People often ask how they should relate to me.  Likewise, I have the same question. How should I relate to you?

It is challenging, you know, being me in the sense that I am breaking projections. That is a little bit of my job.  It is difficult to explain.

First of all, sometimes people say very nice words about me. These people talk in an inspiring way.   I  want to thank these people sincerely for this kindness! I am very happy that I can be of service.

However, when I talk, I do not feel that I teach.  This is because, in my estimation, I am not qualified to teach.

The fact is, yes, I am very grateful to Lama Yeshe. He is my best friend. However, I have difficulty with myself.  It is a huge issue, you know, being me. I am working on it, I am honestly working on it.

I am happy to share my small understanding of the way I interpret the teachings of the Buddha. So I am delighted to talk to you like this.  I am glad I can be of service. I hope I can make a difference.

I wanted to go back to the ideas we talked about last week when we discussed reincarnation, tulkus, all the concepts like that.

For me, there has been a huge separation in my life. It has been like a dualistic kind of notion. I have been trying to identify myself with what people would label on me.  Right?

People would say I am a tulku.  They would say I am this. Or they would say I am that. They would tell me I am the reincarnation of such an amazing person.  They would say things like this. Then, they would tell me my destiny is to teach Buddhism as a monk sitting on a throne. For most of my childhood, that was what I was told I was meant to be doing.

So, it has been a question for me to kind of say, “Ok, who am I?” You know. Am I what they say I am or am I what I feel that I am from inside of me?

What I feel from inside is that I am a person who has a lot of challenges. I am a person who has a lot of conflicts. I am someone who has a lot of hurts. I have a lot of suffering. I struggle with depression. I struggle with the emotional activities of anger. You know what I mean. I am challenged by all these different aspects that happen to me.

Thanks to Dharma, I try to be aware of all of this. I try to put it in check. I try to recognize it. I try to apologize. I try to change it.  I do my best to move forward. I strive to improve.

Even so, it is still happening.  It is still there.

Consequently, I do not see myself as some qualified realized or whatever you want to call it reincarnation. I do not see myself that way at all!

You know, maybe, when I was younger, I believed it, but, when I became realistic, I was like you know what? This is not who I am. I am sorry. I am just a normal human being struggling with life. That is it.

I have a different background than others. I grew up in a monastery.   I had to study 16 hours a day, six days a week for 13 years. Well, I did not start with 16 hours a day but they began adding on more hours with time. In the beginning, I studied for maybe eight hours a day when I was six years old. When I was 15/16, I was already studying 16 hours a day.  Sometimes, it was 18 hours a day. So that is my background. That is the language, the culture, the tradition from which I come.

Regardless,  I never accepted people imposing their reality on me in that way. I am not going to fall into a box for you. I am not going to play your game.

This is because I cannot make you happy. I can attempt to make you happy but you are the only person responsible to make yourself happy.

I discovered a long time ago that I could try to play people’s game, “Oh, ok, I am the reincarnation. I am going to act like I am the reincarnation. I am going to fake perfections.” Even if I do that, nobody will be happy. That is because it is just the nature of the mind.

So, a long time ago, I decided I am not going to strive to fall into people’s concepts of what I should be or how I should be. I am just going to live my life. I am going to be who I feel that I am becoming. It is a process. It changes, you know. I am always learning new facets of myself. 

Anyway, that is what I decided. I decided that I am not going to play your game.  I am not going to allow people to label me. I am not going to allow people to project on me. I am not going to allow people to expect me to do what they want me to do in those regards.

Here is an example.  This is just an example, ok?  For me, I like to party. I like to go out. Sometimes, I like to drink some alcohol.

You see, my father said, “With moderation, everything is ok. Do not go to extremes.  Even water can harm you if you drink too much water”.

Do you understand what he meant? Your stomach is going to explode with too much water.  Too much of anything is too much.

So, this is not a justification. I do not need to justify myself to anyone. I am not a monk. I like to enjoy myself.  At the same time, I like to learn. I like to have a balance in my life. So, ok, yes, I drink alcohol. I do not drink too much. I rarely drink but I do drink. When I do, it is light.

Anyway, one time, a woman, an Asian woman, a very traditional, Asian woman, somehow, smelled my breath the next day after I had been partying. I did not sleep that night, you see. I was still active within the community going to the teachings and this and that, etc. I wanted to do everything even though I did not have time to do everything.

(I am making myself very vulnerable here.)

