Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sean takes Refuge

Lama Tsongkhapa Day - the day Lama Tsongkhapa went to Parinirvana - fell on 4th December, Sean's birthday this year. I was a bit worried that he would be disappointed that we couldn't go out for dinner on his birthday but I should have given Sean more credit. When I told him his birthday was the same day as Lama Tsongkhapa Day, he was thrilled and immediately asked if Rinpoche was going to give a talk. I hedged and said yes, probably, but no guarantees. As we all know in Kechara House, anything can happen! He was very happy that Rinpoche would be giving a talk so I kept my fingers crossed that all would be well.

On 4 December, Sean and I actually got to KH around 5 to check on my fund raising table and see if there was any help needed. KH looked wonderful - the Tsongkhapa statue was resplendent in brocade and silk and his new (just arrived the day before!) altar was full of offerings. Many KH members had worked throughout the night and over past weeks to make our centre look great. Sean asked what he could do so Paulyne, the KH admin, asked him to help with candles. He also went round helping sell khatas and before we knew it, the program had begun and we didn't even have time to have dinner. Again I was a bit worried about the little (ok, not so little) fella. But he seemed to be fine. At the announcements at the beginning, one of the items was that Rinpoche was giving refuge that night.

Sean came up to me and asked if he could take refuge. I asked him if he knew what it meant. He said that Rinpoche would be his root guru. I asked him what did he think that meant. He said that Rinpoche would take him to Enlightenment. I told him to think carefully about it as it's a serious matter and he said he did. So I asked him to ask JT and frantically smsed Susan and Jenny to ask what to do. Refuge seekers had to attend a talk/briefing before the ceremony which Sean hadn't taken so I didn't know if he could still take refuge. I didn't ask him if he had wanted to take refuge because .. well, I guess it just didn't occur to me that he would.

Anyway, I was told that Sean's name would be submitted for consideration so that was that. When it was time to take refuge, the refuge seekers went to sit up near Rinpoche's throne. Sean also followed.

Then I was told that it was too late for Sean. But he was already sitting up there. I felt quite bad for him but thought that at least he'd get a blessing.

Rinpoche explained the refuge vows and the meaning of refuge to the refuge seekers and granted them refuge. He then distributed the refuge names to all the seekers. Except for Sean, of course.

When it was all over, I didn't know if Sean had taken refuge or not. He had gone through the whole ceremony but he hadn't been given a refuge name. Perhaps he'd get given one later.

Anyway, when the program ended around 2am, people queued up to offer Rinpoche khatas. By the time that was over, it was about 3.30am. Rinpoche was talking to some people and I decided to carpe diem and asked Rinpoche what was Sean's status.

Rinpoche immediately asked for a chair and said he would give Sean refuge now. I was completely overwhelmed with his kindness. Rinpoche said to Sean that it was because "You matter." That sums it up for me - how Rinpoche, in his compassion, always makes people feel like they matter. And that's what we should also emulate.

Sean sat on the floor in front of him and Rinpoche led him through a beautiful visualisation. He then gave him refuge. Sean's refuge name is Tenzin Khenchen, which means holder of the Dharma with very great knowledge.

After the ceremony, Rinpoche chatted to Sean for awhile and I was sweating bricks because I didn't know what Sean was going to answer! And he was too far away from me to kick his butt!

There was a touching moment when Rinpoche asked him about the visualisation and Sean said that he visualised it and it was very beautiful and he started to cry. I think it was overwhelming for him too!

In any case, by the time we got home, it was about 5.30am and Sean had stayed awake the whole time with no dinner and no complaints. In fact, he said it was the best birthday ever and I was very proud of him.

I'm so grateful to Rinpoche for his kindness in granting Sean refuge at such a late hour. It was so meaningful to be given on Lama Tsongkhapa's Day and Sean's birthday too. What more can one ask for? :D

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