The Story of the Lama’s Bell

29 Aug

Well, I love stories and was told quite a few in the last few weeks with Rinpoche. Some of which, I have never heard before and some of which Rinpoche had already told and was even recorded onto YouTube. I shall try to recollect the stories I have been told for posterity sake.

There was one day that Rinpoche was on the topic of death. He kept talking about it and he revealed that he had from time to time, experienced little panic attacks about dying. This has been going on since he was a kid. He just experienced a few days back and so, he said death was something no one could escape. Not the Buddha nor the most attained lamas down to the bumbling insect. It is not death that was scary but the inevitability and the ‘finality’ of it. cem10

Rinpoche strolling the cemetery grounds and recognizing the names of many of the tombstones

This realization hit home strongly when he went to visit his mother’s grave in New Jersey late last year. The cemetery was in the compounds of an Orthodox Church that had many of the Kalmyks buried there. The cemetery was beautiful with manicured lawns, emerald green trees and delicately carved tombstones.  The Kalmyk tombstones were carved with Dharma wheels and mantras to denote their Buddhist faith. Despite the serenity of the cemetery grounds, Rinpoche could not stave off the realization that many of the people’s names on the tombstones were people he knew in his childhood! Many of whom he had not seen in years. (Rinpoche related this greater detail here –

Then, Rinpoche began to relate a story that his mother once told him in his childhood. There lived a Mongolian lama or Bakcha. He was a very saintly lama who was well-known to be highly attained due to his meditational practice. Many people came to his little temple that was called khurul in Mongolian for help. He was well-known for his ability to heal through his breath that was infused with mantras and his accurate divinations.


One day, a man came to the lama in a desperate state. He frantically asked the lama to protect him as he said that hell guards were coming to take him away. The lama calmed him down and clairvoyantly, he knew that the man was speaking the truth. So, he told him that he could not do anything to stop death. However, the man begged and begged. In the end, the lama relented and by the power of mantra, reduced the man to a very small size. Then he hid the man under his ritual bell.

In due time, the hell guardians came to the temple searching for the man. They spoke to the lama asking for the whereabouts of this man. The lama told them that he had left a long a time ago and was not on the temple grounds. In the end, unable to find the man, the hell guardians left the temple in a huff. Once the coast was clear, the lama immediately picked up the bell only to find that the little man was gone! He was no where to be found and thus, death comes to all even when you are under the protection of the most attained lama’s bell. Rinpoche said that the way his mother told the story, he knew that she was not telling it as a mythical tale but something that had really happened.

2 Responses to “The Story of the Lama’s Bell”

  1. Pastor Adeline August 30, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I like this story very much Pastor David Lai! I heard a similar version where the man was hidden in the monk’s bowl. Another one was that death was searching for a practitioner, because he was still attached to his monk’s bowl, he was called out of his samadhi. When he realised his attachment, he broke his bowl and entered into samadhi when death comes. It can’t find him and he stayed!

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Leu Chong Hin September 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Dear Pastor David Lai,
    Like your story very much. Thanks for sharing..

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