~Song of Fulfillment~

Founded by His Eminence KALU RINPOCHE

Directed by Venerable LAMA LODU RINPOCHE

Kalu Rinpoche visits KDK: Q and A with Lama Lodu Rinpoche

Kalu Rinpoche visited San Francisco on September 5th and 6th, 2011. These teachings, sponsored by Kagyu Droden Kunchab, were held at the University of San Francisco. People of all ages came and everyone was delighted to see, speak to, and listen to Rinpoche. Kalu Rinpoche visited Kagyu Droden Kunchab, the center founded by his predecessor. They presented mandala offerings and traditional tea and saffron rice offerings. During this visit to KDK Kalu Rinpoche had lunch and conversed with the sangha. The day went very well with numerous Tibetans and Westerners enjoying Rinpoche’s presence.

Kalu Rinpoche Returns to Kagyu Droden Kunchab: An interview with Lama Lodu Rinpoche by Lama Choying

Q:What do you think of Kalu Rinpoche's teachings to Westerners here in the United States?

A:It is beyond my limited knowledge to say. It was certainly clear that everyone was happy to see Rinpoche. At the same time, people left with questions. Though Rinpoche’s teachings offered immediate help to some, others appeared not to respond. I don’t believe this will greatly harm or benefit them. Rinpoche is a Tulku, and a Tulku may use special methods to plant the seed to liberation. We do not know.

Q:You observed Kalu Rinpoche interact with many people during the question and answer sessions. What was your impression?

A:Since I have a profound connection with the previous Kalu Rinpoche, I must say that what I heard did not impress me. But, again, this may be due to my own obscurations. On September 6th, 2011, during the fifteen minute private conversation I had with Kalu Rinpoche, I said that his predecessor gave me food, clothing, medicine and education. But even more important, he revealed the Path to Liberation from Hinayana to Vajrayana. That gift was precious. I have lived my life following Rinpoche’s instructions and advice. I am doing so now, and I will continue. I will not change. I spoke to Kalu Rinpoche directly, from my heart. At first he seemed not too highlighted, but later he looked at me carefully and smiled.

Q:Do you have any advice for Kalu Rinpoche to flourish his activity for the benefit of sentient beings?

A:My advice is hindered by my ordinary perception. I am not omniscient. Still, if Rinpoche were to deepen his knowledge by further study with a true spiritual teacher, this could be quite valuable. This Tulku is the true Kalu Rinpoche and so I have great hope for his future. I pray that he, like his predecessor, will greatly benefit countless sentient beings, guiding them on the path to liberation.

Deborah Janke, Former KDK President, Interviews Lama Lodu Rinpoche

Q:Though most people were delighted and touched by the second Kalu Rinpoche’s honesty, knowledge, intelligence and obvious compassion, they were unprepared for his unconventional style, the fact that he eschews traditional robes, requests that people not prostrate, and denies that he is anyone special: “I’m a twenty year old guy; don’t expect too much from me.” Kalu Rinpoche advised his audience to be happy, to respect one another, and not to confuse Buddhist teachings with the Tibetan culture. Rinpoche, you’ve known Kalu Rinpoche since he was a small child, were you surprised by this?

A:Somewhat, although I’d heard from others that Rinpoche was quite outgoing, expressing an untraditional approach. My teacher, the first Kalu Rinpoche emphasized and followed a tradition precious to me, which I cannot give up. At the same time, I don’t object. The audiences at the University of San Francisco were happy and enjoyed themselves. Whether what they heard will be of assistance in the long run, I cannot say. (Rinpoche smiles.) I am not omniscient. All I can do is speak honestly.

Q:Perhaps Rinpoche was attempting to reach out to younger people?

A:That’s hard to say. Maybe Rinpoche’s approach will lead young people to the true teachings, open the door to them, open their eyes so they may see the door. Still, if they don’t discipline themselves and sever habitual patterns, their lives will remain difficult.

Q:Was the second Kalu Rinpoche’s three-year-retreat the same as what others engage in?

A:The program was designed precisely according to tradition, nothing more, nothing less. The second Kalu Rinpoche received instructions from Bokar Rinpoche, who was the heart disciple of the previous Kalu Rinpoche. Bokar Rinpoche learned everything from the first Kalu Rinpoche, as I did.

Q:One of the questions students ask, especially those who regard the first Kalu Rinpoche as their root guru -- do they simply transfer their devotion and samaya to his incarnation, the second Kalu Rinpoche?

A:This is hard to judge. Up until now their devotion arose from their expectation that the second Kalu Rinpoche would appear exactly the same as his predecessor. Since the second Kalu Rinpoche’s style is so different, the person must decide for him or herself.

Q:So one may choose to keep the image of the first Kalu Rinpoche in one's heart?

