“Can we visit Matrul Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche in Xigang?” We pleaded with Rinpoche in the call.
“Not sure. It is difficult to say.” Rinpoche’s reply was uncertain. However our minds were already set on visiting the elderly guru. Since we would be carrying the heavy expectations from nation-wide disciples, this trip to Xigang was more of an important mission. In order not to let everyone down, we carefully prepared precious presents as offerings – a statue of soaring garuda gilded with gold which stands on top of a ball-shaped gem and auspicious golden fishes adorned with precious stones.
The auspicious golden fishes: they live in the water, which represent freedom beyond worldly activities and the state of liberation of Dharma practitioners. Because their eyes are constantly open, and can see through murky water, they also stand for wisdom and the abandonment of ignorance, as well as relentless compassion towards sentient beings.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Garuda is the embodiment of the teacher (Dharma King Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche), Yidam and Dakini as the union of the Three Roots, that is the essence of the three supreme blessings: in the sky so the Dharma activities become vast and without boundary, hovering freely just like the incomparable wisdom that gives rise to spontaneous attainments; standing on the globe so that the music of Dharma spreads over the whole world; the solid base with the shape of circular sky and square ground meaning the everlasting vajra; the entire golden plate matched with the green gem ball as the symbol of perfectly fulfilled merits. It was so meaningful and we hoped it would bring an auspicious start to our Dharma activities.
After arriving in Seda, we expressed our wish again to Rinpoche, hoping he could agree on taking us to Xigang monastery to pay worship to Matrul Rinpoche. Of course we did not reveal the exact reason for our visit. We showed Rinpoche the offerings we prepared and Rinpoche eventually agreed. In the following days, we waited patiently for the return of Ake Lama, the uncle of Rinpoche. He was the major attendance of Xigang monastery, Huoxi monastery and Guoluo Hongke monastery. He was busy with building the sutra hall of Hongke monastery in Qinghai and planned to return to Sertar in the next few days.
Probably because the construction of the sutra hall was so massive, Ake Geijin did not come back in time. As days went by, our vacation balance was about to run out, therefore Rinpoche decided to take us to Xigang monastery on the 15th of August.
All Vajra brothers and sisters were excited and spent the whole day preparing. However, rain started to fall after it turned dark. As the rain fell heavily through the night, none of us slept well. The road to Xigang monastery was very dangerous and barely wide enough for one small vehicle to pass through. And quite often after rain the road was blocked due to landslide. We could not stop worrying about the trip to Xigang monastery. One Vajra brother even dreamed of Matrul Rinpoche telling him they could not meet this time. Instead of sharing his worries, he set off with others hoping that the dream was wrong.
In the early morning of the 15th, all of us got in the bus and headed off the road. After dozens of kilometers pavement, we entered into muddy fields. It was the worst part on the road and we were still 30 kilometers away from Xigang monastery. Just one kilometer after we went into the muddy field, we found the road ahead was blocked. We went off the bus to check and found the rain last night flooded and destroyed the roadbed with a breach that is several meters wide. Huge falling stones, entire broken trees and telegraph poles were all over the place. It would take days for bulldozers to clean the mess, let alone driving th cars through. Someone suggested we move on by walking but Rinpoche turned it down. It seemed the dream of the Vajra brother had “came true”.
After we went back home, Rinpoche summoned all the depressed disciples in the sutra hall. He taught us that actions must be taken according to the surrounding conditions, sticking to plans stubbornly was not always the best option. What happened today should be totally viewed as the blessings from Dharma protectors. There was certainly greater danger ahead and that was why Dharma protectors stopped us with obstacles. If we insisted on going, we might encounter unfortunate situations. Moreover, the obstacle was also a test on our faith.
The Vajra brothers and sisters whose holidays were over had to return to inland. AVajra brother told me before he left, that he learned a valuable lesson from this experience: following Rinpoche to study the Dharma was already enough. Rinpoche had taught enough Dharma for him to study throughout his entire life. As long as he could develop unwavering faith in Rinpoche and practice Dharma with diligence, it became less important for him whether or not he could visit Matrul Rinpoche in person.
I was touched by his sharing. His mind was already united with Rinpoche and Matrul Rinpoche’s. He has seen Matrul Rinpoche. However, we still had to fulfill our critical mission and we must visit Matrul Rinpoche in person. After several days, we pleaded with Rinpoche again and he agreed.
