From The Wisdom Age Special Pilgrimage Edition Issue 14
For me, every moment on Pilgrimage was extraordinary.
We were cared for in every way possible and protected for the entire journey by our most precious teacher, Khenpo-la. He was always there, yet we had to have our own experiences and some times witnessing the relentless suffering of others from our own perception and somehow bring this into our lives and practice and understand our own suffering to be able to help others and to continue along the precious Dharma path.
There are three instances of Khenpo-la’s wisdom that I would like to share, which still six years later resonate within me. The first being at the Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodhgaya. Whilst sitting only metres away from the actual Seat of Buddha Shakyamuni’s place of enlightenment, Khenpo-la reminded us: This very place is the most holy Buddhist site in the whole world, no other is more important and to place our minds here and nowhere else; that nothing else matters right now except this very moment of being there. Everyone in your world, all your tasks and problems are safe, let them be at this time and practice loving-kindness.
Secondly, along the way we asked Khenpo-la, how can we help these tragically suffering people as it is clear that offering money, clothing, and food to the begging children, some with polio and/or lying on the filthy ground disfigured and disabled to say the least, is not necessarily helping. One of Khenpo-la’s responses was: Some of our offerings may help them a little bit, yet the best way to help them is to include them in every aspect of your practice, to include them in ‘all sentient beings’, include them in developing Bodhicitta Mind, so you and they can achieve perfect Buddhahood and find everlasting true happiness.
Tara was with us every place we travelled, for Khenpo-la and Lama would chant the Twenty-one praises to Tara at the beginning of each day on our bus trips, long or short, then we all chanted Her mantra together. Her exquisite statue is within the structure of the Mahabodhi Stupa and is said to be the “Talking Tara”. As it is said that She spoke to a genuinely devoted pilgrim! At a later part of pilgrimage in Kathmandu, I found myself sitting within arm’s length of the “Arising Tara”, which rested on a rock within a very small temple encasing it, only able to squeeze in around 20 monks and another 40 lay people sitting on the ground. Somehow, I found myself nestled and gently pushed forward in our group towards the very front of this temple staring face to face with this miracle/phenomena presented to me. This leads to the third instance, as Khenpo-la had just expressed to me prior to this experience with the Arising Tara, as we climbed the hill to Padmasambhava’s Cave, as I was extremely ill, I nearly didn’t make it up there (karma): that whatever conditions arise from our own causes, we must fully except this. Not to punish oneself, or to judge, yet to learn and experience the condition, to transform it to a positive and then continue along the path.
Thugs rje che Thugs rje che (thank you thank you), to our most precious teacher, Khenpo-la. We are completely blessed with such a pure spiritual guide and teacher. To all of Khenpo-la’s beautiful family, we are forever grateful! And thank you to Vanessa most wholeheartedly for your great kindness and devotion in helping Khenpo-la organise and run a most beautiful and successful pilgrimage. Lael