Abused for the Dharma

Enduring all hardships…

Tsem Rinpoche as a teenager

Rinpoche as a teenager

His foster parents were strictly opposed to his passion for Dharma and H.E. Tsem Rinpoche received the harshest physical and psychological punishment every time he was caught at the temple or reciting mantras in his room. Rinpoche was treated as a servant, and had to clean and do garden work many hours every day.

Everything having to do with Dharma practice had to be a secret; Rinpoche would hide his Manjushri statue in his bedside table, he would read Dharma books under the covers by torchlight, and even mantras were recited secretly and quietly. He had to lie to his parents every time he went to see his Guru or to the temple, saying that he was meeting friends. Occasionally he would say that he was visiting his cousins who would cover for him when his mother called to check, which she would do all the time. His mother even went to the extent of spreading unfounded rumors among Mongolians about his Guru, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche.

Iron-willed Tsem Rinpoche

Rinpoche was not interested in attending university, getting a good job or starting a family. His only passion was the Dharma

“I got caught a few times and was severely beaten for it. But I kept lying for years. If I go to the temple and get beaten once, it was worth it. Lying is bad karma, but not getting Dharma is even more bad karma.”

His parents wanted him to study, attend college, start a family and just pray once in a while. Despite excelling in his studies however, Rinpoche had a severe dislike of going to school, finding it a waste of time. He would constantly pray to do Dharma and to be a monk. The urge to look for a cave, meditate and do mantras was overpowering and continuous.