A Rinpoche Story

Gerry Kopelow
(Lama Gyurme Dorje)

MY POTENTIAL

During a retreat at the Dharma Centre of Canada, Rinpoche got into a psychotherapeutic mode. One morning in class he instructed us to compress the repetitive messages we had each received from parents and teachers into a couple of compact phrases and then share them with the group. "I am a pretty, pretty girl. I will always get along", one woman said. "I am a tough little boy, I don't have to cry," said someone else. A third person related what they had received, "I will always be awkward and clumsy". All the revelations were heartfelt and poignant.

And so it went around the room, until it was my turn. As it happened, I was seated on the floor directly in front of Rinpoche. I dutifully offered up my recollection of my own childhood conditioning: "I am very intelligent, but will never reach my full potential".

This remark Rinpoche elected to comment on. In very loud voice he pronounced, "Just so! Your parents and your teachers were absolutely right!" This elicited gasps from the group, and I felt a wave of panic begin to arise. But before I plunged totally into self-pity, Rinpoche leaned over and whispered directly into my ear: "Because your potential is infinite!" Just a very quick gesture and a very quick whisper, so quick I don't think anyone else noticed. But I certainly did, and in an instant was relieved of many years' worth of unpleasant baggage.

After class I was approached by a woman who was on retreat with Rinpoche for the first time. She described herself as a "new-age therapist". "It must have been horrible to have been abused like that in such a public way", she told me, and then she offered to help me recover from the shock. She was very puzzled when I declined.

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