Meeting Your Lama

30 May

A Tibetan play on the life of Atisha

Well, I guess most people online would have met Tsem Rinpoche online via the blog, youtube teachings or via making a purchase on I met Tsem Rinpoche in the gym, lol! My very first lessons from Rinpoche was how to lift weights correctly. You gotta do it right or you might hurt yourself. From weightlifting, I moved on to Dharma and ever since I started working for Kechara, I have not look back at lifting weights. 

Now, that was just an introduction to the actual story I read in the Liberation in the Palm of Your Hands by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche of how Dromtonpa, a lap disciple first met Atisha. Yes, I am re-reading the lamrim.  I thought it was a beautiful tale that I would like to share here. Do bear in mind that although Dromtonpa was not a monk, he was nonetheless highly attained and was prophesied by Tara to be very beneficial for the teachings if Atisha took him in as a disciple. So, here’s the anecdote of the meeting between Atisha and Dromtonpa ~

Old Statue of  Dipamkara Srijnana Atisha, 15th Century Tibet

But previously Tārā had told Atiśha repeatedly, “It would be most beneficial for the teachings if you took on a great upāsaka in Tibet.” Now she was repeatedly telling him, “The upāsaka will soon be here,” so Atiśha was constantly on the lookout for him.

Old image of Tara in Bodhgaya that is believed to have spoken to Atisha

“My upāsaka hasn’t come,” he said. “How could Tārā lie!”

One day Dromtoenpa turned up while Atiśha was visiting a benefactor. Drom went to Atiśha’s room and was told that Atiśha had gone to see his sponsor but would now be on his way back. “I can’t wait another moment,” said Drom Rinpoche, the sooner I meet my Mahāyāna spiritual guide the better. I’m going to where he is.” He left and met Atiśha in an alley. Drom Rinpoche made full-length prostrations and went up to Atiśha, who put his hand on Drom’s head while saying many auspicious things in Sanskrit.

Atiśha, while with his sponsor, had said, “I need a portion of food for my upāsaka,” so he was carrying food with him. Atiśha was a strict vegetarian, and the meal he had been given that day consisted of barley dough steeped in ghee. Drom ate the barley dough but saved the clarified butter, making a large butterlamp big enough to burn all night. He placed it by Atiśha’s pillow, and he is said to have placed similar butterlamps by his teacher’s pillow every day without fail for the rest of Atiśha’s life. That night, Atiśha gave Drom Rinpoche a major initiation and adopted him as his spiritual son.

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