A movie that reminds me of Rinpoche

19 Nov


Over the weekend, Tsem Rinpoche decided to treat a bunch of us to a new biopic movie on this Hindu yogi and master, Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Apparently, this was the last day of the screening at a cinema in Pasadena, a charming and historic city.

Not knowing much about Hinduism, Yoga or even Kriya Yoga (as propagated by Yogananda), I tagged along with Pastor Niral, Pastor Moh Mei, Jp, William and Jean Mei. The darkness and whispers of the other cinema goers soon gave way to the beginning of an incredible cinematic experience. It was incredible because the film was about this obscure long haired Indian yogi, so different from the bald-headed and marooned-robed Rinpoche that I was familiar with and yet, they shared so much in common.

Just like Yogananda, Rinpoche did not like the materialistic United States although he spent much of his childhood and adolescent years there. Rinpoche didn’t really want to have a centre to teach. Like Yogananda, he wanted to live in India by his Guru’s side. However, Rinpoche just like Yogananda obeyed his Guru’s instructions to go abroad to teach.

Yogananda and Rinpoche both wanted very much to retreat into the mountains. That’s why I have always felt Rinpoche was really a yogi at heart. Hence, Rinpoche had always expressed his wish to retreat into the mountains despite the fact that Rinpoche had not spent that much time in solitary meditation in the mountains. It must be his strong imprints from previous lives of being a yogi.

The devotion that Yogananda had towards his Guru that was depicted in the film was very much like Rinpoche’s – deep and moving. Hence, Rinpoche’s entire direction of being a monk was influenced by his Guru and also of his vocation towards teaching abroad. Unfortunately, over the years Rinpoche like Yogananda had his fair share of close friends and students backstabbing him and creating horrible rumours. Nonetheless, they were disheartened but these things would not deter great yogis. Their Guru’s instruction and the lineage was far more important and hence, they persevere.

One last aspect that they had in common was the fact that both, Yogananda and Rinpoche were unconventional figures. Yoganana would share his teachings with the black community and would even solemnise the marriage between an Indian man and a white woman, unheard of during his day. Rinpoche would establish Kechara with all its departments and become a ‘cyber lama’ with YouTube teachings, facebook page, twitter and a very active blog. He is perhaps one of the few unconventional Tibetan teachers to have embraced the Internet as a means to further the teachings.

At the end of the film, I wiped tears off my face as the credits rolled while I reflected on the universality of all true spiritual figures in their devotion towards their masters, spiritual lineage and practice.

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