The Shopping Experience

3 May

Yesterday was one of those rare days that Rinpoche decided to go shopping. It seemed to be a spur-of-the-moment decision that was typically of Rinpoche. Now, shopping is not exactly a favourite pastime and unless he was shopping for someone, he would have to drag himself out of bed. He dreads the mall crowds and fortunately, it was a weekday so the crowd was thin. It was just myself, Seng Piow and Rinpoche in a Hilux truck moving along the highway while dodging evening traffic.  Seng Piow was the driver and he was not particularly familiar with the roads. So, while attempting to amuse Rinpoche with my stories, I had to function as a GPS system (not the best in the world) as well. But alas, we still got stuck at the Federal Highway and we were heading to Sunway Pyramid, one of those strange themed malls built to resemble a Sphinx and a pyramid. Fortunately, we made it to the mall with minimal fuss.

When we reached the pyramid, we did a bit of shopping. Although Rinpoche was dressed all in black but he still attracted quite a big of attention and he doesn’t like undue attention, particularly if there’s the possibility of being recognized. So, Rinpoche would take a quick glimpse from the window and he would tell us what catches his eye. So, Seng Piow and myself would go in and enquire the price and report it back to him. If it was not too expensive, he would ask Seng Piow to buy it. Then came the perennial question, “Where are we going to eat?” Ideas were proposed and tossed. At one point, I told Rinpoche about Simple Life, a nice vegie place and for moment, we decided to go there. But when we got there, he changed his mind. The waiter was difficult and wouldn’t let us sit at quiet table. So, we settled for Esquire Kitchen instead.

During dinner, Rinpoche looked around and he observed that people just ate, worked, have their families and die. He added that he would never be like them. You see, I am already used to Rinpoche’s frank observation and was not taken aback by what was said. There was a time I wondered why Rinpoche was so morbid and would often talk about death ever so often. It was strange but no surprise that I found the answer in the Lamrim*. There’s a part of the Lamrim that observed Lamrim meditators shouldn’t confine their meditations (e.g. death and impermanence) to just being on the meditation cushion. In fact, they should apply as much of the Lamrim topics into their everyday lives as possible. So, Rinpoche was certainly contemplating the Lamrim without the labels.

Also, he wasn’t looking down on ordinary folks who did that but he just couldn’t see himself living a life of making money and having a family (Rinpoche said that the happiness derived is deceptive and illusory)  like what society dictates and what his foster parents wanted him to do. He wanted to live the Dharma and so against all odds, he became a fully ordained monk, which is not escapism as some might call it but acceptance of reality. All in all, a mundane shopping experience with Rinpoche is never what it seems. It is always an exercise in awareness and there’s always something Dharmic from everything Rinpoche says and does, although it may appear ordinary.

*a Buddhist text containing all the meditational topics that the Buddha taught.

3 Responses to “The Shopping Experience”

  1. Jess May 4, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Thank you for sharing, David! What a detailed blog post. It’s as though I was there! hehe Death is the only that is certain in our lives. I have much to learn!

    • There's No Way But Up! May 4, 2012 at 5:10 am #

      You are welcome. Glad you like my little anecdote… I will from time to time post more of my little interesting encounters and experiences with Rinpoche. Do stop by my blog from time to time. Everything about Rinpoche is interesting and you can ever learn from it.

      • Jess May 9, 2012 at 9:22 am #

        Thank you! Looking forward to your posts!

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