Our David became a Buddhist about ten years ago. He went to Nepal six or seven years ago to learn Tibetan so that he could be a translator for the Buddhist teacher, Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche He had met Rinpoche in this country and admired him greatly. It was Rinpoche who suggested he come to Nepal and learn Tibetan. Rinpoche is one of the great teachers of Tibetan Buddhism and the official tutor of the Karmapa who is the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four major branches of Tibetan Buddhism. So off David went to a Buddhist shedra (college) in Nepal for five or six year’s training in Tibetan and monastic studies. He was “ordained” about a month ago and is now "Karma Choephel" ("Strong in Grace"). Ordination among the Buddhists seems to be a rather casual affair. He asked his teacher when, or if, he should be ordained and Rinpoche said "Why not?" He took five additional vows, got a new set of robes and is now is fully fledged monk of the Kagyu sect, much to his delight and that of the other monks.
Choepel was with us for a few days on his second around the world tour with Rinpoche translating his lectures into English. Rinpoche does not feel his English is up to the level of the subjects he wants to talk about, so he speaks in Tibetan and Choepel translates what he says into English. Teachers of the level and ability of Rinpoche are highly respected. They take their learning very lightly and in a very unassuming way that makes them all the more impressive. As individuals, they show a gentle, good humored decency and humanity I find most admirable. Choephel does have a bit of a racket; everywhere the teacher and his four-man entourage go, the hosts try to outdo one another with kindness, food being a major sign of their appreciation. As a result, much to his chagrin, in New Zealand Choephel gained 18 lbs.
We went to the local Indian restaurant one day for lunch. The waiter turned out to be from Nepal and came from a village close to Choephel's monastery. They had a grand time chatting in Nepali and the conversation was spiced with touches of Hindi. The staff was quite taken by his robes (which in terms of detail are quite nice) and his ability to talk in Nepali pleased them greatly. My wife and I might as well not have been there but it was a very good scene which all enjoyed. In a very charming way their pleasure with Choephel carried over to us. What more could parents want?