Next Door and Up the Stairs

Lee Ho


“It’s next door – go up the stairs to the 2nd floor and it’s called Kechara Paradise,” she said. When I entered I was surprised to find such a nice shop in that location, filled with beautiful statues and items for offering. We were looking for a Kuan Yin statue as we were advised that it would help us to find our spiritual balance in life.

We couldn’t find a suitable one but as soon as I stepped into Kechara Paradise I saw a beautiful statue. The people of Kechara Paradise told me I was lucky because a high Tibetan lama and his disciples from Europe would be visiting Kechara Paradise that day and would bless the statue. As it worked out, as soon as we stepped in Kechara Paradise that day, “coincidence” ceased to exist for us.

Our story is not spectacular and we are not very spectacular people. Like most people, we have spent most of our adult life searching for our little niche in society or protected cove, where we can nestle, breed and live our lives until death do us part.

Things haven’t been easy and forthcoming over the past years for us and through a friend who is a feng-shui expert – the “girl next door” who gave us directions that day – we arrived that day at Kechara Paradise and took home the blessed Kuan Yin statue. From that day onwards I went back regularly to the shop to buy incense and candles, and found the people there very friendly. I then started to attend pujas (prayers) conducted by a Rinpoche then living in Singapore who seemed different in his approach. His name was Tsem Rinpoche.

Having grown up with the traditional Chinese way of practicing Buddhism, I was vaguely acquainted with some of the practices. A rebellious youth, early departure from the family home and the subsequent struggle for survival contributed to a decline in my interest. However, as I got older, my interest in spirituality revived again and increased over the years.

Tsem Rinpoche was different, not the stuffy sort of monk I was used to from my previous experiences of Buddhism – he and his approach to Buddhism really excited me. This Lama was young, outgoing and outspoken, vibrant and charismatic. I liked the way he gave teachings and it made sense to me. I continued attending pujas and Dharma talks as much as I could to understand more about Buddhism. I even persuaded my husband to come along and he also became interested in the way Tsem Rinpoche explained the essence of Buddhism. Soon he would also start attending pujas.

Pujas with Tsem Rinpoche have the same effect on our mental state as going to the gym has for our physical state: it feels strenuous while you’re doing it but you also feel fresh and good about yourself when you’ve finished. The more you do it, the better and easier it becomes. My husband and I have also joined Tsem Rinpoche on pilgrimage trips to Bodhgaya and Nepal which were once-in-a-life-time experiences where we had the chance to learn much more about Buddhism and Dharma. We consider ourselves privileged and very fortunate that Tsem Rinpoche is a part of our lives.

The story doesn’t stop here. It was regarded as something of a medical miracle when news came of my pregnancy two years ago; from that point on, everything went very well and our daughter Tara Jade is now a beautiful healthy strong girl. Choosing her name was easy: Tara Jade after the goddess Green Tara. Tsem Rinpoche’s support during those testing times was incredible.

Tsem Rinpoche’s ability to motivate and empower his students is boundless. He gives us the spiritual guidance and the motivation to follow our own personal path towards enlightenment. He has shown us compassion and opened the door for us so that we can now walk outside and enjoy our new-found spiritual freedom. We know we’re just at the beginning of a wonderful journey but will endeavor to continue our practice to the Three Jewels.

Tsem Rinpoche has shown us how to inspire and bring benefit to others in the same way and we know now that you don’t have to go far: for us it was just next door and up the stairs.