharma kings like Trisong Detsen and also Emperor Kangxi, whose contributions towards Buddhism cannot be denied.

    At the end, the common theme of the incarnation line seems to be that of devotion to the guru or spiritual teacher. Each incarnation are well-known for that and this devotional trait is a powerful basis for great attainments and the great deeds of each incarnation for each incarnation.

  155. Sharon Ong on Dec 4, 2018 at 2:00 am

    My thoughts on Prologue

    1) Rinpoche’s past lives were major contributors to Tibetan Buddhism. If it had not been for them, we would not have illustrious institutes of Dharma learning like Ganden and Nalanda, the complete set of Buddha’s teachings and commentaries or even the Tibetan script. Without Mahasiddha Naropa, we would not have the potent practice of Vajrayogini Naro Kacho today.

    2) Traits of Rinpoche’s previous lives that we can see manifesting in this current incarnation which includes:
    a) Strong Guru devotion that forms the basis of all Rinpoche’s life’s work and tenacity to keep his commitments although there are many adversities. It is also this Guru devotion that has allowed all Rinpoche’s previous lives’ work manifest successfully and himself gain high attainments.
    b) The strong emphasis on preserving and spreading the Dharma through Rinpoche’s work, be it in the form of compilations of Buddha’s teachings, translation of Dharma texts into different languages and building monasteries or institute of Dharma learning.
    c) Visionary ways to spread the Buddha’s teachings, be it by miracles to help people gain faith or modern ways with technology (like this blog!)

    Another highlight of this chapter is how Rinpoche’s first incarnation, Magadha Sangmo managed to lead her entire village Gokhara to Buddhism. The fact that she was a female made this even more remarkable as it was previously believed that women would not be able to gain any high realisations, arhatship or Buddhahood.

    My thoughts on Chapter 1

    Rinpoche’s childhood in Taiwan was far from a happy one. He had little food to eat and did not have proper care. Instead of allowing all his negative experiences during childhood pull him down, Rinpoche has used these tragedies to teach us life’s lessons that are relevant in today’s world. This is a hallmark of a Bodhisattva or Mahasattva (in Rinpoche’s case) who make aspirational prayers to return lifetime after lifetime to liberate sentient beings in the toughest of situations and environments.

    A good example is how Rinpoche used his unpleasant experiences of going hungry as a child and young adult, to establish Kechara Soup Kitchen that has helped and save thousands of lives through the Food Bank, food distribution, medical care and life skills training.

    Till today’s reading (03/12/18), it is clear how unordinary and remarkable Rinpoche’s previous lives have been and how Rinpoche continues to be so in this present life. As his student, we should remember how fortunate and blessed we are to be able to connect and serve this real life Buddha who truly cares for us, not just for this lifetime but future lives too.

  156. Pastor Shin Tan on Dec 4, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Commentary based on the reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – PROLOGUE

    Looking at the work that H.E.the 25th Tsem Rinpoche does in this lifetime, which is commended by many, including H.H. the 101st Gaden Trisur Lungrik Namgyal, one of the spiritual leaders of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, it is not difficult to imagine the scale of work that the previous lives of H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche did. It is our good fortune that a tulku, an incarnation of highly attained beings who take rebirth for the sole purpose of benefiting others, has decided to reincarnate again and again to uphold and share the Buddha’s teachings to lead us to the path of liberation from samsara.

    The previous incarnations of H.E.the 25th Tsem Rinpoche were varied in their roles as kings, scholars, translators, abbots, but all the incarnations left a legacy of the preservation and propagation of Buddhism since the time of Lord Buddha, many of their work still has an impact on Tibetan Buddhism today.

    I am inspired to learn that the first recorded incarnation of Rinpoche was Magadha Sangmo (Sumagadha/Cula-Subhadda), a laywoman and a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, who despite marrying a non-Buddhist living in a land far away, her act of devotion in inviting Lord Buddha for a feast and making incense offerings and prayers had led to the conversion of a whole city to Buddhism.

    Rinpoche’s subsequent incarnations were equally inspiring. Mahasiddha Virupa and Mahasiddha Naropa, both erudite scholars of the ancient Nalanda Monastery, left the monastery to pursue true practice and attained high realisations. Shakya Shri Bhadra and Sakya Pandita were great teachers who left behind numerous disciples to continue the propagation of Buddhadharma while Loden Sherab translated over 135,000 verses from Sanskrit to Tibetan and Ra Lotsawa proliferated the Yamantaka Tantras, which is still being practised in the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism today, almost a millennium later.

    Being King Trisong Detsen of Tibet, Rinpoche’s established the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism by building the first monastery in Tibet, and invited great Indian masters Shantaraksita and Padmasambhava to propagate Buddhism, while as Emperor Kangxi of China, he was the patron of many temples and monasteries, as well as publishing Kangyur, the Tibetan scriptural canon from woodblocks, first in Tibetan and then in Mongolian. Coincidentally, or perhaps it was all in the plans of this great being, it was Rinpoche’s previous incarnation Butön Rinchen Drub who compiled the Kangyur (the spoken teachings of Lord Buddha), and another incarnation, Thonmi Sambhota who invented the Tibetan scripts.

    Rinpoche’s great contribution to the proliferation of Buddhism in Tibet was also remarkable. Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen was instrumental in building Gaden Monastery, one of the Three Great Monastic Seats (institutions) of Tibet. Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s voluminous works are still part of the curriculum in the monasteries today, Gedun Nyedrak restored buildings of Gaden Monastery and reinstated the monastic rules, and Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche revived Buddhism in the area of Phari.

    In all incarnations, H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche’s faith and tenacity in spreading the Buddhadharma truly reflect the great works by a Mahasattva, a great bodhisattva who has reached a very high level on the path to awakening.

  157. Valentina Suhendra on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:56 am

    Comment on Prologue

    Rinpoche has 25th recorded incarnations, and each of them had made great contributions to the Dharma. Their deeds were so significant that their contemporaries decided to record them so the future generation can continue to be inspired. Each reincarnation is special, and it is quite impossible to choose as to which one stands out because they were born at different time and place and their skillful deeds match the need of the time.

    The legacies of these incarnations continue to exist today. For examples, because Sakya Pandita impressed the Mongol rulers, Buddhism is deeply rooted among the Mongols today. Due to the kindness of Buton Rinchen Drub had compassionately recorded the spoken words of the Buddha and the commentary. We have the fortune today to study the Buddha’s words. These are just a few examples.

    It is fortunate for me to have such an illustrious teacher.

  158. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:18 am

    From today’s book reading (December 3), the following aspects stood out for me (aside from Rinpoche’s super adorable baby photos ?):

    (1) the parallels between Rinpoche’s previous lives and the current life. For example, Kentrul Thubten Lamsang building large statues (just as Tsem Rinpoche is known to do in this life) or being known to assist the laypeople (just as Tsem Rinpoche is known to do in this life). Kentrul Rinpoche being stationed in a remote region like Phari where Dharma is in its infancy, may be likened to Rinpoche being stationed here in Malaysia.

