020: With a Grateful Heart

“My child was once very lively and active, but because he attended a riverside barbecue, he did harm to the dragon species. After he came home, he was diagnosed with a very rare and nasty skin disease called pemphigus. The doctors could not cure my son, and we were suddenly brought face to face with the specter of mortality. Had he not possessed the causal condition that allowed him to receive help from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, my child could never have survived so miraculously.

“On March 21st, 2002 (a Thursday), the evening after my son Lin Yang had gone to see the ophthalmologist to get a prescription, small blisters mysteriously began to crop up between his fingers. He also had a slight temperature, and felt quite ill. I decided right then and there that he would be better off resting at home instead of going to school the next day. However, not only did his condition not improve, but he felt even worse; the blisters had multiplied and he had a high fever that would not abate. We therefore went to the clinic to get him checked out, and after examining him, a pediatrician suspected my son had contracted an enterovirus.

“To our surprise, the following morning Yang’s entire body was covered with even more blisters; they had spread from his limbs to other parts of his body, and some ulcers had begun to form in his mouth. Going back on his earlier diagnosis, the doctor informed me that we might be dealing with a very rare disease. By then, fifty percent of the skin covering Yang’s body had broken out into blisters; tiny ones had even started to pop up around his face. He soon began to suffer symptoms such as lethargy and difficulty urinating. The doctor then told me that my son’s ailment had indeed been identified as a type of rare disease, called pemphigus, and that our only course of action was to inject him with ‘immunoglobulin.’ Based on Yang’s weight at the time, he had to receive forty doses, with each dose costing around NT$5,000. This was an enormous financial burden for us. However, all I wanted was for Yang to be able to live, and was willing to pay any amount of money to make that happen. The pediatrician said that a certain major hospital in Taipei was stocked with enough of the necessary medicine, so arrangements were made for my son to transfer there for treatment. At the time I believed that the worst had passed, and that he would gradually get better.

“Little did we expect, after Yang was transferred over to the major hospital that evening, a doctor told us of the critical nature of this illness, and that it was still not known which drugs would be effective in curing it. All that could be done was to consult with doctors in pediatric toxicology, ophthalmology, and the plastic surgery department, and discuss what treatment would be best. I suddenly felt as though I’d been thrown into a very cold, dark cellar. Nevertheless, my willpower told me that I must stay strong for my son, because he needed me!

“After that, Yang was transferred to the pediatric toxicology department’s intensive care ward. By then ninety percent of his skin was covered in the blisters. Not only had the original blisters grown larger, but these big ones even contained small blisters within them. Unable even to open his eyelids, he had fallen into a semi-conscious state. At one point he forced his eyes open to look at me and say, ‘Mommy, save me; it hurts so bad!’ Then he was pushed into the intensive care unit, and the glance he threw at me broke my heart and caused me to cry uncontrollably. I wished so much that Heaven would allow me to suffer in my son’s stead. What could I do to make this bitter suffering disappear?

Pemphigus is the number one killer among skin diseases

“Early the next morning, the doctor told me that Yang might have to undergo ‘debridement surgery.’ And so he was taken to the operating room to have all of his skin removed, while my family and I sat helplessly outside waiting. At this time, Dharma Brother Yang and her husband (my boss) hurried over to visit, and they brought with them NT$200,000 in cash to give to me as temporary relief to help us get past the financial hurdles that stood before us.

“When I saw the huge words ‘operation successful’ light up on the wall, I joyfully rushed over to the operating room exit to greet my baby boy. I will never forget what I saw in the moment that door opened: A ‘mummy’! A mummy completely wrapped in gauze. The skin had been peeled off of half of his face, and apart from a few surviving places—his fingers, head, and the soles of his feet—his entire body had been stripped of its skin starting from his lower eyelids all the way downward. Can you imagine? Even an ordinary small blister is extremely painful when accidentally popped, so just think how excruciating it was for Yang to have suddenly had more than ninety percent of his skin removed!

“As the surgeon explained to us the pros and cons of the operation that had just been performed, my mind went completely blank, and I had no idea how to respond. In that moment, Yang seemed like a doll made of glass that felt intense pain at the slightest touch. It was as if he was trapped inside a living hell.

“As the days passed, he lay in the hospital bed completely still, relying on a respirator, intubation, and an intravenous drip to live. The doctor advised me to give up, because no one knew whether my son would still see the light of another day. The out-of-pocket medical bills were already astronomical, and even the hospital’s social workers came to ask if I needed assistance. I declined their generous offers, because as long as I was able to bear the burden, I felt that such funds should go to people who were genuinely in dire need of help.