Anyhow, she said, “You know, a lama is not supposed to drink alcohol”. That is what she said. Those were her words.

I immediately answered back to her. I said, “If you can find one time in my life that I said I am a lama, I will do whatever you say. I never said I am Lama. Ever! Perhaps when I was a four-year-old child tyrant, I said,  “I am Lama. You have to do what I say.’ Maybe, at that time, yes, I said those words. Since I grew up a little bit more, I never have said, “I am Lama”.

On the contrary, I said I am not a lama. I am just a struggling human being trying to improve as a human. I am going to try my best to be able to give the best. You have to understand that I am just one more person with difficulties.

That is what I tried to explain to her but she would not understand. She said, “No! You are a lama!  You cannot drink alcohol!  It is so bad!” After that, she did not talk to me, ever again. After that, she hated me. She even took me off Facebook. What do you call it?  She unfriended me.

It is funny but I cried for half an hour after that. I got on a bus by myself. I left. I was crying for half an hour. It was really sad.

That is part of my life. I have to accept those preconceptions of people being imposed on me even though they do not know me. That woman knew me for two minutes of my life, yet, somehow, she felt she had the right to impose her perspective on me.  Not only did she feel she had the right to do that but she felt she had the right to be aggressive about it. I am really sensitive. So, for me, it affected me.

After I cried, I was better. Crying is, also, therapy, you know. I cried. Then, I was like, you know what?  That is is her point of view.  That is her belief. I respect that. Maybe it is better that I do not drink alcohol when there are these activities of Dharma. When I am participating in Dharma events, maybe it is better that I do not drink alcohol. 

I mean, I am a rebel. I have always been a rebel. Thank God! I have always been struggling to try to make sense of this concept of tulku, this concept of reincarnation, this concept of lama just to make sure I will not fall into that box. I made that decision a long time ago. I will try to offer my services but my way.

I am Osel. That is it.  That is who I am

I am not going to try to impose things on anybody because I respect, I love, I care for you. I want to see who you are. I am not going to impose my projection on you. I am not going to be like, “You are this! That is what I am going to believe. That is what I am going to see. If you do not act according to my projection, then, you are a bad person! You are ungrateful! After everything we did for you, you left the monastery!”

I am sorry. Hope you understand.  I am not going to do that to anyone else.

I”m simply talking from my heart. Ok?

I am trying to answer the question people always give me.  They always ask how they should relate to me.  Likewise, I wonder how I should relate to you. These are just my thoughts on the matter.

So this conversation is your fault! You are the one responsible. You asked for it.

Only joking.

19 Comments

  1. sven draht

    Hi Ösel,

    thank your your nice blog and sharing your thoughts. I discoverd you through Lama Yeshe and now I like that you are just you, a human beeing who is trying his best ( I mean that is what you tell us – little joke ) and just beeing yourself. I learn from all the teachers nowadays in the internet and also learn from you on a more grounding level, real life, real problems, real beauty.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Namaste!

  2. Jan Newman

    You just say you are tantric lama , so you can drink.
    Projection is a very powerful delusion. Very, very difficult to break.

    • claudio cipullo

      Sorry Lama(for me) Osel I really hope you are the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe, because Lama at the end of the teachings on the six yoga of naropa in Italy he said he was going to continue the teachings, I am now 73 not so much time left for me, but I wait for the teachings to manifest from the Holy speech of Lama.
      I cannot forget!
      Thanks, be well and happy as it is Your nature.
      Claudio Cipullo

  3. Terresa Lauer

    This is so beautiful Osel, thank you for sharing from your heart with vulnerability and authenticity. We all project onto others what we want them to be and are projected upon. It’s inspiring, very insightful and helpful to hear it from your prospective.

  4. Síle Shigley

    Dear Ösel-la your post today is making me so happy, even though I know there’s pain in there! One of the things that drew me to Buddhism was the seeing the instruction, in some teachers’ writings, that we should be kind to ourselves. That was revolutionary for me! In my previous experiences with religion, I hadn’t heard the simple instruction to be kind to oneself as well as others. I think this post is a great example of that instruction. Thank you for being exactly who you are, and for taking the time to share your thoughts to help others along the way.

