Through his Dharma activities, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche touches many people’s lives, whether they are based in Malaysia or abroad. Here, one student Dawnene Rechele, shares her experiences with Rinpoche.
The song says, keep me searching for a heart of gold, and I’m growing old.
The journey that led me to Buddhism began in my 30′s. After years of struggle, I finally had what may be considered a good life. A successful job in entertainment in LA yet…something was missing.
My spirituality was null which I felt the cause for “void” in my life. I began researching various paths; living in Hollywood; even the famous Tom Cruise endorsed Scientology. Nothing sank in and always left me asking, what is this precious human life for? Then I happened upon a book so basic it could have been titled “Buddhism 101″ and it resonated! I became enthralled absorbing everything I could thereby dubbing myself the “Bookstore Buddhist”.
In 2004, I moved to New Orleans where I continued my readings, concluding in order to progress, I needed a teacher. I began looking for Dharma Centres with no luck. I retreated back to my books and prayer room. I wanted to find a teacher though seemed I was destined to remain “searching for a heart of gold”.
Fast forward to Fall 2010. Things changed drastically during my years in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina, we lost everything (a great lesson in impermanence and grasping!). My daughter, now 22 moved out and my beloved dog passed away. I was truly alone…for the first time.
I decided I must go see what Kechara was about.
Turning to the Internet, one night I happened upon a young charismatic Guru who immediately won me over with his straightforward talks and no-nonsense approach to Buddhist wisdom. This remarkable man was Tsem Rinpoche, His Eminence. I discovered he had lived in the USA before going to India then Malaysia. Thrilled by the immediate connection I felt with His Eminence, I probably watched 100 YouTube videos and discovered his blog; which was more addicting than chocolate! I lost hours of sleep staying up late reading his teachings and posts reflecting on his abusive childhood, years of struggling in Hollywood, a young man trying to discover his own path to become an actor or a monk. Upon the advice of his Guru, he departed for India, eventually settling in Malaysia and establishing Kechara, where his accomplishments were truly amazing.
I decided I must go see what Kechara was about. After communicating with his liaisons, some who coincidentally were in the US working on a documentary about His Eminence, I departed for Malaysia. I was met by Sharon Saw, who graciously acted as chauffeur, tour guide and best buddy for the duration of my visit.
Rinpoche was warm and loving, he genuinely radiates kindness and compassion.
Homebase was Kechara Guest House. Doing a “cram course” in Kechara, my days and nights were filled visiting Kechara Departments, Kechara Paradise stores, Kechara Soup Kitchen who feeds the homeless, attending Kechara Sunday Talks, roadshows, Kechara Care Lounge’s flea market, etc.
A great highlight was Sharon taking me to see the future home of Kechara World Peace Centre. I also had the privilege of meeting many of Rinpoche’s key liaisons and students, all so welcoming and kind. On my final day, I was invited for lunch at Ladrang, the residence of His Eminence. Afterwards, JP informed me that he had a surprise for me – I would be having audience with His Eminence!!!! I nearly passed out from shock. Having no previous anticipation of audience with Rinpoche (he rarely grants private audience) I didn’t have questions prepared, I felt nervous and foolish but Sharon assured me to just be myself.
I feel even though I’m living in the United States, I’m a Kecharian.
I fumbled my way into the audience room, very poorly performed my prostrations. Rinpoche was warm and loving, he genuinely radiates kindness and compassion. We spoke about what I had seen during my time in Malaysia, my interest in Buddhism, he then gave me some advice and gifts for my daughter and dogs. I was completely awestruck by the graciousness and generous heart of His Eminence. It happened fast but so much happened.
Sitting on the plane departing beautiful Malaysia, I began humming a tune…Heart of Gold. I crossed the Ocean for a Heart of Gold and I found it!
I can’t wait to return for a longer stay to learn more about Kechara World Peace Centre, Animal Sanctuary and other Kechara departments. I barely scratched the surface during my stay however; I feel I’ve found that home I’d been searching for. It is a wonderful feeling that I can summarise by stating that I’m no longer a “Bookstore Buddhist” I feel even though I’m living in the United States, I’m a Kecharian.