(Originally published on tsemrinpoche.com)
I first had the pleasure of meeting His Eminence Kyabje Yongyal Dorje Chang around 15 years ago in Sera Monastery. I often visited Sera as my first teacher hails from there. Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche is a very learned scholar, master of tantra, always focused his time on teaching hundreds of students in Sera and in in-depth personal practice. He is extremely devoted to his teachers such as H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. He is well known and famous for his purity in holding his vinaya (monk) vows. I have kept in contact with him over the years but I have not met up with him for many years now. Our timing did not coincide. I have always respected him as a great Dharma teacher/master and scholar of the highest caliber. My admiration and respect for him is thus so combined with his purity in his vows.
The very last time I met up with him was in Gaden Monastery. Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche had come to Gaden Monastery and was attending teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. H.H. the Dalai Lama was giving a series of teachings including empowerment into Kalarupa, I recalled in Gaden at that time. It was beautiful with so many high lamas in Gaden converging.
In December 2013 I was in New York for a short spell. Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche found out I was in New York and he decided to visit me. I was greatly embarrassed as well as deeply honored, as he was a senior great master and I am very junior. It is against proper etiquette for me to be visited by someone like him. But at the same time I could not refuse. My assistants and I flew into a flurry of preparations. Cleaning, preparing offerings, auspicious rice and seating in my small place in New York. Everyone’s place in NY is small!
The auspicious day rolled around and Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche and his esteemed entourage drove up. Next thing I know I was in the lobby receiving Rinpoche and escorting him up to my room.
Kyabje Yongyal Rinpoche has been a holy friend of mine for many years. It does not matter to me what his beliefs, practices or affiliations are as I am meeting him as a friend that I respect very much. I see the person for who they are and not what others think or feel about them 😀 I have the full freedom to be friends with anyone in the world and that is all it is and nothing more.
Do we all prostrate to friends, well if they are holy like Rinpoche, yes for me. I have many holy friends that are senior and not my teachers and when I meet them I always prostrate. I have many holy friends in Gaden, Sera and Drepung. To show respect and prostrate to holy monks and nuns will accumulate merits to reach fruition in our practices according to the Vinaya. I do need the merits for sure being an ordinary being struggling in samsara. We are lucky to be in a time and age where great masters still exist and we can be in their presence and make offerings.
Video of me escorting Rinpoche to his car
We escorted Rinpoche to the car and he was driven away and we were still on cloud 9 feeling blessed and amazed. Thank you Rinpoche for visiting and may I visit you the next time soon!
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