When Dechen Bloom had completely memorized the Three Principal Aspects of the Path in April 2017, he urged his mother to take of video of him reciting it and send it to Lama Zopa Rinpoche. At the time, Dechen was nine years old and it had been three years since Rinpoche had advised him to memorize the well-known lamrim prayer by Lama Tsongkhapa.
“The recording is not great, but Dechen was anxious for me to send it off because it has been so long since he was asked to do this. This week we were all sick and coughing, so he was anxious to get it recorded,” Dechen’s mother Carina Rumrill wrote when she sent the link to the video of Dechen.
This was Dechen’s second memorization project. In 2014, he recited the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra from memory for Rinpoche. He also offered Rinpoche a copy of the sutra that he had typed up, printed out, and traced in gold. Dechen dedicated both of these activities to Rinpoche’s long life. Afterwards, Dechen requested his next memorization assignment from Rinpoche. And that’s when Rinpoche recommended the Three Principal Aspects of the Path.
When asked why he wanted to memorize these important texts, Dechen, now 10 years old, told Mandala, “So I know them, and it’s better than not knowing them.” He added that knowing them by heart is also better than having to look them up.
“Lama Zopa Rinpoche wanted me to memorize these prayers,” Dechen further explained. “Why would I not want him to be happy? See, I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to be disappointed, do I?”
In addition to memorizing, Dechen has been slowly going through Discovering Buddhism and Living in the Path modules. He started in October 2016, and since he’s home schooled, he does thirty to forty minutes of study a day, taking breaks for Christmas and summer vacation. According to his mother Carina, who works for FPMT International Office, Dechen is close to finishing Living in the Path modules “Refuge and Bodhichitta” and “Transforming a Suffering Life into Happiness” and the Discovering Buddhism modules “Refuge in the Three Jewels” and “Transforming Problems.”
After seeing Dechen’s video and hearing about his studies, Rinpoche wrote back, thanking Dechen for everything he was doing and giving him a new assignment: to memorize Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga (also known as Ganden Lha Gyäma). Rinpoche also said it was good for Dechen to keep reciting the prayers that he had already memorized.
Dechen thinks it’s a good idea for kids to memorize prayers and study Dharma and that it can be fun. When asked why kids should memorize, he said, “A lot of people will want to memorize things when they are older, but when they are young and memorizing, that means they learned it at a young age and know it for longer.”
In addition to studying Dharma, Dechen enjoys learning about science and astronomy. He said that he’s been learning about the stars lately. In August, Dechen was excited to see the complete solar eclipse that passed over Oregon in the United States. “It was pretty cool. I didn’t scream and jump up and down, but it was pretty amazing,” he said. “I felt pretty lucky to see it.”
Dechen and his family have just relocated to Vermont from Oregon, but since Living in the Path and Discovering Buddhism are online programs, moving won’t impact his studies.
Find out what Dechen Bloom asked Ven. Robina Courtin about the Heart Sutra when he was five years old:
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