If you have a story of a personal experience with Thrangu Rinpoche that was inspirational and you believe would be helpful to share with others, please feel free to e-mail it to us and we will post it for other students to enjoy. You may choose to remain anonymous or include your name. We reserve the right to refuse inappropriate narratives.
(Submitted on November 8, 2007)
And happy birthday / many many returns to the day to Rinpoche!
I didn't know about this section of the site (or the new blog) until just now, when I came by to read something by Rinpoche on "kusulu" (which some people use in contradistinction to "kusali", where the former seems pejoratively). I have at least 2 stories ... no, 3, the 3rd being when Rinpoche described his encounter with the then child HH Karmapa. (The photo I bought the next day is at this moment hanging on the wall at my left shoulder.)
The 2nd would be how, in the interview before he accepted to be my preceptor for bodhisattva vows, we spent a while comparing the farmland around my home-town with the farmland he knew.
But the 1st ... and foundational it is to me ... is a chance encounter. I was spending some time at Gampo Abbey. A term of months, actually. (1992 ... who didn't weep after HE Jamgon Kongrul, Rinpoche?) After almost a decade as a Zen "orphan" (without sangha after having trained in a Soto Priory) I had accepted that a Kagyu monastery might serve as a practice center, at least. Despite the fact that folks sat facing the wrong direction. On cushions that were the wrong colour. And they allowed themselves to twitch. And yawn. And even scratch. But, actually, the place resonated with dharma ... there was the sense of a master's presence. And, after all, it was the Kagyu teacher venerable the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa's book "Cutting Through" that had sunk the iron hook or dharma into my heart. So ...... and so it was there that I met the teacher who would (when I eventually surrendered my wrong-headedness; that's the point of this tale) become my own teacher, the Dzogchen Ponlop, Rinpoche. But still and all ... it wasn't Zen!
That day, having done my outdoor chores, having checked to see if I would be doing personal service, it happened that I followed Rinpoche and his entourage as he made his way down the hall past the library to Gampo's shrine-room. It was right then in that fine sun-filled place that it struck me: Vajra master, international diplomat, personal teacher to ?how many?, abbot of monasteries and nunneries, venerable scholar ... he was as loose as a goose!
"Great works must be approached with profound relaxation" echoed through my mind. And that was that.
The benefits of the practice ... it all came clear, with all the drama of water pouring into water.
So we entered the shrine room, I carrying a boundless conviction in the path and in our lineage.
How did Khenpo Thrangu, Rinpoche convince me of the way?
When it was needed that he walk down a hallway, he walked down the hallway.
Bernard D. Tremblay
(aka Karma Chopal)
On the 19th of November 1997, I asked Thrangu Rinpoche for some spiritual advice. I explained to him how I was having great difficulty with my Ngondro practice and was hoping he might give me some special blessing or teaching to help clear away the obstructions I was encountering. He looked at me, smiled and softly said, "Yes, you need Rotin (row-tin)." I thought to myself, "Oh, my goodness! He is about to reveal some very special secret practice to clear away these obstacles. It must be very special because I have never even heard of this before. It must be for his very sincere students…on and on, ad nauseum, did my ego go on with its soliloquy. Finally, I turned to Rinpoche and said, "Yes, Rotin! Now….what exactly is Rotin, Rinpoche?" He smiled at me patiently and said, "In the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening." I said, somewhat disappointedly, "You mean routine?" "Yes!" he said softly, "Routine…" Afterwards I realized that, though my ego had initially been disappointed by his answer, his practical common sense advice was exactly "the very special secret practice" my heart had been longing for.
(Submitted on August 28, 2002)
I thought I would tell you how it went meeting Thrangu Rimpoche in Oxford this month. I attended 5 days of teachings on the Dorje Chang prayer. The teachings were very deep and I was so grateful for the guidance and help. We had three empowerments and at the end of the course, he asked if anyone would like to take precepts. Again, much to my astonishment, I stood up and took the precepts. I find that my dharma practice is ignited by being in his presence or even thinking about him. I managed to have two interviews with him and again, he was so inspiring and the expansive freedom that he seems to rest in was so palpable. He helped me with my practice, reassured me on some points and encouraged me on others. He blessed both my children and I found myself inviting him to come and visit my home - which made us both laugh! I thank the Dharma deeply for his presence with us and for his teachings. I find I cry when I think of how lucky we are, how blessed we are. May his life be long and full of blessings and may he continue to teach and inspire us all. I am so very glad that I have met him.
