Thursday, April 03, 2014

“What makes you NOT a Buddhist” by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

What makes you NOT a Buddhist

I bought this book back in book shop in Thimphu, Bhutan during my last trip there. I chose this book as the book cover looked fresh (white cover with two Buddha eyes) and modernly designed (not dull and boring). Well, I know, I often tell myself not to judge the book from its cover :P

However, the book was neither too thick and nor too thin. It was equipped with nice printed wordings style and the right size chosen. But the reason on why I chose this book, most importantly, was because the author of this book was a Bhutanese Lama. I never heard his name before and just thought that I would learn something from this book. That’s all!

Only recently I found out that he was also a filmmaker and a writer (this book and another book, “Not for Happiness”) and he was recognized as the third incarnation of the founder of Khyentse lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

Again, I had kept this book inside my book shelf as I had borrowed other books to be read first. You know, when you own the book, you prefer to read it to the last because you think that it’s your own, you have no time limit on when and how much time you will take to read. Perhaps you share the same agreement with me ;)

Last Saturday morning, once I woke up and checked my phone, I received a message from my friend. She told me that she came to Singapore the night before and she came here to attend the talk that would be done on Saturday night by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche at Raffles Hotel. I wasn’t familiar with any Rinpoche, so I searched in Google of his name looking for more information and found out that he was actually the author of the book.

I faster took the book out from the shelf and double checked if I really bought it before (I almost forgot about it) and it was really book written by him, and it was right. Wow! What a good karma, I thought! When I went to Bhutan, I didn’t meet with any well-known Bhutanese Lama. Perhaps I did, but I didn’t know who they were. And this time, the Rinpoche had actually coming down to Singapore.

If my friend had purposely come down from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore just to attend to his talk, why I was the one who stayed in Singapore finding an excuse not to attend? Therefore, I went to the hotel that evening and met my friend.

The talk started at 7.30pm. But when I reached there before 7pm, the tickets had all been distributed to public and I didn’t have my share. So did my friend. We were still able to listen to his talk, but located at another building through the video streaming. We were a little bit disappointed as we didn’t manage to see Rinpoche directly, only through the screen, but we were still very grateful because we were still able to hear to the dhamma teaching brought by him.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche (Photo source:

The topic for the night was “Seeking is More Important than Finding”. In the beginning part, the sound wasn’t clear. Many people, those who were inside the same room with me going through the video streaming including myself, were disappointing. What’s the point of being there if we couldn’t hear the teaching clearly? Some people even left the room and went back home.

Luckily after some time, they tried to make some adjustments on the camera distance. The sounds became better, but the visual view became worse (they put the camera in such a distance and with blurred view). However, to hear was more important than to see his face, right?

There was Chinese language translation after each sentence he said. His talk took about an hour and after that, there was Q&A session opened to anyone there.

To be honest, I was listening to the talk not completely understood as Rinpoche loved to joke and every time he joked, the audience would start laughing whereby their laughter was a way too louder than his voice. But from overall session, I had a feeling that Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche was a very straight forward person, had wide knowledge about outer world and updated himself with current world’s condition - he always quoted some example related to real world situation - and also, humorous, so that people wouldn’t find the talk boring and at the same time still manage conveying the message that he wanted to share with the audience. (Usually people had the impression that Rinpoche or Lama was a serious kind of person that we had to respect them all the time. At least, this one was different).

After the talk ended, the staff said that we could listen to the talk online and gave us the website’s address. I share with you the address here so that you too, can listen to it :) Soon I will listen to the talk again to have a better understanding on it. There were other talks available too on that web.

That morning, I started reading the above book. I have read two-third of the book by now and so far enjoy reading it. He mixed up some Prince Siddharta journey’s of becoming Buddha with our current situation so that we would have an idea on how to apply the Dhamma teachings into our daily life.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on Impermanence

In this book, Rinpoche put an emphasis on the title, “What makes you NOT a Buddhist”, and the following four points were what he brought up:

“If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty, if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist.

And if you think that enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space, and power, then you are not a Buddhist.”

He elaborated more on each point into few chapters and put lots of examples to ensure that after reading it, you would have a greater understand about it. He taught it in different way, making it much more interesting to imagine. It’s a very smooth flow and full of logic too. I love it. Hope I can find his second book and read it :)

P.S. If you click the link above (podcast recorded), I suggest you to listen to the talk topic no. 18 - Love and Relationships - which was done in year 2012. It's interesting and funny, at the same time you may learn something from it :) And guess what? Rinpoche was even reading "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami and he found it a very good love story ;) Happy listening! ^^


Choki Gyeltshen said...

I read this book, it is indeed an worth reading.

Kipchu Namgyel said...

May be I should get the book and read it.Topic sounds interesting.

Rima Reyka said...

Yes Choki, I share the same sentiment with you. Thank you for your comment :)

Rima Reyka said...

It is indeed interesting and not so heavy. Hope you are able to find and read it one day Kipchu! :)

dumcho wangdi said...

A good book by an enlightened human being on the earth.

Rima Reyka said...

Hope you gain benefit from his book Dumcho! Thank you for your comment and have a nice day! :)

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