Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Short Narrative about the Appearance of my Root Guru in a Dream, Reigniting my Profound Devotion

 A Short Narrative about the Appearance of my Root Guru in a Dream, Reigniting my Profound Devotion

Since I have lived in the Monterey area, our Dharma Center has organized an annual retreat at the start of each new year. This year too, I had an opportunity to be in retreat with sangha members. During this particular retreat, I taught Patrul Rinpoche’s Self Liberating Meditation. My Dharma friend, Anam Thupten Rinpoche also participated in this retreat. He gave a teaching on the Heart Sutra. As Anam Thupten Rinpoche is a great teacher, everyone was very happy with the teachings. The final day of the retreat was very busy with concluding activities, after which I was quite tired and went to bed early.

At about 4:00 in the morning, I dreamt of my root guru, Kyabje Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche, whose kindness is immeasurable. In my dream, he seemed frail and small, his face brightly lit with a smile, adorned with a red robe, and a Dagpo meditation hat (the special hat of Gampopa). The landscape looked like my hometown in Tibet, and it was filled with flowers. Rinpoche was with about 100 or 200 of his followers, and at that instant, my heart was filled with immeasurable joy. He held a vajra and bell in his hands and was chanting and blessing the place. As the prayers concluded, all his followers received blessings as he placed the vajra and bell on their heads. I also followed in line to receive his blessing with my head bowed and hands folded at my heart. He placed the vajra on my head and then looked at me intently and said, 

“Persevere in practice, be patient with students and followers, and tame your mind. Do not adopt or get rid of anything, but be mindful at all times. There is nothing other than this to meditate upon.”

When I woke up around 5:00 AM, my heart was filled with a sense of joy that I had never experienced before. It was almost unbelievable, and I couldn’t tell if it was in fact a dream, or if it had been real. I felt extremely fortunate, as if pulled out from the dirt of samsara by my guru. He is the very reason for whatever I am today.

  As the saying goes, “there can be countless teachers on this Earth but only one in one’s heart.” He is such a teacher, in my heart. Even though my root guru’s body has departed, his Dharmakaya, his heart’s kindness, has always held me. Just like an anchor, I feel his presence with me at all times. Such a dream is proof that my teacher is always with me. Oh! How amazing that it seemed so real as if I really saw him.

I then reflected on this and wondered why I had such a dream. It was after the conclusion of the four-day retreat, and after my teaching on Patrul Rinpoce`s Self-Liberating Meditation. Generally, when I teach, I do so with a fervent aspiration of being one with my teacher. Without it being some sort of interpretation, I try to include my own practice and teach with a high level of concentration, which may be why my root guru appeared in that dream. Even though he was not present during the retreat, because his wisdom mind is inseparable from the teachings, I interpreted his appearance in my dream as his satisfaction with my teaching. We are not able to see him, but he sees us with his wisdom eye, and I have not an iota of doubt about this. We are unable to see him because we are blinded by our own mental afflictions but he is able to do so with his wisdom, as if someone is sitting in front of a blind person. Of this I have no doubt!

When making consequential and difficult decisions, I supplicate wholeheartedly to my teacher before going to bed and analyze my dreams. Sometimes, I receive directions regarding those decisions and decide accordingly. There is a Tibetan saying: “When you can’t depend on [ordinary] humans, with fervent devotion to your lamas, seek for guidance, and you can depend on them.” I have complete faith in my lama’s direction. Some may say that a dream is just a dream. That may be right, too. Dreams, along with illusions, mirages, echoes, and so on, are examples of the eight untruths, but there are differences between dreams. Some dreams are guided by a Lamas' blessings and Yidams' messages, and they are special, while ordinary dreams are a reflection of our own daily and subconscious activities.

Many Kagyupa teachers such as Marpa, Milarepa, and Gompopa have found their teachers and expressed realizations through their dreams. It is said that the best merit is the merit accumulated through one’s devotion to their guru. I believe the reason that my root guru often appears in my dreams is because of my pure devotion to him, not merely in hollow words, but from the depths of my heart.

These days, people receive all sorts of teachings, including high-level Mahamudra and Dzogchen, empowerment of Yidams and commitments to Dakinis for many years. However, with slight misunderstandings or unfavorable instances, they are quick to criticize teachers and break their commitments. As for myself, in this life, I have relied on and trusted my Guru, befriended the Yidams and Dakinis, and followed the path of Dharma. If I do not die soon, but live for some time, my only aspiration is to become like you, My Guru! This is my vajra-like pledge and steadfast resolve. 

In conclusion:

To tread on the path of Dharma is your kindness;

For all concepts to turn into Dharma is your kindness. 

To dispel confusion on the path is my pledge. 

That all confusion dawns as wisdom is my deep aspiration. 

The wisdom of clear light of the mind, 

If left undisturbed and uncontrived 

Will lead to the state of Buddhahood.