“Unable to eat or speak, Yang seemed like a member of the living dead. The doctor bent the rules by allowing me to stay in the ICU twenty-four hours a day so that I could care for him, because the doctor believed we might not have much time left to spend together as mother and son. Day after day, Yang’s situation did not improve, despite his having begun stage two of the immunoglobulin regimen, which included a total of eighty injections. The head of the pediatric toxicology department told me that he had never administered these shots into stage two before. It was apparent that the doctors were clinging to a tiny shred of hope that, against all odds, the treatment might just work, like the Chinese saying, ‘treating a dead horse like a live one’. Finally, even the doctors were at a loss of what to do, and just left us with some basic life-sustaining medication.

“I did not know where to turn for help. I went everywhere and tried everything—praying to God, consulting divination sticks, researching folk remedies, all sorts of spells, holy water; everything—but still, Yang’s prognosis did not improve. It was then that I was informed that Yang needed to undergo ‘debridement surgery’ for a second time. Before the operation, the doctors told me I should psychologically prepare myself for the worst, because Yang’s pulmonary lobes had atrophy and he was still in the predicament of not being able to urinate. Any medicinal treatment used would either damage his lungs or his kidneys.

“Despite his daily transfusions, Yang’s red blood cell count remained low due to continuous endothelial and organ bleeding. Also, the rate at which his skin regenerated was not ideal, and his blood and other bodily fluids were constantly soaking through the gauze bandages. Changing his dressings was an enormous project every morning; all the gauze had to be torn off, and new bandages applied to his wounds. The pain of tearing off the gauze with skin attached was so intense that no ordinary person could stand. Whenever it was time for me to change my son’s dressings, I felt such a deep sorrow that I didn’t wish to live; I could not bear to witness such a bloody scene.

“Though I was not religious at the time, I felt compelled to visit a temple to seek a divination sign and pray for protection. With a divination note in hand, I asked the priest to explain its content. When the priest asked what I wished for, I answered, ‘Good health.’ He shook his head and told me to make funeral preparations, because the divination result showed that I got the worst sign. I immediately fell to the floor and began to bawl. I felt as though all my strength had completely drained away. After I managed to stand back up, using the wall for support, I again asked the priest whether or not anything else could be done. He shook his head and said that the divination sticks had spoken, and advised me to implore for help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I felt a profound heartache, and at the same time I was not ready to give up. That evening I went to a psychic medium for another fortunetelling, and he said that he could only cast a spell that would protect Yang for a while longer, and urged me again and again to hurry up and seek help from a great benefactor.

“When it came time for the second ‘debridement surgery’, the doctor told me that during this medical procedure, a patient’s condition usually either improved or worsened, but that Yang’s condition had remained unchanged since he first was admitted to the hospital. It was completely baffling to them that Yang had survived so long when they had thought it impossible for anyone to live with pemphigus for more than fourteen days. However, the process of locating applicable medication for him proved exceedingly difficult. No matter what drugs were used to treat his skin, his body rejected them; autologous skin proliferation simply would not occur. His blood was continually oozing out of his body, and his eyes were cloudy and rolled back like fish eyes. He no longer called out ‘Mommy’ to me, and all I could do was to twist gauze soaked in fruit juice so that it dripped into a syringe, and then inject the juice into his mouth for him to drink. I am grateful to the compassionate Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for opening a window for me: After Dharma Brother Yang came to visit, and saw that I had been crying so hard that my eyes hurt, I ended up making an appointment with Dharma Brother Fang to get treatment for my irritated eyes. This in turn gave me the causal condition to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

“Three weeks later, on a Tuesday afternoon, I sought an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implored the guru to save my son Lin Yang’s life. At the time I was so choked up with tears that I could not speak; I was just barely able to sob out the words, ‘please save him.’ Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had very compassionately granted me permission, and arranged to visit the ward the following day to bestow blessings upon Yang. That Wednesday afternoon, when the guru arrived at the ICU to bless my son, two Dharma brothers who were also doctors came with him. My younger sister is a health care professional, so she asked them if they knew any medical resources that could help Yang survive. To our surprise, the two Dharma brothers very confidently told my sister that only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was able to help Yang, and that no other methods would work.