(Submitted on July 16, 2002)
I just thought I would send you details of my first and only meeting of Thrangu Rimpoche. I was at Samye Ling monastery in Scotland and things were not going well. I was feeling a bit alienated by the Tibetan culture and would retire to my room to pray and usually end up crying. I was a Christian but strongly pulled by the wisdom in this tradition. I had no intention of taking refuge. When I first saw him, he stepped out of the car and the crowd of people went up to him with white scarves but I had no scarf, I did not even know about this custom. I felt so disconsolate. That night I cried and prayed most of the night about my Christian -Buddhist dilemma and what to do. I had about 2 hours sleep. I got up early and walked in the gardens only to find Thrangu Rimpoche and Lama YEshe walking there. A friend insisted I go up and ask for help and marched me up to them. I was thrown. I asked Lama Yeshe if I could speak to him later. He said it would happen if it would happen. I then 'felt' the presence of Thrangu Rimpoche. I looked at him. I was rooted to the spot. I could not walk away as that meant turning my back on them and this felt 'not okay' so I stood, excruciatingly embarrassed but I could not move and they just looked at me for a while and then walked away. Phew. My heart was crying out 'i don't understand!' . I could not see how this dilemma was going to sort itself out. That afternoon I was in the refuge ceremony and suddenly before I knew it, the deepest part of me said 'Stand up and take refuge. All that is true is here and with you. It is alright.' and so I went forward. At the last minute, in front of 300 people, I shook and trembled and wondered how I could run out, but instead I asked that in me that has guided me so far - that which is true and right - to tell me what to do - and the answer was 'This is right. all that is true is here now- you are not leaving anything of the Truth that you have been following, behind' and a deep peace came over me and the ceremony of taking refuge with Thrangu Rimpoche was beautiful. The peace lasted and lasted - it is over a year ago and this has truly been the happiest and best year of my life, I feel my spiritual life has blossomed and blossomed. I have felt so blessed and continued to feel so blessed to know the dharma and know the teachers. I have a picture on my shrine of Thrangu Rimpoche and just knowing he exists helps so much. I am hoping to see him in Oxford, England this summer. Just to see him. I don't ask more than this.
(Submitted on September 17, 2000)
I went to the 2000 Namo Buddhist Seminar in Topsham, Maine, for the first two days. When Rinpoche arrived, he moved up the entire greeting line, stopping at everyone. He looked into my eyes, and I briefly saw a deep pool of compassion, something I had never encountered before. On the second day, the group of individuals that were only staying two days, had a private group interview with him. I sat on the floor beneath his chair with others. The fifth question was mine, and I asked something about karma, which the translator quickly relayed and gave me back a good answer. Then Rinpoche paused and looked into my eyes, and Zappp!!! The blue light of compassion shone briefly like a sun flash. Later at lunch, I was riding on happiness. A couple days later, I decided to use Rinpoche in my guru yoga before prostrations. It was such a natural decision. This is my first 'encounter' with a guru.
(Submitted on April 21, 2000)
Hi, I'm not a close student of Rinpoche but had the extreme good karma to receive the Kalachakra Initiation from Rinpoche in Singapore - My experience is mainly that of an extremely kind, loving and strongly patient teacher - I've met privately with Rinpoche in Singapore for a few minutes a few times - Rinpoche struck me as being totally selfless, deeply compassionate and possessed of sustained and authentic realizations - not that I'm capable of judging Rinpoche - but that is indeed the full impact of Rinpoche's presence and very being itself - Rinpoche's "mo" too were accurate !! - Private affairs, so am not talking about it here - that's all thank you !!
(Submitted on February 25, 2000)
Recently Thrangu Rinpoche consented to the request of members of the United Karma Kagyu Federation in Malaysia to perform the 3rd Namo Buddha retreat in Namo Buddha on White Tara. Our agent booked a hotel in the Tamel area whilst we preferred to live around the Boudanath area near the monastery.
After checking in, we decided to take a taxi to meet Rinpoche , one of my friend Theodore a Swiss National living in Thailand and a disciple of Rinpoche, was testing his phone in the Taxi to see whether his phone can be used in Nepal. We reached the monastery and the Nepalese guard opened the gate for us.
After paying the taxi man 100 np. we took out some boxes containg food for the monastery monks. Later in the evening Theodore realised that his phone was missing and that he left the phone in the taxi. We were sad for Theodore for to locate a Napalese taxi was like finding a needle in a hay stack. Theodore had to call Thailand to cancel the service of the phone that evening.
