Friday, November 27, 2009

My Afternoon with a Tibetan Rinpoche

My husband met a Tibetan Rinpoche in the Seattle Public Library. They are friends. Today, the day after Thanksgiving, he drove 30 minutes to Woodinville to pick him up. In the meantime, I went to the supermarket to buy pears, oranges and fragrant lillies. My husband set up the Buddha in front of the fireplace with the soji screen behind. He also placed three bowls in front of the Buddha where I put the oranges, pears, apples and a small rice dish containing almonds. I cut the stems of the lillies and placed them in a large mason jar half-full of water. I set the flowers on a nearby table. The sun coming through the window was so bright. I couldn't believe it was so sunny. It seemed that I had woken up for the past week to a thick layer of gray clouds which would turn in to rain by afternoon. This morning, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I couldn't help but feel it was because the Rinpoche would be our guest today. I lit a stick of Tibetan incense the Rinpoche had given my husband and waved it all around the house. I was quickly transported to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. I clearly remember walking into that temple and that exact smell. Dozens of monks, some as young as 10 and as old as 80, sat together on a platform chanting in the temple where candles seemed to be the only light. The children of Tibet were so shiny. Some of them had nothing, but when they smiled I could clearly see they had everything..everything that is important.

The Rinpoche travels throughout Asia and America and gives talks and leads ceremonies. When people donate money to him, he gives it to an orphanage in Tibet which houses 63 children and now has a school. As Seong Yoon and I walked through the woods with him today, he seemed so filled with delight when he talked about that. The Rinpoche will be giving a talk in our house on December 6th. The topic is happiness and compassion. We decided it would be good to invite him into our home to chant. We felt it would help clear the air and provide a good environment for his talk. Here's a video of that beautiful time:

I couldn't video tape for very long because the energy in the room was so strong. My entire body started to feel very light. I felt a sweet energy, like a soft wind, travel through my body. I felt light, uplifted, happy, peaceful, and grateful. I was sitting in this room with two monks. While my husband is no longer a monk, I can't help but feel he is more a monk than ever before. He seems to draw people to him wherever he goes. I'm not surprised that the Rinpoche and my husband are friends. They possess the same light and gentleness.

After the Rinpoche chanted for 30 minutes, we went out for Korean food. It was fun! During lunch, my husband decided to take the Rinpoche on his favorite walk through Llandover woods near our house. We talked about many subjects. The Rinpoche told us of how he had to hike for a month and 9 days through the Himalayas between Tibet and Nepal to escape the Chinese who had taken over Tibet. He could only hike at night when it was dark so he wouldn't be seen. When he arrived in Nepal, he started a new life. His energy is so joyful, like the laughing Buddha in my garden, I was not surprised to find that he is sought after for his teachings and chantings in Tibet, Hong Kong, Malaysia and now North America.

I asked him, "How do we know what we have to do in this life?" He was very quiet for a long time. We walked and I could hear a bird and I smelled the pine trees which had been touched by an earlier rain and were now spreading their fragrance into the air around us. I looked down and watched our feet step in unison...a Korean, a Tibetan, An American...I couldn't feel these distinctions. I felt we were just there, like the trees and birds, and there was nothing else to do or know. I think the Rinpoche did finally answer the question, but I found the answer in his silence.


  1. I know sometimes we feel Oh..this is the moment of life. Yes, It was and It will stay in me.

  2. I really enjoy your writing. I sense the peace you feel while reading your work. Thank you for sharing these vivid adventures in your connections with the people and places in your life. It appears that your friends' silence in answering your question indeed allowed you to experience the answer for yourself, by what you mentioned your senses and soul experienced in the following lines (Birds, trees, rain, fragrant air) - Bravo and namaste...

  3. Thanks for those beautiful words, Tony! Yes, that's how I felt. I feel so blessed these days, it's hard sometimes to put it down in words. I want to share the energy I feel with all those around me. As Sonam Rinpoche once said, "May all beings be happy and smooth." I love the "smooth" addition to that line ^_^!

  4. Amazing and inspiring article, thank you!

  5. Dear Buddhism News, Thanks so much for reading I really appreciate it!

  6. Hi Katherine,
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  7. Wow...Thanks Alone in Holy Land! Two awards in two weeks..I don't know if I can keep up with it all. I appreciate your work and all you do too! Keep writing, keep opening, keep sharing!!

  8. Katherine,
    This was a lovely story. I met many Rinpoche monks at the event and it was Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche who blessed all of our beads after we rubbed them on the alter and mandala and throne of His Holiness. Wrapped in a Kata was many things I am sharing with friends and we placed them on each step to His Holiness's seat and on the cushion when we cleaned the stage along with all the items used during the ceremony so they are very sacred as one monk who I am standing with in the Kalachakra album on my wall told me to touch them on everything and showed me where. They radiate a great energy and Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche was a lovely humble man. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Love and light,

  9. Hi Deanne-Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you will share it in a blog post or guest post sounds so amazing.

    Much love to you,

  10. hi there. i have a question. if the monks fallin in love with a someone does it make him not monk? or he can still be a monk? do u know about that? thank you:)