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Amitabha Pure Land, Washington, USA — November 21, 2010
From Ven. Roger Kunsang:
Over the past couple of years Rinpoche has been “planting” plastic flowers (many kindly offered by Ven.Pemba, Esther Ngai and Cham Tse Ling) in the garden of his retreat house in Washington state.
Why would Rinpoche plant beautiful plastic flowers in the garden? The answer is very simple. The deer won’t eat them and during the winter when it is very cold and the area gets a lot of snow, there can still be offerings of beautiful flowers to the holy objects.
The large stone Medicine Buddha statue in the garden was made and offered in Indonesia (thank you, Teddy Leo). After receiving the statue, Rinpoche spent some time carving a smile on the face and reworking the art of the hair with stone carving equipment. Not an easy job because this stone is very hard.
Currently Rinpoche is doing a short, strict retreat and then we leave for Nepal. Starting retreat isn’t a simple process for Rinpoche. Apart from the normal things such as making tormas etc., there is the “organization work.” Rinpoche always makes an effort to clear up some of that first, this time it took about two weeks: letters from students and then FPMT work which can be all sorts of things.
The letters never end, there are always so many, which makes it quite difficult to manage. Sometimes Rinpoche dictates letters to Ven. Holly nonstop for up to 13 hours then move on to other things. Then there is 13 hrs of dictation to rewrite and put in reasonable order, with additional details such as organizing pujas with the monasteries in India in Nepal, sending protections, blessed pills, cards, gifts, etc. This can take literally weeks. The action prior to retreat is nonstop around the clock. And the range of activities is very interesting and a little overwhelming sometimes. But great if you are keen to practice patience!
One of the last activities Rinpoche did before starting retreat was making food for ants. Rinpoche had come across two ant hills and wanted to offer them some food. This entailed making tsampa with butter, blessed water and blessed pills and then Rinpoche proceeded to translate a small text on the benefits of offering charity to ants.
Then this early morning, although in strict retreat and not talking, Rinpoche made “jam” for the neighbors. There was butter with erma (a “zinging” very unusual tasting herb from the Himalayas), and also mashed avocados with herbs. Also with the jam came handwritten cards from Rinpoche and many postcards with images of holy objects (such as Boudhanath Stupa) and cute animal cards. The neighbors aren’t Buddhist but kind people.
From my point of view, Rinpoche’s retreats only seem to have one session: the start of the retreat and then days later the session/retreat ends; something I haven’t been able to figure out yet. Time is an interesting concept when you are around Rinpoche.
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Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
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