V. The Founder Avatar Lama H.E. the third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche appreciated your vision to restore people’s eyesight and bring the blind out of the darkness. Since 1995, the monastery has been sponsoring and organizing surgeries and intra-ocular implants with you as the driving force. Where do you get the energy to work tirelessly at the operating table performing dozens of operations at a stretch?
SR. Every human being is born with certain limitations and certain strengths. I realized early on that the only strength that I have is my hands and my eyes. I can utilize my eyes to see what my hands can do on the eyes. I don’t have many other strengths so realizing very accurately that you can’t live forever I try to see how best I can utilize my strength. That’s why I sit down for long hours and even if I don’t do anything…I probably restore a few more people’s eyesight.
V. You come from a remote village in Eastern Nepal. A doctor of your high caliber could have easily opted for foreign shores and could have a lived luxurious life overseas. But you chose to stay here in Nepal and restore the eyesight of blind people making house calls in remote impoverished areas, trekking for days on end. What keeps you going?
SR. We are all born with mission and it’s a very special thing. I’m at a stage where I’ve realized that my mission is to learn how best I can restore the sight for others, and how I can help others to do that multiply that effect with training. I’m trying to set up other centers around the world. I get my strength from individual patients who just 12 hours ago were not able to see light in darkness and suddenly you open the bandage and patients are able to see everything with emotions. The smile you see on their face really keeps me going. That’s a very powerful moment, very powerful moment! Many people do not have the opportunity to do this. I have this abundance. If I had left for overseas I don’t think I’d have such an opportunity to work and make a difference in hundreds, thousands and millions of people’s lives. I’m sure what I’ve done is great and worthwhile.
V. I think from my personal view God sent you on earth for a reason with a purpose.
SR. Everybody has a purpose. You have a purpose. I have a purpose.
V. This is the 19th Eye-camp held at Pullahari monastery and an annual affair. Could you please elaborate the significance of the initiative of Pullhari Monastery in community involvement and their contribution to the society?
SR. I look at myself and I feel for certain I don’t practice any religion. I’m so busy I’ve no time to think. I’ve total faith in Buddhist philosophy. The founder Avatar Lama of this monastery H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul the 3rd who passed away was really a great friend and a teacher. Since the late 80’s through Tenzing Dorjee, I met lots of spiritual people from different religious backgrounds, Hinduism, Buddhism…Islam…but in him I found a sense of purpose. He was committed to the welfare of unprivileged people. H.E. always thought that if we could do something extra besides our normal ritual of prayers and lighting lamps medicine and health care is a social service that’s much stronger than actual religion. That’s why I became very closely attached to his philosophy and he always wanted to take me to places where there were many needs. It’s unfortunate he passed away so early but his disciples Tenzing Dorjee, Khenpo Chokyi and Mr. Trinley in Kalimpong all of them helped start the first modern cataract surgery in northeastern India and the first modern cataract surgery in Tibet. Through their effort in Tibet we have now trained 50 local doctors. We have an institute in Lhasa which is almost self-sustaining and does about 2,000 surgeries a year on a routine basis. We have another centre developing in Ching Hai, China.
Now we have a hospital in Kalimpong at the Hospice care service which is run by the Paramita Charitable Trust with the same concept of delivering the service helping poor people. Wealthy people also come for quality surgery, they are able to pay for the service and from this we can help more poor people. That’s how we sustain ourselves. That hospital is a model with a husband and wife doctor team and another 15 doctors on an annual basis. They perform 2,000 surgeries in the community. In that area it is the only functioning eye-centre.
Anand Sangh has also helped us to build our first operating theatre at Tilganga when we needed resources. Our partnership goes back a long time. Our partnership is based on common teacher Founder Avatar Lama, His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul the Third’s extreme sense of trust understanding the same vision we have.