Pick Games

7 Jul

If you are a friend or student of H. E. Tsem Rinpoche, you would have heard or you had been an unwitting participant of a Pick Game. Naturally, I had been a part of this for many years now and naturally, the pick game exchanges of those involved – participant and audience would descend into belly-aching laughter and mayhem.

The pick game is a quick and witty exchange between Rinpoche, who asks the pick game questions and a specific participant who answers them. The questions are deliberately targeted to reveal the likes and dislikes, attachments, sensibilities, priorities and inner workings of the person. How this is done by Rinpoche phrasing out comical questions that the participant has to choose between 2 difficult choices. These choices are usually designed to be difficult because both answers are undesirable.

Photo on 7-7-16 at 12.45 AM

The questions can be phrased like, “Pick! Be married to Mr X and have 10 kids or Mr Y but you have to tell him he is right all the time.”

Or, “Kick your mother or desecrate a Buddha statue.”

Or even, “Slap Ms A and tell her that she is stupid or steal Mr Y’s favourite shoe, wear and parade it in front of him.”

The choices does not have to be between two people because it can be between two scenarios that are equally unattractive. But then again, the people choices are usually the ones that elicit the strongest reaction in people. It is usually how people react to these choices – facial expression, how long they take to choose and how they explain their choices reveal a lot about the psyche of that person. Rinpoche particularly like to ask people who find the choices particularly difficult because they reveal the most. It is as if they were forced to make a real decision.

The point of this game beyond the laughter and its entertainment value is the fact that all of us have attachments, fears, insecurities and all manner of neuroses. However, we express them in very unique ways and the way we answer the pick game reveals how we work inside. With this knowledge of the inner workings of a person, Rinpoche would be able to use it to benefit or to resolve a person’s neuroses and problems.

7 Responses to “Pick Games”

  1. Sarah July 7, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    Hahaha! I remember a few… and it always end up with me having to pick either to kill Tashi and something else lol T.T

  2. Jason July 7, 2016 at 1:43 am #

    Thanks Pastor David. This might be right approach to people to show their inner problem and then Rinpoche can teach them the effective way to solve problem. This might help in their spiritual path .Thanks Rinpoche


  3. Nicholas July 7, 2016 at 7:37 am #

    This game really cracked my head. Both options are also unfavorable. .. and I would only choose the best out of the worst.

    This is how skillful H.E Tsem Rinpoche is to know how our mind work and from here Rinpoche would able to help us.

    This game is difficult for the participants, funny for the people listen to it but a skillful mean to know better of ourself.

  4. Han July 7, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Nice sharing!
    This is one of the skillful method by Rinpoche. Outwardly the questions asked by Rinpoche for the participants to pick seem very simple and straightforward but yet very difficult to pick…. Ultimately the pick game make the participants think deeper and know oneself better how is our MONKEY MIND operating…

    I agreed with Nicholas
    ” This game is difficult for the participants, funny for the people listen to it but a skillful mean to know better of ourself.”

    Thank you Pastor David for sharing this amazing post.

  5. Sharon Ong July 8, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    I have always enjoyed your writings particularly those about Rinpoche as many of us do not have the privilege to be around to see first hand. Through your stories, we get a glimpse of what kind of teacher Rinpoche is – unconventional, creative, witty, very skillful and always about the Dharma, always about how to mould us into better practitioners. To me, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche has all the qualities of a good spiritual teacher that is relevant to this current times. Looking forward to read more of your work.

  6. Cynthia Lee July 8, 2016 at 3:50 am #

    This is a nice post displaying Rinpoche’s skilful means for those who ponder.

    The very first pick game I experienced, I was asked which I would pick – for my last finger to be cut off OR to grow fat ?. From this, I knew Rinpoche does not need to know how our minds work if Rinpoche already knew of my attachments! It was really a tough choice but in the end for me, it will always be physical pain over beauty (as if … haha)

    Sometimes I feel that a question is not for the person being “picked on” only but applies to others present to perhaps create an open mind and to learn acceptance of criticism.

  7. Carmen Koo July 11, 2016 at 4:26 am #

    Reading your article brought back lots of memories on pick games, and the roar of laughter from everyone witnessing the events. Though it might just seem as if it was a comedy session for the audience, every single moment spent with His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is Dharma. Whether we are laughing, crying, absorbing, learning, listening, acting, or anything, Rinpoche always infuses it with Dharma. We look into our minds, we expand our thoughts, we change, we are inspired, we want to help others, we realise suffering, we rid our attachments – whatever we take away from a session with Rinpoche is all Dharma, and the kindness of Rinpoche who devoted all his time to learn, study, practice, be ordained as a monk, live in the monastery, uphold his vows, teach others. Thank you for highlighting Rinpoche’s great wisdom and skilful means in bringing Dharma to us in today’s society, Pastor David.

    Thank you

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