When I arrived in Gaden I went straight to Zong Ladrang (house). Ladrang is the Tibetan word for the Lama’s household.
I left USA for the last time in October 1987. Was ordained by HH Dalai Lama in December 1987. Then went to Nepal and arrived in Gaden, South India in January 1988.
Kyabje Zong Rinpoche instructed me to stay in his Ladrang on my last meeting with him before he passed away. So I followed his instructions. Zong Ladrang was run my Zong Rinpoche’s manager. Zong Rinpoche had passed away and we were eagerly awaiting his incarnation.
The manager had two small rooms that were connected to the cowshed in Zong Ladrang. A small room with leaky tiled roofs was going to be mine and no rent. I was excited. I loved being in Gaden. I love the monks. I LOVED BEING IN THE HOUSE OF MY ROOT GURU, HIS HOLINESS KYABJE ZONG RINPOCHE.
This picture is the room in the front of mine. And then behind this room is my room. Behind us in the nice building is another chapel not physically connected to us. We were separated by a small road. You can see the tops of the Chapel in maroon and white circles behind the cowshed in the picture.
On the right of these two rooms adjoined is where the buffaloes and cows stayed. My room had a huge crack in the wall and I can see the cows and they can see me daily. I slowly painted the room blue, cleaned it up, put a simple bed and table inside and it became mine. I put netting over the windows cos at night there is tons of mosquitoes and a ceiling fan kept the heat at bay. I loved my simple small room in my guru’s house in Gaden. The smell of the buffaloes were strong, but you get use to it. This is where I did my reading, retreats, tsok, pujas, prayers and had many great times for a few years.
Across and separate from me was the communal toilet and shower. Left is toilet and right is shower. Found snakes in the toilet a few times too, but I didn’t get harmed
My small room and the chapel behind me
When he passed away and I got the news in Los Angeles…my whole world fell apart. I couldn’t stop crying for months. Even now as I type this tears flow down my face. I can’t say I have missed anyone in my whole life as I miss Zong Rinpoche. To me, he was the most perfect High Tibetan Lama. The perfect Archetype of what I imagined them to be like. He was very knowledgeable in sutra. Perfect master in tantra. Had full clairvoyance. Very hard to surpass Rinpoche in the knowledge of rituals. And on occasion manifested his tantric powers. I have never recovered from his passing. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. Not a day goes by I haven’t recited his name mantra for the last 25 years.. I keep his photos and statues near me always. I believe and trust in Zong Rinpoche all the way. I have some of his hair he gave me and it has always been with me and I carry it wherever I am.
This is the window to my room from behind my small room. The monks would walk up and down. My monk friends would tap on the window to say hello often–it was a good time for most of it
When I entered his Ladrang, his energy pervaded the whole place, BUT HE WAS NOT THERE. I had come after he passed. I had come after my guru had left his body. So much negative karma that I could not meet him again. I toured his rooms, his stupa, his bed, his prayer room, his yard, his students, his trees, his plants, his chairs, his carpets, his statues, his altars and i felt him everywhere. I felt the presence of this enlightened being everywhere and all the places I looked. He had over 30 students that lived in his ladrang. We were the Zong Ladrang students and I was very proud and honored to be one of them.. But Rinpoche has passed away. I felt alone. I felt vulnerable. I felt lost. I missed him so much. I realized that only in body was he gone, but being Heruka Cakrasamvara, his mind was every where and I must tap into his mind by developing compassion, benefitting others, letting go of pains, and working for others. That is the only way I can connect with him again….and I was determined to do that….
You see I have never loved anyone as much as I have loved HH Kyabje Zong Rinpoche…..
But I missed Zong Ladrang very much. Some of the students in Zong Ladrang were very kind to me and I remember them till this day and send them gifts. When I arrived in Zong Ladrang in 1988, I had very little money, didn’t speak a word of Tibetan and was bright eyed and bushy tailed. I was very poor but happy. Many times I didn’t have enough to eat and lost alot of weight and became very emanciated.. but I was happy. I never wanted to return to a lay life and go to USA again. I was where I was suppose to be, live and die there. I wanted to be in Gaden. And Gaden was in me.
Hard to believe, but this is me in those days. I didn’t have much money. Not much food found my mouth. The monks with sponsors can buy extra, but I didn’t have a sponsor. Many monks were just like me. Some worse suffering from TB.
I ate cooked corn flour (tsampa) mixed with sweet tea daily and most of the time.
I was always hungry, but I am not complaining. I wanted to be there and happy to be endure poverty for the dharma.
This is the Post office 20 mins away walk from Gaden from whence later I would send and receive thousands of letters and correspondences. Most of the time, the letters didn’t get lost either! There was no Western Union during my time in Gaden, this is recent. But it is the same building with no difference at all.
I sure was super thin. I looked liked a waif..hehe)
Later in 2006 from Malaysia where I was living I visited my old room in Zong Ladrang. I shared alot of memories with the 62 people who followed me there. They were very happy to learn of my background and I humbly shared it with them. See below.
Visiting my former room was really a blast from the past and i enjoyed being there again and sharing the place with my friends.
Visiting my old room in Zong Ladrang in 2006 coming from Malaysia.
Later I moved to my own house from Zong Ladrang. My father built me on my own house on land that was mine in Gaden after being recognized as a Rinpoche.
My house was called Tsem Ladrang-Gaden.
This sharing of pictures and thoughts overwhelms me with thoughts of my perfect teacher Kyabje Zong Rinpoche.
How he recognized me as a reincarnation and told me to stay in his own house (ladrang) when we met the first time.
Memories/thoughts/ love for Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is what has kept me going through the most difficult periods of my life and I had many obstacles. He has been my reason to keep going.
I love you Kyabje Zong Rinpoche forever. May I be connected with you in all my lives until liberation. From the point of my liberation in the distant future may I wear you on the crown of my head always.
Zong Rinpoche Kyenno!
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