He was recognized, at the age of 16, by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as the 6th reincarnation of Hor Choeje Rinpoche of Eastern Tibet, and received extensive training in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist method of listening, contemplation and meditation.
Za Choeje Rinpoche Special Interview Vol.1
Watch Interview (in English with CC)
Rinpoche: Hello everybody. I am ZaChoeje Rinpoche. And you can call me Rinpoche. It’s a short name.
And I live in America, actually I am Tibetan.
And my parents are from Tibet. But I was born in a refugee camp. And these days I live in America.
And sometime, my American name, people call me Zach Rinpoche. So in Japan, it’s like Zakku Rinpoche.
――Okay. Rinpoche, thank you so very much for coming on this program today.
Rinpoche: You’re very welcome. It’s my pleasure.
――I want to ask you a lot of questions. How many times have you been in Japan?
Rinpoche: Actually, I’ve been in Japan maybe many time.
Since 1999, now it’s 2017.
――Yeah, 18 years ago.
Rinpoche: Sometime two times a year, sometime one time a year.
So basically I will say “many times” I visited Japan.
――Yeah that’s a lot. Do you like Japanese food, by the way?
Rinpoche: Oishi-desu. (It’s delicious.)
――What do you like specifically?
Rinpoche: Japanese food I really love. One of my favorite thing is ramen noodles.
Rinpoche: And Gyoza. Ramen and Gyoza.
――I love ramen too.
Japanese culture pays respect to even enemies
――What do you think about Japanese people?
Rinpoche: I think Japanese has a beautiful culture.
And I think the most important thing that I notice is that Japanese culture very much based on kind of respect.
Yeah, if you go into the ancient culture, in samurai culture, they teach you how to respect even your enemy, which is a big thing.
And recently when I was visiting here, and there was a day I think it was July 17. It’s called “Umi” Day. Right? The Marine Day.
And I was kind of asking what is that day about?
And then it is actually like a special day, a holiday to pay respect to the ocean or to appreciate the ocean.
This is kind of like something very beautiful. So I think in Japan you have a very ancient beautiful culture.
So people are really… just kind of like the politeness and how… respect people.
Like when you meet someone, just kind of bowing to each other and just how they introduce each other. That’s a very unique culture.
And somehow there’s a very beautiful culture in Japan, so you know, people who are actually taking that culture. I think that’s wonderful.
Buddha’s teaching boils down to only one word
――Last night I went to your seminar, and at first you talked about respect. That is a very good thing.
Rinpoche: Yes, that is I always say, you know, what I learned from Buddhist teaching.
And the Buddha actually teach many things, but if you put all things together, that just kind of summarize into one word, which is respect.
――Respect. And you find a lot of respect in the Japanese culture.
Rinpoche: I think yeah. Culturally it is very much based on… the foundation of your culture, the Japanese culture is based on respect.
Like respecting each other. So even you know, things like… if you can respect your enemy, then pretty much you can respect anybody.
――Yeah, that’s right. Hmmm, I didn’t think like that. Wow.
We are coming into a new world
――The main listeners of this program are English learners who live in Japan. And I think they are future leaders of Japan, or the world. And I want to hear some advice for them.
Rinpoche: Yeah I think it is wonderful. I think now these days the world is becoming smaller in a way that we kind of like… people from different countries connected with each other.
And then English kind of become like one of the most internationally used language.
So somehow it is kind of like good to know the English, so that you can actually connected with some other people, you know, culture people.
So that’s kind of like… we are kind of like coming into a new world.
It is wonderful to actually learn English. And actually, you know, I am trying to learn Japanese.
――What’s your favorite Japanese word?
Rinpoche: My favorite word? Utashi.
Rinpoche: No, utashi.
You know what “utashi” means?
Rinpoche: It is a combination of “ureshii (delightful)”, “tanoshii (fun), “shiawase (happy)”.
――Wow! Utashi… wow!
Rinpoche: It’s not a Japanese word, but I made it up.
One actually not I made it. One of my friend used it and I really liked it.
――That’s good, that’s good yeah.
Speak up and you’ll be appreciated
――You know, many Japanese people are very shy. Maybe they’re too humble. And they shy away from using English. And speak up and say “I can do this!” Japanese people have to say that to the world I think.
Rinpoche: Yeah I think sometime it is kind of like… Japanese people have a nature.
Because you know like very detail oriented is the Japanese mind. Very detail oriented.