A:If they visualize Kalu Rinpoche with devotion and practice according to what Rinpoche taught, there is nothing better than that. In the Kagyu tradition, a renowned master said, “When you do not meet a teacher (in this life) for whom you have heartfelt trust, you can choose a great master, one who demonstrated, before he passed, the conduct and qualities of a bodhisattva. You can directly receive Buddha’s blessings this way and realize Mahamudra.” Of course, it is important that you receive empowerments and transmissions from a living master. But it is extremely important not to have wrong views, not to criticize, or reject.

Q:So we should not judge teachers?

A:Best not to judge anyone, especially one who is an incarnation of a bodhisattva. In Torch of Certainty, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodu Taye said, “You should not criticize even the tiniest insect because a bodhisattva may take the form of an insect to benefit sentient beings. Don’t find fault in others. Correct yourself and have pure vision.”

Q:Could you speak more about teachers?

A:There are nine qualities the teacher should have. He or she must be learned (1), diligent (2), and have pure conduct (3). They must listen to teachings from Mahapanditas (4) (learned Buddhist masters), reflect on the teachings (5), and put what they hear into meditation (6). They must be able to explain the teachings thoroughly (7), compose shastras through their own developed wisdom (8), and master debate to unveil the true essence of the teachings (9). When they possess these nine genuine qualities their relative conduct cannot obscure their immaculate nature.

There are many interesting stories in the Buddhist canon about great masters. Do you want to hear one?

Deborah: Definitely.

Rinpoche: There was a teacher, very learned in the Dharma, who had no time to keep up with his practice. He never revealed this to his students. Because of their pure view and devotion for him they all realized the true nature of mind. After they were enlightened they could see their teacher as he was and they liberated him as well. Thus, pure view and devotion are very important.

Q:Some time ago a letter came from Sonada Monastery. The document listed a series of precise rules regarding the wearing of robes, titles, and other protocol issues. Having now met the second Kalu Rinpoche, the strict advice contained in that letter seems odd, especially considering Rinpoche’s unorthodox approach to tradition.

A:I have no answer. The question answers itself. I will follow the instructions I received from my guru, the previous Kalu Rinpoche. No matter what the document may say I cannot change or contradict the advice I received from my teacher. These were a direct transmission from Buddha. I will follow Rinpoche’s word no matter what. That is my point of view.

Q:What advice do you have for students who may experience confusion in trying to understand the second Kalu Rinpoche’s unusual approach?

A:If they are confused there are many books by the previous Kalu Rinpoche they can read, also those by other great masters, Thrangu Rinpoche, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Karmapa. Their writings contain profound teachings.

Q:The second Kalu Rinpoche visited Kagyu Droden Kunchab during his time in San Francisco. Could you please tell us how that event went?

A:The public teachings Rinpoche gave were during the week, September 5th and 6th. He visited KDK for a few hours Tuesday afternoon and that went very well. Rinpoche agreed to wear traditional robes. Everyone was happy to see him and our students worked hard in preparation for his visit.

Q:What is the significance of wearing robes?

A:Relatively speaking, the robes bring energy and blessings. Wearing robes is a Buddhist tradition that goes back centuries. But from an absolute point of view, wearing or not wearing robes doesn’t mean too much, it all depends on attitude and motivation. If wearing a robe made a difference, everyone who wore them would display great qualities. But we should maintain the tradition out of respect to our predecessors. That is important. For instance, when I was released from my monastic vows, I considered wearing street clothes. The previous Kalu Rinpoche told me to keep my robes, “You will be more careful that way, the robes are a reminder of your commitment.” Along with this advice, Rinpoche gave me a complete set of robes. I always wear robes when I teach and practice.

Q:I remember when the first Kalu Rinpoche came to San Francisco he began by teaching the Four Noble Truths. He built on that foundation. Do you think the second Kalu Rinpoche will do something similar next year?

A:There is no way to predict. I agree, the previous Kalu Rinpoche began with the Four Noble Truths, and slowly introduced students to other teachings: taking refuge, the bodhisattva vow, Ngöndro. Eventually Rinpoche bestowed the Chenrezig empowerment and explained how to do that meditation, his favorite. Gradually he ordained people and built three-year retreat facilities in North America. Teachings were offered when Rinpoche perceived people were ready to receive them.

What will Kalu Rinpoche teach next? I cannot say. What Rinpoche will teach, I have no way of knowing, but I pray that he does. I am speaking from my heart. So that’s it.

(Rinpoche smiles.)I believe this second Kalu Rinpoche is the true Kalu Rinpoche. No question. But in my ordinary perception, I want him to be like his predecessor, displaying the same inner and outer attributes. But as I said earlier, this is due to my ordinary perception, I am not omniscient.
Deborah: Thank you, Rinpoche.
Rinpoche: You are welcome.