By Niki (Nicola) Chaplain

I am originally from the UK and work as an anaesthetic nurse. Dharma is my other passion.

My first visit to the temple and the beautiful 10 acres of grounds was attending a New Year Festival. I felt like I had come home.

I have enjoyed volunteering for the last 20 years and continue to do so. Catching up with the good friends I have made at TBS is a plus for me, as is meeting new people who visit the temple and helping to make everyone feel welcome. The work we do as volunteers is varied.

It ranges from preparing and serving afternoon tea at the regular meditation classes on Sundays to sorting out (as a team) all that needs to be done for the wonderful retreats that we have on-site on a regular basis.

I believe that volunteering provides a sense of community and for me it is time well spent! I can attest to the fantastic cakes that our volunteers bake each week. I cannot take the credit for the cakes (not a cook) – but I often rejoice in the merit of all the TBS Master Chefs that we are so fortunate to have!

Meeting Geshe-la for the first time was initially scary and his accent was hard to understand. Then when I was lucky to get to know him and hear the Dharma teachings a little bit more it became easier. I looked forward to his ‘pop up’ visits around the temple and the magnificent gardens.

I remember one Saturday morning being extremely anxious and just sitting on the grass at the front of the temple. When Geshe-la approached me he asked if I wanted one or two chocolates – I wanted his help and asked him to choose for me, which he did. I always think of him in that spot. I know he was blessing me when I really needed it.

Geshe-la blessed and cared for every sentient being not only with his formal teachings to us, his students. This was so apparent at the many blessing ceremonies, the festivals and the dinners where he was present. Even when he was sick he continued his kindness. 

Meeting Geshe-la in a formal setting for some personal advice was like touching base with a very kind and familiar friend. He was a perfect Spiritual Master helping me to be at ease with him.

His last public teaching blew my mind – his voice so melodic full of everything indescribable! I pray to meet with him again as Loden Rinpoche.