“As I accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche into Yang’s intensive care ward, I saw the guru draw a Dharma instrument from his breast pocket, hold it in his palm very close to Yang’s head, and begin to bestow blessings. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche chanted mantras, I watched as a wave seemed to move slowly through Yang, from his head down to his feet. The layers of gauze gently rippled, as if a light breeze had blown past. Soon thereafter, thick sputum began to continuously ooze out of Yang’s mouth, and his urine bag gradually filled. Due to having been intubated for so long, Yang was too weak to spit by himself; his sputum had had to be drawn using a suctioning machine. He’d had pneumonia, and was unable to urinate; in addition, he would not stop bleeding and his white blood cells were fluctuating abnormally. Theoretically speaking, therefore, it should have been impossible for him to spit and urinate on his own. As a result, this sudden providence greatly surprised all of the medical professionals present.

“Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that he had an affinity with Yang, and that the boy had succumbed to this illness because his family members had taken him to a riverside barbecue; the charcoal smoke from it had harmed sentient beings and dragon spirits, thus provoking them into making Yang sick. The guru also stressed that saving Yang’s life was very difficult, and asked me whether or not I had faith; he said that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were compassionate, but that we still needed to hang in there for at least six more challenging months. That day’s blessings would merely make Yang a bit more comfortable, and allow his body to expel abnormal discharges. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then told me not to worry. I remember the guru saying, ‘The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas save those who are in urgent need, not those who are poor. They can save your son’s life for you, but whether or not he can fully recover depends on your faith.’ Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then instructed me to return to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center the following day with an unrefrigerated, unopened bottle of mineral water. I asked respectfully, ‘Why am I able to receive your assistance?’ The guru responded, ‘It is because many caring persons are helping you. You must thank them.’ In that moment, I became inwardly resolved to let go of all my attachments. If the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were willing to let Yang be cured, then I would certainly be over the moon. If this was not his destiny, however, I would likewise accept it with joy, for I had decided to accept this world’s law of cause and effect. I would no longer be resentful, and in the end would readily accept whatever fate had in store for us.

“When I went to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to seek another audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche the next day, the guru compassionately bestowed upon me the blessed water and a bag of nectar pills. The guru told me to gently sprinkle the water on Yang’s head, hands, and feet, as well as across his torso, and to lightly place a nectar pill in his mouth so as to alleviate his suffering. I was then instructed to participate in the Chod Puja to be held on Friday.

“Ever since Yang had been admitted to hospital, not once had he opened his eyes to look at anyone, and the blood transfusions had not been able to address the fact that his bodily fluids were constantly draining out of him and his hemoglobin count was too low. However, the morning after receiving Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, Yang’s bleeding had stopped. First thing in the morning, my son opened his eyes wide and looked at me, and the pneumonia and nephritis that the doctors had been worried about seemed to have gone away. The medical staff kept exclaiming that what had happened was impossible and unfathomable, and warned me not to get my hopes up too soon because all of Yang’s test results still hadn’t shown anything to be optimistic about. However, I believed in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, and had faith that as long as I repented in earnest, a miracle was bound to happen.

“On Friday morning, the plastic surgeon introduced us to a sort of artificial skin-graft dressing that uses ionic silver nanoparticles. Afterward I learned that this lifesaving dressing had been granted via His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and then presented to the doctor by Dharma Brother Fan. Because Yang’s body had rejected the medicine and treatments that were currently available in the medical system, early on he had stopped taking any medication. What remained were merely some things used to sustain Yang’s life. No one was feeling optimistic, but no one knew how to broach the subject to me of giving up on medical treatment. Every evening, the resident doctors would put every effort into establishing contact online with the world’s major medical systems and collecting information, and in the morning they would discuss treatment options for Yang with his primary doctor. I am very grateful for their concern.

“From then on, each Friday I attended the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to participate in the pujas. Every time I heard Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche begin to chant mantras, though I understood neither the words nor what they meant, I always would involuntarily end up with tears streaming down my face, and be unable to stop crying for a very long time. I believed that everything Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said was true: That if I repented sincerely, believed in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and whole-heartedly followed the guru, then he would certainly carry me past this suffering sea of reincarnation.

Photos of Lin Yang from before the onset of his illness and after his recovery

“I inadvertently learned from Dharma Brother Fang that when I met Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implored for blessings, the guru had been about to leave the country; at the last minute, however, he had held pujas for Yang’s benefit. It took blessings from a total of three pujas to keep Yang alive, and this was also the reason he later was able to receive Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s care and form a connection with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Had Yang not been blessed for three days in a row, he would not have survived the days to come. This gave me a deep realization of the profound greatness of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate aspiration. Unwilling to watch sentient beings suffer, the guru bends his every thought toward sentient beings that still have not left suffering behind, and sees their pain as his own. Also, thanks to having already possessed this good causal condition, Yang was able to obtain good fortune and grasp this miraculous opportunity in a timely manner, and day by day, he gradually got better.

