As my mother has been in the hospital since early May and I knew Rinpoche would be driving south just past the hospital on the journey from Boston to North Carolina for the Light of the Path retreat, I spoke to Ven. Roger and requested if there would be any way for Rinpoche to visit my mother at the hospital. I didn’t expect the visit to happen, but thought it would be good to request. A few days later, while I was in Philadelphia with my family, I received a call from Ven. Roger saying that they were leaving Boston and would be stopping by the hospital. It was wonderful news.
I realized the visit was going to be late at night and asked the nursing staff if it would be OK. Fortunately for my mother, this particular hospital has very relaxed visiting hours and my mother did not have a roommate at the time.
Rinpoche and Vens. Roger, Sangpo, and Kunsang arrived at the hospital at 11 at night. At first there was a lot of standing around the back of the van. Then I saw the suitcase which contains the holy relics come out and I thought they were going to find one or two specific relics and bring those into the hospital. No, the entire suitcase of relics was brought into the hospital. I thought, “Wow, from this unfortunate turn of events regarding my mother’s failing health, the entire hospital gets a blessing of the relics!”
There was a small lounge just down the hall from my mother’s room where the suitcase was opened. My father and brother were also there. My brother had never met Rinpoche before. My brother enjoys someone with a good sense of humor, so when Rinpoche took out a relic from Shakyamuni Buddha and was explaining to my father and brother what the relics were, the history of the particular relic from the Buddha, and how it was more than 2,500 years old, my brother, after staring at the relic for a while, finally blurted out, “And you’ve had it ever since?” And we all laughed.
Rinpoche spent more than two hours in my mother’s hospital room doing prayers, reciting mantras and doing Medicine Buddha puja for her. Rinpoche also gave us holy relics and pills to put in her mouth. At one point, Rinpoche looked over at me and asked, “How long do I have?” My thought of a brief visit evaporated. It was amazingly kind of Rinpoche to spend this time and my family was enormously grateful.
At the end, we all returned to the lounge where I gave Rinpoche and the monks some tea and snacks. Rinpoche was sitting between my father and brother who are both much larger than Rinpoche. My father and brother turned to Rinpoche to express their gratitude. As they were thanking Rinpoche, I turned to see Rinpoche sort of peeking out from between them, flipping both of his hands to the sides, manifesting an amused smirk, when Rinpoche said, “It’s my job.” And we all laughed again.
I felt enormously grateful to Rinpoche for this unique and precious visit. At 2 a.m. I was standing in the parking lot outside of the hospital thanking Rinpoche as Rinpoche was getting into the van. I kept thanking Rinpoche when Rinpoche finally said, “You are thanking ME? ME? After all you did for Milarepa Center?!”
I stared back at Rinpoche in disbelief – as if Rinpoche has to thank me for my service at all when it is my service to Rinpoche that moves me out of my suffering more quickly to ultimate freedom? Yet another crash course in guru devotion. I am forever grateful.
Ven. Amy Miller is currently director of Milarepa Center in Vermont, USA. You can meet Ven. Amy by watching an experimental collage video focusing on her by Katya Yakubov and Daniel Hess – another online exclusive from Mandala.
Ven. Amy’s mother, Marian Miller, passed away on December 6, 2010 at the age of 79.Tags: death and dying, lama zopa rinpoche