From Lotus Speech Canada: Trevor Jones (T.J.), president of the board, interviews Changling Rinpoche (C.R.). Lotus Speech Canada is sponsoring the visit of Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche to Vancouver in August 2010. Rinpoche talks about his teacher, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the qualities of his successor, Yangsi Rinpoche, and his upcoming tour of North America.
T.J. I am here today with Changling Rinpoche. Rinpoche is fresh off the plane from Kathmandu, Nepal, from Shechen Monastery there. We are talking about the upcoming visit in a year or so by Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche. Rinpoche, can you tell us what the purpose of this tour is?
C.R. The purpose of this tour is to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of his Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s birth. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was one of those great individuals that we had in our generation who dedicated himself totally towards the happiness of others. The more we remember and celebrate those individuals, it encourages us to follow their example and be like them. These individuals benefit us by giving us an example of how we should act, move, and think, not only when they are alive, but also after they pass away. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse got up at 4 every morning. His first thought was that all beings should be happy. Based on that idea, he moved according to that intention all day long.
Under the leadership of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, we think that all his students, his followers in the different parts of the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of His Holiness. We are not doing so just to please him. We are celebrating this day because we had this great being in our world, and not to forget this great individual, and to follow his example.
T.J. Rinpoche, North America is one of many stops that the Yangsi will make on his tour. It will be the first time that the West will meet the young 16-year-old Dilgo Khyentse. Can you tell us a little bit about the places that he will be visiting and what we can expect here in North America when he comes?
C.R. At the time of 2010, His Holiness, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s incarnation, Yangsi Rinpoche, will be turning 17. He will be taking this opportunity to visit different areas where many students have a connection with him. He is going to stop in North America on the East Coast of United Sates, and on the West Coast of Canada, here in Vancouver. He will also be stopping in Boulder. Yangsi Rinpoche and Rabjam Rinpoche will celebrate together with all the students in these places.
T.J. Rinpoche, we can expect some of these stops to be up to 3-4 days. Can you describe the content of the program in a general way?
C.R. We are going to celebrate with teaching and empowerments. Together with Rabjam Rinpoche, Yangsi Rinpoche will give empowerments, teachings and public talks. We will also have the relic exhibition: relics of different masters and special relics of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and his daily objects. We will have a Shechen-produced film exhibition based upon his life story. Different students and people are making that film. It will be edited and made into a 14-minute documentary of that story.
T.J. Yangsi Khyentse Rinpoche will be coming to the West for the first time. Will he be giving his teachings in English?
C.R. A good question! He is doing his best to speak in English without using a translator. He is working hard because English is a second language for him. He has to get training. Although he knows what to teach, he has to learn all these different English words and different phrases.
T.J. It was roughly 18 years ago that the previous Dilgo Khyentse passed into Parinirvana.
C.R. Yes, in September 1991.
T.J. Rinpoche, you had the good fortune to spend some time as a young man, a young boy, with the previous Dilgo Khyentse. You were recognized by him around age 11, and began your training at one of his monasteries, Shechen, in Kathmandu. Can you tell us a little bit about your recollections of him as a teacher?
C.R. I was very fortunate to be with him for five years, his last five years. I was totally brought up and trained by him. After he passed away, Rabjam Rinpoche brought me up at the Shechen Monastery in Kathmandu, the main seat of His holiness Dilgo Khyentse. Rabjam Rinpoche was completely brought up and trained in that monastery.
I began with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche as a child; I was almost 11. At the time, I was not so aware. Later, when I started to grow up and began to understand what was happening, I saw him as a scholar, a very great scholar. He was not just a scholar, but also a very brave and confident individual. From a spiritual point of view, I saw and understand him clearly not as an ordinary person, but really a perfectly enlightened, awakened being. From his daily activities, I was able to recognize that he was awakened. I understood him as someone who did not know what the meaning of exhaustion was, as someone who didn’t know what “tired” was. These are minor qualities of this enlightened one. His daily activities showed very clearly that he was not an ordinary being, but that he was really an enlightened being. Through the kindness and the blessing of His Holiness even somebody blank-minded like me was able to get some colour pictures in my brain.
T.J. Amazing! Rinpoche, you have also had the good fortune to spend a great deal of time around Yangsi Khyentse Rinpoche. So, there must be some similarities between these two beings as there would be in most young tulkus in the reincarnation lineage like the Tibetan Rinpoches. Are there any striking similarities that you can describe for us at all?
C.R. Yes. Humble, like the previous one. Not arrogant. No pride. He is very humble and very caring, like the previous one. If a minister or beggar were to come, he would treat them the same way. Being very humble and confident, he is equally caring to everybody, always thinking about the welfare of others. That’s what I feel. I find that it’s him in a different form.
