Life as a Rinpoche
: Rinpochela, we are curious about the life as a Rinpoche. We know that you travel so often to various parts of the world to propagate the dharma and to manage many centres, monasteries, retreat centre and more. We can only imagine how tiring and hectic your life must be. How do you keep yourself sane?
Answer: From an ordinary viewpoint, being a Rinpoche and especially born as an incarnation, many responsibilities are placed upon your shoulder after birth. Whatever missions and legacy left from the past life is carried onto this life. Many things, such as ordination at a very young age, training and discipline in a monastery, are more or less fixed for you. The senior Lamas of the monastery want young tulkus to gain lots of knowledge and be well mannered. Thus, they are often strict to the young tulkus. This is rather hard for the child tulku, especially when other monks of similar age are freely playing and enjoying themselves. A child tulku has lots of studies and memorisation of many texts to complete. There were plenty of scolding and even punishments at times. After all these training are completed, one day, a big responsibility is laid before the child tulku. Due to inexperience in managing monastery and people, hard times are inadvertently faced.
In my case, many things happened without my free will. Taking up the responsibility of the monastery was not my choice. It was a responsibility given to me by HH 16th Karmapa. The only choice I made and was granted as a young tulku was receiving my education in Varanasi.
Somehow things went successfully and many people benefitted after I took up the responsibility. Then I began to see that even though I cannot do as I wish, I am fulfilling the wishes and missions of my past life. I feel happy with what I am doing, be it small or big. Whatever tasks I am engaged in, I try to do it with a sincere heart.
I travel to different countries to give teachings and to encourage practitioners to practice dharma. I have been to many dharma centres all over the world. Along the way, I get to know more people. Dharma centres not only provide the opportunity to learn and practice dharma but also allow us to get to know many spiritual masters and receive their teachings. So whenever I am invited for teachings, I try my best to fulfill them whenever my schedule allows.
Being a tullku, not everything is done in accordance with my interest or choices. There are many factors that I need to consider. These factors may be from my past life’s mission that I need to continue to engage and fulfill. Somehow, my personal needs and interests are no longer important to me as I want to complete the legacy of my past life. Things unfold one after another and I am trying my best to fulfill them.
Taking up the management of JangChub Choeling Monastery, Tharpa Choeling Nunnery, Kagyud Institute of Buddhist Studies, Ngedon Palbar Ling Retreat Centre and others was not premeditated. All favourable factors gathered together and I would say I managed them successfully. I think if I did things according to my whims and fancy, I may not be able to fulfill these responsibilities.
When I was young, I never dreamed of shouldering all these responsibilities. All I wanted to be was a scholar and writer! In fact, I refused to take on administrative and management matters. I was rather firm thinking in that way. My interest was in literature and history. But when the time came, HH gave me the responsibility and an appointment letter so I shouldered it with his blessings. Neither could I refused nor turn back the clock! On hindsight, if I lived life according to my choice, I may have one or two books in my name without many great achievements. But by following my faith in HH’s instructions, many wonderful things resulted. It is my ‘destiny’.
Since I am doing everything for dharma and for the benefit of others, I do not have much of self-centeredness. Anything that I need to do, I just do it. Many people seek consultations with me when they run into problems. I do not take others’ problems as mine. Whatever difficulties there are, to me, they are for solving and not for keeping emotionally or wallowing.
The knowledge of dharma and daily practices help me to be well balanced despite outer problems and inner emotions. These outer problems will not affect my inner emotions.
With the understanding of dharma, no matter how big is the problem; it does not really affect one mentally. Since one is not affected mentally, you can find a way to solve the problem more skillfully. It is just a matter to solve. This is how I keep sane.