“This miraculous phenomenon caused the ward’s medical professionals to click their tongues in wonder. They, too, wanted very much to seek audiences with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, so I very happily told them about the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in the hope that they could all receive help.

“At around the middle of May, I learned that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be holding a Grand Puja with ten thousand attendees on June 30th at Linkou Stadium. I felt that both Yang and I must participate, but his primary doctor did not think it would be possible. He said that Yang’s condition had not yet improved, and that the risk of infection would be too great were he to go out. Because Yang had to stay in a special intensive care ward, I really couldn’t imagine how an outing would be possible anyway, but this problem continued to bother me. After one of the Friday pujas, I asked Dharma Brother Wei what she thought I should do. She advised me to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help. I did so, feeling quite anxious, but to my great surprise, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche very compassionately gave his consent, and again went to the hospital to bless Yang. At the same time, the guru said that he hoped my son would be able to take refuge in and learn Buddhism from him. Right then and there, I agreed that as soon as Yang was released from the hospital, I would definitely take him to seek an audience with and take refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

“On the morning Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche came to bestow blessings, it was very noisy in the intensive care ward, because everyone was clamoring to see the guru. Eyes wide, they all stood on their toes hoping to get a glimpse of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s elegant demeanor, and to receive his blessings. At long last, the guru arrived, and his graceful bearing engendered heartfelt respect in everyone present. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche chanted blessings for Yang, I wanted my son to thank the guru. To my surprise, Yang opened his mouth and said, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum.’ Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche smiled, but said nothing. Dharma Brother Wei, who had accompanied the guru there, took one look at Yang’s face and exclaimed that he looked just like a young Tibetan lama! Given the fact that we had never done any major good deeds or made any major offerings, how could we have the good fortune to receive blessings and be saved by such a master practitioner? Later, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche revealed that Yang had been Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s personal attendant in a past life. This was why my son had had the causal condition and good fortune to be saved by the guru’s great benevolence. While telling me to prepare some butter to wipe all over Yang’s body to protect his new skin and keep him from itching, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also very politely asked the head nurse whether such an action would be permissible, and wanted us to obtain the primary physician’s consent, too. On the spot, the guru blessed the medicine Yang was taking; then, after bestowing blessings on my eldest son Chen, he smiled and nodded at everyone. Even after watching Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche go to a ward on a lower level of the hospital to bestow blessings upon a family member of another Dharma brother, I still could not see any signs of exhaustion or impatience in the guru. This compassionate energy caused great admiration and joy in everyone there.

“The following day, I took two containers of vegetarian butter to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to bless them so that I could spread the substance over Yang’s body. After I did that, Yang gradually began to feel more comfortable. Furthermore, his new layers of skin grew very well after that. Therefore, whenever it was time to reapply the butter, the nurses always joked with Yang that they were buttering up a piece of toast. Also, because of the unexpected effects of the treatment, some of the medical staff wanted me to ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whether or not this method could be used on other patients. However, the guru said that it was only suited for use on Yang, and would not be effective on other people.

“After lying in the hospital bed for nearly three months, Yang’s hands and feet had become so shrunken and deformed that he could not move them by himself. However, after receiving Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, he was slowly able to get out of bed and practice walking. Overjoyed, I had no idea how I could ever express the gratitude I felt toward the guru. In addition, in the space of just one week, Yang made miraculously quick progress. First he stopped needing the walking chair, and then he even got rid of his crutches. Not needing any tools to assist his getting around, Yang took the origami roses he had folded and gave them one by one to all of the nurses who had taken care of him for so long, as thanks for their trouble. Even though the nurses’ station was only a few short steps away, all of the hospital’s staff members were completely blown away by this wholly remarkable result.

“On June 30th, the day of the Grand Puja, we took our leave of the hospital and, with joy and gratitude in our hearts, made our way to Linkou Stadium. At first I was worried about Yang getting bitten by mosquitos, given that his body was covered in butter. However, he did not experience any inconvenience or discomfort; he was simply excited and full of gratitude.

