Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lucky as a Turtle, by Michelle Bradley

Class Shang Rinpoche in Taiwan Students
Reflections by Michelle Bradley, USA
Many traditions stress that this human life is unique and precious. The Buddhists liken this life as to being a blind turtle, roaming the depths of a vast ocean. On the ocean’s surface, a circular ring or tube floats, tossed by the waves. Every hundred years this turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being, according to Buddhists, is even more difficult than for this turtle to accidentally surface with its head through the ring. And to have the opportunity to study with a real teacher to better oneself and help others is even more rare. 

When I was in India - along with millions of other seekers looking for that peace, that happiness so elusive to them – I attended an excellent yoga therapy course. I loved the center, the teachers, what I was learning and my fellow practitioners. I remember walking along a lake one afternoon with a friend, praising our current yoga course. I remarked at some point that it was great, however I still hadn’t found a teacher who knew my mind and I hoped that there was one out there.

I then moved to Taiwan for work, in the hopes of soon returning to India to continue my inner search. Once here, I joined a qigong and meditation class. I immediately felt drawn to the wise teacher exuding warmth and peace, who I learned was Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche. Intent on finding my guru in India, I started to ask Rinpoche for his advice on whom to seek. Humble and patient, Rinpoche suggested I could stay and learn something here. However, Rinpoche still accompanied me on my online search for the perfect teacher! As this search and time went by, the dawn of realization grew on me that there was much to learn, right where I was.

I decided to stay and almost seven years on, I’m still here, and learning so much. I am lucky as the turtle in that ring. It hasn’t been easy, as it never is studying with a true teacher who is willing to show you the potential you yourself wouldn’t take the trouble to see. I’ve learned that basing one’s happiness on external phenomena will never give long-lasting results. Instead, by paying attention to this great jewel inside you, the mind, you can begin to develop stillness. This is like finally turning on the light, only to find out that the reason why you’ve been tripping around all this time is that the room has been dark.

Through Shang Rinpoche’s powerful and compassionate blessings, I’m learning how to gratefully experience every moment of life as a precious practice opportunity. Rinpoche’s tireless and ceaseless kindness and compassion towards all beings regularly reduces me to tears and inspires me to let go of my selfish ways and truly help others. Sometimes the process of improving oneself feels challenging, however when I turn to see Rinpoche working even harder to teach and guide us, I feel so grateful and in awe of his ceaseless commitment to helping others in whatever way is suitable. If each of us lived our lives with one tiny ounce of the bodhisattva spirit with which Rinpoche lives by, we would definitely all know this world to be paradise, or a pure land.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing Michelle. I remember when you were always looking at different teachers in Rinpoche's side room. Now, I see why you were doing it. I guess it just goes to show that each person's 'homework' is really an individual thing. What I find mind boggling is how Rinpoche can keep track of the 'homework' he gives for all of his students, and all the time he commits to helping them.