We never thought anything about it and proceeded to Namo Buddha the following day and performed our White Tara retreat for 5 days after taking the vows from Thrangu Rinpoche.
Lo and behold when we came down the hills of Namo Buddha , a monk told us that the phone was found. We were later told that the guard whilst walking near Bouda gate appears to recognised the taxi driver . He asked him about the phone and admitted that he had the phone with him. He wanted 100 np for the phone, which the guard gave to the taxi driver.
Theodore does not consider the discovery of the phone a coincidence. Theodore believes that it is through the blessings and compassion of Thrangu Rinpoche that such so call "coincidences" can occur.
John Fam ( Malaysia )
(Submitted on August 3, 1999):
I am sitting at my desk at work. Placed on the brown Formica a foot in front of me is a small Styrofoam cup. Steam rises faintly from the tiny hole in its plastic lid.
This cup contains what is, to me, one of the most deadly addictive substances on planet Earth: a freshly-made shot of espresso. My doctor has forbidden me to drink coffee. It makes me fatigued and agitated and drains my already compromised immune system.
I love coffee. However, I can go months without it, as long as I don't have any, and that means none, nary a sip. I made the error of having an espresso after dinner three days ago, hence today's binge.
I contemplate Rinpoche's teaching, still fresh from the Maine Vajravidya Retreat, upon the self-liberation of thoughts. I'm not sure I really understand what this means, but I do understand that the idea is to simply look at what is going on in one's mind, just look at it, without attachment. I'll give it a try. It doesn't feel particularly comfortable, in fact I'm a little queasy about examining my addiction. But I think of Rinpoche and hold my connection with him in my heart for a second or two and then I look.
What's there? The excitement of doing something someone else has told me not to do! The anxiety about how I might feel later. The sadness and regret of KNOWING how I'm going to feel later. The craving itself, which is a tremendous feeling of poverty. I look at each as they come up. Actually, it is quite interesting to discover that this is a composite experience and not just one overwhelming feeling. Which causes me to reflect upon another teaching, that composite things by their definition have no true nature. This may mean that my 'addiction' is in fact just a habitual collection of mental events that is much more loosely bound together than I had realized. This also means that I am responsible for realizing it.
While I am contemplating this, other thoughts come to mind about all the things that have changed in my life since I met Rinpoche, almost two years ago. Years of bad relationships, gone, replaced by a partner who loves and appreciates me. Better jobs and more money. Most of all, the disappearance entirely of lifelong, severe chronic depression within the last six months. I had been on medication for years. Now, I see an acupuncturist twice a month to keep me healthy and the depression is gone, absolutely gone, without a trace. I call that breaking a habit!
I look at the Chenrezig and Medicine Buddha images taped to the sides of my terminal (the little cards Rinpoche gives during empowerments) and feel grateful, and moved, and deeply touched, all over again.
In the dharma, Elaine Dove
(The following story was submitted on June 18, 1999):
A few days ago I took the refuge vow with Thrangu Rinpoche, and feel that something has changed in me, and that there will be no going back to my "old way of life". I first saw him teach at our dharma center a year ago. I hadn't been practicing for that long, so I really didn't know what was happening, and his impression on me was not that noticeable at that time. Meditation is a struggle for me now, but then it was almost impossible. By the end of this last retreat however, I could sit for an hour without the usual anger and bitterness coming up, and this I attribute to Rinpoche's blessing. Also, praying on my mala was very difficult during the retreat; everyone else (I assumed) knew what they were doing, and I had a lot of anger come up. I thought everyone sitting in the room was pretentious and egotistical that they could pray on their mala, and I couldn't. I was so incensed, that I just gave up using the mala and even praying when we recited the mantra. It was just awful. After two days of this, I asked a dear friend and teacher, another Lama Rinpoche, how to pray on the mala, and he gave me a mala that Thrangu Rinpoche had blessed, and showed me how to use it. I used it that afternoon, and it was like eating chocolate chip cookies. I raced through the mantra recitation like it was a nursery rhyme I'd known all my life. And I noticed not a pinch for what went on around me. I wouldn't know how to describe "blessing" to you, but because of this last week's experiences with Rinpoche, I feel for the first time in my heart that I know what it is. All I could tell you is, if he asked me to follow him around the world to serve the dharma, all I would respond with would be, "should I bring a jacket?"