T.J. You also had insights, Rinpoche, into his personal characteristics as a child growing up, his traits that make him unique. Can you share with us what some of his hobbies are, or what some of his favourite things to do, what some of his pastimes are?
C.R. His hobby is history. Rinpoche is very fond of Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhist histories. When he meets people, he immediately starts to ask about their country. He likes to know about history. For most of the time when I was with him, we would discuss world history.
T.J. Wonderful! Rinpoche, this tour to the West, and to Europe and to other parts of Asia represents a good part of the planet where the previous Dilgo Khyentse had traveled, and, in some cases, set up retreat centres. Will Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche have a chance to visit the retreat centres that he had previously started?
C.R. His students started some of these older centres. Rinpoche will be visiting the places in the West where His Holiness spent his time in the West teaching. He is going to those places because the majority of the students are there.
T.J. Part of the program is first to introduce the current Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche to his previous students and to new students as well and, secondly, to help create some support for the ongoing activities at Shechen. Can you describe what some of those projects are and what this tour will help support?
C.R. First, let me tell you about the projects. We have Shechen Monastery and then we have the Karuna project. The Monastery project is about preserving Buddhist culture, Buddhist tradition and the teaching of the Buddha, by supporting and providing training to the monks and nuns. In Shechen, it is not only the monks who receive training. We also have a nunnery and the nuns receive the same Buddhist training as the monks. There is a philosophical college, meditation centre and elementary school. Monks and nuns have an equal right to study and practice Buddhism.
Shechen Monastery also has several clinics in Nepal, in India and in the eastern part of Tibet. We have several schools in Nepal in remote areas where people cannot afford to send children to school. In these areas, we are building schools for children. We are also building bridges in Tibet where they have no bridges. Every year, there is the problem of people being carried away by the river during monsoon time. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse wanted to build bridges in those areas. We build bridges to save the lives of people.
We also have art schools. In the art school, we have students training in a particular Tibetan traditional art, and painting in the unique Tibetan cultural style. We have activities that preserve the Buddhist culture, the Buddhist teachings, and the Tibetan culture.
In addition to these projects, we are hoping that the older Sangha and the new students will be able to connect to the young Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. We are strongly confident, and have faith in ourselves and in Rinpoche that we will be able to help to build up peace throughout the world by spreading Buddhist teachings. This will also ultimately support His Holiness Dalai Lama to spread the message of compassion in this world where conflict is ever increasing. That’s our vision.
T.J. Rinpoche, the previous Khyentse, was an important scholar, teacher and poet. He also provided some teachings to His Holiness Dalai Lama. There are some famous pictures of the two together. Can you tell us if the Yangsi has had an opportunity to meet with His Holiness Dalai Lama?
C.R. Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche has met with His Holiness several times. His Holiness has a great vision of Rinpoche as one of the great teachers for the future generation, that he will be a great teacher and a perfect guide.
T.J. Finally, the tour comes to North America in August 2010, first starting on the eastern seaboard in New York, then moving to Boulder, and finally to Vancouver. You have an organization in Canada called Lotus Speech, which is working with another number of centres to host the Yangsi and Rabjam Rinpoche in Vancouver. How can people find out more about the program? Can they go anywhere online to register and to learn about the program in the United States?
C.R. Lotus Speech is the organization that I, together with my Canadian Dharma friends, have started. This is one of our main visions for bringing those great masters to Canada. So, especially for the 2010 visit, we do have a special web site: Dilgokhyentsevancouver.ca. You can also find Lotus Speech at http://lotusspeech.ca. We will have a Shechen.org web site in 2010.
T.J. Rinpoche, finally, in order to assist in preparing the way for next year’s visit, is there anything that the Sangha of practitioners and devotees around the world can be doing between now and next summer to enable a safe and successful tour?
C.R. Yes. From a Buddhist point of view, everybody has to make sure that samaya is maintained. On top of that, it would be very beneficial to concentrate on the Seven Line Prayer to Padmasambhava for purifying obstacles. Keeping samaya and the Seven Line Prayer will both help to create a successful visit. Being successful means that people become connected to Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, that they will be able to listen to his teachings and through his teachings they can help themselves. This is what I really want for a successful visit. I always believe that when we are doing these kinds of things we have the support of the enlightened beings to make this kind of event happen. Everybody who wants to participate or join this event should do the Seven Line Supplication to Padmasambhava.
T.J. Thanks very much, Changling Rinpoche. We look forward to seeing you next summer here in North America. Thank you for spending a few moments with us.
C.R. Thank you!