Bodhgaya, India — January 28, 2012
From Ven. Roger:
Can elephants create virtue? Of course they can. Rinpoche was offered an elephant here in Bodhgaya. He accepted to keep it for 10 minutes and then return it to its owner. During those 10 minutes (which did get extended a little) Rinpoche had the elephant circumambulate the large Maitreya statue a few times, then with others he fed the elephant a lot of food while reciting mantras. After the great blessing, Rinpoche asked the owner to bring the elephant from time to time to Root Institute to do korwa (circumambulations). Since then a few friendly camels have come to do korwa.
When we first arrived in Bodhgaya for the Kalachakra Initiation, Sera Je Monastery requested Rinpoche to accept a long life puja. This was done on the Maitreya land in front of the 24 foot high Maitreya statue. 4,000 monks and nuns attended as well as many lay people. It was a really busy time in Bodhgaya with the Gelug Monlam happening alongside the Kalachakra Initiation and teachings, so the long life puja was done early before the Monlam started and was followed by the rituals for Kalachakra. The puja went very well and at the end Rinpoche gave advice to all the sangha.
Osel, MaÏ (Osel’s girlfriend) and Kunkyen (Osel’s brother) attended the Kalachakra Initiation and regularly used my computer for Facebook and other relaxing activities. Then they often slipped into have a late night bowl of thukpa with Rinpoche along with chat and debate.
It was difficult sometimes getting to the Kalachakra Initiation site with the huge crowds, especially with Rinpoche needing physical support and since Richard Gere was always with us that caused more of a stir. From the time Richard arrived in Bodhgaya he had a police escort everywhere he went. The police insisted on this, he is very popular in India and movie stars are a really big deal here. And he did need an escort otherwise he was mobbed. When the teachings finished it was a real (exciting) ordeal getting out to the transport. Once we couldn’t get to the car because of the crowds so police had to force their way through the crowds to get to Richard and Rinpoche, then they forcefully took over another police car and with a police escort , sirens blazing and crowds going crazy we drove back to Root. The crowds were sometimes dangerous … so easy to get trampled. Now, if you are very small like Phuntsok Rinpoche you have to go on someone’s back! He said it was “scary!” Richard was always saying how Root Institute is like an oasis, so quiet and peaceful to come back to.
And what can one say about His Holiness’s Lam-rim teachings? Amazing!
At the end, the heads of the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism (Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya and Gelug) as well as other organizations from all over the world requested His Holiness to be the Supreme Head of Tibetan Buddhism.
After the Kalachakra Initiation was finished, over about eight days, Lama Zopa Rinpoche received a set of initiations from Dhakpa Rinpoche here at Root. Rinpoche insisted on leading all the prayers and pujas as well as the long life puja offered to Dhakpa Rinpoche. Rinpoche fearlessly takes on all these things regardless of concerns about health, etc.
A really cool recent quote from Rinpoche is:
Practicing Dharma is protecting yourself,
Cherishing others is loving yourself,
Put all the blame on one!