So somehow it is kind of perfection is somehow kind of their mentality.
So if they can not to do something perfectly, then they kinda rather just shy away or don’t do it kind of thing.
So I think when you are learning something, I think you just have to say it.
You know, even though you make a mistake, I think everybody will understand because it is like somehow… for example English is not your first language.
So when you make a mistake, people who speaks English well will actually understand that.
Actually they will appreciate more if you actually speak to them.
And if you don’t speak to them, I think then somehow people misinterpret that maybe he or she doesn’t like me or something like that.
――So speak up.
Rinpoche: Yeah, I think it is better to… even though it is a mistake but I think people would appreciate more if you just speak it up.
――How do you define mistakes? I’m just curious.
Rinpoche: And it’s kind of like sometime, for example Japanese is very similar to Tibetan.
For example like “I am going” so it will be like a different way of saying “going I am”.
But it is just kind of like how you make the sentence, right?
So it is the kind of like… sometime you make a grammatically little mistake, I think it will be okay.
And sometime also people are afraid about the pronunciation because like pronunciation… okay maybe I’m making not correct pronunciation, maybe not a right way of saying or something.
But I think it is just… you know, when we have a different tongue, it will be different pronunciation.
Like all over English speaking like British people has a different pronunciation, American have a different pronunciation.
And if the European people speak English, their pronunciation is also different.
So I think it is just mistake in kind of like pronouncing.
Is it okay to kill mosquitoes?
――You know, I have one personal question. And I have been to Bhutan twice. And 99 percent of Bhutanese people believe in Tibetan Buddhism. And they don’t kill. They don’t even kill mosquitoes. And I thought it was fascinating, and I wanna do the same. But in Japan it’s hard not to kill mosquitoes. You know. Living with my family, they want them killed. But Bhutanese people, they wave away mosquitoes. That was, you know, fascinating.
Rinpoche: It is kind of similar in Tibetan. Kind of like we have… Bhutanese and Tibetan has a similar kind of culture that you know when there’s an animal, they always kind of like… even if it is a mosquito, they just kind of wave it so that you know just they will go away.
Like if there is some insects on the road, they will just pick it up and you know put it in some safe place.
Something like respecting the animals’ life. We have that kind of culturally belief base.
So I think in many culture they just kill, right?
But it is kind of like… sometime it is an instinct.
Even like I one time heard Dalai Lama was sitting on the throne. And then there was a mosquito on his shoulder, right?
And then like… he just raised his hand like this, you know, to hit it.
But then immediately he said, “it’s just kind of instinct, right? Human instinct that you wanna hit it.”
But then he just kind of like put it like that, you know.
――His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that!
Rinpoche: It is kind of like… because if mosquito bites you, it’s painful, right? So when there’s a pain, you just kind of like… your hand will automatically go “pop” like… you know.
But I think that’s a human instinct. But I think sometime if it goes unconsciously, unintentionally, I think it is okay.
But intentionally killing something or some…, you know, that will be kind of little difficult.
――Yeah, it’s difficult.
Start by respecting yourself
――We are running out of time and one final question. What is your message to the listeners of this program?
Rinpoche: Yeah it is wonderful today, you know. I am thankful for giving me this opportunity to connect with many people.
And my message is always the same. And just no difference… message for the Japanese.
It is kind of like… we should live our life with respect.
And that respect also start by respecting yourself.
When I say respect yourself, respect means kind of like “appreciation” – feeling grateful.
For example, you respect your body means you appreciate your body.
You feel grateful to your body because your body is doing all this work to keep you alive.
So when you go inside the body, there’s like a heart beat. For example, you know, we should respect our heart.
And this is like.. it is 24 hours beating and working hard.
So at least it deserves some kind of like appreciation and respect.
So something like that. That’s example like respecting your body. Respecting yourself. Respecting the life of yourself and others.
And then just kind of like when you feel grateful, that’s a wonderful feeling. It’s like you appreciate.
And for example, especially in Japan, like you have so many things. Like there are so many positive things.
Like your life situation is actually much better than many of the people in the other countries.
So sometime if you kind of look into your own life and see how many positive things you have and then start appreciating it. “Wow, this is wonderful.”
Like you know if your mindset become sort of like “sugoi! my life is wonderful, amazing.” You know that kind of… if you live your life with that, then you become a positive person.
So, I think the important thing is to become positive person.
The more positive person you become, you will be happier and it will be much better – better life. Yeah.