Skiing with Setrap

24 March 2010 - 5:32pm Comments Off

Not far from where the crash happened


Nicholas Lee was out skiing one day when he had a bad crash. Here, Nick tells us about the experience, and how Setrap, Lama Tsongkhapa and His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche all worked together to make sure he was okay.

Three weeks ago, on a bright bluebird day in the mountains surrounding Beijing, I was skiing, much like I have done many times every winter season for the past 22 years. I was cruising, not skiing particularly fast or on a difficult slope. As I was making a right turn, my left ski unexpectedly released, causing me to spin uncontrollably towards the trees lining the slope.

It’s interesting how in situations like that, time seems to slow down, even though one knows that the entire incident was over in seconds. I remember gazing at the cloudless sky as I was spinning into the trees. I knew the crash was going to be bad, as from the corner of my eyes all I could see was trees all around. I remember bouncing off the first tree and hitting another one. During the crash, I remember asking Lord Setrap for protection, though I did not have time to recite his mantra.

When I came to a stop, I looked around. One of my ski poles had snapped in two, but I didn’t feel any pain at all. I knew the crash had the potential to be a lot worse. I said a quick thank you prayer to Setrap and tried to stand up, but was unable to. Eventually ski patrol came and brought me to the local hospital for an X-Ray. In a typical China moment; the doctor overseeing my X-Ray was smoking in the hospital in front of the no-smoking sign while he was helping me into the X-Ray room.

After consulting with doctors in Beijing, I was diagnosed with two torn ligaments in my knee and all the doctors recommended that I operate on them. After much contemplation, I decided that KL would be the best place for the surgery.

Last Monday, I consulted with another two doctors in KL and it was decided that I would operate the next day. I attended the Setrap puja that night and prayed for a successful operation and full recovery. I was, however, still nervous about the surgery the next day.

Upon completion of the puja, an announcement was made that we should all go to His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s Ladrang to offer a khata to His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s statue, as it was highly auspicious. Rinpoche convened an impromptu Dharma talk, where he elaborated on the meaning of a blessing.

At the talk on blessings, Rinpoche conducted a Vajrayogini kako (obstacle clearance) ceremony... I was fortunate enough to be blessed directly

Towards the end of the talk, Rinpoche blessed all the attendees. After the blessing, he pointed to me and said, “That young man in green, I don’t know his name, but please give him a Lama Tsongkhapa pendant…he needs it“. I’m not sure that Rinpoche knew that I was going to have surgery soon, as my crutches were not within view and I didn’t have my knee brace on.

The combination of the blessing and pendant gave me a lot of confidence heading into surgery the next day. In the operating theater, as I drifted into sleep as the sedation took its hold, my last memory was of chanting Migtsema into the oxygen mask.

My knee during physiotherapy. I have no doubt that without Setrap there, my injuries could have been much worse

When I was wheeled out of the operating theater a few hours later, I was later told that I was still clutching on to the Lama Tsongkhapa pendant that was given to me by Rinpoche the night before…

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