  5. Camilla Guedes e Mello

    Thank you so much for your honesty and strength to show some vulnerability. Thank you for you humbleness and love. We are all the same and we all belong. No one has the right to judge, you don’t know where that person stands at that moment. We need more reality and more compassion in this world.Much appreciated Hosel. ❤️

  6. MariCarmen Ayllon Garcia

    Me basta que seas Osel para valorarte, amarte, respetarte y admirarte. No necesito más.
    Sé que eres Pas,igual que yo, y aunque no lo fueses eso no cambiaria nada.
    Solo con tu experiencia ya enseñas mucho,mucho amor, sobre todo amor por ti, no hay amor para otros si no te amas.

  7. Carlos Sourdis

    Your words have helped me a lot to help my own self. I expect they can also help me to be helpful to other sentient beings. As many as possible. Muchas gracias.

  8. Carlos Sourdis

    Just one doubt, much respected Ösel Hita, do you feel you were crying for yourself (it made you sad to feel you were not being understood) or out of compassion for the ‘letdown’ the lady unfortunately experienced? Please, do dismiss this question if you feel it’s too intrusive, unnecessary or out of place.

  9. Andy Wistreich

    This post makes me very happy. I’ll try to say a few reasons for that.
    Lately I have been listening again to Unplugged by Lauryn Hill and in both the songs and her talk to the audience between songs she says very much the same as you. She wasn’t labelled ‘Lama’ but she was certainly labelled ‘hip hop star’ before she made that album. And then she rejected it. It’s summed up for me in her words “I used to be a performer, but now I’m just sharing” For me these words are a profound teaching.
    Perhaps the problem of being a tulku is similar to the problem of being a celebrity (especially for sensitive people). Everyone projects this icon onto the person, and they have to choose whether or not to buy into the projection. This then raises the question of identity. In the end knowing emptiness is the only solution. Many screw up. Some commit suicide or kill themselves through drugs and drink. The sensitivity made them an artist, the celebrity status chokes them to death.
    My two main teachers prayed not to be recognised. Some years later, neither of them yet has been.
    Brings me to the question of going forward with the buddhist tradition, the lineage. Do we want to continue with the tulku tradition in our non-Tibetan culture? Does it help? Or shall we just acknowledge people according to what they do in this life?
    In Himalayan culture, tulku is mixed with power, political and social power. Do we want to emulate this in our 21st century buddhist community – Lama everything, me nothing?
    I deeply respect Osel-la for what he is saying in these blogs and his talks.
    With love
    Andy

  10. Margaret Bachtler

    From the bottom of my heart I thank you Osel for sharing your truth with authenticity and love. It is easy to understand why (your
    13 years as a child dedicating your time to studying Dharma in a monastery) you are conflicted. Through your formative years I believe people made demands of you which were not in line with your own needs for individual personal growth and development. Expectations were placed on you which conflicted with your own desires however conscious or unconscious they were. You had no say in the matter and had to take a journey which denied your self exploration and your own journey in identity formulation. Llama Yeshe was Llama Yeshe and he was apparently comfortable with this. I think there is often a two edged sword in life situations. Yes, you were fortunate to find Dharma at an early age but due to the extreme nature of the duration of the teachings it was at the expense of learning about your personal desires. So it is understandable that you have been conflicted. I can see the challenge in asking yourself “What do I want” since you were deprived of asking yourself this question through your crucial developmental years. I see the resolutions of my own conflicts as processes . One positive outcome to my suffering about my own conflicts is that it has aided me in developing compassion for all sentient beings that suffer. Although life challenges are different for everyone suffering is suffering. I wish you well on your own path of self discovery and am glad that you don’t let other people put you in a box of what they expect you to be. You are simply beautiful Osel who is learning more about himself each day and you are a gift to many people. You inspired me when I met you during your visit to Thubten Kunga Ling in Florida and I thank you for that.

  11. Nadezhda Wein-Duffy

    Thank you Dear Osel for your brutal honesty about yourself and your life. Please remember that for every person who judges you for what they perceive as your faults there are many more of us who appreciate you for exactly who you are (as we all should strive to do for all beings) faults included. We appreciate your bravery to continue to strive to help others even though you know you are imperfect, as we all are. In my opinion that is the best anyone can ever do. When we are honest about who we are to ourselves we can be honest to everyone around us and that is most helpful for everyone. This is truly how we can support, help and love one another. Please remember that you are not alone in this and that there is an army of silent kind hearted people in the world who are there to support you, because truth is universal.
    All the best wishes to you and Big Love.

  12. John Douthitt

    Reincarnation. Meating of minds.