    (2) to me, that continuity of activity reflects the power of past life imprints. That whatever we are doing in this life, is a continuation of the things we did in a previous life. So it follows that what we do in this life, will influence what we do in future lives. We are therefore perfectly placed in this lifetime to ensure that our Dharma practice continues in future lifetimes.

    Hence if, in the future, we suffer and do not meet the Dharma again, the only person responsible for that is ourselves. I find this thought both sobering and empowering, to know that we have that much potential to control where we end up instead of devolving responsibility to an external entity, and being subjected to their whims and fancies (which are always shrouded in mystery anyway).

    (3) Rinpoche’s growing connection with Shartse up until this life. I just found it interesting that over 24 lifetimes, Rinpoche grew steadily closer and closer to Gaden Shartse until this lifetime when Rinpoche feels so strongly and affectionately about Shartse. Yet in previous lifetimes, Rinpoche had a strong connection with the Sakyas and with Drepung. To me, it highlights the fact that you don’t need to be born in the same monastery over and over again (for example) in order to practice, that as long as you meet a valid and authentic lineage holder, you can continue from where you left off.

    (4) every lifetime, Rinpoche uses the best methods available at that time to propagate the Dharma. In the past lives, it was preservation through the organizing and compiling Kangyur and Tangyur, by inventing a script to record the teachings, etc. In this lifetime, Rinpoche uses an electronic medium to do the same thing in the form of the blog. That in each lifetime, Rinpoche invents something brand new OR takes something that’s already existing and ‘converts’ it in such a way that it brings a lot of benefit to others.

    (5) that it doesn’t make sense that the previous lifetimes were all luminaries and in this lifetime, Rinpoche had such a difficult start in life. How can someone go from being the inventor of the Tibetan script or being the Emperor of China, to being abused and kneeling on uncooked rice in Taiwan? It makes me think that Rinpoche was in that situation by CHOICE i.e. by the power of previous lives’ prayers, and that all those difficult experiences in childhood an adulthood were in preparation for the great work to come in this lifetime i.e. resisting the illegal and undemocratic Dorje Shugden ban. That experiencing those events was somehow what is needed in this day and age to spread the Dharma.

    Thank you Rinpoche for the opportunity to go through this biography. Tomorrow we delve into Rinpoche’s childhood in New Jersey!

  159. Wei on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:17 am

    My thoughts on Chapter 1:

    It is clearly documented that Rinpoche’s early childhood life in Taiwan was not easy. Perhaps at that age, he did not know much else, so it may not have seemed as bad to him as I would perceive it to be. Many children who have been physically and emotionally abused and neglected in such a way have been known to show many negative signs of underdevelopment, socially and intellectually. However, Rinpoche has overcome these early traumatic events and has not held a grudge or let anger build up over many years. Rather than being underdeveloped, Rinpoche has become sensitive to pain of other sentient beings and works out of compassion to bring happiness to them. This is an important example of letting go of the bad things people have done to us, and instead of perpetuating that suffering onto others, we can absorb it and transform it into energy that fuels positive actions.

  160. Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Dec 3, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    What really stood out for me in yesterday’s book reading was:

    (1) the fact Rinpoche’s previous incarnations were not ordinary men and women. They did not just convert masses of people but they also created and innovated, and left behind developments that would benefit countless future generations. For example, Thonmi Sambhota made it possible for the Sanskrit texts to be translated into Tibetan by inventing a language. Naropa, through his practice, made it possible for us to receive Naro Kacho. Buton Rinchen Drub compiled and organized the Kangyur and Tangyur in Tibet, and cleaned up the translations.

    (2) they used all manner of methods to propagate the Dharma and to subdue students, for example the miracles that Virupa demonstrated, or the immense patronage from Trisong Detsen that set the stage for Buddhism to explode all over Tibet.

    (3) the fact Rinpoche’s first incarnation was female. We hardly see female practitioners appearing in notable or significant reincarnation lines. Magadha Sangmo converted an entire city to Buddhism!

    (4) that they were not just Gelug or even Tibetan Buddhist, but from India, China, members of the Sakya establishment…

    (5) the fact so many of the incarnations can be defined by their extraordinary level of guru devotion and how that devotion changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Through her devotion, Magadha Sangmo brought Shakyamuni to her city and converted tens of thousands. Naropa was known to be extremely devoted to Tilopa.

    I’m really enjoying these book readings thus far, and look forward to learning more about Rinpoche’s previous incarnations.

  161. Martin Chow on Dec 3, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 1

    When we learn about Rinpoche’s last incarnations (covering so far, Magadha Sangmo, Mahasiddha Virupa, Thonmi Sambhota, King Trison Detsen, Mahasiddha Naropa, Lotsawa Loden Sherab, Ra Lotsawa Dorje Drak, Shakya Shri Bhadra, Sakya Pandita) we see a definite pattern that is still manifest in the 25th incarnation of this holy mind-stream, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.

    Rinpoche’s past incarnations were great and courageous spiritual ‘innovators’ that it to say, they redefined ‘convention’ and as the result, revived the study and propagation a the Buddha’s Teachings. Mahadha Sangpo was known as having started the tradition of incense offering.

    As a girl in a patriarchal society, her incredible faith was what created the causes for the Lord Buddha and His entire entourage to descend on Mahadha’s Sangpo’s village and that was how the people there received the Dharma.

    We see in both Naropa, and Virupa the readiness to let go of what they already had for the sake of Dharma. Virupa was born into a royal family and was the assistant abbot of Nalanda which he readily abandoned. Simialrly Naropa was a Bengali Prince and was the abbot and regarded as the most formidable scholar and debater in Nalanda. But because of their actions, Virupa’s lamdre teachings became the basis of the Sakya lineage’s curriculum and of course, because of Naropa we have Vajrayogini Naro Kacho today.

    There is also this great willingness to go out on a limb for the Dharma. Both Naropa, Virupa and Tsem Rinpoche were in many ways, ‘set for life’ and had earned their places in the world. Naropa endured great trials to find his teacher Tilopa. Similarly Tsem Rinpoche endured great trials to seek a life in the Dharma and to eventually meet his teacher Zong Rinpoche. Great confidence and faith arose in both Naropa and Tsem Rinpoche upon the hearing the names of their teachers. This is quite uncanny.

    Tsem Rinpoche’s past lives all showed a pattern of willingness to endure great sufferings to bring something good for the Dharma. From Thonmi Sambhota to Ra Lotsawa they faced great dangers for the sake of the Dharma. Ra Lotsawa endured tremendous criticisms and faced great dangers to being Yamantaka to the people and as the result, many were able to attain enlightenment and high realisations by relying on Yamantaka. This great kindness and willingness to suffer so that the Dharma will spread is seen in the way Rinpoche brings another manifestation of Manjushri, that is, Gyalchen Dorje Shugden to the world and in the process, take on more suffering that people realise. King Trison Detsen was known as the Tibetan King who brought Buddhism into Tibet. What strength and conviction it must have taken for the King to change the ways of the Tibetan people who had their own religion and beliefs and it was a tremendous task.