During the days in between, we visited another uncle of Rinpoche, Ake Lama, and we asked him for divinations (Ake Longtsok is famous for the accuracy of his fortune telling in Seda, many masters in Seda have invited him to make divinations before they travel to inland for Dharma teaching). He told us the next attempt to travel to Xigang monastery will be successful. When a Vajra brother asked his teaching on visualization method in certain Dharma practice, he replied with “cultivate Bodhicitta” instead. Furthermore, he chased after me to recite refuge prayers and corrected my pronunciation word by word. He said refuge prayers were the most important. It is without exaggeration to say that he was a very dignified person, with eyes shining like light-bulbs. People who have not seen it with their own eyes can hardly imagine the immense blessings from his messy little house. I left the home of this hermit with the teachings of Bodhicitta and refuge prayers.
Five days later, we had a smooth trip to Xigang monastery. We only had to move some stones away occasionally and make minor repairs before our arrival. Soon we reached the foot of the sacred Xigang Mountain. We started climbing which was quite difficult because we carried our offerings, the Garuda statue alone weighted 15kg. It has traveled all the way from inland to the foot of the mountain and be presented to the venerable Matrul Rinpoche after the last difficult part of the journey. The statue carried auspicious conditions, as well as fervent expectations and supplications from all disciples and sentient beings. Having thought of this, Varja brothers and sisters felt their bodies immediately became much lighter.
On the way, Rinpoche told us that after being pleaded by many disciples, Matrul Rinpoche finally agreed to repair the roads of Xigang monastery. The construction would start in September. Local residents and the disciples of Rinpoche would all come to help. Once the construction is finished, Matrul Rinpoche would no longer require horse-riding to go out and teach the Dharma. Cars will be able to drive in the monastery and we won’t need to climb the mountain anymore. We were almost at the mountain top, the monastery was unusually quiet. Rinpoche explained that the lamas were in summer retreat. We saw almost no one on our way to the monastery. Looking from afar, the newly renovated Sutra Hall stood solemnly on its own, with its golden roof shining under daylight. When approaching the sutra hall, we heard the voices of lamas chanting. There was a young lama standing outside of the hall, looking at us with a warm smile, as if he was already expecting us. Aba exchanged a few words with him, then he took us to the second floor where the attendant lived. We waited there to see Matrul Rinpoche. Rinpoche said it was extraordinary quiet, normally there would be a lot of visitors and on that day we were the only group.
After sitting down, the attendant offered us tea and a few young lamas started putting food on the table, such as snacks, candies and sweets, all served on large plates with 50cm diameters. Then drinks followed, Cola, Sprite, orange juices, ADL…We felt like back home. To our surprise, there were even instant noodles, which were the most popular food among inland people in Tibet. We were stunned. As we have just experienced how hard it would be to get to the monastery, we could hardly imagine how these precious food had been transported up to the hills and how they could be readily served so quickly. We decided to cherish our fortune by not eating too much.
Aba went to see Matrul Rinpoche first. They knew each other back during the Cultural Revolution. At that time Aba worked in the county police office while many renowned masters like Matrul Rinpoche, Rigdzin Khacho Dorje Rinpoche (the root guru of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche) and Sera Yangtrul Rinpoche (the root guru of Achuk Lama) were under their supervision. Aba was very kind to the masters. He always made offerings and took care of them. Furthermore, he risked his life bringing them home to teach the Dharma. We have personally listened to the precious audio tape of the Dharma teaching and reading transmissions from these three venerable masters to the young Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche. They were recorded using the only recorder brought back home by Aba from his office.
Aba and Matrul Rinpoche talked for a long time (later on we got to know the contents were mainly around his expectations on Rinpoche’s Dharma activities), before we followed Rinpoche to enter the room of Matrul Rinpoche. Last year, we had neither the chance to visit the Rinpoche’s room nor to see his collection of legendary terma treasures due to the construction of the Sutra Hall. It was a great pity. Therefore this year we were specifically reminded to take more photos of the terma treasures. The room of Matrul Rinpoche was a suite. The outside room was for meeting visitors and the inside one was a Buddhist shrine with a Dharma bed. When the door curtain was opened, we saw Matrul Rinpoche sitting serenely on a huge sofa (not sure how they moved that up) like a holy mountain. Ah! His holiness Matrul Rinpoche is the real Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava in person, seeing him would bring liberation.
