Abiding in the Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Abiding in the Retreat: A Nyung Nä Commentary combines several teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on nyung nä, a powerful two-day practice associated with Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.

Order your print copy using the Add to Cart link on this page or order the ebook from your favorite vendor. You can also download the entire book as a PDF file, and read several chapters online.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.
Chapter 6: The Benefits of Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM
Why everyone should recite OM MANI PADME HUM

Meditation on Chenrezig and recitation of OM MANI PADME HUM are most important practices in your life. They are the most important practices for the happiness and benefit of other sentient beings, so there can be no doubt that they are the most important practices for your own happiness and benefit as well. The meditation-recitation of Compassion Buddha is the most important thing.

As I often say, because they want happiness and do not want suffering, even turtles, mosquitoes, ants and wood lice all need to recite OM MANI PADME HUM. Goats and pigs need to recite OM MANI PADME HUM, in loud voices. It’s the same for snakes—they also need to recite OM MANI PADME HUM. They should, but they can’t. Why not? Because they don’t have a human body.

Peter Wildoats, a student from Australia, says he has a dog that recites OM MANI PADME HUM. That’s what he says, anyway. He taught his dog OM MANI PADME HUM and says that the dog chants it, but I don’t think it could come out very precisely. It’s probably mixed with the sound of barking.

Animals should recite OM MANI PADME HUM, but they can’t. They should recite it because they want happiness and don’t want suffering. That’s why everyone should recite this mantra. It’s the easiest way to achieve happiness for yourself. By reciting OM MANI PADME HUM, you can achieve all your wishes for happiness, not only for the happiness of this life but for the happiness of all your coming future lives, and also for the ultimate happiness that comes with cessation of the oceans of samsaric sufferings and their causes, karma and delusion, and even their negative imprints. Cessation of all negative imprints makes it impossible for delusions to arise again, which makes it impossible for negative karma to be accumulated, which makes it impossible for suffering to happen. There is then great liberation, or full enlightenment.

On top of that, you, the one person, want to bring all other sentient beings the happiness of this life and of all coming future lives and the ultimate happiness of total cessation of the oceans of samsaric sufferings: the oceans of sufferings of the hell beings, the hungry ghosts, the animals, the human beings, the asuras, the suras and the intermediate state beings. You want to cause the cessation of the general sufferings of samsara and the particular sufferings of each realm; you want to cause everlasting happiness to the numberless sentient beings in each realm. You also want to bring them to full enlightenment, with cessation of not only the gross defilements but even the subtle ones. You want to bring them the complete qualities of cessation and realization, which is full enlightenment. By chanting OM MANI PADME HUM, Compassion Buddha’s mantra, you can easily bring these four levels of happiness to the numberless sentient beings.

In essence, OM MANI PADME HUM includes the entire Dharma, all the 84,000 teachings of Buddha, which come in three levels: Hinayana, Paramitayana (Mahayana sutra) and Secret Mantra Vajrayana (Mahayana tantra). It’s a great mistake to say “Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana,” as it makes it sound as if Vajrayana is not Mahayana teaching. This gives people who don’t understand the completely wrong idea, and in front of people who do understand, you’re making a big mistake because you show that you don’t know that Secret Mantra Vajrayana is Mahayana.

Vajrayana is practiced with bodhicitta. This is what makes Vajrayana teachings and practice Mahayana. Bodhicitta is fundamental. Without bodhicitta, Secret Mantra Vajrayana doesn’t become a cause of enlightenment. What makes an action or a teaching Mahayana is that it is done with bodhicitta. Without bodhicitta, Secret Mantra Vajrayana—even dzog rim (completion stage) or dzog chen (great perfection)—does not become Mahayana, does not become a cause of enlightenment.