    And of course, there is that mystical and metaphysical quality demonstrated in Virupa, Sakya Pandita, Ra Lotsawa and Tsem Rinpoche. Rinpoche hides his abilities out of sheer humility but those who know Rinpoche better will tell you of Rinpoche’s crystal clear clairvoyance and the ability to perceive matters way beyond the level of ordinary people.

    Very clearly, all Rinpoche’s past incarnations elevated the Dharma and left legacies which are still alive today. And they are not ordinary legacies but precious endowments which powerfully leads people out of Samsara and into enlightenment. For example, because of Rinpoche’s past life as Thonmi Sambhota, the Dharma was able to come to Tibet and for the Buddha’s sutras and tantras to be learned and preserved. Because of Rinpoche’s past lives as Ra Lotsawa and Naropa, we have the powerful Yamantaka and Naro Kacho practices and this is not to mention the scholarly texts by Sakya Pandita and Shakya Shri Bhadra.

    • Martin Chow on Dec 4, 2018 at 4:56 am

      Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 2 [covering Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen to Chapter 1]

      One characteristic of Tsem Rinpoche’s incarnations is that they undertook great Dharma projects that are beyond the ability of most ordinary people. Rinpoche’s past incarnations, Buton Rinchen Drub and the Qing Emperor Kangxi contributed tremendously to the preservation of the Buddha’s Teachings. Buton compiled and translated the Kangyur and Tangyur. Similarly, during Kangxi’s reign there was a massive promotion of the Buddha’s teachings throughout China and the Kangyur was published from woodblocks, first in Tibetan and then in Mongolian. When Tsem Rinpoche was Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen he built Ganden that is the embodiment of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage.

      We again see this strong imprint to preserve the Buddha’s teachings on a big scale manifest in Rinpoche’s present life. Elderly monks have regarded Rinpoche’s blog as a virtual temple that provides information and practice instructions for a full spectrum of Buddhist practitioners. In addition, most people are not aware of Rinpoche’s ongoing translation projects and sponsorships of Dharma organisations and projects around the world. For certain no lama is doing more to preserve the lineage of Dorje Shugden in the fact of extremely difficult circumstances. Dorje Shugden is not just another Dharma protector but the main protector of the lineage’s forefathers and hence spreading the practice of Dorje Shugden, Rinpoche is preserving the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa. History will record that the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa and the sacred practices of Dorje Shugden survived because of the efforts of Tsem Rinpoche, just like history recorded the great legacies of Rinpoche’s past incarnations.

      As great as Rinpoche’s incarnation lineage is, it moves me no end to discover why this illustrious mind stream of a high being chose to be born into such an undesirable setting – and unwanted child to be given away and to be denied parental love. But first we must remember that Rinpoche’s past incarnations as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen and Panchen Sonam Drakap were regarded as emanations of the Bodhisattva Manjushri. This means they had full control over the timing and circumstance of their passing and rebirth. And for a high being (a Mahasattva) to be born into such a terrible childhood, it cannot have been a mistake but a decision made by a compassionate being to renounce samsara and its trappings right from the time he was conceived and to use his life as a teaching and an inspiration from the very start.

      • Martin Chow on Dec 4, 2018 at 11:49 pm

        Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 3 [covering Chapter 2 until ‘The First Initiation’ ]

        When we read stories of Rinpoche’s childhood and teenage years the thing that stands out most is the way Rinpoche’s past-lives imprints manifest in his love for all things related to Dharma. These imprints must have been very strong because we see how Dharma is all Rinpoche thought about even a child. We must also remember that unlike most young tulkus who are identified and then whisked away to be nurtured in a conducive environment in the monasteries, Rinpoche was alone and in an environment that was not favorable to his practice of Dharma. But Dharma was an unstoppable instinct to Rinpoche. This is understandable because we have already learned of the great beings who were Rinpoche’s past incarnations.

        It is also incredible how despite being so far away from the hub of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche with considerable ease found himself in close range with great masters like Kensur Lobsang Tharchin and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We will see later that Rinpoche would meet a whole host of the highest lamas of the time, in the US. It is as if there is an invisible metaphysical force drawing these high incarnate lamas and Rinpoche together. To me this is another sign that Rinpoche is a special being.

        I also enjoy the part where Rinpoche reconnected again with the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden when he snuck into Lothar’s room to take a peek at the image of the Protector.

        • Martin Chow on Dec 5, 2018 at 10:59 pm

          Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 4 [covering ‘A Love For Animals…’ in Chapter 2 until ‘A New Spiritual Home’ In Chapter 3]

          What is inescapable in the sections of The Promise mentioned in the heading is Rinpoche’s extremely strong Dharma imprints. The imprints were expressed as an unquenchable thirst to be in the Dharma and to be immersed in the Dharma in way that it was even more important than life itself. Such intense imprints is not common and I was reminded of the Lord Buddha who similarly felt compelled to leave a royal life behind to become a poor mendicant and undergoing tremendous hardships. We have to remember, just like the Buddha, ALL Rinpoche’s hardships came about only because Rinpoche sought the Dharma instead of settling for a comfortable life in a non-Dharma setting.

          The trials Rinpoche experienced is dealt with in the book but the journey from New Jersey to LA was more horrendous that the book lets on. My point is this – nothing was going to stop Rinpoche from fulfilling his spiritual calling. I have come across quite a few strong willed and determined people in my life but I have never met anyone apart from Rinpoche so full of resolve to do something good at the expense of his own life.

          We read how the on Rinpoche’s second run away attempt Rinpoche had ended up at Geshe Ngawang Wangyal’s centre. The kind Geshe had asked his people to look after Rinpoche and to send Rinpoche back because it would have been illegal for his centre to harbour a runaway who was a minor. Geshe la had arranged for his people to lend Rinpoche $50. Many years later Rinpoche would revisit the Geshe Ngawang Wangyal’s centre to return the $50 Geshe la had lent Rinpoche all those years back so that Rinpoche could return to Howell safely. We also read that when Rinpoche did finally run away, it was snowing that night and seeing that Rinpoche had no where to sleep that night, a motel owner offered Rinpoche a room to stay for the night without charge. Many years later Rinpoche would return to thank the motel owner. These gestures are very important to note because they tell you that Rinpoche’s gratitude does not dissolve with time.

          Most amazing of all is how Rinpoche remembers all these hardships and has turned them into care and kindness, not wishing to see others suffer like Rinpoche did. What is poignant is this – as a student who is privileged enough to be near to Rinpoche, the hardships for the Dharma have not ceased and Rinpoche continues to endure sufferings to bring Dharma to the world.

