by Yeshi Garkyi Wangchuk
From June 14th to 16th, H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche visited the Rime Center in Kansas City, where he has returned every year for teachings and empowerments since his first visit in 2013. The Rime Sangha always looks forward to Rinpoche’s warm and direct delivery of the Dharma, and we were blessed to have him give clear instructions on the path toward a healthier and happier life.
On Friday evening, Rinpoche gave the opening teaching by explaining the meaning and significance of Orgyen Menla, Guru Rinpoche’s manifestation of Medicine Buddha. He taught about the Eight Medicine Buddhas and about how the great Indian pandita, Shantarakshita, introuduced the practice of Medicine Buddha to Tibet.
The next day, Rinpoche bestowed the Orgyen Menla empowerment, and emphasized that spiritual practice requires a healthy body. He reminded us that food is medicine and that we should be particularly mindful about what we eat. “How can you eat sentient beings and then pray to benefit all sentient beings?” asked Rinpoche. He stated clearly that while plant foods provide nourishment and health, meat comes from the suffering of sentient beings. Therefore, we should avoid eating meat and ask ourselves, “How can we enjoy eating meat when we have committed ourselves to ending the suffering of others?”
Rinpoche and most of the Sangha enjoyed a vegetarian lunch that afternoon at a local Indian restaurant. It is always such a joy to be in the presence of such an actualized master who is also so approachable and generous of spirit. Rinpoche shared funny stories and listened patiently as we asked him questions between bites of rice and vegetable korma.
That afternoon, Rinpoche gave the transmission and led us in sadhana practice of Orgyen Menla. He taught us that pure love comes from the heart, and that our commitment to non-violence is not limited to human beings but must include all animals. “When you are practicing walking meditation,” Rinpoche said, “take care not to step on the little ants. They are also practicing walking meditation!” In everything we do, in what and how we eat and take care of our health, we must remember to consider the suffering and happiness of all sentient beings.
Later in the evening, Rinpoche shared a slide show of photos from his childhood and youth growing up in a nomadic family in Tibet. He showed pictures and shared stories of some of his gurus and fellow monks throughout different monasteries. We enjoyed learning about all of the places where he has spread the Dharma and all of the students throughout the world who have been blessed to receive his teachings.
Sunday morning came and Rinpoche gave a public Dharma talk to a large crowd at the Rime Center. Rinpoche again talked about the need to care for our bodies and our health as we seek to cultivate the qualities and attributes of bodhisattvas. He said, “You can become a bodhisattva in this lifetime. If you practice the four immeasurables (compassion, lovingkindness, equanimity, joy) and the six paramitas (generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, wisdom) you can attain the first bhumi.” And, he emphasized, we must strive to do all we can to benefit all sentient beings, beginning by not eating them.
It is always a blessing to have Rinpoche visit us in Kansas City. We pray for his long life and we hope for his prompt return.
May all beings benefit.