A heartfelt gift from Steve Tobias
A sincere and heartfelt gift from Steve Tobias who benefitted much from Dharma…
Dear Tsem Rinpoche
Your teachings have had a profound impact on my life. And so this letter is intended to be part of an offering, though it is too long and poorly communicated.
Since I graduated college last year I began working for a few months, but felt very unfulfilled. What eventually happened was that I studied Buddhism with all of my spare time, and had a part time job. At the time, I studied Theravada, which was very useful, but I was unable to meditate well with vipassana and the practice felt incomplete for my day-to-day problems. When I came across your videos on Youtube around January 2008 at first I found them somewhat shocking, but eventually it became my main focus and resource for practice. I basically learned everything directly or indirectly from these talks, from my first mantras (Chenrezig, Green Tara, Manjusri) to buying my own malas, books and so forth. Definitely the most important thing for me was your approach to showing students how they think, specifically in regards to one’s perception, or with (problems relating to) guru devotion, among other things. Your use of logic, cutting wisdom, and debate particularly both appealed to me and cut my delusions faster than other approaches I had experienced.
When your videos were taken off Youtube (I watched almost all of them) it gave me the time to consolidate most of what I had learned. I found a 3.2hour or so mp3 of Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Yoga you taught, and I took extensive notes after many listenings and established it as a bi-daily practice. This is along with other things such as reciting the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation twice a day, as well as reciting the refuge, bodhicitta prayers and the 50 Verses of Guru Devotion once a day along with occasional prostrations. My favourite yidam became Manjushri, so I was seeking nearby empowerments and came across a retreat held by Namgyal Monastery on August 10-17 2008 for Solitary Yamantaka (initiation) taught by Khensur Jhado Tulku Rinpoche. Since I didn’t have much money, and had only recently decided to be Tibetan / Gelug a few months back, the preparation was enormous in many ways.
I came back from the retreat 8/17/08; and as I had decided many times beforehand, all merits associated with the retreat I dedicated directly to Tsem Rinpoche, Kechara House; the spreading of Rinpoche’s teachings and the growth of Kechara House. I know that you taught that a person’s first retreat should be dedicated to one’s parents, but that will have to be my next retreat. This is because I think it would have been impossible, or at least taken many years, for me to ever take an interest in Tibetan Buddhism or to choose Gelugpa, because my delusions were too strong. And so any progress I have made as a poor practitioner since then, in terms of regular knowledge but more importantly with being happier and being kinder and more helpful towards others, is a direct result of your teachings and the connection I have felt.
With this letter is a very small offering of a picture of the Spiritual Head of Tibetan Buddhism, and a traveling altar; both have been consecrated by Khensur Jhado Tulku Rinpoche. May your teachings travel as quickly as possible and spread across many nations to benefit all sentient beings, and may Kechara House grow exponentially. Any dharma that is available from you I will always jump on and try to practice thoroughly.