          Tsem Rinpoche may have left Howell and LA but the pains and disappointments have not left Rinpoche. The difference is, Rinpoche uses memories of the hardships to relate to other and to remember that everyone suffers and hence they need kindness, not more suffering.

          • Martin Chow on Dec 7, 2018 at 10:48 pm

            Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 5 [covering ‘Working There Jobs…’ in Chapter 3 until end of Chapter 3]

            This is an especially poignant section of the The Promise and a significant one but it was this point in Rinpoche’s life which has a n incredible impact on Rinpoche’s life until today – meeting Zong Rinpoche, promising to be a monk and receiving Dorje Shugden entrustment.

            The promises the young Tsem Rinpoche made then are still being kept today and at great ‘expense’ to Rinpoche.

            A number of observations:

            1. Rinpoche prostrated to Zong Rinpoche daily because Rinpoche felt he should prostrate to a living Buddha instead of a statue. Firstly this tells us how Rinpoche regarded Zong Rinpoche. This also reminded me of Trijang Rinpoche who would invite his Guru for a feast in tsok days because Trijang Rinpoche felt it was more important to make offerings to a living Buddha than to a statue. Remarkably the way enlightened beings think are similar;

            2. Tsem Rinpoche’s Guru devotion is legendary, not only Rinpoche’s devotion to Zong Rinpoche but also to Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen and Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Yeshe. I remember a comment that HH the 101st Ganden Trisur Lundgrik Namgyal Rinpoche said which way that Tsem Rinpoche was a great lama for many reasons but the highest being Rinpoche devotion to all Rinpoche’s Gurus. This is one aspect of Tsem Rinpoche that I keep hearing regardless of who I am talking to and in which country.

            3. Before Rinpoche left for India, Rinpoche visited his adoptive mother Dana Bugayeff and this is another window into Tsem Rinpoche’s character. For all intents and purposes Dana had already rejected Rinpoche and disowned Rinpoche. The last phone call Rinpoche made to his adoptive parents (at Geshe la’s instructions) did go well and yet we see that regardless of how Rinpoche was treated, Rinpoche never forgot Dana and was still full of love and gratitude towards her. This is one character of Tsem Rinpoche which is extraordinary.

            4. To keep Rinpoche’s promise made to Zong Rinpoche, Rinpoche was prepared to leave everything he had in LA behind – a pretty good life, a livelihood, a teacher and Dharma centre and also friends. Rinpoche had already established himself somewhat after running away from home a few years ago and yet Rinpoche was willing to leave all that behind to go to India knowing that Zong Rinpoche was no longer there. e

            5. Everything Rinpoche does for the Dorje Shugden lineage today which is done at great costs to Rinpoche’s reputation (because of the Dorje Shugden ban) is in keeping to a promise to Zong Rinpoche and because Rinpoche had received life entrustment of Dorje Shugden from Zong Rinpoche. I do not know anyone else who has this level of integrity and honesty. I feel deeply that this is the core of Dharma practice which is more important than anything else.

            We have to meditate on the above qualities of Tsem Rinpoche over and over again and never forget who our Guru is and never forget take for granted the Dharma we receive.

          • Martin Chow on Dec 9, 2018 at 6:31 pm

            Commentary based on reading of Tsem Rinpoche’s biography, The Promise (4th Edition) – Part 6 [covering beginning of Chapter 4 until ‘Deep And Sacred Connections…]

            What stands out is how unaffected Rinpoche was with even with the string of recognitions Rinpoche received. H.E. Drigung Kyabgon Rinpoche’s recognition of Rinpoche as a Mahasattva is noteworthy. A Mahasattva is a great Bodhisattva and some examples of Mahasattvas are Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara. From the perspective of Rinpoche, this is not something important and in fact Rinpoche doesn’t talk about it or allude to it at all. However from the perspective of Tsem Rinpoche’s students, this is crucial to note and one must never forget the tremendous merits it takes to meet such a great being in this life. This would explain the scale of Dharma works that Rinpoche undertakes.

            And yet, Rinpoche was alone and poor. Unlike a lot of incarnations of high lamas who whisked away at a young age and cared for, Rinpoche was poor and had to write endless letters asking for help. So even though Rinpoche was happy things were not easy at all. Since knowing Rinpoche, I have never heard Rinpoche complain how tough things were and whenever Rinpoche’s talks about being in the monastery, Rinpoche’s face would light up.

            Before The Promise it was difficult for me to envisage how an enlightened mind ‘behaves’ and it is easy to assume that things come easy for Buddhas. I see from Rinpoche’s story that enlightened has nothing to do with external factors but a mind that illuminates and operates out of pure kindness. Every situation good or bad becomes and opportunity for Dharma to prevail.

  162. CindyH on Dec 3, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    From yesterday’s reading of The Promise up to page 21, it became more obvious to me, how Rinpoche repeatedly exemplifies what Rinpoche always emphasize i.e. “going all the way with what one strongly believes in” (which in the case of Rinpoche, as reflected in all of Rinpoche’s reincarnations, relates to Dharma). It is evident that each reincarnation, be it a female, male, lay practitioner or sangha, common folks or royalty, scholars or not, went on to do great and significant deeds primarily relating to Dharma which has lasting benefit to people even to this day in their tenacious pursuit of what they truly believe in.

    From Magadha Sangmo whose deep faith in her practice and Guru, the historical Buddha, led to many (who have never heard of Dharma) developing faith in the Buddha, to the exemplary scholars and practitioners who steadfastly pursued and defended their goals despite tremendous hardships, and even as a king who moved mountains to bring authentic Dharma to people, it is clear that all of them wholeheartedly, unreservedly and consistently did whatever is necessary to achieve what they believe in.

    It is also interesting to spot the common prevalent pattern of Rinpoche selflessly and skillfully spreading the Dharma with much success, benefiting so many in the most effective way, catering to the mentality and needs of the people at that juncture (and in future), even if it entailed applying means deemed unconventional and even controversial at that time.

    • CindyH on Dec 4, 2018 at 12:55 am

      In addition to what was shared earlier, after reading all of Rinpoche’s reincarnations in today’s reading, it is fascinating to be able to identify the visionary deeds of Rinpoche which has long and lasting benefits to mankind in each of them.

      Such deeds go beyond just being legacies but truly significantly having bearing on proliferation of Dharma then and preservation of the Dharma for the future, be it through paving the way for beneficial traditions (e.g; Magadha Sangmo with the practice of sang offerings in particular, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen for his promise to Nechung, Mahasiddha Naropa for Vajrayogini tantra), ensuring proper authentic teachings, records and/or translation of the same (e.g.; Thonmi Shambhota, Loden Sherab, Buton Rinchen Drub, Panchen Sonam Drakpa ), defending the practice (e.g.; Sakya Pandita, Ra Lotsawa), creating/restoring Dharma institutions (e.g.: Gedun Nyedrak, Emperor Kangxi) or reviving Buddhism (e.g: Shakya Sri Bhadra, Kentrul Thubten Lamsang).

