075: My Guru’s Immense Kindness

It was the beginning of 2007; I had just returned home after having lunch with my friend. Not quite two hours later, I had an urge to vomit. I rushed to bathroom where I vomited my entire lunch. The vomiting was bad enough that I went to see a doctor. After suffering from tympanites, vomiting and assorted tortures for two weeks, the bloating in my stomach had become too painful to bear; I had no choice but to check into a hospital for further observation. In the hospital, after a gastroscopy and ultrasonography, my condition was diagnosed as a duodenum blockage—reasons unknown.

Even if you don’t eat or drink, the human stomach still secretes up to 1500cc of bile daily. In my case, due to a blockage of the duodenum, these fluids are not able to pass through and flow out of the stomach; the result was serious stomach bloating. To remove the bile, the doctors had to insert a nasal cannula. This nasal cannula passed through my fauces, causing extreme pain. Soon it became too painful to speak, or even swallow. In an effort to avoid the pain, I began to, unknowingly, swallow my saliva less often, which resulted in extreme discomfort in my eardrum.

I went through a battery of tests at the hospital where I was staying— SongShan Armed Forces General Hospital, close to my house. My case was handled by, all together, three departments: Internal Medicine, General Medicine and the Research Medicine, which each department subjected me to various kinds of CT scans. After nearly one week of tests, however, they still could not find the reason behind my problem; neither had my condition improved one bit. All results from the examinations indicated that, by all accounts, I was a healthy person. However, the fact of the matter was, I was stuck in a hospital sickbed with a nasogastric tube. On the day of my final exam, my family decided that if there were no concrete answers to be had from the test, they would transfer me to the better equipped Tri-Service General Hospital. While I was waiting for results, the attending physician of the patient whose sickbed was next to mine, suddenly struck up a conversation. “What happened to you”, he asked. I was surprised that the doctor would inquire into the condition of patient that was not his own. Nevertheless, I had told him my predicament. Surprisingly, he gave me a CD and asked me to listen to it at home. He also told me that I could request an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that very day.

Since the beginning of my sickness, I had tried every cure: praying to the gods, practicing divination and worshiping in a temple. None of these methods worked. Therefore, I did not act on the doctor’s suggestion, but simply thanked him for his concern. Later in the day, I became certain that the SongShan Armed Forces General Hospital could not resolve my problems and decided to transfer to Tri-Service General Hospital.

The second day, the same warm-hearted doctor, through the caretaker of the patient whose sickbed was next to mine, asked me if I had seen Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche or not. I felt a little embarrassed for not acting on his advice. In addition, the examination results at the Tri-Service General Hospital were no more comforting than those I had received at SongShan Armed Forces General Hospital; as a result, I decided to overcome all kinds of obstacles (which included walking around with my nasogastric cannula), and go see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I knelt down in front of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as was told that because my dead mother had worshipped the Buddha when she was alive, those merits had helped me see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche today. He also asked whether I had held a proper puja to transfer my mother’s consciousness. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say that the cause of my sickness was due to eating some bad meat and stressed that I should adopt vegetarian food. In the past, I could not eat with a table of vegetarian food only; therefore my immediate reply was, “Do I need to be a vegetarian for my whole life?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche replied, “Are you bargaining? You are so full of yourself. If you ever talk back again like that, I will kick you out of here.” However Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued, “Since you are here already, I shall give you my blessing!”

During the blessing, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche suddenly asked: “Does your home have a very dark room?” (later I inferred Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was taking about the dressing room in my room) “Your father is in there,” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said. I felt deep sorrow in my heart, for I knew that my father had loved me dearly when he was alive. I asked, “Is my father well?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “How good can it be as a ghost?” I bent my head down and my tears fell like rain!

I then returned to the hospital. Since it was Chinese New Year, all the attending physicians were off; therefore, I had no choice but to reinsert the nasal cannula and wait obediently (Everyday, 700 to 800cc of gastric juices was still being drawn out. The doctor said that if that number dropped below 100cc, they could take the cannula out.) Two days later, I suddenly felt an unbearable pain in my ear drum. The internal physician said that that was a normal reaction due to the length of time that the nasal cannula had been inserted. The nasal cannula had to been withdrawn switch to the other nostril (During my stay in the hospital I had similar procedures done several times. Each time, it was almost unbearable). Therefore, this time when the cannula was removed, I asked the doctor to give me a break. Only when my stomach became too bloated to bear, I said, would I agree to put nasal cannula back in. The doctor said that the stomach bloating would become more uncomfortable than the insertion of the nasal cannula and most patients, unable to bear the pain of the bloating in his stomach, eventually requested the nasal cannula to be reinserted. That evening, as he was making his final rounds, the doctor asked again whether I would like the nasal cannula. I replied that I would rather have a good night’s sleep and refused. The next day, while the attending doctor was making his rounds, he inquired about my condition, I told him that I was doing well and asked for some water. (Since being hospitalized more than 20 days prior, I had been unable to drink even a drop of water) The doctor easily agreed. The following day, I asked the doctor again if I could have some gruel. Again the doctor easily demurred. The next day, on the fifth day of the Chinese New Year, my attending physician returned from his vacation. The moment he saw me, he said, “I had heard your story, but you should put the nasal cannula back in immediately! I refused and several days later the doctor had no choice but to discharge me. After returning home, I immediately went before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I kneeled and touched my forehead to the ground to show my gratitude; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche with a smile said, “What a fast recovery you had!”

During my twenty days in the hospital, it was once suspected that I might have pancreatic cancer. My heart was filled with fear. Every time I heard the mournful cries of the patients next door, I was reminded of the sense of helplessness and lack of dignity that the sick suffer. Life is impermanent and how insignificantly small and ignorant we are! While in the hospital, I was not busy with anything, but spent most of my free time making repented. My sickness, which had come on so sudden and for which no reason could be found, even left my doctors at a loss for what treatment that could offer. Since I could not eat and had to rely on the inserted nasal cannula to draw out the bile accumulating in my stomach, I could not leave the hospital. I had no alternative but to use “time” as my cure. After meeting Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I repented deeply. In the past, I had always thought that one should be responsible for one’s own wrong doings. I used my own intuitive ability to know right or wrong and to judge what to do. In that sense I was a good person. However I had not realized how full of myself I was; how much killing karma I had accumulated; and how many sentient beings I had harmed. I had not shown filial obedience and disrespected my parents who cherished and loved me. Heaven let me off light by only taking away my ability to eat as punishment. Due to the compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I was able to meet my guru. My guru used his great compassion and great wisdom to teach me: Being a vegetarian means not to kill nor harm sentient beings. And I, someone who had to eat meat every day in the past, suddenly and magically could not even touch a piece of meat. And as stubborn and unrestrained as I was, I, suddenly was able to happily lay myself down in the compassionate hands of the Tathagata, where I strived to practice the Buddha’s teachings in my daily life.

The Most Venerable Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, using his great compassion and wisdom, unceasingly blesses me and all sentient beings. After initially seeking refuge, I only knew that my karma was heavy. I sought refuge because I was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Bodhisattvas-like help. With time and with my Guru’s earnest and tireless teachings, I have started to realize my Guru’s utmost compassion and great vow. How honored I am to be able to seek refuge under the Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I prostrate to express my gratitude to the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Wen Li, a disciple of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center

Updated on November 25, 2009