“Rigdzin Gawa”, Matrul Rinpoche’s heavy and solid Tibetan accent was heard before Rinpoche entered the door. Rinpoche bowed down and entered the room quickly with a Katak offering. He prostrated and then sat on the side. We entered one by one, prostrated and dedicated our offerings such as the golden Garuda, the auspicious fishes and the Buddha statues, which filled the whole table. Matrul Rinpoche gave us blessings in turn with his huge palm that almost covered my whole head. The last one prostrated was Rinpoche’s Khandro. Matrul Rinpoche padded her head as a kind elderly (every time he saw her, he intimately padded the crown of her head). He pulled her hand like a loving grandpa towards his adorable granddaughter and a rare smile appeared on his solemn face.
When everybody sat down, Matrul Rinpoche started chanting The Heart Essence Prayer of Guru Rinpoche. Rinpoche also led us to chant and we did for three times. Matrul Rinpoche was very pleased and he said to Rinpoche:”When I was in the inland, I have seen VCDs of The Heart Essence Prayer of Guru Rinpoche everywhere. I heard the lay Dharma practitioners singing it. It was you who created the auspicious condition for my Dharma teachings to be spread in the inland.”
“I planned to visit Beijing, Wutai Mountain and a few more places. However I had to return due to the Parinirvana of Dharma King Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. “
As he was talking Matrul Rinpoche had his attendant passing over his Dharma texts to him. He took one page from it and taught us word by word. He said solemnly to Rinpoche that this was a mantrayana practice of Guru Rinpoche he unveiled during his meditation. Because this practice had special linkages to the sentient beings in the inland, Matrul Rinpoche officially handed it over to Rinpoche and asked him to spread widely. Also he gave the Dharma texts to Rinpoche.
Meanwhile, Rinpoche was also informed that the conditions for Xigang monastery’s Dharma teachings have been met. Therefore Matrul Rinpoche gave consent to the road construction in September, so that cars could come up.The venerable master announced, “As long as you are in Tibet, you should attend the Puja in Xigang monastery every year.” “Besides the affairs in Jiaxiu monastery, you should take charge of the affairs in Huoxi monastery too… “
Matrul Rinpoche and Rinpoche had a kind conversation. We kneeled next to them, thinking about our challenging mission while waiting in patience. When we saw a pause in their chat, we took the chance and supplicated, ”Dear Matrul Rinpoche, our master Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche’s Dharma teaching activities in the inland are growing. The sentient beings in the inland have a lot of faith in Tulku Rigdzin Gawa. In order to better unite with Rinpoche, we supplicate you to compose a prayer bestowing blessing and longevity on you and Rinpoche. We, on behalf of all his disciples in the inland of present and future, supplicate you for such a prayer so that we can recite it daily and pray for his longevity and ever-turning Dharma wheel to benefit more sentient beings in the inland. Because you are his root teacher, and you are the true embodiment of Nubchen Sangye Yeshe who lived more than 120 years, we supplicate you for the prayer and we know it will have unmeasurable blessings on the Dharma activities of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche. ”
Rinpoche fell in silence (as we didn’t mention to him about this beforehand). We looked at Aba for help. This was our back-up plan. Knowing Rinpoche would probably be too humble to translate for us, we also involved Aba to help us translate when necessary. Aba took a look at Rinpoche and started translating. Matrul Rinpoche talked with Aba in Tibetan. Rinpoche told us that Matrual Rinpoche didn’t understand us fully. We repeated ourselves quickly and Aba translated again.
Matrul Rinpoche summoned his attendant and started composing the prayers orally. The air seemed frozen when Matrul Rinpoche narrated sentence by sentence and his attendant wrote them down one by one. We were only able to get the last sentence which was the mantra of Padmasambhava. Everyone was extraordinarily happy when we saw Matrul Rinpoche finally put on his Dharma stamp and fingerprint. We had planned it for a long time. We did not dare to mention it to Rinpoche and we were even not sure whether we could make it or if we might be scolded by Rinpoche. But we succeeded!
