Tonight during our Chenrezig chanted prayer practice, Rinpoche advised us to look at true sources of happiness, and shared an excerpt from his blog post, Happiness and Suffering Are Only Appearances, They Are Not Real, originally posted Sept. 28, 2018.

I want to tell a short story. I had an uncle, my mother’s brother. His name was Lama Gepel. He was very holy and virtuous, the master teacher of Dege Zhechen Monastery. More than my uncle, he was the teacher who helped me most of all. He was a very honest and direct person. If I made a little mistake he would scold me. If he were still alive he would be in his nineties. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1996.

Not only did he truly spend his whole life in the practice of Dharma, he was also the recognized incarnation of a great ‘tertön’ — a treasure revealer. Although he had discovered many mind-termas, my uncle abhorred fame and pretense. He was always contented and had few desires. When I was fifteen I went to be his attendant. He had an eye disease at that time and his right eye had gone blind. His left eye also later went blind from the disease. He was the greatest Lama of the monastery and he had very many attendants, but it was only two other monks and myself who remained constantly at his side throughout the day and night. I was always very worried and troubled about my uncle’s sight. One day some of his best students and I insisted that we should take him to the hospital to have his eyes opened. At first he wouldn’t agree to it. We asked again, all of us crying and insisting, and finally he said, ‘Okay, this time I will go to the hospital as you wish.’

When we went to the hospital and they examined him, the doctor said that his left eye could be opened. We were all extremely happy. The doctor opened his eye and we all returned to the monastery. When we got back to the monastery and he could see with one eye, the disciples were overjoyed. With one eye, at the wishes of others, he was kept very busy conducting services and giving initiations and teachings to the monks and lay people at the monasteries of the area. He couldn’t go into retreat and do as much practice as he would have liked. This was because he was the only source of refuge to whom the local monasteries could go to make their requests. Sometimes he would say jokingly to me, ‘My nephew did me serious harm by getting my eye opened!’

About two years later his eye disease got worse and he went completely blind again. He stayed doing practice, never leaving his meditation seat throughout the day and night. When we again begged him to please let us take him to the hospital, he said in a very decisive way, ‘Previously, up to now, pursuing what these water-bubbles of my eyes saw, I don’t think there was anything I didn’t see, but I never saw anything very wonderful in the world. Everything I saw was the same. Better than shapes, colors, and so forth, now that I am blind I see something I never saw with my eyes. I don’t want to give up this amazing display! My root Guru and the Three Jewels have given me this blindness but I wish they had given it to me earlier! I am never going back to the hospital! Don’t be disappointed!’ He lived with his blindness for about eight more years, before he died in 1996 amidst amazing signs.

Read the full blog post here: Happiness and Suffering Are Only Appearances, They Are Not Real