And without renunciation of samsara, Vajrayana doesn’t become even a cause to achieve liberation from samsara for the self. Renunciation has two divisions: renunciation of this life and renunciation of future life samsara. Without renunciation of this life, even if you practice dzog rim or dzog chen, Secret Mantra Vajrayana does not even become Dharma. Your practice of dzog rim or dzog chen without renunciation of this life, without letting go of the attachment clinging to this life, doesn’t even become Dharma, doesn’t even become virtue. It doesn’t even become a cause of the happiness beyond this life, the happiness of future lives. Besides not becoming a cause to be born in a pure land of buddha where you can become enlightened, it doesn’t even become a cause to achieve a good rebirth in your next life. Without renunciation of this life, the Secret Mantra Vajrayana you’re practicing, the dzog rim or dzog chen you’re practicing, doesn’t become Dharma. It becomes solely nonvirtue, leading to rebirth in the lower realms.

This is very much emphasized by Lama Atisha and the Kadampa geshes in the lam-rim, and in the other traditions in texts such as The Words of My Perfect Teacher, the Sakyas’ Parting from the Four Clingings and Transformation of the Four Thoughts. It is explained in those preliminary, fundamental teachings.

The benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM

It is said that you collect greater merit from just reciting OM MANI PADME HUM than from actually offering service to countless buddhas.

Songtsen Gampo, an embodiment of Chenrezig, wrote a text called Mani Kabum, (One Hundred Thousand Teachings of the Mani). This is one hundred thousand manis, m-a-n-i-s, not one hundred thousands of money, m-o-n-e-y. Recently in the United States, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was telling the Tibetan people that first people chant, OM MANI PADME HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM . . . , then later, om money pay me hum, om money pay me hum . . .

It says in Mani Kabum that compassion has no discriminating thought; compassion is for everyone. There’s no discriminating some sentient beings as close and others as distant. There’s no discrimination because of high or low, rich or poor, belief in Chenrezig or no belief in Chenrezig. Because of that compassion for all sentient beings, it’s definite that Chenrezig will help you if you rely on Chenrezig.

Mani Kabum also says that all the buddhas have blessed these six syllables again and again. Praying to Chenrezig is the same as praying to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and chanting the Chenrezig mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, is the same as chanting the mantras of all the buddhas. By reciting OM MANI PADME HUM, we get the benefit of having chanted all the rest of the buddhas’ mantras.

It is said that these six syllables are the heart of Arya Compassion Buddha.

In The Mirror Clarifying History, it says that this six-syllable mantra is the heart of the 84,000 teachings taught by Buddha. OM MANI PADME HUM contains the thought, or view, of all the buddhas embodied in one.

OM MANI PADME HUM contains the Hinayana path, the Mahayana Paramitayana path and the paths of the four classes of tantra; it contains the whole path to enlightenment. That means that all the extensive sutra teachings—Pramanavarttika, Abhisamayalamkara, Abhidharmakosha, Madhyamaka and Vinaya—are rooted in OM MANI PADME HUM, as are the extensive tantric teachings, such as The Great Graduated Tantric Path to Enlightenment (Ngag Rim Chenmo), which covers the five stages of the completion stage, including clear light. The entire extensive teachings are rooted, or embodied, in OM MANI PADME HUM. It also contains all the qualities of a buddha.

OM MANI PADME HUM is also the heart of the five types of buddha and of the deities who are the owners of the secret.

And OM MANI PADME HUM is the source of all the collections of virtue, of all the collections of happiness, and it is the root from where you and all other sentient beings receive all benefit, all happiness, all attainment.

This mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, is a great path to achieve higher rebirth and liberation, which includes enlightenment.

If you chant Chenrezig mantras every day, whether the long dharani or the six-syllable mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, all your wishes come true. Before, Chenrezig made the promise, “If that doesn’t happen, may I not achieve enlightenment.” There is no doubt that we actually receive all the benefits of the mantra as mentioned by Chenrezig. Then, at the time of death, Chenrezig will stretch out his hand to guide us to the pure land.

The longest Chenrezig mantra

Tony Wong asked me about the longest Chenrezig dharani the second time I met him, and I said I would check. I think he had asked many lamas about it but didn’t get an answer. When his group recited it, it didn’t sound like Sanskrit.

It took me one or two years to find it. When I was at Jamyang Centre in London, Venerable Sarah [Thresher], the nun helping in the center at that time, gave me the text Mani Kabum. I had seen this text before in Solu Khumbu, at Lawudo Monastery, and I had read some parts of it. I saw the long dharani there in Mani Kabum.

