Buddhist dignitary makes historic visit to Bloomington monastery

By Lyndsay Jones, Indiana Daily Student, Nov 8, 2015

Bloomington, ID (USA) -- Cars from Canada, New Jersey, Iowa and other states filled a parking lot surrounding Ganden KhachoeShing Monastery on Sunday.

They had driven for miles to Bloomington and eventually wound up on a gray gravel road to a stone and burgundy painted building. They had driven to see what they considered to be miraculous.

Inside, Kyabje Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche was surrounded by people in all sorts of dress - suits, ties, dresses, Tibetan Buddhist ceremonial headwear. He presided over various ceremonies in the main room of the monastery.

Overlooking the room behind him were three large golden statues imported from Nepal. He had been teaching for the past six days in what one of the monastery’s residents called “a historic event.”

“He is one of the most important people in our lineage,” Jam-Yang Lama, the monastery’s translator, said.

Lama said Rinpoche is important because of who he is today and who he may have been in a past life.

“He was found as the reincarnation of Trijang Dorje Chang,” Lama said. “Traditionally, you have to go under a lot of tests to be found as reincarnated.”

Before he died in 1982, Chang was one of the foremost teachers of Tibetan Buddhism.

According to his website, Rinoche was recognized as Chang’s reincarnation in 1985 by the Dalai Lama.

“Masters (of Buddhism) asked about his past life - gave him multiple choice questions about what things he did as a child, who he studied under - to find out if he was the reincarnation,” Lama said. “There are not many people who can do this.”

Lama said continuous consciousness was a key tenant of Buddhism. At some point, Chang was able to decide to reincarnate - an act Lama said was made out of a desire to continue to help people in this world.

“This is why he is one of the most revered,” ?Lama said.

In the room where he was ending the blessing ceremony that would conclude his stay, Rinoche was surrounded by people. Most of them had come from out of town to see him - and see him they would. Lama said Rinoche had been meeting individually with anyone who wanted a private visit.

“Anybody who wants to see him can,” Lama said.

Rinoche currently teaches and lives in Vermont, where he is the spiritual director of of the Trijang Buddhist Institute. Lama said he chose to visit the Bloomington monastery because of its dedication to Buddhist teachings.

“Being in this monastery is a very special thing,” Lama said. “We actually like Bloomington so much we call ourselves the ‘Hoosier monks.’”