Tales With My Lama~ Larger than Life

11 Mar

Pastor David has been a student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche for over 15 years and within the ‘Tales With My Lama’ series of articles, he explores his spiritual relationship with Rinpoche, sharing anecdotes, stories, observations and little Dharma nuggets. It is all told to inspire others for their own spiritual relationship with their teachers.


His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche performing a Dorje Shugden Puja at Sunrise in Kechara Forest Retreat

His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche has a presence that is larger than life and I am not talking about his physical stature of course. Rinpoche is very tall at more than six feet but his presence and charisma can fill an entire room. Rinpoche gives people a strong and lasting impression when he enters a room or walks down a street.

There have been many times in the past when we were walking on the street, I observed that people were compelled to look at Rinpoche, and they just stared at Rinpoche. I noticed this clearly, it’s not something you can miss when you are around Rinpoche. It didn’t matter if Rinpoche was thin and fit or when Rinpoche had grown to his current size. Wherever Rinpoche went, he attracted a tremendous amount of attention, and Rinpoche still does. At times, people are so flabbergasted that they simply stare at Rinpoche with their mouths agape.

If we were in a store, the salespeople usually zeroed in on Rinpoche and basically ignored the rest of us. Rinpoche would be with his students and friends as he usually never goes out alone but somehow, people just knew that Rinpoche was the main person or the person in charge. In jest, sometimes Rinpoche pointed at one of his students and told everyone that the student was the boss in order to divert the attention away. Naturally, Rinpoche on numerous occasions has given advice, food, Dorje Shugden pendants, gifts and at times given money away to complete strangers if he felt they needed help and assistance (I will talk about this in another post). At times, people have come up to Rinpoche and told Rinpoche that they follow Rinpoche’s blog and would like a picture taken.

With this amount of attention, Rinpoche only dresses in dark colours and nondescript clothing in order to avoid unsolicited attention. Just peering into Rinpoche’s wardrobe, one sees that all Rinpoche wears are mainly maroon robes and brown kurtas – long and loose collarless shirts. Naturally, the monastic robes are for formal and ceremonial occasions while the kurtas are for private and informal occasions. The kurta are especially designed by Rinpoche to conform to the Vinaya (monastic code of conduct) of what a monk is allowed to wear. Rinpoche would actually like to wear his maroon robes all the time but they are too thick for our tropical weather and the heat can result in severe rashes. That is why Rinpoche resorted to wearing kurta.

His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Phende (Abbot Emeritus of Shar Gaden Monastery) and His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche. Real teachers of the Dharma have a charisma about them that comes from practising morality.

According to the Dharma, lamas with such charisma arise due to their lifetimes of practicing morality or of holding their vows and commitments very strongly. It means that they were pure monks in previous lives and in this life as well. Amongst the old monks in the monasteries, there are some who upon sight, are able to tell if someone is a Rinpoche based on their appearance or if they are holding on to their vows or not. Apparently, monks with their vows intact exude a certain glow.

Nonetheless, this is not meant for just high lamas or Rinpoches but it applies to anybody who possess high morals and ethics. Thus, if we are honourable and keep our words of honour, we can create the necessary karma to attain such powerful charisma and physical appearances.

This article was originally published on Tsem Rinpoche’s blog :- https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/tales-with-my-lama-larger-than-life

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