I then gave a copy of the mantra to Geshe Jampa Tegchok, the abbot of Nalanda Monastery in France at that time, and he sent it to Sarnath University, where there are some monks who are excellent Sanskrit scholars. One of these monks translated the meaning into Tibetan, but he didn’t translate all of it as he said some of it is very secret. I have made the dharani and the translation of its meaning into a text, but without a translation of the few secret syllables.

The longest dharani has unimaginable benefits. You can use it not only for healing, but for many other things. Reciting this dharani just once has the power to purify 800 million eons of negative karma. It seems that it’s best to recite it at night, probably to benefit spirits.

The benefits of reciting ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM

It’s mentioned that if you have done even one nyung nä well or if you recite ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day, there is unbelievable bene­fit, especially if you want to heal people. When you are in a public place, the negative karma of anybody who sees you is purified, and those people won’t be reborn in the lower realms. If you are on top of a hill with many people down below, all their negative karma is purified when they look at you. That means you become meaningful to behold. This happens because of the power of mantra and also because you visualize yourself as Chenrezig. This blesses you, so that your body becomes a relic. In that way, the negative karma of anybody who sees you is purified. Even if you don’t have any particular reason to go to a market, you can go there and walk around just to purify other sentient beings. Doing nyung näs and reciting ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day are great practices.

Some years ago in Spain, when I mentioned that reciting ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day has this benefit of purifying the negative karma of anybody who sees you, the daughter of the director of the Valencia center thought that Richard Gere should recite ten malas a day because he’s seen by so many people. So many people in the world would then get a lot of benefit. This thought came in her mind. She told me that she wrote to Richard Gere about this. I didn’t hear about it from Richard Gere, but I heard about it from her.

When you recite ten malas a day, if your breath touches other people when you’re talking, it purifies their negative karma. When you’re walking along a street, the wind that blows over your body becomes blessed, and when that wind then goes on to touch any being, fat or skinny, human or animal, ant or elephant, it purifies all their negative karma, and they won’t be reborn in the lower realms. It also means that the negative karma of anybody who touches you is purified. It’s the same when you touch anybody. If you touch somebody by shaking their hand or by massaging them, it purifies all their negative karma. There are these unimaginable benefits.

Some years ago I gave the oral transmission of a mantra that has the power to purify the negative karma of anybody who hears your voice.55 This applies to even the five uninterrupted negative karmas. Your speech becomes of unbelievable benefit to other sentient beings, protecting them from the heaviest suffering of the lower realms and causing them to receive a higher rebirth or to be born in a pure land. At that time, I didn’t mention that reciting OM MANI PADME HUM also has all these benefits.

If you do nyung näs or recite OM MANI PADME HUM one thousand times every day, when you then go to swim in a river or an ocean, since your body is already blessed by visualizing yourself as Chenrezig and by reciting the mantra, the whole river or ocean is blessed. All the people who then come to play in or on the water, swimming or surfing, are purified; the negative karma of anybody who is touched by the water is purified, and the same thing happens to all the numberless other beings in the river or ocean, from the large sharks and fish down to the tiny microscopic beings. All their negative karma to be born in the lower realms is purified.

If you recite one thousand manis every day and also visualize yourself as Chenrezig, it’s said that if your body is cremated when you die, the smoke from the cremation fire purifies the negative karma of any being it touches, whether human or animal, and they won’t be reborn in the lower realms. There’s also this unbelievable benefit.

If you do this practice then go for a walk, the negative karma of all the people who see you is purified, and it’s the same with even mosquitoes, flies and other insects that land on your body.

One time at Land of Calm Abiding (previously known as Shiné Land), an FPMT retreat place in California, there were two old horses, and I wanted to read the Arya Sanghata Sutra for them. A couple was taking care of the land, and the woman had to give the horses food again and again to keep them there while I read the Arya Sanghata Sutra and chanted mantras to liberate them. She had to give them a lot of food to keep them there.

At that time many flies landed on my arms. I try to chant one thousand mani mantras every day but, of course, I miss out sometimes. I don’t recite that many every day but I try to do it as often as possible. And sometimes I recite more; sometimes I recite ten thousand.