      All of which are in essence, still being carried out by Rinpoche in this life albeit through means which are more relatable and relevant to current times. One glaring and undeniable evidence of this would be Rinpoche’s online work be it the various websites in different languages (which serves as virtual temples) to having social media presence which resonates more with the modern society and has more far-reaching impact at present times.

      As for thoughts about Chapter 1 covering Rinpoche’s extremely harsh and difficult childhood (from birth), what stood out for me the most is Rinpoche’s unconditional great compassion. It never fails to amaze me that Rinpoche would choose to be reborn in such dire situations, just to show us that it is possible to be “the lotus that rise from the mud”. It also brilliantly obliterates any excuses and justifications for not being able to rise above the fears, anguish and trauma attributed to difficult and traumatic childhood.

  163. JOY KAM on Oct 31, 2018 at 10:09 am

    A poem inspired by seeing a picture of my teacher, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche…

    In the sport of correct views,
    all that is correct is just a view,
    without permanence or substance.
    As long as we hold onto views,
    our sufferings are gathered 
    to be experienced without end.

    Without the strong methods of emptiness
    and compassion, bereft of merit,
    we sink deeper without respite.
    To arise from this samsara is but
    a dreamscape on the deluded mind.
    Therefore seek the guru, who confers the yidam,
    hold your vows and fixate on liberation 
    free of new creations. Free of new experiences as 
    there are none. 

    ~ Tsem Rinpoche

    Composed in Tsem Ladrang, Kuala Lumpur on July 7, 2014

  164. Pastor Adeline Woon on Jul 29, 2018 at 12:24 am

    A poem by Tsem Rinpoche

  165. Tsem Rinpoche on Jul 28, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Gentle winds,
    green trees,
    majestic mountains,
    a house in the midst of this,
    with a crystal lake,
    and I begin my Manjushri mantras.
    ~Tsem Rinpoche


  166. Valentina Suhendra on Jul 26, 2018 at 5:10 am

    I was walking past a second hand shop on Western Ave selling old things. They had a Japanese-style clay Buddha which was beige in colour on the floor, holding the door open. I thought the shopkeeper would collect a lot of negative karma without knowing if he kept such a holy item on the floor as a doorstop. So I went in to talk to him, but he didn’t look like he wanted to talk or that he even cared. So I asked him the price and he said US$5. I purchased it so he did not collect more negative karma. I was 17 years old and that was in 1982.

    I escorted my new Buddha home and washed it lightly and wiped it. I placed it on my altar and was happy with the Buddha. I would do my meditations, prayers, sadhanas, mantras and prostrations in front of this shrine daily. When I left for India in 1987, I could not bring this Buddha along and gave it to a friend. It was a nice size and I made offerings to this Buddha for many years in Los Angeles. In front of the Buddha I placed His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photo. I remember I was so relieved that the price was affordable. But US$5 that time was still expensive for me but worth it I thought. But I was happy to have brought the Buddha home. Tsem Rinpoche



  167. Pastor Shin Tan on Jul 17, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Tsem Rinpoche at Kechara Forest Retreat, Bentong, Malaysia

    TR Pic

  168. Pastor Niral Patel on Jun 17, 2018 at 8:24 am

    The picture below was taken in Gaden Shartse Monastery’s main prayer hall during Lama Chopa puja. In the front row is His Holiness Gaden Trisur Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal when he was the abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery. Next to him is His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and His Eminence the young Tsem Rinpoche. Sitting behind wearing the hat is Venerable Geshe Lobsang Phende as head chant master.

    lama chopa w Tibetan caption

    CsFcL_YVUAE8lkd (1)

  169. Anne Ong on Jun 12, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    This is really cool! A great idea and very convienient for everyone all over the world to download and read about Tsem Rinpoche! ??? Rinpoche and writers team to come up with this wonderful idea to share Rinpoche’s biography!???

  170. Sharon Ong on Jun 11, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Thank you, Rinpoche and blog team, for making these ebook formats available. This is such a good way to read without having to lug the actual hard copy of the book everywhere.

    Most of all, thank you very much for making this inspiring biography easily accessible to everyone.

    I would like to urge everyone to read and be inspired by Tsem Rinpoche, whose life story is nothing short of amazing. How many people can turn childhood trauma into a lifetime of deeds, to serve and benefit others? Well, Tsem Rinpoche is one of the rare ones.

  171. yin ping on Jun 10, 2018 at 4:08 am

    Tsem Rinpoche had been through a lot of difficulties and hardship ever since he was a child. He has experienced abandonment, physical and verbal abuse, hunger, lack of financial resources, and discrimination. However, Tsem Rinpoche has consistently displayed compassion, courage, integrity, generosity and loyalty through his actions no matter how bad the situation seemed to be. He does not hold any grudges toward those who have hurt or disappointed him in the past. Rinpoche’s faith in dharma and strong Guru Devotion enable him to overcome many challenges. Rinpoche’s life experiences are great inspirations to many.

  172. Samfoonheei on Jun 9, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Wow ….fantastic now we have The Promise – Tsem Rinpoche’s inspiring biography in ebook format available for many more people to read the life story of an inspiring Guru. With the rapidly growing tablet market, Ebooks could be a new and more cost effective way of learning . With today’s technology you can read ebooks everywhere, on the bus, train, airplane and so forth. Ebook is a good way to go for those readers who loves reading as a hobby and is convenience . This edition in ebook do have more information and photographs about Rinpoche’s time in Gaden Shartse Monastery. More and more people will get to know of our Guru Rinpoche and kechara Forest Retreat. And for most the influential lamas and gurus who inspired and taught him as well as his experience and works for Dorje Shugden’s lineage. Great information .
    Thank you Rinpoche and writer team whom have worked tirelessly for the benefits of all sentient beings.

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Blog Chat


Dear blog friends,

I’ve created this section for all of you to share your opinions, thoughts and feelings about whatever interests you.

Everyone has a different perspective, so this section is for you.

Tsem Rinpoche


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Give the room a chance to answer you. Patience is a virtue. And if after awhile, people don't respond, perhaps they don't know the answer or they did not see your question. Do ask again or address someone directly. Do not be offended if people do not or are unable to respond to you.

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Avoid the use of language or attitudes which may be offensive to others. If someone is disrespectful to you, ignore them instead of arguing with them.

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Here is the latest news and pictorial updates, as it happens, of our upcoming forest retreat project.

The Kechara Forest Retreat is a unique holistic retreat centre focused on the total wellness of body, mind and spirit. This is a place where families and individuals will find peace, nourishment and inspiration in a natural forest environment. At Kechara Forest Retreat, we are committed to give back to society through instilling the next generation with universal positive values such as kindness and compassion.

