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Marieke van Vugt

Really enjoying the practice

Yangthang Rinpoche Yangthang Rinpoche http://www.gurupadmasambhava.org

At this same retreat with Yangthang Rinpoche that I wrote about before, we were all very impressed with the being of this amazing lama. It is quite moving to meet such a special human being, which is why I want to share it with you.


Yangthang Rinpoche is a not-so-famous (at least in the West) lama from Sikkim (India), where he lives since he escaped from Tibet. He must be somewhere in his eighties, and he spent 20 years of his life in Chinese prison. What is so striking about him is his tremendous joyfulness and care. He would climb on his throne in the Lerab Ling temple every morning probably around 6 or 7 am, and not leave it until a brief lunch break at 11 am. He deliberately chose to practise in the temple with us, crazy Westerners, instead of doing it quietly in his beautiful apartment. Then after lunch he would do a session with us (for 2-5 hours!), after which it would have been pretty understandable for him to leave (since he got up probably at 3 am or something like that). But no, he stayed while with did our practice and he seemed to really enjoy practising with us. He was quite amused by the English translations of some of the Tibetan texts, and probably the experience of having a thousand or so Westerners from all walks of life sitting there and pretending to practise.

What was very inspiring was that he did not feel like there was anything better to do. While we had to periodically go out and have a break to pee and stretch, this lama would just happily sit there for the whole day, apart from his short lunch break. And he was in his eighties and had endured 20 years of Chinese prison! I aspire that I may also be able to really just fully enjoy the meditation practice so much that I always feel there is nothing better to do. So much so in fact that, like for Yangthang Rinpoche, practice is ultimate way of relaxing! Seeing this was a great lesson for me, because I sometimes have the feeling that practice is something I have to do, rather than something I do because I enjoy it. The inspiring image of Yangthang Rinpoche will surely stay in my mind!