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Transcending and Transforming; An Inspiring Spiritual Journey

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Tulku Karzang Encounters Khenpo Münsel Yangsi for the First Time

As told by Tulku Karzan Dorje

Namo Guru!

It has been a long time since my most gracious root teacher, Khenpo Münsel Rinpoche, merged
his mortal body into the ultimate sphere. Ever since his passing into nirvana, I have been
wandering like a hermit in totally alien countries. I treasured in my heart those precious
memories of staying together with and serving my gracious lama and the memories of his
presence. Whenever I felt low and helpless, I would resort to them as the everlasting driving
force in my life, to help myself overcome all the hard times. I had always been waiting
anxiously for the message about the reincarnation of my lama, like a son missing his mother.

Last year when I went on a pilgrimage to India and attended the fourteenth Nyingmapa Monlam
Chenmo, I finally got the exciting message that Khenpo Münsel's reincarnation had been
recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and bestowed with the name Tenzin Gyurme
Kunzang. There were quite a few disciples of Münsel Rinpoche in India and all of us spread the
news and shared the excitement. Our devoted prayers had finally been answered, and this
dharma event had a satisfactory ending. As with the many other disciples of Münsel Rinpoche, I
rested my longing and expecting mind at ease.

Since then, I have had an aspiration to visit the Tulku of my gracious lama soon. After I got
back from India, I started to prepare for the journey back to Golok, Tibet. Even the severe cold
and heavy ice and snow of the Tibetan Plateau couldn't deter my fervent and devoted heart. In
mid December, I finally stepped back onto my homeland, the pure land and home forever in my
mind.

Once I was back in Golok, I instantly contacted my tutor, Khenpo Panchen of Tra Ling
Monastery, who is also a disciple of the late Khenpo Münsel. Before we went to see the Tulku
of our late teacher, we elaborately prepared various kinds of offerings and gifts, including
representations of the Buddha's body, speech and mind (a Buddha figure, canonical texts and a
stupa), as well as a full set of monastic robes and so on. We decided the time of our visit would
be an auspicious day after the New Year's Day of 2004.

We had asked someone to deliver a message to the parents of the Tulku, informing them of our
visit. But due to the poor transportation and communication in Tibet, we didn't have any
confirmation about whether they had received our message or not. Khenpo Panchen and I said
quite a few prayers, invoking the blessings of the Three Jewels and wishing all the obstacles
pacified and everything made smooth and auspicious.

The day approached quickly and as we waited expectantly, all of us became happy and excited.
Finally, the day arrived. In the morning, we put on colourful clothing and ornamentation, ready
to go. However, due to an unexpected change we didn’t leave until 11am, about 2-3 hours later
than planned. This was our first visit to the area, we were unfamiliar with the road and driving
conditions and we had no idea how long it would take us to get there. So I felt a little bit nervous
worrying, "What if something were to happen on the way?" and so on.

Two jeeps drove the party of us to Da Ri County. When we had just left Gan De County, it
began to snow lightly. The land was covered in white, extremely pure and auspicious. From Da
Ri County on, the tar road underneath changes into packed gravel. In the freezing winter of
Tibet, driving on this packed gravel is safer and more comfortable than on a tar road.
Nevertheless, all of us prayed silently in our hearts. It was a little bit windy and dusty outside of
the town, but this didn’t cause us any problems. At the palace of Gesar Ling, Khenpo Panchen
and several others were waiting to join us. All of us, over ten individuals, all of whom are
disciples of the late Khenpo Münsel, continued our journey.

Thanks to the blessings of the Three Jewels, the trip was almost smooth. After several hours
driving, at around 3pm, we arrived at the local Kangpa Monastery. We asked the monks there for
the exact home address of the parents of the Tulku of Münsel Rinpoche. Without any difficulty,
we pulled up nearly at their front door. Everyone held a khata and gifts in hand and stepped out
of the jeeps. It seemed that the parents had known in advance that some guests would come to
visit. I straightened out my clothing and attuned my emotions. While I was wondering what the
Tulku of my late, perfect teacher would look like now, Khenpo Panchen’s "Here is the Tulku"
awakened me. I fixed my mind and looked carefully. A boy of 8-9 years old was already
standing in front of me with two cheeks like red apples, decorous in appearance. He was not
very tall, but taller than I had expected. It’s really inconceivable that the old and grey-haired
gracious teacher Khenpo Münsel Rinpoche has now reincarnated as an active young boy. How
marvellous is the illusory display of samsara!

After we exchanged khatas and greetings with the parents of the Tulku, we got seated. The
father of the Tulku is a goyi. He had been invited to say prayers by some nearby villagers but
didn’t go since he got the message that some guests might be coming. The father looked like a
very simple and sincere man. He didn’t regard the Tulku as someone extraordinary, but just
looked after and educated him as an ordinary kid. Therefore, although he received us as VIP
guests with bountiful food and warm milk tea, he didn’t set a seat for his son, the young Tulku.
At the request of Khenpo Panchen and me, he placed a wooden chair in front of me, covered
with a woollen carpet, making it a temporary throne. We chatted with the young Tulku for a
while, enquiring about his studies. When I held his tiny hand a moving excitement
spontaneously arouse in me, free from expression. How wonderful are the karmic connections
between him and me!