Rinpoche took it over and had a look, then he said to us as Aba only knew the daily conversational Chinese, Matrul Rinpoche did not get the explicit meaning of our request. It was a general prayer for blessing but not exactly a prayer for longevity. Hearing this made us anxious again, we begged Rinpoche to translate for us directly. Rinpoche replied in modesty that he would not do it. We pleaded again. Rinpoche said reluctantly: “How about I plead the venerable to write a dedication for our website. Is that good enough?” He then started talking to Matrul Rinpoche and we could all feel butterflies in our stomachs: are we going to disappoint all our Vajra brothers and sisters on this? As we heard the Tibetan word “website” in their conversation, we became even more anxious. I forced myself to calm down and looked at Rinpoche for a while. I then closed my eyes and started visualizing Guru Rinpoche with the inner form as Matrul Rinpoche and as our venerable Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche. I imagined up above Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche gathered all the Buddhas of the three times and ten directions and I started supplicate intensely…
Matrul Rinpoche started composing prayers again and ordered his attendant to write down. The first sentence was “Emaho” and the last was the mantra of Padmasambhava.
I looked at Rinpoche. His facial expression has changed and he said to me, “Rinpoche has understood what you mean. It was not through my translation but through the power of his mind. ”
Matrul Rinpoche then gave elaborated teachings on the two texts he composed and ordered translation for us. I asked in excitement what was in the teaching of Matrul Rinpoche. Rinpoche said: “The heart of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche is united with Guru Rinpoche’s. The heart of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche is united with mine.”
“What else? What else?” We got completely carried away.
“The heart of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche is the same and of no difference with mine. The heart of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche is the same and of no difference with Guru Rinpoche’s.”
My heart was finally at rest, as if it had integrated into the dharmakaya of Rinpoche…
After that we presented Matrul Rinpoche with the name list of lay Dharma practitioners that had made the aspiration to attend the group practice of The Heart Essence Prayer of Guru Rinpoche. We made aspirations in front of him on behalf of all disciples of Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche in the inland. With the compassionate power of Rinpoche, we vowed to organize and liberate 100-million lives, and we prayed to dedicate all the merits to the long lives of Matrul Rinpoche and Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche, as well as for the wheel of Dharma to be constantly in motion and therefore benefit unlimited sentient beings. Matrul Rinpoche laughed with joy: “Very good! Very good!” (The activity of 100-million life release started right after this, and extended national wide and gradually to overseas. The first hundred million was completed on Aug 1st 2008. Eleven hundred million lives have been saved by Jan 28th 2016. The activity of hundred million life release still continues. We commit to never stop saving lives in our life time).
We continued supplicating Matrul Rinpoche: If the health condition of the venerable Rinpoche was allowed (He was already 82 years old), we would like to invite him to visit inland again, accompanied by Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche to teach the Dharma. Matrul Rinpoche replied, “OK. It depends.” Rinpoche pleaded further as he saw the elderly guru did not reject immediately, “If you wish to visit Wutai Mountain, I will go with you.” Matrul Rinpoche accepted this invitation happily. Seeing this fortunate condition, we felt elated for the great fortunes sentient beings in the inland were about to receive.
Afterwards, we received Kataks that the venerable gave in return, Vajra knots he tied personally, and his Dharma photos with fingerprints on them. We even visited his shrine that was filled with incredible terma treasures and of course we took lots of pictures. On the clean and neat altar the offerings were fresh and the butter tormas were newly made. In front of the statue of thousand-armed-thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara in the hall stood two huge conches, one at each side of the table, they were offered by Rinpoche last year and the year before.
At this moment both the butler and the attendant told us that actually two days ago Matrul Rinpoche already told them there would be important visitors coming today. Therefore he had them tidy up the Sutra Hall, the rooms and the shrine, prepare all the food and the best rooms for reception as well as put all the terma treasures and Buddha statues in order with permission for the visitors to take pictures (it definitely demonstrated that the venerable has clairvoyance about the wishes of sentient beings in the mainland). Normally it was not allowed to enter Rinpoche’s shrine. The butter tormas were freshly made. The food and drink were prepared with great care. Matrul Rinpoche even asked the attendant to get the Dharma texts of Guru Rinpoche’s Vajrayana terma ready. Their words made us realized why everything was readily prepared when we just arrived.
We experienced again the greatness of the real Guru Rinpoche. May all sentient beings be able to acquire all fortunate conditions to experience the boundless merits of Rinpoche! May all sentient beings attain liberation from samsara via diligent practice of Dharma! May all sentient beings receive blessings and empowerment from the venerable teachers! Tashi-Delek!