Taichung, Taiwan — February 16, 2013
From Ven. Roger:
It’s been two years since Rinpoche has had the stroke. Not a lot has changed in Rinpoche’s life style actually. When Rinpoche had the stroke it happened gradually over several days … things got worse gradually, even after arriving at the hospital the stroke seemed to continue for several days. It got to the stage where Rinpoche physically was doing almost nothing, could hardly move. It was a serious stroke … he just lay there and it was very hard to know what to do. Rinpoche took absolutely no interest in his body. He never asked the doctor how he was or what he should do … what were his chances, will he be OK? Not the slightest concern did he seem to have about his critical condition. Rinpoche focused on prayers for the sick people in the hospital and even did a little fundraising for the (Christian) hospital in the later part of his stay.
And so nothing has changed over the last two years in this sense. Rinpoche seems not to have the slightest interest in recovering or not (but recovery is happening). This is hard to relate to for most people, why wouldn’t you want to get better … so you could help others. Prior to the stroke Rinpoche lived the same way … having no worldly concern or interest … everything was for others. There was no concern for sleep or any worldly benefit, no interest in rest. ( Rinpoche’s definition of rest was … abiding in virtue.) From my experience being with Rinpoche, there was no space for the eight worldly dharmas, there was no self cherishing … signs such as these was none.
So nothing has really changed in Rinpoche’s life … oops, there is one thing … Rinpoche doesn’t cough any more, especially in teachings! The more I think about Rinpoche’s life, and wonder, and try to understand, the more I think about Shantideva and the way of the bodhisattva warrior. Rinpoche is a warrior, and I think he has conquered the real enemy within and that’s maybe why it is hard to relate to him sometimes or understand his actions … because they are always opposite to the world. Rinpoche has no rush to go anywhere as he is already there. And as Rinpoche always says, “Taking care of others is the best way of taking care of yourself.”
This morning Rinpoche did 12 long prostrations unaided … quite an effort. We are in the 15 Days of Miracles, so Rinpoche is making an effort to use every minute to create merit. Yamantaka self initiation started a few days ago and is still not finished … it started with prostrations and then Lama Chopa and in between many other things kept happening … pujas, incense offering for people who are sick … this and that. The day finishes around 3 a.m., 4 a.m. is tea and then some prayers … a little rest after breakfast.
For the last few days Rinpoche has been visiting Choden Rinpoche to receive shabtu puja (clearing pollution) and also offering lunch to Choden Rinpoche. They sit together quietly, very peacefully and occasionally there is a little conversation and warm smile.
Today … right now Rinpoche is giving Dzambala initiation here at Shakyamuni Center, there could be as many as 500 people in the gompa. When the initiation finishes, the Yamantaka self initiation will continue. And so it goes on.
Rinpoche’s blood pressure and sugar levels are OK. The doctors seem to be happy considering Rinpoche’s situation. And although Rinpoche has no interest in the conventional types of exercise … very gradually there seems to be improvement in his right leg and arm, the arm being the slowest to improve but it does seem to be improving.
Most days here Rinpoche does long prostrations and then walks up the stairs to the top floor where he stays … six stories. It leaves most of us puffing, and Rinpoche manages OK.
Ven. Roger Kunsang is CEO of FPMT and assistant to FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche.