015: Life Tutor

Ever since I was little, I have demand much of myself. I worked hard in order to get high scores during my school years and expected a perfect performance in everything I did. Even though I am not particularly gifted, I always believed that I could achieve anything as long as I made the proper efforts. Every year on my birthday, I wished for success in my exams, good health, and so on. In case I might have forgotten anything, I always concluded with, “May all my wishes come true and everything go my way.” However, by putting so much pressure on myself, I developed hyperthyroidism, an endocrine disorder that occurs due to an imbalance in the thyroid. As a result, I continually suffered from exophthalmos, athetosis, heart palpitations, and weight loss.

Suffering from the condition as I did, I felt hungry all the time. I never stopped eating, but at the same time, neither did I stop excreting. My body weight dropped from 45 kg to 40 kg. Due to hyper-functioning of all my organs, I was hyper and keyed-up all the time. My heart rate was at around 130 bpm (A normal person has a heart rate of 60 to 90 bpm.); with my heart running as it did, I often was left panting for air and had to force myself to breathe deeply. In the middle of the night, there were times when I heard my heart beating fiercely in the quiet night and I would try to calm my jumpy heart—all in vain. Once I asked myself, “Will you make it to the morning?” My early twenties were filled with hospital visits and examinations in hopes that the advice of well-known doctors could help me. The doctors, however, couldn’t explain the reason behind my condition. Instead they told me, “It’s probably hereditary.” When my friends asked, “You have been to Taipei for quite some time, where do you usually go?” I could only laugh bitterly and reply, “I usually go to the hospital.” Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital, I saw that all the patients were the age of my grandparents. Suddenly, I had depressing thought, “This doesn’t seem to be a suitable place for a person at my age.” Regardless, for the next seven years I continued to seek the advice of doctors and took their western or Chinese herbal medicine—my condition, however, remained unstable.

In August of 2000, I sought refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in order to help my mother with her hand injury. Having attended pujas for a long time and received Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings, I eventually understood that all of my previous wishes were the desire and greed of my sensory organs— the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. My eyes hoped to see beauty and yet failed to distinguish between black and white; my ears yearned for praise from others and reality was thus hid; my tongue wanted delicacies and thus innumerable lives were sacrificed; my body indulged itself in comfort and yet brought harm to other beings; my mind was constantly filled with desperation and worries when things didn’t go my way. Recalling the details of my past, I realized the influence that greed, hatred, ignorance, pride, and suspicion had on me every single day: They gradually eroded my spirit and body and turned me into a skinny bag of bones. My disease was the fruit that grew out of the seed that I planted.

Ever since I was little, my health has been fragile and although I didn’t have any major diseases, I constantly suffered from minor ailments. My family lived by the sea where they owned a fish farm. I often ate various kinds of seafood as tonic; sacrificing countless lives. Growing up, I created a great deal of killing karma. I continued to attend pujas, praying all the time that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would liberate all those beings I had harmed. I’m learning to implement Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s instruction in my daily life, so as to correct my behavior and control my heart. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once said, “To change oneself is the most difficult task on the earth and one who is capable of it is the most fortunate man in the world.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was strict with us in hopes that we could wake up from our errors. On simple issues such as the table manners, posture, attitude towards work, how to get along with relatives, as well as other issues, such as how to leave the cycle of birth and death and how to benefit the sentient beings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches us in great detail the law of cause and effect. He instills in us the idea that Buddhist teachings are to be realized in our daily lives. It is only when one practices to contemplate and implement the Buddhist teachings in one’s body, speech and mind at all times will one truly learn Buddhism.

Thanks to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help, it’s been six or seven years since I took my last anti-thyroid drug. Without undergoing any operation, I have not suffered from exophthalmos or goiter. All can be attributed to the blessing and refuge provided by the great merits of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

When I took refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I had just graduated from school and became an elementary school teacher. A teacher shoulders the responsibility of propagating truths, giving lessons, solving problems, and is held to a high moral standard by students, their parents, and society. When it came to switch roles from that of a learner to an instructor, I found myself in great psychological shock. While it is normal for a pupil to make mistakes during the learning process, a teacher cannot make mistakes when teaching. These two distinct standards make me very nervous, as I feared that I would make some false statements or wrong decisions and consequently inflict life-long harm on my pupils. Fortunately, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has helped me to untangle the mental knots in my heart that arise whenever I feel confused or annoyed and now I am able to pass through my hardships smoothly. If my students have poor grades and are lazy, I remember the teaching that one whose occupation is a teacher or a doctor needs to have a caring heart. When my pupils go wild or do not listen to me, I think of the teaching that everything has its cause and effect. When my pupils perform poorly and displease me, I think of the teaching that it is necessary to treat all the children as if they were your own. Every word in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teaching is a jewel, a jewel showing me where my mistakes lay, as well as showing me the correct attitude to have towards life.

Several years ago, one of my pupils accidentally hurt another pupil. The parents of both children were planning to resolve the dispute through court litigation. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, compassionately helped to relieve the resentments of both parties, enabling the injured pupil to recover his health and other to reduce his guilt. The mental burden carried by the parents, the pupils and the teachers slowly dissipated and I was blessed with courage to continue my work as a teacher.

