How wonderful is to sit before someone who has achieved enlightenment. It was 2016 when I arrived in Nepal and for some reason, I landed in a guesthouse were behind it, there was a Tibetan nunnery. I was ignorant of Buddhism. My curiosity sparked when I saw people lining up to see somebody in the nunnery. Days passed and I keep seeing more people. I was very infant in Buddhism to the point that I was a bit scared about what was happening on the second floor in the nunnery residence. Then I asked a nun, who do the people come to see? She told they come to see Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. My only reaction was – okay? I had no clue what was Rinpoche and who he was or what was a Tibetan Buddhist lineage. Every morning, the nuns woke up @ 4:00 am and began praying. The sounds of Tibetan Long Horn just woke me up and I was curious about the sound and what was happening in the nunnery. I observed visitors going directly to the Gompa (temple) where the nuns pray. I asked for permission to a nun, if I can take a look at what is going inside the Gompa. So, the next day, I decided to go inside the Gompa and what an impact it had on my first impression. I saw the nuns praying sitting in lotus pose and with statues of Lord Buddha and a picture of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. Until this point, I still didn’t make a decision to see him and didn’t even know how he looked like. The nuns prayed for 4 hours straight non-stop and I sat there just observing. I was amazed to see the focus and dedication of the nuns. The ages of nuns range from 7-older. During the praying, they made offerings to Lord Buddha and distributed the offerings to everyone inside the Gompa. They gave me food and a drink. I had no idea why they were doing it or what was the purpose. Everything was so new to me. Three weeks ago I was in Manhattan, NYC and now I see myself in a temple praying with nuns. I felt like a baby who just opened his eyes to see something new and everything looks bigger – I felt the same way. All the customs the Tibetan Nuns had in the nunnery was so new to me. Then days passed and I was curious to learn more about Buddhism. So, I took off and wandered around the streets in Nepal and sat in many monasteries as the observer. Looking and hearing what monks are doing. I went to every dharma talk in town. Even up to this point, I still didn’t make the decision to meet Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. Then I decided to continue my readings which were whatever I found on the internet or flyers that I took from the dharma talks. One day, I was sitting in the nunnery lawn and a nun approached and gave me a Buddhism book “The Words of My Perfect Teacher.” After reading the book, I decided to meet Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. I wanted to see and experience why other people were coming from far away just to see him for a few minutes, sometimes less than 5 minutes. His visitation hours were every Wednesday for 2-3 hours in the morning and that is all. I was scared but also curious. Then I went inside the room and I saw him. I didn’t know what to do. The nun told me that I can approach him. I didn’t bow to him so I just went in front of him. I didn’t know what to say. He doesn’t talk and just sits in a chair because of a health condition. The nun put a red string around my wrist and I had no clue why she was doing it. I just went with the flow of things. The nun told me to say hello and he can listen. I said hello and I said to him that it was my pleasure to meet him. The nun made the translation and that was all. A few days later, I sat again on the lawn of the nunnery reading and a nun approached me and gave me a book Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche wrote. They were songs of self-realization. I had no idea why the nun gave me the book and I thought I will have to pay for it which I had no problem at all. The nun told me there was no need to pay for the book. I felt overwhelmed by the gesture and I didn’t know what to say. I read the book and was completely lost on the meaning behind the songs. The great Tibetan Yogi Milarepa wrote songs as a form of teachings and so as Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. I was so new in Buddhism that I was completely lost. I asked Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche nephew if there was more material that I can read or download from the internet. He gave me another book which was the 37 practices of a Boddhisattva. He told me I can read them in the Gompa when the nuns are praying so that is what I did for 90 days. As I continued to learn more about Buddhism, I noticed people carried a mala on their neck, wrist, or hold them on their hand. One day, I decided to get one. So I purchased one from one of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche student’s. She told me that Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche should bless the mala. The next time I visited Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche before I even pulled out the mala I bought to get it blessed his nephew hands me a mala and told me that it is a gift from Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. I was shocked. I told him that I came to see him so he can bless the mala I bought. The first thought that came to my mind was how did he know I was coming to get my mala blessed. It was here when I went deep to learn more about Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche. I spent many nights learning about Tibetan lineages and enlightenment. Then another nephew of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyantso Rinpoche told me that he achieved enlightenment. And that he is Buddha and one of the top scholars in Tibetan Buddhism. I had no words to say.
Well, today is his birthday and I dedicate this blog to him and say:W
“When I first met you, I didn’t know who you were. I met you without knowing I was sitting before Buddha. You gave me a mala and I didn’t know what it was for. I visited you every Wednesday ignorant on many things. A nun gave me your book on self-realization and I was lost with the meaning behind every song. I asked for a picture of you and I carry it with me wherever I go. But I know you know everything that I need to know in my capacity. Grateful I’m, I sat next to you. I look forward to seeing you again before you leave your body.”
Happy Birthday from the bottom of my heart Mr. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.
Enjoying ice cream time with the Tibetan nuns.