Linda Lewis

The first time I saw Ato Rinpoche was at Karme Choling, when he surprised us by not only introducing the guru yoga entitled the Rain of Blessings (composed by Mipham Rinpoche) but gave pointing out instructions to all who were present--ready or not. But his gentle gentlemanly presence seem to ripen everyone for both the text, which was the bare bones version, and the zap. Since that time the NTC has added chants and all kinds of instructions. The next time I saw Ato Rinpoche was before his teaching at the Halifax Shambhala Centre, at the home of Michael and Julie Chender, where I was fortunate enough to have an interview. I had come out of 3 year retreat a bit early in order to attend the summer seminar with Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche at Karme Choling, but at that moment I was feeling very groundless, not knowing what direction my life should take. Ato Rinpoche was so loving and a bit humorous, telling me "Three year retreat, not so much benefit; being in the world--better. You are Vajra Yogini so no problem. Have confidence." This was so encouraging that I did just muster the courage to let things unfold and did not worry about where I would live after Karme Choling nor whether I'd have a job once back. Some years later I heard he had hurt his back lifting a patient in the hospital where he worked. I also heard that he had been offered a better, easier job at that hospital several times but had refused each time, preferring to work with the patients who needed him the most. And that whether scheduled or not, he liked to be with a patient when he or she was dying. Ato Rinpoche was certainly a genuine and gentle bodhisattva whose kindness blessed everyone he met.