After I finished school and became a non-student, I had no teachers by my side to admonish me for my faults. Seldom would anyone point out my errors in an honest and direct manner. Even my parents think that I, since I am grown up and well educated, there is no need to pay much attention to my life. In fact, when they do give the occasional comments, it, more often than not, annoys me. Leading a conceited life has brought me much pain without really understanding where the problem lay. However, my study of Buddhism with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has given me a teacher for life. It is just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says: we are his dependants in the Dharma realm, just like his children. When a child does something wrong, how can his parents not correct and teach him? No parents would watch their child fall off a cliff without making an effort to hold him back. Even if a parent has to hit, scold, pull, or drag his child, he would do so in order to help the child escape greater danger and pain. That is exactly what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s instruction is all about. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches us with his life, hoping that we will be able to be freed from the sufferings of reincarnation and obtain everlasting happiness.

In 2003, the Douliou Chapter of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center was established in Yunlin County. Thereafter, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started to find time in his busy schedule to travel to Douliou and perform pujas so as to help those sentient beings in central and southern Taiwan. Therefore, my 84-year-old grandmother and my mother can now travel from Chiayi to Douliou to attend pujas. As long as I remember, Grandma has always had asthma. She constantly coughs and needs to go to hospital every now and then. Asthma attacks can be lethal, and every year she has to be admitted to the hospital a couple of times and stays there for weeks due to her severe conditions. I remember seeing large oxygen bottles, as well as many Bronchodilators at home when I was in junior high school. They were stored in case my grandmother might need them. However, to my surprise, after she started attending pujas in Douliou, the frequency of her asthma attacks has decreased. Grandma later sought refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and her health has clearly improved. Seldom does she have to be admitted to the hospital. How incredible it is! Once, I even took Grandma with me to Taipei by bus for a puja in the afternoon, and we hurried back to Chiayi on the evening of the same day. Originally, I had thought that Grandma would be exhausted and find the trip intolerable. Nevertheless, Grandma, who had not been to Taipei for decades, appeared to be quite happy. She didn’t fall asleep throughout the puja, nor did she close her eyes during the round-trip bus ride. She didn’t feel tired and was in high spirits when she arrived home. My family, who had worried about her, felt joyful as well. All this can be attributed to the blessing of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

In 2005, my grandma’s health condition rapidly worsened and her healthy body turned feeble. She lost a lot of weight and lay powerless in the hospital. Her condition was so severe that she felt unbearable pain whenever her body was touched. She didn’t have any appetite, suffered from constipation and had difficulty turning her body over in bed. Even the doctors were not able to find the cause of her illness. After staying in the hospital for several weeks, everyone started to worry about her. Nonetheless, after I had visited Qinghai for the empowerment of the eight major Herukas, I was bestowed with nectar pills and nectar by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I immediately sent them back home to my grandma. Within two days, she defecated and her pain was suddenly relieved. A few days later, the doctor said that my grandma could leave the hospital and return home.

Having been through this serious illness, Grandma’s legs were very weak and she was unable to walk by herself. She had to use a wheelchair but couldn’t stay sitting in it too long. Overall, her medical conditions remained unstable. There was a time when she couldn’t find enough strength to speak and could only produce a breathy voice. Her spiritless eyes, resembling those of a dead fish, stared straight ahead; her chin was dropped open and her cheeks sunken. While drinking water, she didn’t even have the strength to suck the water through the straw. She took her medicine with a lot of water to help get it down. My mother told me to be mentally prepared, for the time to prepare for her funeral could be fast approaching. In grief and hoping to reduce Grandma’s suffering when she passed away I explained to my mother what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told us about the matters before and after one’s death. I thought to myself that Grandma should come see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche one more time and attend another Chod puja in Taipei even if she was indeed dying. It was quite unlikely for Grandma to be able to travel by car for 3 hours under such a condition. Besides, my family wouldn’t allow this to happen, nor did anyone agree to be the driver with such risks. Everybody thought that I was out of my mind. Grandma was so ill and I still wanted her to take the painful three-hour ride? However, I knew well that only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could really help my grandma. I prayed to my Guru and the Dharma protectress, Achi, that my family would approve this; that someone would be willing to be the driver and that Grandma could make it through the ride and attend the puja without any obstacles. Thanks to the help of my Guru and the Dharma protectress, after all the difficulties had been dealt with, my father finally agreed to let my younger brother drive Grandma and my mother to Taipei to attend the puja.

When she reached Taipei, I opened the car door anxiously and couldn’t believe my eyes. Grandma seemed to have got her strength back. She was able to talk. I had thought it impossible to hear my name coming out of her mouth again in this life. Now she had the strength to eat a bun and drink from a can with a straw. She looked at me with her bright eyes and her face was fuller. She could even walk a few steps on her own. Good gracious! I really couldn’t believe what I saw. The previous grandma whom I had been so familiar with returned. Throughout the puja, over two hours, Grandma remained sitting in her wheelchair. I knew she had a hard time making it through, but no one could tell that she had been recently considered a dying person. I give thanks to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas!

Although Grandma’s health condition declined because of her previous illness, it has now stabilized. Nowadays, she often bleeds excessively without being aware out it. Her bleeding is to the extent that it can soak up an entire nighttime sanitary napkin and it can continue for a month or two. Nevertheless, she feels no pain, nor does her brain lack oxygen from the excessive bleeding that could lead to black-outs. The doctor suspects that she had cancer, but a biopsy is needed for confirmation. Considering that she is now 88 years old, my family doesn’t want her to suffer from surgery and would rather just let her be. Therefore, Grandma doesn’t have to experience the suffering of surgery, hospitalization, and examinations. I know that it is the blessing of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that has been helping my beloved Grandma.

My work, my health, and my family have been taken care of by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche around the clock. Because of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I have no more fear. Because of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I have found support. Because of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I have the strength to go on living.

Reverently written in 2007 by Wang Xiaoling

Updated on November 25, 2009