I had the chance to spend close to 2 hours privately with Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen during this recent retreat (and no, I did not twist his arm to have this happen). I was able to offer him something which I was so glad to do. He has given me the greatest gift which exists in this world – the Buddha-Dharma is the key to unlocking ultimate happiness, free from afflicted emotions. Therefore if I can give anything back, that will be very good.
Anyhow, in spending this time with him, I got to see his skillful means in action.
The first day (the first hour), he was more open and he asked me questions about what was going on in the news and we chatted about the Dharma in the West and a few other topics.
Then during my interview, I admitted (because I wanted to reveal everything to Rinpoche and have him give me very precise advice) that my Dharma practice had been de-railed or at least become quite scattered over the past few years. This is mainly due to being sick and not understanding why. When I got the shingles 3 years ago, it was barely in my astrology chart at all, which was frustrating. Normally you can see this stuff coming. (Although do not worry, I hardly a fatalistic astrologer and I approach everyday realistically.) And then this bout with chronic Lyme’s disease was equally frustrating – leaving nursing school for a semester was frustrating especially!
So I told Rinpoche about how I used to play computer games but that I have given that up. I asked him about role playing games – pretty much my only vice left – which I had to explain. But he got the gist that these games occasionally distract me and maybe even affect my mindfulness.
Then the second day, the 2nd hour, he was more distant and he was bluntly neutral. His disposition was much different from what it was the day before (before I had my interview with him). I think he knew that my Dharma practice was not as diligent as it was five to eight years ago, but he did not realize how much my practice may have derailed. And of course I am putting words in his mouth or thoughts in his mind. I do not actually know what he was thinking . Anyway, he sudden change in disposition made me think that something was wrong – was he feeling off? Or had I done something wrong? Had I said the wrong thing?
It took me driving on the road home – a 4 hour journey due to traffic and passing multiple accidents – to realize what was probably going on.
In fact, along with having a full and long day yesterday, his change in demeanor had affected my mind. I was a little concerned – mainly about what I had done or said wrong, if that was why he changed his attitude.
On the ride home, I got the info that Khenchen was being extremely skillful with me. I told him about my last remaining vice and he told me that letting it go was entirely up to me. But now his actions and his disposition were that of the most loving and more importantly compassionate parent. He was letting me go, putting some distance between us so that I could get my Dharma practice in order. Rather than me putting in a scattered, sparse amount of diligence into my practice and hoping that a Lama will be there to pull me out of trouble, he was showing me that my “salvation” as it were, is entirely up to me.
My happiness is up to me. My suffering is up to me. My attaining enlightenment is entirely up to me. Yes he gives incredible advice and teachings, but at the end of the day, I need to get my butt on my meditation cushion! 🙂
Therefore, his change in demeanor was one of the most compassionate actions he could take with me. Time to stay mindful and heedful and alert and watch my mind, guard my mind and slowly slowly complete my Ngondro practices.
Thanks for reading!