For more information, please read here (english), here (chinese), or the official site:


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  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 7. 2022 03:05 PM
    Interesting spiritual journey of Venerable Longlian one of the best-known students of a famous religious leader of modern China. Venerable Longlian was a talented child, at the age of four she could read, write well and was fluent in Chinese poetry. She even could recite scriptures and Buddha’s name and had visited frequently to templesqith her grandparents. Ven. Longlian studied everything from poetry to Chinese medicine under famous teachers at that time. Received teachings from Tibetan scholars as well and took initiations of the three main Gelugpa tantric deities, Vajrabhairava, Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara from Changkya Khutukhtu, who was one of the highest authorities in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. She did composed more than 1000 poems, through her years.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Shin for this interesting write up of China’s most outstanding Bhiksuni.
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 7. 2022 03:02 PM
    In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, monastic vows are for life. But somehow Ci’en temple in Zhejiang province offers three-month course and part-time vows recently. Situated in the luxurious forest, Ci’en temple a small temple remains its charm with impressive landscape and Buddhist culture. The Buddhist temple decided to offer admission to civilians who wanted to experience a monk’s life, only to be overwhelmed with applicants. It’s a small temple , hence only those were interested in Buddhism were given a chance. Participants of the program will live as monks in the temple free of charge. They will learn about Buddhist culture, read its scriptures and will also perform all Buddhist activities as arranged. It’s a good training ground to live as a monk or nun to cultivate minds.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Shin for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Aug 7. 2022 03:00 PM
    Ditsa Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Gelug sect in the Huzhu County of Qinghai province. Interesting history of this Ditsa Monastery, been shared . How the reincarnated Lama’s body has shrunk into an incorruptible adamantine body. Nobody at the monastery has realised that the reincarnated Lama was a Great Bodhisattva who came to the world for all sentient beings, but as ordinary people. Its only after the Lama had passed away. Since then the monks in Ditsa Monastery became more serious in their practice and maintained pure moral discipline. Reading this post has gave me a better understanding of that Bodhisattvas come into the world with a variety of manifestations as explained by Rinpoche. Set as a reminder to devote ourselves to our teacher with sincerity and respect and everyone we encounter.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Aug 4. 2022 12:19 PM
    Lama Ole Nydahl is a Buddhist teacher and author in the tradition of the Karma Kagyu lineage. After years of studying Buddhist teachings and meditating , he was ask to go back to the West set up Buddhist centers. He was also the founder of over 600 Buddhist centers worldwide. As advice by his teacher the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje whom he met at Kathmandu, Nepal he founded the first Buddhist center in the west. Had studied and took many more initiations under many highly attained Lamas such as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Ogyen Tulku Rinpoche and so on.He was also the founder of over 600 Buddhist centers worldwide. Since then, he has travelled worldwide giving lectures, leading meditation courses and guiding Buddhist centers . Lama Ole is the author of several books and is one of the best known western Buddhist teachers. Through his activities the Karma Kagyu lineage is one of the most popular Buddhist traditions in the West. Lama Ole Nydahl received the transmission of the Phowa teachings from highest Tibetan masters and is today the most significant teacher of this practice in the Western world. Interesting biography .
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Aug 4. 2022 12:18 PM
    Meditation on death awareness is one of the oldest practices in all Buddhist traditions. Buddhist meditation practice of remembering that death can strike at anytime and anywhere. We should practice diligently and with urgency in every moment, even in the time it takes to draw one breath. Over the centuries Buddhism has evolved many different techniques such as mindfulness, loving-kindness and visualisation. Death awareness can serve as a real aid to practice, the importance of using every moment wisely, while we still have the time.
    Reading this article again to refresh , it’s a profound teachings one should read and understand it what is all about. All it take us 10 minutes of our time to do the practice.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this profound teachings.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Aug 4. 2022 12:15 PM
    So blessing seeing all those beautiful Tara at Kechara . Walking through the Tara walk feeling the calmness as if we are walking into the wilderness of a forest . One will surely feels it , all due the kindness of our Lama Tsem Rinpoche , sponsors and those involved in this meritorious project.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing with folded hands.
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 1. 2022 02:33 PM
    n Buddhism, there are a variety of attitudes towards different forms of fasting . According to Buddhist tradition, Buddha’s holy form as the ‘Fasting Buddha’ serves as a reminder for us and inspiration of Buddha’s difficult journey to achieve enlightenment. Fasting Buddha Shakyamuni fasted for forty-nine days under the bodhi tree while subjecting his body to extreme conditions to achieve enlightenment. Although it is believed that the Buddha endured great agony because of prolonged fasting, he never gave up and had used the challenges to justify abandoning his spiritual pursuit. Interesting read. Looking at all those images of Fasting Buddha tells all.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing ….a reminder all of us nor matter what happen , never give up in our spiritual journey.
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 1. 2022 02:32 PM
    Reading this again, its worth as great teachings by great Masters and looking at those rare pictures is a blessings. More over listening the powerful Holy voices of HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is indeed rare and precious. Merely by hearing HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s voices and teachings is a blessings too. For everyone at the hall understands all about the Dharma Protector after hearing HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s explanations. The truth is the truth and it cannot be wrong. Interesting read with precious pictures tell us a thousands words. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s advice on Dorje Shugden’s Practice with Chinese, Japanese, Nepali and Spanish subtitles is incredible so many more people will come to know the thruth.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this great sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Aug 1. 2022 02:30 PM
    They always say time changes things, yes true enough time has changed the view of many regarding the Dorje Shugden controversy. Finally we are allowed to practise Dorje Shugden. HH Dalai Lama was at Bodhgaya said that if people wish to practise Dorje Shugden would be fine for them. Great news indeed. H H Dalai Lama had said openly about Dorje Shugden .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 28. 2022 01:58 PM
    Wow…. Very special indeed seeing this Vajrayogini statue given to our Lama H E Tsem Rinpoche by a young Malaysian in Bodhgaya, India. More ever given at the most sacred place, under the sacred Bodhi tree. That’s wonderful and it was later consecrated by Kensur Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery. Hence this Vajrayogini statue is very blessed and special . Merely looking at this special Vajrayogini statue is a blessing.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 28. 2022 01:56 PM
    Pictures of His Holiness 16th Karmapa with His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche tells a thousand words. Karmapa is Chenresik , while Trijang Rinpoche is Vajra Yogini. This is a true display of spirituality of two greatest masters of Tibetan Buddhism. They are really close together and have a good relationship just for benefit of beings regardless of the traditions they belong as such as Gelupa or Karmapa. Together they even cross incarnation each other, working together for the growth of Dharma. We are fortunate to see this rare photo of this Great Dharma Master.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Jul 28. 2022 01:56 PM
    Venerable Geshe Thupten a Tibetan great scholars and master from the Gelug tradition and was one of the pioneers who founded Tibetan schools in exile. He has upheld the lineage of Lord Buddha’s liberating teachings as well as continued his practice of Dorje Shugden. The Supreme Path to the Trikaya, text of quintessential Dharma was written by Geshe Thupten Lama. In the texts a very detailed explanations on the practice of the Six Paramitas or the Six Perfections, and other beneficial Dharma treasures was written. Geshe Thupten Lama has worked tirelessly for the Tibetan government in exile yet labelled as a spy. All because he has written a letter to HH Dalai Lama and expressing his view openly regarding the practice of Dorje Shugden. Reading this again more understandings and truth revealed. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this great sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jul 25. 2022 02:28 PM
    Everyone of us has a right to choose and practice any religion. The most important asset in an interfaith relationship is respect and harmony. Different religions should exercise moderation and tolerance towards each other and their beliefs. Nor matter what all they should not instigate religious enmity or hatred instead be friends and respect each other. Cultural diversity makes us accept one another . It has become very important in today’s world . Whatever one choose is one choice. Religion and politics should be kept separate. The Dorje Shugden ‘s controversy which has been going on for years has in fact cause disharmony and sufferings to many. Before the ban , all practitioners were friendly , could communicate with each other even though they are of different beliefs and praying differently recording to their practice and protectors. The ban of Dorje Shugden is unnecessary and illogical as the bigger purpose of Dorje Shugden, is preservation of the Dharma, and nothing else. Those who practice Dorje Shugden are not allowed to be friends with those who do not practice Dorje Shugden. They should be more opened be friends with anyone nor matter what they pray. The unethical ban against the spiritual practice of Dorje Shugden is causing unnecessary issue among the practitioners. Enough is enough hopefully it will end soon. Peace and harmony could only be maintain with mutual respect .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jul 25. 2022 02:25 PM
    Reading this post to learn and understand more about it. A very precise teachings indeed all about the practice of purification by confession and making prostrations to these Buddhas. If we recite Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s name just once, we purify thousands of aeons of negative karma. More so when we recite the name of any of the 35 Buddhas purifies many thousands of aeons of negative karma. Simply by reciting the names of the 35 Buddhas, we can achieve unbelievable purification by doing with correct visualisation . There are benefits simply from pure recitation only and added benefits if we combined with prostrations. When we recite it every day, it helps to develop a direct perception of emptiness in this life, also to not encounter harm or obstacles.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this precise teaching and I am trying my best in this practice.
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Jul 19. 2022 03:23 PM
    Any article on Thich Nhat Hanh a courageous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writer, poet, peace activist, scholar and teacher always interest me. I do enjoy reading his article all about his journey to the west and back to his home land Vietnam. Thich Nhat Hanh, is often referred by many as the “father of mindfulness”. For opposing the Vietnam War, he went into exiled to the west . Thich Nhat Hanh, became one of the world’s most influential zen masters, who had campaigned for peace and urging the practice of mindfulness meditation. His efforts to promote peace and non-violence won him praise and admiration around the world including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He had inspired thousands of people from around the world to his talks, centres, monasteries and retreats every year. He wrote over 100 books to promote the Buddhist path and his message of peace. He gave teachings, spreading the practice of mindfulness and wrote books full of compassion about eating animals and animal products in his books. He inspires thousands to go on a vegan lifestyle. He has established at least six monasteries, dozens of practice centres, and over 1,000 local mindfulness practice communities. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

