This message was written by one of Rinpoche’s students, Karma Choeying, following the Three-Day January Retreat; he wrote it in response to spending some time assisting Rinpoche with his many activities as a means to express his appreciation for Rinpoche’s efforts for the Dharma and the Sangha.
After this year’s January retreat, I wanted to write a brief message about the tireless dedication of our Lama Khenpo Karten Rinpoche to the Dharma and the Sangha.
As you all know, the Manjushri Dharma Center has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. One may presume that with the lockdown, maybe Rinpoche will have more free time. In reality, this is very far from the truth.
I know this because I have been fortunate to work somewhat closely with Rinpoche over the past several months providing minor assistance, mainly helping his transition to an online platform related to technology, social media, and English.
Some of what Rinpoche does for the Sangha can be clearly seen, while other activities are not directly visible. Regarding those that we do see, we know that Rinpoche typically holds online prayers twice per week on Monday and Wednesday. For the past several weeks, Saturday and Sunday, Rinpoche has been holding a Teaching on the “Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas” in Tibetan.
After assisting Rinpoche to set up these Teachings, I saw how much effort really goes into a 1.5-hour Practice. Not only does Rinpoche have to prepare for his Teachings beforehand; he is very determined that the live stream video gives the clearest and most pleasant viewing experience. Initially, being unfamiliar with these electronics and online platforms, he has put in a lot of time to understand the hardware and software necessary for a live broadcast; additionally, much of the language required to operate these devices and websites is in English, Rinpoche’s second language, which makes it a bit challenging. Since then, he has been experimenting with different cameras and equipment, and he is still constantly trying to improve and better the online experience from the Dharma Center. Fortunately, some students and friends give him a hand, such as Michael Martinez from Pacific Grove who has helped Rinpoche produce a really special and professional live stream with multiple devices, the MDC logo, etc., but much of the work Rinpoche does himself. Truly, as some students joke, he has really become the Technology Lama! As an aside, it is surprising to see how much time really goes into a live stream video.
Additionally, Rinpoche’s Dharma activities are not just limited to Pujas or Teachings online. I believe that other activities also constitute much of his efforts.
This past year has been difficult for everyone; many of us have suffered from material, physical, and mental afflictions. As young children, we turn to our mothers or fathers for comfort when we encounter problems; in a similar way, many of us turn to the Lama for solace when in difficulty. Rinpoche, I believe, is the only source of refuge for many people both here and overseas. Often we turn to him when we or our loved ones are faced with sickness, depression, difficulties, and death. Sometimes we reach out to him just because we are feeling sad and we know that hearing his voice or seeing his face will make us feel better. Last spring, Rinpoche intended to go on a silent retreat in conjunction with the temporary closure of the MDC. I don’t think that he was actually able to carry out this retreat because, at that time, which was the beginning of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, so many people were initially quite shocked and frightened when confronted with the new and unknown prospect of the disease and lockdowns, and many reached out to Rinpoche for his support and blessings. To read a little about this, you can check out Rinpoche’s blog “A Discussion between Two Old Men”.
He does whatever he can for his students and still maintains his inner happiness, which acts as a lamp to light and warm the hearts of those struggling around him.
In truth, he is only one Lama! Not only is Rinpoche occupied with these efforts for the Dharma and the Sangha, in addition he engages in many mundane and domestic tasks, such as taking care of his Dharma Center, shopping, preparing his own meals, etc. Most of the time he gets around on foot. This may seem somewhat typical from a Western perspective, but often Lamas and monks share these responsibilities with one another, and respected Teachers also have many attendants to support them.
Of course, many students engage in the service of supporting the Rinpoche; certainly, the MDC Board does a great deal, but also many of his students help him with things like setting up his Dharma activities like the retreat, Zoom meetings and Live streams, assisting with the translation of his written Teachings, assisting with his daily life such as driving and doing things around the MDC, and providing generous material support among many other things.
I just wanted to write this brief message at the end of the retreat for all of my Dharma brothers and sisters, and to let Rinpoche know that we do see some of what he does and sincerely appreciate him and his efforts.
Rinpoche has such a strong and genuine motivation to turn his students’ minds towards the Dharma. Often, he says in his talks that he really loves the Dharma, and I sincerely hold it to be true. The patience, persistence, and joy with which he continues to practice is astounding. He is such a great Teacher and example for his students, and I think that we are truly lucky to have him as our Lama.
It is said that happening upon a genuine Dharma Teacher is one of the rarest and most precious occurrences in one’s life, and in this respect I believe that we are extremely fortunate. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Rinpoche! Thu-je-che Lama La
~Karma Choeying (Tony )
Written by Karma Choeying (Tony), posted to Khenpo Karten Rinpoche’s Blogspot on January 23, 2021.