I arrived Sera Je Monastery at the age of 15. It was one of my most exciting and important start of my life. It was also my greatest moment as this was one of my greatest wish to go to that monastery since I was a kid. At the age 6, I was almost sent to Sera together with some senior monks but due to my age and financial constrained, I was unable to go. That was before my late master Geshe Lama Konchog (Geshela) left Tsum. This however created better opportunity for me to spend more valuable time during my younger days with my late master and to be in Sera which was one of the great hopes of the late Geshe Lama Konchog, Khenrinpoche, Deyma Locho Rinpoche and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
The late Geshela Lama Konchog was away from Kopan Monastery during the time I was asked to go to Sera Je Monastery by Khenrinpoche. It was rather dramatic but interesting during that time. Khenrinpoche wanted me to study in Sera and to graduate as a Geshe very much and yet he feared that Geshela Lama Konchog might not let me go. Geshela wanted me as his attendant and has always said to Khenrinpoche that no one can decide anything for me until he dies. However, Khenrinpoche sees my interest in philosophy and debate which has lasted 3 – 4 years already. It I should succeed in geshe studies, it should not be delayed any further. So Khenrinpoche wanted to send me without Geshela’s knowing, even though he knew that Geshela wanted me to go to Sera later. The moment came when Khenrinpoche made a decision and asked one senior monk to bring me there. Air tickets were bought and the day before we left Khenrinpoche gave a call to Geshela who was abroad. Geshela straight away said he’s not keen in the idea and time has not ripened for me. I was totally stuck in between those two beloved gurus. One asking me not to go and another insisted that I do. I had to decide within one night and yet I have no authority to decide. Khenrinpoche was also in a very difficult position but I knew he definitely wanted me to go immediately and when Geshela comes back whatever scolding he will bear whatever scolding from him. Khenrinpoche said he cannot afford to keep me here and I must not delay the completion of my geshe study.
At that time Deyma Locho Rinpoche was in Kopan. We decided to ask his divination and he predicted that it was very beneficial for me to go now and to come back if that was the wish of Geshela. That way I will fulfill wishes of both my teachers. I will also accomplish the purpose of going there not only to become a geshe but a Lharam Geshe (PHD in Buddhist philosophy). Everything predicted by Deyma Locho Rinpoche till today is totally correct.
My life in Sera was one of the happiest moments because my best subject was philosophy and I felt bliss as my room was filled with long ancient philosophy text. I felt so proud being surrounded by these texts. In fact I had more text surrounding me than friends. During that time text book in booklet form was limited. It was mostly rice paper text which was light but looked thick and bulky. When we move around, we place the text on our shoulder. That looks stunning with the bright color book cover. I really felt proud of who I am at that time but it’s wrong to feel proud.
We were required to buy vegetables and cook for ourselves and since the market is open only on Tuesday, the monastery selected that day as our off day. What we needed was a few tomatoes, some rice, flour, onion, salt and chilies. Life was very simple. What we have was mainly text and when family members or others offer us something during pujas, we use the money to buy text. We use one set of robe for five years and we really got used to the thorn, old and discolored look and even our slippers became so worn out after so many years. So it’s just text in one small room. That’s all.
I am so lucky to meet my precious teacher recommended by Khenrinpoche as well as Geshela Lama Konchog. I truly appreciate my three philosophy teachers who were Sera Je’s abbot Losang Tsering (currently ex-abbot),
We were blessed to have classes and teachings everyday. I loved their teachings and they are very kind and full of compassion and due to my strong relation with Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Khenrinpoche and Geshela Lama Konchog, I was given extra privilege with extra time for discussion and other things. It was amazing! Due to their kindness, the environment in Sera Je was so conducive which makes one only want to study. It makes my examination very fulfilling even thought it was very difficult. A lot of memorization, debate and writing had to be done and there are 3 annual exams. The 1st year I was inspired to jump 5 classes (Duechung Wogma, Duechung Gongma, Duedring, Duechen, and Shungsar). It wasn’t easy especially when my examiners was very strict and set my passing rate at 70% while others were only 50%. The examiners didn’t want any one to upgrade classes easily. There were warning from the examiners that they were going to conduct my debate examination in front of two thousand philosophers and questions will be asked by more than 30 students. I also had to sit there for 3 hours and I was required to stand in front of everyone to debate for at least half an hour with 5 different scholars giving me marks. I was held responsible for wasting the time of the two thousand philosophers should I fail. This message was passed to me by the disciplinary. That 3 hour shi long was very important time for us. Once or twice a month all sanghas scholars and students gather to share knowledge through debate. And I was placed there by purpose. I could have taken the examination in front of 2 or 5 philosophers. They thought I would give up but I studied very hard for 3 months and I succeeded. I scored very high marks and my teachers were very pleased and that made Geshela Lama Konchog proud of me and I now deserve to stay in Sera but only for one year. Geshela told Khenrinpoche that he will not go overseas anymore for any request of teaching if I decided not to return. Geshela has many requests to go to Europe,
Shots taken through out the event.