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Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
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I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn\'t this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in?
3 years ago
According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn't this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in?
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden\'s blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
3 years ago
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden's blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world -
3 years ago
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world -
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat\'s doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
3 years ago
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat's doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
3 years ago
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
3 years ago
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. -
3 years ago
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. -
It\'s very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it\'s very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
3 years ago
It's very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it's very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
3 years ago
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
3 years ago
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
3 years ago
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
3 years ago
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
3 years ago
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does-
3 years ago
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does-
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959-
3 years ago
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959-
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
3 years ago
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here-
3 years ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here-
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview
3 years ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
3 years ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality-
3 years ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality-
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~
3 years ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha-
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha-
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像-
3 years ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像-
Sacred Vajra Yogini
3 years ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment -
3 years ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment -
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
3 years ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
3 years ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures-
3 years ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures-
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
3 years ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian-
3 years ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian-
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
3 years ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”-
3 years ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”-
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration-
3 years ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration-
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration-
3 years ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration-
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file:
3 years ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file:
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~
3 years ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan-
3 years ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan-
The reason-Very interesting thought-
3 years ago
The reason-Very interesting thought-
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!-
3 years ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!-
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~
3 years ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more-
3 years ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more-
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free-
3 years ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free-
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed-
3 years ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed-
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
3 years ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit-
3 years ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit-
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
3 years ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
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Videos On The Go

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  • Pig puts his toys away
    3 yearss ago
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    3 yearss ago
    Bodha stupa July 2019-
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  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 yearss ago
    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    3 yearss ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
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  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 yearss ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~
    3 yearss ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~
  • These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 yearss ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
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    3 yearss ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    3 yearss ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
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    Beautiful sacred Severed Head Vajra Yogini from Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
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    3 yearss ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
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    3 yearss ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
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    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
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Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