    I’ve been chewing over the last post and now this post.
    When I was 26 I reached a tipping point, quit my job, got rid of possessions beyond my sleeping bag and a change of clothes and walked off with one vow – that I would find someone who could help me make sense of this life or die trying. Lama Yeshe caught me in that free fall. Dear lama who always spoke from the heart not from the book and appeared fearless in bucking “how it is supposed to be done” traditions. At first, after he passed, I thought I would simply find someone else like him but that person I did not find.

    I did connect with Johnny Allen, though. As mystical and magical as many Tibetan lamas were, Johnny stands out as the most mystical man I’ve ever known. I had a very high opinion of him yet every single time we crossed paths he’d do or say something which let me know that I’d not even begun to understand who he was.

    Johnny was a Southern Baptist minister. He built a church in a little border town, Ajo, AZ, long before I got there. Although he was an anglo, he also wound up the only apprentice of Juan Valisto whom Johnny referred to reverently as “the last of the great Ha’i C’ed O’odham medicine men.” In his 30’s Johnny was hit by a truck; broke his leg in many places, some bone marrow got into his arterial blood feed and blocked blood supply to both hemispheres of his brain. He died. The medics were able to bring him back multiple times over a period of hours and eventually he stabilized – in a coma for 9 months.

    No one expected him to survive that day and when he did they figured he would remain comatose until he expired. The docs told his wife, Maryanne, that if by some crazy miracle he came out of the coma –he would be a vegetable.

    I’ve thought it was how he’d been on both sides – life and death- that made him so…what?…’mystical’ doesn’t really do it any justice. He was aware in ways I had not imagined possible.

    The Christian version of heaven and hell I’d grown up with did not make sense to me; it was a relief to encounter the Buddhist teachings on reincarnation – they made sense. And then Johnny told me about his time in the coma.

    He was in a thick fog and had to swim everywhere because it hurt too much to walk. He could hear docs and nurses talking; sometimes he would try to swim up to the voices from that world but pain would become overwhelming; he would pass out and slide back.

    One day he heard some young people singing hymns. He’d been alone for so long it filled him with joy. They came walking and one of them said they’d come to take him along.
    He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see his mother-in-law whom he dearly loved. She’d been dead 10 years. “You can’t go with them, Johnny,” she told him. “You have 4 children and Maryanne needs you.”

    He turned back to the singers, thanked them, and explained that he couldn’t come just now. They continued on, singing, headed up a long rise he’d not noticed before – up to some beautiful gates where they entered. At that point he began swimming with everything he had and broke through to the surface. He came back.

    So now I have two rather different versions of what happens at death from impeccable and trusted sources. I don’t have to have an opinion.

    Dear Osel, it is sort of wonderful that you are considered the return of lama Yeshe but clearly I don’t even know what that means exactly. What I do know is that you seem to teach from the heart rather than the book and are willing to diverge from tradition if that is what seems right to you. I’m grateful.

  13. Rosalyn Williams

    Dear Osel’la
    In response to your own childhood with heavy responsibilities and regaining and becoming your own person I am entranced by all the truly wonderful heartfelt comments.
    I would like to add that when I gave you a framed picture of Lama Yeshe ( whom I didn’t listen to because I didn’t like being teased)
    When you were so surprised and took my present then you became the energy within you and I had never in my life seen the level of happiness you displayed it was so inspiring. Without looking up you just radiated.
    I really think that non of us knows ourselves.
    I feed the pigeons and I live in a block of flats and keep my curtains closed at night but somehow in the early morning they are on my window sill making noises. Also for someone like me who is not observant I saw two pigeons make love through my window and the male ( I think ) was putting his beak constantly up to her beak that I thought at first they had picked up some glue and then gently made love and flew away.i am looking forward to Geshe Namdak’s teachings one book recommended on the science of meditation how to change your brain mind and body and research that has been done by American scientists who started the Mind and Life institute with support from HHDL

  14. Brian Hart

    I’ll keep this short Osel. You may not be a teacher as you state, but my mind perceived your life as a teaching when you were born. I had been grappling with the concept of reincarnation when suddenly I read of your connection to LY. Several of your other life events have also made me check up deeply. Very beneficial. So teacher or not …doesnt matter to me…the experience is the teaching I think. bfn.

  15. Brian Hart

    ps to my earlier comment …..most difficult being a recognised re-incarnate…think I must just be a mindless tree (refer Sanghata Sutra)….then It occurred supposing a famous sporting person was recognised as a re-incarnate
    – like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Bradman an Australian cricketing legend …so many expectations upon him- would be unbearable!

    You are doing great Osel. No problemo from this side.

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