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.2
Listen to Interview
Part 1 : A letter from Dalai Lama changed everything
――Rinpoche, thank you very much for coming.
Rinpoche: Thank you for having me.
――You are recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of Za Choeje Rinpoche.
――But I heard that you have no memory of your previous life. Who do you think you are?
Rinpoche: Hum. Who am I? That’s a very big question. I think everybody wants to know “Who am I?”, “What am I?”
But I think, in my case, I was living as an ordinary teenage boy until I was sixteen.
And then suddenly at the age of sixteen, I was recognize as the reincarnated Lama.
So somehow in our society, it changes your identity.
For example, until sixteen everybody’s relating with me.
Sort of like, okay, this is ordinary and I had a different name at that time, you know, Choejor.
Everybody’s saying like Choejor just like an ordinary boy.
And then at the age of sixteen, when my recognition letter came from Dalai Lama saying that you are actually reincarnation.
So suddenly it changed the society’s mind.
And then, for example, my parents, my father and mother, my grandparents and my siblings, my neighbors, you know everybody actually then actually shifted how they’re looking at me.
Suddenly in my society, I became like a holy boy, sacred boy, you know, from one moment of being an ordinary boy, then next moment, I mean, in their eyes, I was like a holy, sacred kind of boy.
So when I see that, it was very interesting how it is shifting because I cannot change immediately that way.
But people are actually looking at me that way. And then it took a little bit of time to actually come to this realization, or feeling comfortable.
Sometimes it is interesting to think about it because one time one of my friends actually asked me. “You were ordinary before when you were sixteen, but then at the age of sixteen you become like a monk and sacred holy spiritual person. So were you a spiritual person before?”
And I said “no, I was not. I was not religious and I don’t believe in… not many spiritual things.”
And then she asked me. “What do you think? Where is that boy?”
That ordinary boy now. And actually that question stuck me.
And what I said was “That ordinary boy is dead.”
The ultimate answer to “Who am I?”
Rinpoche: I said. He died.
And then, like “how come?” And I said, after that nobody really see that boy.
Because even though that was me, but I totally changed, shift into their eyes like I’m somebody else.
So when I think about that, when you asked me who am I, you know then, the basic good thing is I am what I am. What I think I am.
So right now, I’m not thinking like I am a spiritual person or holy person or sacred person or anything. And just a person.
And Rinpoche is my name. That’s what people call me and that’s what people think me. So ZaChoeje Rinpoche is my name.
And then, “are you ZaChoeje Rinpoche?” Then, there should be a little difference.
Who you are, and what is your name. It cannot be same one.
And sometimes I ask that question to little boys. Like you know in America, there was, one time, this one little boy. So I asked “what is your name?”
So “my name is John”, right?
And then “are you John?” and he said “yes, of course, I’m John.”
And then I ask “how do you know you’re John.”
And then “my parents know that I’m John.”
So it’s just kind of funny, right? Many times we identify ourselves with the name, but our name is name. That’s not who we are.
So maybe the best answer I should say is, my name is ZaChoeje Rinpoche.
――And you are a person.
Rinpoche: And “am I ZaChoeje Rinpoche?” Then I will say, “Hum, that’s my name.”
――Wow, wonderful answer.
Part 2 : If somebody can do it, I can too
――Do you have something in your life that you thought “I can’t do it” from the start?
Rinpoche: Like “I cannot do it”? I think so. But not a specific thing like “I cannot do it”.
There are many things that I cannot do.
But everything that comes to me and then… I don’t know, maybe… maybe I am maybe a little bit egoistic, maybe my ego is kind of strong, so I always think if I practice I can do it.
So there’s really kind of… there is a courage that if somebody can do it, then I’m thinking why cannot I do it. I can do it.
So, from a spiritual point of view, it’s like enlightenment, so somehow if the Buddha can achieve enlightenment, why can’t I? I can do it, too. I can achieve enlightenment, too.
I think maybe that mindset… I always apply that on “I can be happy.” Why not.
So basically I don’t think there is something that I cannot do.
Why do people give up
――Why do you think people give up, or avoid doing something they really want to achieve?
Rinpoche: That’s kind of like… for example, there are many things, right? I always give this example on happiness.
Everybody wants to be happy. Right? We all wanted to be happy.
And somehow, then many times people just give up. Like I cannot be happy. It’s too hard. I cannot.
Then, they just kind of like go into that depression mode. Being unhappy.
Totally like… okay, this happiness is something that I cannot achieve, or I cannot be happy.
So people… some time it is maybe just lazy. Some time maybe it is just a low self-esteem. Thinking that I am not good enough.
And some men, like many time how you grew up as a child. Society sometimes kind of belittle the child. Saying you are nothing. You cannot do anything. That kind of word imprints in their brain.
Maybe that person will grow into like… okay. you know my teacher said I cannot do it. My parents say I cannot do it. So that is why maybe I’m not a good person. I’m not good enough.
So that is why and “I cannot do it”, then like they don’t have self confidence. And that is kind of like why they give up.
And then many times, people kind of want a easy way. Like you know, if I close my eyes and look up in the sky and then put my hands together and “please, please, please” gives me a one kilo of gold.
Looking up at the sky as that’s a very easy way. And people have a delusion like that. That is also kind of like creating give up.
That’s why many people just look up in the sky and some thinking that some old man with beard will come and give them what they need. And then, that really doesn’t happen. You know, then people give up.
And so there are many reasons. I think the main reason is just low self esteem and laziness. And it’s the cause of why people give up what they want to achieve.
Every single person has a potential
――So what’s your advice to those who have low self esteem?
Rinpoche: I think that is the main issue that many of us, most human beings have that kind of issue.
And the Buddha, to bring that confidence up, he actually used the word “Buddha nature” or enlightened nature. Which he said that everyone of us have this mind. And this mind that we have is very powerful.
So within that, there is a potential. You really have a potential to become enlightened. So which is like a potential to be happy.
So it’s right in us. We all have equally. In all the human being we are all equally given that potential.
So, first we need to acknowledge that… other people say “I am not good” but that doesn’t matter – what other people think or what other people say.
So it is just kind of asking yourself. What I think of me. We should acknowledge that I have the potential.
So somehow scientifically also proven, our brain has so much potential. There is a capability.
So it is up to us to actually accept “Yes, I have that ability or capability.”
And acknowledgement is the first step. You should acknowledge that I have that potential.
But it doesn’t matter what other people say, what other people label me. And so you just have to stand up on ourselves, and acknowledge that we all have that.
From a spiritual, Buddhist point of view, Buddha nature, I have a Buddha nature. And then general point of view, just say that I have a potential. I have a potential to be happy.
That’s actually more important than anything.
Just like when you actually think that I can be happy. Yes, why not? Why not I can be happy.
Then just kind of like, it will take you into that direction that you will become happier.