There are also other mantras you can use to bless your body so that it becomes like a stupa. If any insect lands on a stupa, its negative karma is purified. Also, when rain runs off a stupa onto the ground, that water purifies all the insects it touches on the ground. The wind that touches a stupa is blessed as well, and when it then touches any being, their negative karma is purified. Seeing a stupa, even from afar, touching it, talking about it, thinking about it or remembering it plants the seed of enlightenment in a being’s mind; it brings them to enlightenment. There is unbelievable benefit. When you chant those other mantras, your body becomes like a stupa, and whenever you speak to people, no matter what you say, their negative karma is purified, and not just general negative karma but even the five heavy negative karmas. The negative karma of anyone who hears your voice is purified.

When the flies came that day, although I hadn’t remembered before, I thought that because I had done those mantras in the morning, it might be meaningful for the flies to land on my arms. I don’t know—maybe if a lot of mosquitoes had come I might have freaked out. I’m joking.

A long time ago, before Kopan Monastery was built, we were staying with Zina [Rachevsky]. In the evenings some Western students would come and we would meditate on lam-rim in grass huts. So many mosquitoes came! At those times, we tried to practice a little bit of Buddhadharma, a little bit of charity. The mosquitoes would land and drink our blood, and then after they went away we would feel good, as if something had been purified. I think in those times there was a little bit of Dharma practice . . .

Easy to become Dharma

It’s easy for the chanting of OM MANI PADME HUM to become Dharma. Because many other mantras are recited for long life, wealth or good health, there’s more danger that reciting them doesn’t become Dharma because of attachment clinging to this life, to this life’s comfort and happiness. Of course, if you have the thought of seeking the happiness of future lives, even though it’s still attachment, your action of chanting mantra for that becomes Dharma. That’s the very least Dharma motivation, and the result is happiness in future lives.

Why does chanting OM MANI PADME HUM become Dharma? Because it protects you from suffering. The action is pure because the motivation is uncontaminated by the attachment clinging to this life. By that, it becomes Dharma, and that action results in happiness, the happiness of future lives.

It’s very easy for the reciting of OM MANI PADME HUM to become Dharma, and very easy for it to purify your negative karma. The motivation of people who chant OM MANI PADME HUM many times is usually to benefit others, to pacify others’ sufferings and bring them happiness. That’s a very special motivation. And when a person recites OM MANI PADME HUM so much, it’s also a prayer, and the prayer is mostly for others.

In Solu Khumbu, it’s extremely rare for the old mothers and fathers to receive teachings. A lama from a monastery sometimes gives a public long-life initiation, but there’s not really any teaching about what Dharma really is, about karma, compassion and all these things. So, there are not so many people who really understand Dharma. There are many people, monks and laypeople, who can do prayers and pujas very nicely, but real understanding of the meaning is rare because there’s no study of basic teachings and philosophy in the monasteries. Since these have not been established in the monasteries, it’s difficult to spread the teachings to laypeople. Of course, the monks do go to different places to take teachings from high lamas, but generally it’s not like that with the laypeople.

If we compare ourselves to them, we have unbelievable opportunities to learn Dharma. If you have a resident teacher at your Dharma center, you always have a teacher from whom you can learn not only lam-rim, but other profound teachings on Buddhist philosophy. There are so many different subjects you can learn. There are these most rare, most meaningful, most awakening opportunities bringing light into your life, bringing the light of Dharma into your heart, dispelling the darkness of ignorance. This is amazing! It’s extremely rare in this world, but it’s happening to us.

Solu Khumbu is a Buddhist place, and people generally have faith in karma, but their understanding of Dharma is limited. Most of them can’t read Dharma texts. Those who can read are very few in number, and even being able to read doesn’t mean that they’re able to understand what they read. Simply being able to read a text doesn’t mean you can understand its meaning. To be able to understand, you have to study. In the past, there were no schools, so most people didn’t learn to read or write Tibetan.

