I’M REQUESTING ORDINATION 1987
I was on Facebook the other day and noticed a sharing by Susie Gugajew-Carton. Thank you so much Susie! I didn’t pay much attention at first as the description of this video was very abbreviated so I didn’t understand at first. But there was nothing else on Facebook that caught my eye, so I thought just take a look at the video. To my surprise, the video clip had me meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1987!!! I didn’t even know such a video existed, but I am glad it does. It brought back so many holy and beautiful memories. What a nice surprise!!
The video was in Washington, New Jersey. Washington is in the North of New Jersey and it’s the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains. Beautiful place. The Mongolian Geshe Wangyal established a wonderful dharma centre on one of the mountains there and invited His Holiness to visit, give dharma talk and blessings. All the Kalmuck Mongols (1,000 approximately) rented buses from the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia) to have audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was living in Los Angeles (Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen’s dharma centre) at the time. I flew from Los Angeles to New Jersey to attend the teachings. After the teachings, we had the great fortune to go up and get blessing from His Holiness!!! Even writing about this now gives me goose bumps. Well when my turn came up, I directly requested His Holiness to please ordain me as a monk and wish to go to India permanently. His Holiness replied NO PROBLEM, COME TO INDIA AND HE WILL DO IT!!!! I was so excited, I held my tears and was blissed out…My uncles, cousins, step parents, family and many friends were there also. My step parents were not happy at all, but I had to do what my calling was. And I was going to do it no matter what obstacles.
I left for India in October 1987 and stayed in Delhi. I went to Dharamsala around late November and stayed at the Gaden Shartse Puja House for one month. I loved it. I did pujas with the monks, did my sadhana and waited for my ordination. Dharamsala is 12 hours bus ride from Delhi and is where His Holiness resides. In December 1987 I had the fortune with two other boys to spend three hours with His Holiness and senior sangha like His Eminence Denma Locho Rinpoche and received my ordination vows. His Holiness gave me my vows, cut my hair and touched my robes to bless it. Can you imagine. His Holiness did this for me!! I was so happy. I finally became a monk after years of wanting to be one since very young. I was 22 and just became ordained!!! It was a lifetime’s dream come true to be a monk and His Holiness, the highest of the high ordained me himself!!! I was given the ordination name Tenzin Zopa by His Holiness.
I offered my fruits and various other items to His Holiness then went outside after the ordination ceremony. None of my family, or friends or anyone from the USA was there to greet me. I had made one friend in Dharamsala. His name is Ven. Sharpa Tulku Rinpoche (translator). He alone stood outside the palace of the HH Dalai Lama with a khata to greet and congratulate me after the ceremony. He was the only person there for me. I realized my spiritual journey would not get support from anyone perhaps no one really understood it..I am sure my family had good reasons that they weren’t there..I do not mean to blame, it was just what happened…
I was so happy to be a monk, but realized I am alone. I appreciated Sharpa Rinpoche for being there so much. He was a good friend to me in those days. He explained to me so much of our Tibetan culture, the monasteries, people, etiquette and any questions I had so patiently. I had no one else in Dharamsala…I spent alot of time with him in Dharamsala before my ordination (Ven Sangtsang Rinpoche helped me to prepare my robes and offerings as Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen wrote him a letter to help me prior to ordination). Sharpa Rinpoche was very patient and spoke English so eloquently. Can you imagine travelling half way around the world to take the biggest step of your life and when you finish and come out, there was just one person there that you just became friends with? The other two monks who were ordained with me at the same time, had so many family and friends waiting for them with khatas, gifts and congratulations and were outside of the palace waiting…I saw them… It was lonely for me, but it’s ok…I accepted. I knew becoming a monk was the right thing. And I will never turn back.. I requested His Holiness and he ordained me and that is all that matters!! I was going to go all the way with my decision and I fought hard to get to Dharamsala. After Dharamsala I would have to go to Nepal then to Gaden!!!! Gaden!!! Gaden!!! Gaden!! Every bone in my body wanted to go to Gaden and live in the Monastery!!! Every fibre in me ached to go to Gaden!!!!
Here’s a spectacular video taken by someone and posted on facebook of one of the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENTS IN MY LIFE…when I requested and was accepted to become a monk.
I am requesting His Holiness to ordain me here in Washington, New Jersey (1987)…My uncle Giga looks on from behind.
His Holiness accepts and says COME TO INDIA!!!!! I almost collapsed with happiness and fulfillment.
I am 22 years old here and meeting a living Buddha who holds my unworthy hands…..
(In the background is a large man in a grey jacket, white shirt and black pants looking at us-that’s my Uncle Giga) (Thank you whoever you are who took this video…it means so much to me and means so much to so many people in Kechara)