So last week I learned that Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s Yangsi (it means child incarnation before they assume their teaching responsibilities) lives just down the road from me here. He’s 15-16, just about to go away (to Bodhgaya and Kathmandu) for the winter, so I started asking around how I could go see him. Because he is the incarnation of such a high lama (his previous incarnation was the Dalai Lama’s teacher) and still doing his intensive studies, he (or rather those in charge of his education) don’t often grant interviews with him.
Then, coincidentally yesterday my new Tibetan (girl)friend, Deki, who runs a small café in Paro and makes me veg momos if I call ahead, calls and says, ‘I’m going for a blessing tomorrow with rinpoche’s tutor, a khenpo, do you want to come? We can go see rinpoche afterwards. So this morning on a glorious blue day with snow packed peaks all around the mist drenched valley, we went to see Khyentse Rinpoche.
First we went to see the Khenpo, an amazing kind and all-seeing man who gave us Tibetan happy pills and blessed our malas and doused our heads with camphor scented water to wash away our suffering (I’ll let you know if it works). Afterward his servant offered us milk tea and cookies (at 7:30am) and Khenpo went into his room to find little pictures of Guru Rinpoche for us. While we drank our tea he blessed a pile of thangka paintings another monk had brought in. Just before we left we bowed and he held our head in his hands strong like he was extracting all the irrelevance and muck.
We left his small new warm wooden retreat house and walked up the hill towards rinpoche’s quarters. Five playful dogs tormented a pony on the lawn. We diverted to make 3 koras around the stupa in a green and purple flower filled garden (end-october when everything else around here is brown and crumbling). Then one of the 4 other rinpoches who live here at Sechen monastery in Paro offered us more tea while we waited for rinpoche to receive us. 3 adorable tiny puppies were there among the many dogs and we each (Deki and I) held one on our laps while she talked in Tibetan to the lamas, who she knows from years of family ties.
So finally rinpoche is ready for us. We walk across the sun filled courtyard to his small charming house. The door opens and one of the monks takes our offerings of biscuits and incense, and we enter, place our bags and katas (white offering scarves) in the corner to make our 3 prostrations to this young and clearly full-on powerful rinpoche. We offer our scarves, immediately a monk comes to offer us a Handful (I mean my mouth was full) of dutsi (blessed amrita) dust and a protection cord and while I am chomping away trying to swallow my dust and tie my cord, Deki is suddenly insistent, “do you have anything to say to rinpoche?” so I’m like, go ahead, you first (it was rather like mgho amghead, ou fiirsph with a little spray of dust) and she goes, “you can say something” and I go “no please, you go” and she goes, “you don’t have anything to say?’ and so I go, brilliantly, “I am very happy to meet you” and rinpoche (who has been sitting back calmly watching this whole mini-drama unfold) goes (get this), “thank you”. And then Deki goes, “right. then. so shall we go?” and I go, “ok”, and so 60 seconds later we get up and like some comic silent film I step on the hem of my kira and almost stumble over her and into him as we collect ourselves to go. We bow for another blessing and as we do I make eye contact with rinpoche and I can’t tell if those fathomless wisdom eyes show deep deep compassion, or slight concern and on our way out the door, the 3 lamas in the corner snicker at us and try hard to suppress their laughter, which overtakes us in the sunlit garden.
And that, my dear friends, was the highlight of my today.