View All Questions


Is this where Rinpoche received the thangkha of Dream Manjushri?
1 week ago
Is this where Rinpoche received the thangkha of Dream Manjushri?
Is this the ruins of Zimkhang Gongma established by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. -Choong
1 week ago
Is this the ruins of Zimkhang Gongma established by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. -Choong
We hold our DS puja weekly without fail. We welcome you to join us. Penang DS puja @ 3pm~ by Jacinta
1 week ago
We hold our DS puja weekly without fail. We welcome you to join us. Penang DS puja @ 3pm~ by Jacinta
DS PUJA @ Penang. A close up of the offerings. What a feast! #Throwback 23/7/2022.
1 week ago
DS PUJA @ Penang. A close up of the offerings. What a feast! #Throwback 23/7/2022.
#Throwback 23/7/2022. Our weekly DS puja attendees. All of us were getting ready to invite Buddhas to come forth, joining and blessing us during DS puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
1 week ago
#Throwback 23/7/2022. Our weekly DS puja attendees. All of us were getting ready to invite Buddhas to come forth, joining and blessing us during DS puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
#Throwback23/7/2022 Welcoming Buddha Shakyamuni, Gyenze, Shize & Namgyalma to Penang chapel. Abundance offerings, including sensory offerings were nicely set up and offered up to Buddha surfing our weekly DS puja @ 3pm, Jalan Seang Tek, Penang ~by Jacinta
1 week ago
#Throwback23/7/2022 Welcoming Buddha Shakyamuni, Gyenze, Shize & Namgyalma to Penang chapel. Abundance offerings, including sensory offerings were nicely set up and offered up to Buddha surfing our weekly DS puja @ 3pm, Jalan Seang Tek, Penang ~by Jacinta
Kechara Earth Project 17 July 2022
3 weeks ago
Kechara Earth Project 17 July 2022
Kechara Earth Project 12 June 2022
2 months ago
Kechara Earth Project 12 June 2022
#Throwback. Visitation of Ven. Zawa Tulku Rinpoche and Ven. Geshe Jangchup Gyaltsen to Kechara Penang Chapel on 17/5/2022. We did a short prayers together. Really happy for the short visit. Kechara Penang Study Group~ by Jacinta
2 months ago
#Throwback. Visitation of Ven. Zawa Tulku Rinpoche and Ven. Geshe Jangchup Gyaltsen to Kechara Penang Chapel on 17/5/2022. We did a short prayers together. Really happy for the short visit. Kechara Penang Study Group~ by Jacinta
Photo from JC
2 months ago
Photo from JC
Trying to WE-fie. Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
3 months ago
Trying to WE-fie. Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
Trying to "WE-fie". Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
3 months ago
Trying to "WE-fie". Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
Celebrated Wesak Day 2022 in Penang, with a group of fun, committed, helpful and also devoted friends & family. Kechara Penang Study Group 15/5/2022 ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
Celebrated Wesak Day 2022 in Penang, with a group of fun, committed, helpful and also devoted friends & family. Kechara Penang Study Group 15/5/2022 ~by Jacinta
Vesak Day 2022 - Bird liberation. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
Vesak Day 2022 - Bird liberation. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
All attendees are paying homage to Rinpoche and Buddhas before the start of our weekly Dorje Shugden puja. Outwardly, it seems that Dorje Shugden helps practitioners overcoming their obstacles and problems but ultimately Dorje Shugden’s supreme purpose is to help practitioners on their path to Enlightenment. Do join in our weekly DS puja, every Saturday @3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
All attendees are paying homage to Rinpoche and Buddhas before the start of our weekly Dorje Shugden puja. Outwardly, it seems that Dorje Shugden helps practitioners overcoming their obstacles and problems but ultimately Dorje Shugden’s supreme purpose is to help practitioners on their path to Enlightenment. Do join in our weekly DS puja, every Saturday @3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. ~by Jacinta
All of us are practicing on how to properly use dorje(Vajra), bell and damaru ~ Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
3 months ago
All of us are practicing on how to properly use dorje(Vajra), bell and damaru ~ Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
After inviting Dorje Shugden Wangze, Pastor Seng Piow teaches us how to use ritual objects and the full set of prayer accompanying it. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
After inviting Dorje Shugden Wangze, Pastor Seng Piow teaches us how to use ritual objects and the full set of prayer accompanying it. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
With great happiness, merits and excitement that Penang Group have invited Buddha Wangzey to Penang chapel, complete with full rituals and prayer. 30th April 2022 Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
With great happiness, merits and excitement that Penang Group have invited Buddha Wangzey to Penang chapel, complete with full rituals and prayer. 30th April 2022 Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Come and get your blessing from Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden in Penang @ Jalan Seang Tek ~ by Jacinta.
3 months ago
Come and get your blessing from Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden in Penang @ Jalan Seang Tek ~ by Jacinta.
Special thanks to one of our dedicated Penang group members, Choong for superb tormas. Swift Return Puja @ every Saturday, 3pm. Do contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
3 months ago
Special thanks to one of our dedicated Penang group members, Choong for superb tormas. Swift Return Puja @ every Saturday, 3pm. Do contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
Thanks to William for being the Umze for Swift Return Puja at Penang Centre. ~ by Jacinta
3 months ago
Thanks to William for being the Umze for Swift Return Puja at Penang Centre. ~ by Jacinta
The members of Kechara Penang Study Group are offering serkym to Dorje Shugden and His entourage. There's puja every Saturday @ 3 pm at Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek. All are welcome. ~by Jacinta
3 months ago
The members of Kechara Penang Study Group are offering serkym to Dorje Shugden and His entourage. There's puja every Saturday @ 3 pm at Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek. All are welcome. ~by Jacinta
We are in the third week of Ramadan this year, and kind volunteers have never failed to feed people in need since Tengku Zatashah started this meaningful #zerofoodwastage initiative in 2016. The aim is to benefit the underprivileged with nice surplus food collected from Ramadan buffets. Every night during the month of Ramadan, volunteers collect surplus cooked food from hotels and distribute it to charity homes and low-income families. THANK YOU, Tengku, dedicated volunteers and hotel partners, for making this Ramadan special for the underprivileged. #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment - KSK @ Vivian
4 months ago
We are in the third week of Ramadan this year, and kind volunteers have never failed to feed people in need since Tengku Zatashah started this meaningful #zerofoodwastage initiative in 2016. The aim is to benefit the underprivileged with nice surplus food collected from Ramadan buffets. Every night during the month of Ramadan, volunteers collect surplus cooked food from hotels and distribute it to charity homes and low-income families. THANK YOU, Tengku, dedicated volunteers and hotel partners, for making this Ramadan special for the underprivileged. #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment - KSK @ Vivian
We were chanting Migsetma mantra at the time this picture was taken. Thanks to all our Penang members who are very committed to attend Swift Return puja weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group, every Saturday @ 3pm. ~by Jacinta
4 months ago
We were chanting Migsetma mantra at the time this picture was taken. Thanks to all our Penang members who are very committed to attend Swift Return puja weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group, every Saturday @ 3pm. ~by Jacinta
William, who is our leader/ Umze is cleaning the pantry and Gordon offered up 4 carton of packet drinks today. We cannot thank you enough for all kind hearted who sponsored various offerings weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
4 months ago
William, who is our leader/ Umze is cleaning the pantry and Gordon offered up 4 carton of packet drinks today. We cannot thank you enough for all kind hearted who sponsored various offerings weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Siew Hong came with a basket of fruits while Choong, who is expert in baking offered tormas today for our Swift Return Puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
4 months ago
Siew Hong came with a basket of fruits while Choong, who is expert in baking offered tormas today for our Swift Return Puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Dedicated sisters, Sharyn and Swee Bee. They always make sure our puja offerings, especially fruits are arranged nicely. Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
4 months ago
Dedicated sisters, Sharyn and Swee Bee. They always make sure our puja offerings, especially fruits are arranged nicely. Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
Committed and hardworking Kechara Penang members, Mr. Tang and Mr. Huey. Really appreciate having you both at our weekly puja . Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
4 months ago
Committed and hardworking Kechara Penang members, Mr. Tang and Mr. Huey. Really appreciate having you both at our weekly puja . Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
KSK medic personnel have been tending to the needs of the clients every week. Their consistent kindness helps improve the medical welfare of those without a home. Thank you for serving and making them your priority on your weekends. #medicteam #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
5 months ago
KSK medic personnel have been tending to the needs of the clients every week. Their consistent kindness helps improve the medical welfare of those without a home. Thank you for serving and making them your priority on your weekends. #medicteam #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
In the midst of chaos, let's start healing. We have Dorje Shugden Puja every Saturday @ 3 pm. Contact William for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group. ~ by Jacinta.
5 months ago
In the midst of chaos, let's start healing. We have Dorje Shugden Puja every Saturday @ 3 pm. Contact William for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group. ~ by Jacinta.
5 months ago