“During the puja’s intermission, many Dharma brothers came over to visit Yang and ask how he had been doing. Everyone was very happy to see his progress, and said that Yang should seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Right then, Yang decided he wasn’t going to sit in a wheelchair anymore, and that he would walk on his own two feet to see the guru. In the moment that Yang met Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, a look passed between them as though they were father and son, reuniting after being separated for a very long time. The guru compassionately asked Yang how he had been, and bestowed blessings upon him. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also asked whether or not I wished to implore His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s blessings. Without giving it much thought, I answered, ‘Thank you, Your Eminence. It is enough as long as we have your blessings.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche smiled and nodded, but said nothing more. After thanking the guru, we left his private room and resumed our participation in the puja. Thus concluded a day that was filled with Dharma joy.

“Originally, I had felt very dissatisfied and had much to complain about regarding Yang’s earliest visit to the ophthalmology clinic. I even considered to file a lawsuit against those involved. However, after listening to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings on the law of cause and effect, I gradually let go of my hatred, resentment, and dissatisfaction. I soon saw what had happened as our having repaid our debt in this lifetime, which meant that in the next life, we would no longer owe anything.

“On July 8th, Yang was discharged from the hospital. Shortly beforehand, his doctor had told him that Yang really was very lucky, and that this all really had been amazingly miraculous. I think so, too, and really don’t know how we can ever repay the debt of kindness we owe His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

“After Yang got out of the hospital, because the wounds in his chest and arms still had not healed, he still had to return every week for check-ups on his progress. He also had to begin wearing a pressure suit to compress his scar tissue. Luckily, people like Miss Chen, a social worker at the Sunshine Foundation, helped Yang to get on rehabilitation as quickly as possible so that he could re-enter society. Also, thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings, Yang’s chest wounds stopped deteriorating, and his journey to recuperation continued smoothly and without mishap.

“Along the way, Yang has received the help of many people. This has furthermore caused me to stop being so attached to so-called ‘perfection’ and outward appearances. His vision only ranks at around 0.1, meaning that he is practically blind; his corneas in both eyes have deformed and are extremely irregular, with astigmatism, and he was more than seven hundred degrees farsighted. Also, the eyelashes of both his eyes are inverted, and skin growth is occurring on his lower eyelids; this has resulted in their being thicker than they used to be, and they rub against his eyes. For this reason, Yang’s eyes are often red with irritation, and he often leaks tears until his eyes are uncomfortably dry.

Despite scabs from blisters causing deformation in his corneas, Lin Yang’s vision recovered from 0.1 to 1.0. His ophthalmologist called this a miracle.

“I knew without a doubt that only His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could save my son from this impasse. Whenever Yang visited the doctor or took medicine, his vision still did not get much better, but each time he participated in the Chod Pujas or listened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings during the general Sunday pujas, his eyesight greatly improved. Even the ophthalmologist agreed over and over that his progress was remarkable. In all her years as a doctor, she had rarely seen such a miraculous example. After all, theoretically, Yang should have been blind; his corneas had deformed and been damaged to the point that they could not repair themselves. With astigmatism and farsighted degree of more than seven hundred, he should not have been able to recover to the point of being able move on his own without the aid of glasses. She could not explain why, in the absence of any new drugs and after Yang had just about stopped taking medication altogether, his vision could have recovered to around 0.8 with his astigmatism and farsightedness still remaining seven hundred degrees. This truly was a medical miracle. Later, Yang could read his teachers’ writing on the blackboard without needing to wear glasses, and he no longer stumbled around, falling down and banging his knees. All of this was thanks to the good fortune and blessings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon him. The guru’s compassion allowed Yang to grow into the strong, robust twelve-year-old he is now. He has been eating vegetarian for nearly four years, too, and is about 1.78 meters tall, weighting approximately seventy kilos. He is a healthy, cheerful child.

Fang Huifen and Lin Yang are grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his compassion.

“I was deeply grateful for the guru’s immense kindness, and did not know how to repay it. All I could do was to repent in earnest, let go of all my attachments and greed, take refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and diligently practice Buddhism. Only through my renunciation of life and death would I be able to repay the debt of gratitude I owed the guru. Furthermore, this experience made me believe that only by taking refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could I stop the suffering of reincarnation. I am grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings and protection.

“May His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche have good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel so that his Buddhist activities will spread far and wide, the Drikung Kagyu Lineage will flourish forever, and all sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm in the Ten Directions will benefit.”

Respectfully written by Fang Huifen, Group 4

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Updated on August 4, 2016