Shopping with the Buddha

14 January 2011 - 3:18am Comments Off

Originally posted on His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s blog, the article below was written by Khong Jean Ai, who was invited one day to go shopping with the Buddha…

Running through Sunway Pyramid, flinging our way through countless clothing racks, it was easy to forget why we were there. I mean, we had been told to get whatever clothes we wanted, to help us celebrate the new year. With no apparent budget, who would not want to shop to abandonment?

But we were not there just to shop, and there was a much bigger meaning behind the whole afternoon.

A group photo in the Ladrang before leaving

Living in Malaysia and being the teacher that he is, Rinpoche teaches his students with an understanding of local culture. Knowing the importance of Chinese New Year and our traditions, every year, Rinpoche sponsors new clothes for several students who may otherwise have to go without.

Arriving at Sunway Pyramid and making our way to the shops

Rinpoche gives gifts for many reasons – to reward hard work, to make people feel welcome, to heal them, to open their minds, to help them feel recognised and valued. It is never just an act of giving and in fact, for many recipients, it is often the message behind the gift that means the most to them. After all, it means their Guru remembers them, and notices what they need. That, in turn, means he cares for their welfare, both materially and spiritually.

So when Rinpoche gives a gift, it is a teaching for everyone involved. Department heads are trained to notice what their staff need and how they live and what makes them happy; staff learn to do the same when they look at their heads, and work harder because they know someone appreciates them. Observers are inspired themselves to give, when they see how happy others are in receiving.

To be more efficient, everyone split into three groups

And so in Sunway Pyramid, we went from shop to shop with Rinpoche, who teased us, joked with us, and picked things he thought would suit us. What is a monk doing shopping, you might ask? It was so much more than that – yesterday was a live and complete demonstration of material and emotional generosity, from the formal Dharma teaching at the beginning, to the location Rinpoche picked, to the people he wanted to shop for, to the people he asked to coordinate the event, to the shopping, to the informal teachings between each shop, to the dinner we ended the day with.

It did not take people long to get stuck in to looking for their clothes

By example, Rinpoche showed just how thorough generosity can be. He also showed us commitment to an idea, and how we should see things through from beginning, middle and to the end; Rinpoche showed us how to take responsibility for ours and others’ well-being.

All in all, 29 people attended this fun occasion. There were 17 people to shop for – these students of Rinpoche’s, both old and new, ran from store to store looking for the right dress, right shoes, right trousers, right shirts…everything they needed!

  • Shin Tan
  • Khong Jean Ai
  • Lim Tat Ming
  • Albert Ratchaga
  • Chia Song Peng
  • Louise Lee
  • Yvonne Yap
  • Justin Cheah
  • Jace Chong
  • Bryan Ho
  • Ethan Chu
  • Lanse Chiah
  • Wendy Ho
  • Kok Yek Yee
  • Pat Ng
  • Wong Yen Pin
  • Becky Yap

There were also 11 helpers on hand to coordinate the different teams, help carry bags, provide fashion advice, and assist Rinpoche in picking items for others:

  • JP Thong
  • Datuk May Phng
  • Loh Seng Piow
  • Chuah Su Ming
  • Ooi Beng Kooi
  • Phng Li Kim
  • Monlam
  • Andrew Boon
  • Yen Ni Law
  • Lily Tan

When we balik kampung (return to our hometowns) this Chinese New Year, many of us will be carrying reminders that we should always be generous to those around us, with our time, effort, kind speech, gentle action and pure thought. These reminders, in the skilful form of new year clothing, were our real gifts for the day.

One of the fashion advisors, Liaison JP Thong, looks for fun belts

Phng Li Kim (CEO of KMP) checks out jeans for her female charges

Andrew Boon and Bryan Ho love their socks!

In between shops, Rinpoche stopped to speak to students to offer words of advice

In Kechara, we do not take anything seriously unless it is about helping we know how to have fun!

Rinpoche loves teasing his students!

For many who rarely get to see Rinpoche, it was a chance for Rinpoche to show them his care and spend some time with them

Rinpoche was there at every step of the way, for the entire day

Li Kim coordinates with Shin Tan to see everyone has what they need

The girls finish first, and wait patiently for the boys!

Whilst waiting, everyone lends a hand to help sort out the items

Off to a delicious Indian dinner!

One of my, Andrew, you look weighed down!

Just when we thought it was over and we were going home...

...Rinpoche stopped to present yet more gifts to some of us

Ever caring, Rinpoche always picks just the right gifts to suit the recipient

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