The greatest thing the people in Solu Khumbu have is their faith, their devotion. There’s little intellectual understanding, but there’s great faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Even though they don’t have intellectual understanding of the qualities of the objects of refuge, they have faith in them due to their parents, grandparents and lamas. And because they have faith, they are able to collect merit. Each day of their life they’re able to collect merit many times. Before they eat or even drink chang, they first make offering to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, so they collect inconceivable merit. Because of their faith, they collect merit through many small things they do in daily life. They do prostrations, and while they’re walking, they chant mantras and prayers. They leave a lot of positive imprints and do a lot of purification and collect a lot of merit, even though they don’t have the intellectual understanding that we have from receiving teachings, studying and reading books.

Compared to even a Buddhist place like that, here in the West you are unbelievably fortunate. You have to recognize this; you have to realize this. You will then understand that your life with all the opportunities you have is most amazing and most precious. You then take care of your life and don’t become lazy. This life doesn’t last long, and it can end any day. Even among the people we know, our fellow Dharma students and family members, some people have already left; they don’t exist now.

Anyway, as I was saying, in Solu Khumbu, the old mothers chant OM MANI PADME HUM a lot. They don’t have much intellectual understanding, and there’s no opportunity for them to receive teachings from a lama. Even when a lama comes to give them teachings, they can’t understand the language. They have no opportunity at all to learn because they can’t receive teachings from a lama and can’t read Dharma texts because most of them can’t read. However, the effect of their reciting OM MANI PADME HUM so much is that their hearts become very compassionate. They don’t do much intellectual reasoning about how sentient beings are suffering and why one should help them, they can’t explain compassion according to the texts, but they have a natural feeling of compassion for others and the thought to help others, even if all they can do is pray for them. I see that the people in Solu Khumbu who do nyung näs and much chanting of OM MANI PADME HUM develop much compassion for others. Those people are very good-hearted. So, that’s something to rejoice in.

One part of my advertising Chenrezig and nyung näs is finished. . . .

Rinpoche’s mother

My mother used to recite OM MANI PADME HUM 50,000 times every day. She was a nun for many years, ordained in Bodhgaya in 1974 by His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s senior tutor, along with ten Western Sangha, including Dr. Nick Ribush, who started Wisdom Publications.

One time when we were on the roof of the old Kopan Monastery gompa, she told me that she used to recite 50,000 OM MANI PADME HUMs every day, but she could no longer do that many. At that time a hawk landed on her head. I later saw a text where Nagarjuna explains that a hawk landing on a person’s head is a sign that the person is going to die.

That year she had some sickness. It was 1991, the same year there was a Kalachakra initiation in Sarnath that we had requested from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My mother came for the Kalachakra initiation. I brought her outside to meet His Holiness when His Holiness was going for the teachings, but I’m not sure whether she saw His Holiness as her eyes were closed. The next day, in the early morning, between one and two o’clock, she passed away.

At Lawudo, when the sun was shining, my mother couldn’t really see it—she saw just a little bit of white. But she saw Buddha and many monks, as if she were actually seeing them. This is what happens when you’re dying if you’re going to be reborn in Amitabha pure land: you see many monks or Amitabha Buddha at the time of death. I think that even though the eyes are physically blind, when the mind is purified, when your negative karma is purified, you can then actually see such things. When I checked with somebody, it seems she was there in Chenrezig’s pure land.

I talk about compassion, I say the words, but everybody knew that my mother was an unbelievably compassionate person. Anybody who saw her could feel that. When the family would go on pilgrimage with other Sherpa families, they would stop along the road, and each family would make food. My mother would make food, then give it all away to other people. Later there would be no food left for the family. At home, she would make a big pot of shagpa, rice soup, in the morning, then serve it to everybody who came to the house.

My mother didn’t develop compassion by studying Buddhist texts or philosophy. She received many teachings and initiations from great lamas such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, one of the top Nyingma lamas, and Trulshik Rinpoche’s root guru, Rongphuk Sangye, who had a monastery in Dza Rongphuk in Tibet, behind Mount Everest. In the past, when my father was alive, it seems they would go together to Tibet to receive teachings from Rongphuk Sangye. However, it doesn’t mean that my mother actually understood the teachings. But with much devotion, she went just to listen. Even though she didn’t understand the teachings, she did understand the simple pieces of advice given by the lamas and would always follow them. For example, she mentioned to me that Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche had said, “When you chant mantras, don’t chant one OM MANI PADME HUM, but then pass two beads together on your mala. Don’t do that.” She also understood that you shouldn’t let your mind wander while you are reciting mantras and that when you go to see a lama, you sit in front of the lama with your hands folded. She told me what she understood of those small pieces of advice. However, I don’t think that she could understand when a lama went over a text or talked about the path to enlightenment—she would then just recite “OM MANI PADME HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM . . . .”

