I would like to thank the directors not only for creating this opportunity to honour Khen Rinpoche, but also for giving me the chance to write a few introductory words for this auspicious occasion.
Actually I am not the right person to do this. First, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche needs no introduction. He speaks for himself by his example. Even if you need someone to give an introduction, it should not be done by someone shady like me who eats betel nut and is found wearing very colorful clothes, and hanging around with colorful people in colorful places.
Nevertheless, I have requested to do this, because I do have something I want to say. In this degenerate time, the glory of the Buddha is dim. The weight of the Dharma is not felt. I know that the Buddha said one should not depend on the person but on the truth. But the actual realization of the Dharma is extremely rare for most of us. The words of the Dharma are too vast and deep, and most of us are too lazy to pursue them, let alone to comprehend them. So even though we know we should not rely on a person, we human beings have the habit of looking up to something tangible in human form as a role model.
So teachers, masters, and spiritual leaders are very important. And we have no shortage of such teachers, masters, and lamas today. In fact we have far more of them than used T-shirts. This is an age when even teenagers have the name His Holiness. But genuine upholders of the Dharma are as rare as stars in the daylight, and the few that we have are hardly shining.
As the Buddha said, only an enlightened being can judge whether another person is enlightened or not. So I cannot really say who is a perfect being and who is not. But at least, even in this age, we do still have interest in Dharma practice, and so naturally the expounder of the Dharma becomes important.
Even though, as I said, my lifestyle is colorful and I cannot make judgements on others, there is probably one good thing about which I can boast —that at least I do know that I should worry about the survival of the Dharma. And there is good reason to be concerned, good reason to be worried. In fact we should be panicked.
That I have this deep concern, of course, is solely the blessing of my own masters, who themselves spent so much time and energy worrying about the survival of the Dharma. Through their blessing and guidance, I have learned not to just worry about the Dharma in my own backyard – Tibetan Buddhism – but I have learned to worry about Shingon Buddhism in Japan, Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and more. My worry may not be constant, but at least at times, I do worry.
I also worry that there are not many who worry. Even the aging lamas with gray hair and wrinkled skin don’t seem to worry. Well, they may worry somewhat, but generally only in relation to their own temples, or at best, to their own lineage.
So this is why I want to express that it gives me so much hope just knowing that Khen Rinpoche exists on this earth, because his actions have spoken louder than his words. And please make a really big note about this because, even though I have no pure perception, and am very critical and arrogant, I want to say that I have been observing Khen Rinpoche closely.
I have not received any teaching from Khen Rinpoche. I did try to listen to some recordings, though I gave up because his dialect is too strong for me, and I have flipped through some of his books. But these are not the real reasons for my respect. I feel that Khen Rinpoche is not just a teacher, but he is actually a model. As we know, every teacher needs a teacher for himself. And Khen Rinpoche was groomed for many years by one of the greatest beings, Jigme Phunstok Rinpoche, and he manifests that extraordinary tutelage today in his work and in his life.
As many of you know, Khen Rinpoche is also the administrative Khenpo of one of the most important seats, Serthar Larung. And here my impression of Serthar Larung has nothing to do with there being so many monks and nuns. Rather, I have observed what they do and what they have achieved. I have also observed how they spend their money and where they spend their money. And I have observed whether this institute is only producing empty-headed scholars or whether it has genuinely practising practitioners. In all these dimensions, Serthar Larung excels.
I also want to note that the Khenpo in front of us is not the son of some rich, high, prestigious family. He is not the cousin or brother of some very important lama, and he doesn’t have HH in front of his name. Who he is and what he has accomplished is through his own merit and genuine dedication and practice, and this is inspiring for so many practitioners.
I especially want to single out how precious it is for the Chinese-speaking world, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, that Khen Rinpoche speaks your language. Even though Buddhism is growing in the West, in my lifetime I don’t see the Buddhadharma being adopted and practised by a sizeable percentage of Americans and Europeans. And we know that the Buddhadharma is far from flourishing in the very birthplace of Buddhism, in India. By contrast, Buddhism has contributed so much to Chinese civilization in the past and has a major resurgent role to play in Chinese society today. So for the Chinese-speaking world, it is such a priceless opportunity for you to have a direct link with Rinpoche.
For all these reasons and more, I want to request Rinpoche to take care of himself and to live long and to eat less butter.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
This is the transcription of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s introductory speech at the public talk given by Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro in Taipei, Taiwan on January 22, 2015.