(The following story was submitted on January 7, 1999):
This story is not as miraculous as the others, but it confirmed in my mind that Thrangu Rinpoche really was an enlightened being. I had been at his Canadian monastary Gampo Abbey for a few months when he finally arrived for a visit. At the time I had only recently begun practicing, and I didn't particularly notice anything special about him, except for the way he would smile and say hello, which impressed me for some reason. Anyway, he left after a couple weeks. After that, I found myself thinking about him quite a bit; it was like he was creeping subtly but overwhelmingly into my consciousness. Finally, after another 7 months had passed, he came back to teach on Buddhanature. His return was what blew me away. When he stepped out of the car, it was like the sun going up. A wave of light seemed to pass over everyone until it reached me and I felt my heart in a way I never had before (and was totally delighted and awed by it. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it). I was in charge of serving him tea in the shrine room, and I was so disoriented (less by nervousness than by a feeling of being charged with power) by his presence I almost spilled everything. He looked pretty otherworldly as he ate his cookies, with a smile that would be scary if it wasn't so caring and joyful. The whole atmosphere at the Abbey felt clearer, uplifted. Anyway, that's my story.
(The following three stories were submitted on December 26, 1998):
This is a story that I heard when I was in Nepal in the mid 80's. Admittedly the details are a bit sketchy and it is all based on my memory of what a monk there told me over ten years ago. I prefer to remain anonymous as source for this and any other stories. I was told that there had been an American woman who was attending a Namo Buddha seminar at Thrangu Rinpoche's monastery in Boudhanath. This woman went down to Kathmandu city one day and visited various places--perhaps she was sightseeing-- including eating at a restaurant there. Well she was carrying all her money in cash in her handbag. And when she got back to Boudhanath she discovered that she had lost the handbag, but she had been to so many places she didn't have a clue where to start looking. She went sobbing to Thrangu Rinpoche to explain her predicament. Venerable Rinpoche contemplated for a few minutes and told her to go back to the restaurant where she had eaten lunch and she would get a big surprise. Well back she went to the restaurant in Kathmandu. And there was the restaurant manager to greet her with a smile and to present her with her lost handbag. Nothing had been taken.
Here's another story concerning myself: After I came out of retreat in 1993, I stood at a crossroads concerning paths I might take. I had wanted to return to Asia so I could be near Thrangu Gompa in Nepal, so I asked Rinpoche whether he thought it was a good idea for me to go to Korea or Japan as a foreign language teacher. At that time there was no sense of a looming Asian economic crisis, quite the contrary; so I was somewhat surprised to find that Rinpoche thought it better if I remain in the United States and get something going careerwise, for he thought that a teaching job over in Asia would be temporary at best. Well I am glad I listened the advice of the V.V. Thrangu Rinpoche, because everything has worked out very well as a result. Don't ever underestimate the Insight of the Supreme Guru.
There is a wonderful story (circa 1990, which was written up in an Australian newspaper and later made into a movie) concerning an Australian medical student who was lost in the Himalayas on a trek for about six weeks. Thrangu Rinpoche had been consulted by the sister of the Australian medical student, because she had met someone in Boudhanath, who recommended she ask a lama. She had nothing to lose, for she had exhausted every other possibility without success, in her attempt to locate her brother. She visited Rinpoche and told him her woeful story. Rinpoche asked for her map of the Himalayas and did some kind of contemplation and went over the map with his mala (using it as a kind of divining rod), and he told her that she would find him in a certain area on the map. Because she feared the worst--her brother had been lost for over four weeks in the snowy Himalayas without food or shelter--the woman asked Rinpoche if her brother was dead. And Rinpoche replied that she would find him alive. Unfortunately the woman did not have faith in Rinpoche's visionary talent and she did not begin the search immediately in the area he recommended. All the people leading the search were of the opinion that it was impossible for him to have made his way into the area outlined by Rinpoche, the so-called hidden valley, for there was no path leading into it. Another two weeks of precious time went by before the sister decided--as the final flight-- to have the helicopter pilot fly over the so-called "hidden valley"; not because she expected to find him alive, but only because she wanted to return to Australia knowing with certainty that she had exhausted every possibility in her search for her brother. Well lo and behold, when the helicopter flew over the hidden valley, who should come out from his shelter under a rock: none other than the medical student himself, still alive after six weeks without food. If only the sister had listened to the recommendation of the Great Visionary, Thrangu Rinpoche, they would have found him within four weeks instead of six, and chances are he would have been in much better shape than he was.
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