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Life on the Road with Rinpoche

Ven. Roger Kunsang, June 2006

We are on the move all the time , the 250 kgs we carry doesn’t ever seem to rest (nearly all are texts). Checked baggage is about 170 kgs and the cabin baggage is about 80 kgs. Often it goes up to 300kgs, and then I have to find other people going in the same direction to help out.

Each place you arrive at you have to unpack…… set up Rinpoche’s altar, lay out the texts, put up the thangkas, set up the daily offerings for pretas, Dzambala, sur offering (means having a barbecue stand for the burning offering) etc. Then set up my office……find a power outlet… different plugs… see if I can get online…. Often a little complicated, find a table and chair, etc. Then after a day or two, or sometimes longer, maybe a week ….pack up and “race” (always running late) to an airport...and start again."

Now we are in Drepung Monastery …sort of… We are staying in a small hotel in Hubli, one and a half hour's drive from Drepung. The road is very bad, in fact it is a disaster. Rinpoche commutes every day to work…oops I mean teachings, leaves at 6.30am, arrives at 8am for the teachings. During lunch break Rinpoche has some appointments. Then afternoon teachings, and then Rinpoche drives back at night - another hour and half on this crater-filled road.

As soon as Rinpoche arrives, Rinpoche jumps into work ….always the first thing He says is ….. “Any news!” which is the signal for me to mention all the relevant things that are happening …..International Office …. Maitreya Project…. Centers…. Projects…Students/friends/families …. requests/ problems/ deaths/ illnesses.

While I am talking Rinpoche has the BBC on the TV or the “animal planet” station …… lions stalking their prey… when they are about to rip the neck out of a deer Rinpoche changes the channel ….He can't bear to watch….. the channel is constantly being changed because the animal world seems to be all about eating each other in the most horrific ways ….yet Rinpoche keeps trying to watch but can't quite do it.

After a while Rinpoche starts doing prayers/meditation, you get no warning it just happens and so I know that’s the time for me to leave. Later at night, usually quite late I get a call and it's time to start work again. Then late, late I start the struggle of trying to appear awake while Rinpoche is discussing or dictating something… my mind starts automatically calculating how to escape with some dignity… it never seems to work … I usually end up embarrassed falling asleep in the middle of things. I go to bed exhausted but content, Rinpoche meditates……then it's breakfast time. …… another day…… such a variety of issues from all over the place…

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