My mother had so much compassion for the people who looked after her. And if she saw Nepalese people walking along the road without shoes, she would feel so much compassion for them because they didn’t have shoes. One time, many years ago, my mother came to Dharamsala and stayed with us at Tushita Retreat Centre. In the morning there were pancakes for breakfast, so she would eat half a pancake, then put the other half in her pocket. When she then went down to circumambulate His Holiness’s temple and palace, she would give the half pancake she had put in her pocket to some of the beggars. Since there were many beggars there, of course, it wasn’t enough for all of them. She had unbearable compassion.

Rinpoche’s mother’s incarnation

My mother reincarnated, not at Lawudo, but at the next hermitage, from where we used to get water. She was born to the son of a ngagpa, a lay tantric practitioner, and his wife, who is from another part of Solu Khumbu, Rolwaling, from where Thubten Jinpa56 and some of the Kopan tantric monks come. Rolwaling is where I lived for seven years as a child. It’s a hidden place, a Padmasambhava holy place. There are many caves where in the past many great yogis lived and practiced, and there are many natural footprints left there, some small. Padmasambhava’s footprint, a long-life vase and many other things are there in the caves.

My mother had been very close to the son’s wife, giving her advice about not taking food from the houses of other families. It seems the baby was already there in her womb.

One monk in the monastery of Thangme village, the village where I was born, is very good at divination. That monk did a divination and said this child was my mother’s incarnation. At the request of my sister, after there was some talk about this child being my mother’s incarnation, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche also did divination and confirmed this child as my mother’s incarnation.

My sister then went to see the incarnation and offered him a scarf. He took the scarf and wore it round his neck for seven days; he wouldn’t let it be taken away. He always talked about Lawudo to his parents, and he could tell them about the animals and many other things there. One day, my younger brother, Sangye, who lives in Kathmandu, and one of my mother’s best friends, a Sherpa called Ang Puwa, went up to see the incarnation because they wanted to invite him to Lawudo and hold a celebration there. The incarnation waited for a long time for them to arrive.

When Ang Puwa first came inside the house, the moment he sat down, the incarnation’s mother served him tea or chang, and the incarnation immediately called him by his name, saying, “Ang Puwa, please have, please have.” Ang Puwa hadn’t met the incarnation before. Ang Puwa then grabbed the child and burst into tears. He cried and cried. He was so surprised that the child could remember his name.

The incarnation told them that he would put the Lawudo animals (there are quite a few dri, or cows) in a helicopter with him and then come down to Kathmandu to see my brother and Ang Puwa. This is how he expressed his wishes.

The incarnation later came over to Lawudo for an enthronement and celebration. Even though this was the first time he had come to Lawudo, he did exactly the same as my mother used to do. He circumambulated the temple seven times, then went inside and prostrated to His Holiness’s carved throne, then bent his head down to take a blessing from the low throne where I usually sit. This is just what my mother used to do. He then went to the altar, which is what my mother used to do every day. He behaved exactly the way my mother used to behave.

He then offered a khatag, a scarf, to everybody there, apart from two people. One was his father and the other was a Kopan monk called Tsultrim Norbu, who’s from that area. Otherwise, he offered a khatag to everybody.

I think the reason he didn’t offer a scarf to his father was that during my mother’s time, we put pipes from that hermitage to bring water closer to Lawudo so that the Western students doing retreat didn’t have to go so far for water to wash themselves and their clothes. One time the son, who became the incarnation’s father, put earth in the pipe so that it blocked the water, and my mother got very upset. You can see how the imprint from the past life affected the mind in the next life. You can understand that what you think in this life, whether positive or negative, affects your next life. It has effects from life to life. It’s a great teaching.

The incarnation didn’t give a scarf to his father or to this monk at Lawudo. My mother used to whisper to me, “This monk always gets angry.”

