Question: So you were starting meditation before you started receiving formal training in meditation?
Yes, yes. I was trying to practice meditation although I have no idea of meditation. And then sometimes ran in the cave and try to pretend that I am meditating. And my grandmother was very worried and she thought I lost. Then she asked to many other people to search me and finally she found me in the cave. And she told me: Don’t do that next time. But I did anyway. And then she accept that. Oh if you go to that cave is okay. I have permission from my grandmother and my mother. And one day I sit there and try to pretend meditation. I have no idea about meditation. But then there is one mantra OM MANI PEDME HUNG we use, everybody use OM MANI PEDMA HUNG in our village. And what we call this mantra is the compassion mantra or the wisdom of compassion. And I thought maybe I should say this in my mind while I am in the cave. And I did that. I feel better, nice. And when I was nine years old, I asked my father, my father is also great meditation teacher. But I am little bit shy to ask him directly, I asked my mother to help me to ask my father to teach me meditation. And my father accepted to teach me meditation. But first my question is: Saying OM MANI PEDME HUNG in mind, is that meditation or not.? My father said yes. I was so happy.
Were you happy because you wanted to please your father?
Happy because I am doing right. I was happy because I was doing right. That is meditation.
So how old were you there?
That time I was nine years old. But although I like idea of meditation and curious about meditation, but I have panic attacks. When I was around eight years old, I develop panic. Although I have loving family, nice environment. But panic follows me as like shadow. And we have, some time winter we have storms, snow storms and many things going on. And then I have fear of natural disasters, and fear of strangers, fear of thundering, lightening. And many fear. Sometime cannot sleep. But I tried to search for solution for my panic. And then when I was nine years old I learned meditation from my father. To deal with the panic. But I receive wonderful meditation instructions but I don’t practice much. I am lazy boy.
And when I was eleven years old I moved to India, northern part of India, place called Sherab Ling. Very nice place, near Dharamsala, the residential place of His Holiness Dalai Lama. Two hours from Dharamsala. Road is bumpy road. It is good for your body. Free exercise. Like massage chair in the airport, you pay a lot of money. Bump. But there is very good. Free. Anyway. I was in Sherab Ling and then when I was thirteen years old there is going to start three year retreat, meditation retreat. I really want to join the retreat but I am shy to ask. And I ask my father to ask His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche who is head of our monastery to accept me to join three year retreat. And my father wrote letter to offer His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche. He called me: Do you really want to join. Are you sure. I said: Yes. And he accept and I have opportunity to join three year retreat. And the first year of my three year retreat, my panic get worse. Stronger. Then I thought: I am very unhappy at that time, but still I have two more years to go. I thought, wow, I still have two more years. Do you really want to spend like this way two more years like this or do you really want to apply meditation technique with panic attacks. In the end I decided to apply meditation techniques with my panic. I said to my panic: Hello. Because normally what I found there is two ways to make panic get worse, stronger. First, you follow to panic. You just say yes Sir and you believe in panic. And whatever message come from panic, you just believe and world is terrible. There is problem yes. That way panic becomes your boss. And you become slave of the panic. Second problem, you don’t like panic. You hate panic: Hey panic get out. And you try to block panic, you have panic of panic. You have fear of panic. Sometimes fear of panic is stronger than panic. And this way panic becomes your enemy. So what I found is you can make friend with the panic. How? They hello. And I use my panic as object of meditation. And the panic transform into meditation. When I look at the panic, panic is like bubble. Shaving foam. Look like big but inside full of bubble. But when you go more deep into that panic loose meaning. There is awareness. Spacious. Experience beyond word, beyond concept. And the panic was gone. I sat in my room for three days to use panic as object of meditation. After three days later panic totally gone. And since from that I don’t have panic again. This is why I am still very happy about my panic. I think panic is one of my important teacher. I am still grateful for I had panic. I learned a lot from my panic. Because of panic I am here, I wrote two books. The Joy of Living. Now new one, Joyful Wisdom. And within this book I share my own experience about panic and how to deal with panic and how to transform with the panic. Not only panic, you can use any other emotion. Depression, low self-esteem, anger, so on.