Such vajra words of yours and the Kadampa masters will never betray. 

Oh Lama! You have passed on to benefit others! 

I, your student, passionately pray from afar:

If you see with your wisdom eye,

Hold me in your blessings, Oh, protector of all beings! 

Unmistaken is to be born and tread the path of Dharma.

Unmistaken is to rely completely on a Guru such as you.

Unmistaken is to have chosen the path of Dharma.

E Ma Ho! Now I am filled with joy.

With my mind stabilized with devotion,

In reality, in calm abiding, and in dreams,

Oh, Lama! The fragrance of your presence is always with me.

These thoughts make me a fortunate one.

~Khenpo Karten Rinpoche

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Tibetans Protesting Construction of a Massive Dam Project prior to Tibetan Uprising Day 2024

Sunday, March 10 2024, known as Tibetan Uprising Day, marks 65 years since the Tibetan uprising; tragically, the subjugation of Tibet and the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communist government has continued uninterrupted from 1959 until today.

In the last month, seven monasteries along the Drichu River have been locked down in Kham Dege, Tibet, and face resettlement and even potential destruction. This comes with planned construction of the Chinese Gangtuo Hydropower Station, an infrastructure project to construct a massive dam. The project itself endangers many Tibetan monasteries and nearby towns. Some of these monasteries, such as the Wontod Monastery, are almost 700 years old. Water from the Tibetan plateau is an extremely valuable resource and is not only regionally significant; such projects have geopolitical implications throughout nearby Asian countries. 

Source: Radio Free Asia (
In response, ~1,000 monks and local Tibetans pleaded with authorities and protested the massive project. Videos were posted of monks humbly supplicating Chinese authorities on their hands and knees. Many were arrested and detained indefinitely, and were told to bring bedding and provisions. Most have not been released, despite being brutally beaten. Some were released because of preexisting health problems, while others were hospitalized due to severe beatings during interrogation and afterwards sent back to their monasteries. Information and communication from inside Tibet is severely restricted and monitored with grave repercussions. 

Since the news broke, Tibetans in exile from all around the world have held protests and demonstrations, including in Dharamshala, and in front of Chinese embassies in New York and Switzerland. Here in Monterey, as we do each year, the Manjushri Dharma Center will join international protests on Tibetan Uprising Day.

This annual event is very special and important to me. Many people often say to me, “We love you Khenpo!”, and declare that they follow and support me. My students, with positive motivation and intentions, often ask me about how they can help, and whether they can offer me things like money. Actually, monetary offerings are not the most important. Those who practice Dharma, profess to be Tibetan Buddhists, and believe that Tibetan Buddhism has benefited their lives must contemplate and consider the origin of all these things. In actuality, the source of everything is Tibet. The teachings, the Great Masters, and even I myself was born in Tibet and passed my formative years there.

We should also ask why His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to stand unceasingly with the Tibetan people and for the Tibetan cause and never gives up. First of all, as His Holiness has stated in “The Principal Commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama” that as a Tibetan holding the title of the Dalai Lama, who is fully trusted by Tibetan people both within and outside Tibet, he is committed to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist culture, to strive for Tibet’s cause and to assume the role of an independent spokesperson of Tibetan people living under oppression. We cannot stand for this injustice, and, as I often say, we must stand with the truth. Ultimately, the truth alone prevails.

Furthermore, in addition to being a human rights issue, the defense of Tibet is something more. Supporting Tibet also defends and protects Buddha Dharma, not only for Tibet but also for the benefit of the world and all its people. As we can see, Buddhism has even spread to far off countries in the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Africa where the Dharma was previously unestablished. The Chinese Communists, however, are attempting to sever Tibetan Buddhism and culture at its root and destroy the religion.

Everyday, I think about Tibet and the plight of the Tibetan people. Nevertheless, even though the Chinese Communists killed my mother and my uncle, along with millions of Tibetans up to today, and imprisoned and tortured both my father and my Guru, I do not hold anger in my heart. On days like Tibetan Uprising Day, I go with great compassion; through these extremely negative acts, these perpetrators have amassed mountains of negative karma not only in this life but future lives. Indeed, what they have done has come out of ignorance.

I really want to say to those who attend Tibetan Uprising Day organized by the MDC every year and to those who support the Tibetan cause, thank you from the bottom of my heart. As a Tibetan and a representative here, I greatly appreciate all that you do. We Tibetans need your support. Awareness of the injustice in Tibet is especially crucial today. Most people don't know what's still going in Tibet, especially today when there are so many overwhelming tragedies around the world such as in Ukraine and Gaza. So, all of you who support me and Tibet, thank you. I urge you to never forget and always remember Tibet.

This blog was dictated by Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, the resident abbot of Manjushri Dharma Center in Pacific Grove, California, by his student, Karma Choeying.