The interesting thing is that even though the child was around three years old, you could see the effects of the thoughts from the previous life. We have to understand that. That’s why it’s so important to practice the good heart toward everybody.

The incarnation could also remember all the Lawudo animals.

Six or seven years before my mother passed away, with Lama Pasang’s help we had a handheld prayer wheel made for her, which she always turned. Every time the incarnation came to Lawudo, he would embrace the prayer wheel and offer a khatag to it. He loved the prayer wheel very much. Because of mental imprints he had the same conduct as in his past life. He would also look for things that my mother had had until he found them. He remembered many things. This is just proof of the incarnation.

My mother also collected plastic buttons: she would take the plastic buttons off her old shirts and collect them in a bottle. She behaved like in the old times when plastic buttons and spoons were regarded as very precious. People would sometimes wear a spoon around their neck because spoons couldn’t be bought in Solu Khumbu and had to be brought from Kathmandu, which is far away. At the time I was born and lived in Solu Khumbu there was no sugar, no coffee, no sweet tea, nothing. In one way, it was pure—not because of not having tea or coffee, but in another sense.

After I had lived in Tibet for three years I escaped from Tibet through Bhutan to India, where I lived for eight years before returning to Nepal. When I then went back to my birthplace in Solu Khumbu, things had completely changed. At that time there were sweet tea, coffee and so many other things there.

My sister, who had become a nun, used some of the plastic buttons to make a shirt for my mother’s incarnation. When she put the shirt on him, he said, “Oh, these are my buttons.” My mother had taken the buttons from her own shirts and collected them in a bottle, and the incarnation remembered the buttons.

There was no debate, no discussion, about this incarnation. Sometimes there’s so much debate about an incarnation, with two incarnations being recognized. One group wants this incarnation and another group wants that incarnation. Here, there was no such discussion because it was very clear. The incarnation could remember so many things about Lawudo, and he immediately recognized all the family members.

At one point my mother had spent two or three months at Kopan. Every day she would go down to circumambulate the Boudhanath Stupa, helped by two nuns, Ani Jangsem, the manager of the Kopan nuns, and another nun. When the incarnation came to the nunnery, though he was shy with the rest of the people, he recognized those two nuns and immediately talked to them.

He had such a clear memory because of chanting OM MANI PADME HUM in his previous life. Chanting OM MANI PADME HUM has benefits like the atoms of this earth. Having a clear memory is one small benefit, like one atom, among the many benefits, like the atoms of this earth, of chanting OM MANI PADME HUM.

My mother’s incarnation was enthroned at Kopan Monastery when he was four years old. There was something enchanting about the way he talked. It didn’t matter what he was saying—you just wanted to hear the next word, and then the next. After he mentioned something, you wanted to hear what he had to say next.

Unfortunately, because of disagreement between what I thought and what the parents thought, the incarnation was sent to Penor Rinpoche’s monastery in south India. My idea was for him to be educated in philosophy at Kopan Monastery, and then later he himself could practice whichever tradition he wanted to benefit others. But somebody else did a divination and the parents followed that advice to send him to Penor Rinpoche’s monastery.

About fifteen days after he went there, he was playing outside when there was a heavy storm. When he tried to run inside, he fell down and knocked his head on the corner of the cement steps and broke his skull. He was taken to small local hospitals, and we didn’t hear about what had happened until much later. They tried to send a message to Solu Khumbu, where the parents couldn’t do anything to help. Later he was brought to a Bangalore hospital, but he didn’t improve. He then came to Nepal, but the doctors wouldn’t accept to operate because his condition was already bad.

A doctor friend of my brother’s wife very kindly operated on him, and the incarnation seemed to improve, but there were still pieces of shattered bone left inside. He passed away soon after that. He was about eight years old. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long. After that, when I checked, the divination said that he was in Potala, Chenrezig’s pure land.


55 See Teachings from the Mani Retreat, pp. 40–44. See also “Exalted Stainless Beam Totally Pure Light Mantra,” FPMT Retreat Prayer Book, p. 24. [Return to text]

56 Geshe Thubten Jinpa is currently gekyö of Kopan Monastery. [Return to text]