The photographer who came together with us was busy taking pictures, afraid of missing any of
the historic moments. Then we invited Tulku Tenzin Gyurme Kunzang to be enthroned and
offered him the auspicious khatas and offerings. Khenpo Panchen and I said some short offering
and supplication prayers. At that moment, sitting up straight on the throne, he stared into the sky,
as if he was already beyond all these routines and rituals. How familiar to me was that posture
and glance! This was the very stance that occupied the whole space of my heart and soul. This
is an omniscient and powerful glance that can penetrate your mind, leaving your thoughts
nowhere to hide. This is also a glance filled with compassion, which can melt your entire ego.
The glance of the young Tulku aroused inside me past memories, leading me to pass through a
time tunnel. I felt so touched and moved that I couldn’t recover for a while. This reminded me
of a scene in Looking for Shangri-La, the Legend of the Karmapa, in which Mr. Chen Lu’an said
of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, "He's just like a man hundreds of years old sitting in the body of a
young kid." I thought this could also be applied to the case of the Tulku of Khenpo Münsel.
When all the rituals were completed, we requested to the young Tulku humbly, "Khenpo Münsel
Rinpoche, our gracious teacher and your previous incarnation, was both a great khenpo learned
in the tripitakas and a dzogchen yogi who had completed the four visions of thögal. So, we wish
you to be just like your previous incarnation, become a master of both learning and
accomplishment, turn the nine-spoked wheel of Dharma and benefit all sentient beings."

Then we chatted with the parents of the Tulku for a while. They knew that I came from overseas
to visit the Tulku of my teacher, and felt very grateful and moved. To my great surprise and
honour, the young Tulku asked me to give a name to his little baby sister, which reminded me of
the kindness and grace my late teacher had shown to me when I was his personal attendant in his
last several years. At that very moment, his baby sister who was sleeping in the next room woke
up crying, as if she had sensed what was going on. Young Tulku Tenzin asked me to hold his
baby sister and to amuse her so that she would stop crying, at which everybody laughed out loud.

The parents of the Tulku prepared for us quite a few exquisite gifts including some Tibetan
tapestries. Khenpo Panchen and I expressed our gratitude but didn’t accept their gifts, since it is
against traditional customs and etiquette to receive gifts from the parents while visiting the Tulku
of one's late teacher. At the insistence of the young Tulku, each of the other members of our
party received very generous gifts - truly holy gifts for them. My mother was especially thankful,
and she will cherish these gifts from her lama and Buddha forever.

Coming out from Tulku Tenzin’s home, on our way back, each of us expressed his/her own
feelings. We all felt as if we were back with our late master Khenpo Münsel Rinpoche. I also
expressed my sincere gratitude to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. After being separated for such
a long time and distance, we were able to meet each other. Isn’t that a miracle of samsara as well
as of causes and conditions?

The trip to see the Tulku of my late teacher was a precious spiritual journey and a complete soul
baptism for me. For someone who is so lacking in pure vision and full of discriminative
thoughts like me, it is extremely difficult to see a lovely and active young kid as equivalent to
my late master Khenpo Münsel, who was more than 50 years older than me. But the experiences
and feelings I had during my visit to the Tulku cleared up all my doubts and questions. I have no
other choice but to believe this is the reincarnation of my teacher. At the same time, I am deeply
attracted to the young Tulku, just because of what he is. I am pretty sure that he is the refuge of
my life and the destination of my heart and soul. I have no doubt that my life will become more
meaningful and wonderful because of him. I have been wandering in this endless samsara up till
now. Although I have had the opportunity to visit a few countries and regions in this noisy and
annoying world, it’s really hard to find a cool and pleasant place where I can find some rest for
my mind. Ever since my meeting with the young Tulku, I have rediscovered peace and joy, just
like that which I experienced while staying with Khenpo Münsel Rinpoche.

Probably we have established some deep karmic connections during some period of samsara.
Only when I am with my spiritual teacher will my life become meaningful, otherwise how trivial
and insignificant will it be! I pray from the bottom of my heart that even if I were to become a
tiny piece of dust some day, I would still like to lie beneath the lotus feet of my gracious lama!
How lucky it is for me to find a forever resting space for my mind!
Although the above is not any profound experience of the practice of the generation or perfection
stages, it is my most earnest and authentic feelings and emotions. It is my sincere wish to share
this joy with all my dharma friends. May my gracious teacher and all authentic qualified masters
stay healthy, live long and turn the Wheel of Dharma!

Sarva Mangalam!