In the August of 1992, towards the end of the three-month retreat, Dzongsar Khyentse visited Lerab Ling and was taken down to the steep, craggy hill to a small clearing where teachings sometimes took place. A carpet had been placed on a huge boulder onto which Khyentse Rinpoche climbed and told us he’d been asked to give the lung of the Arya Manjushri Tantra Chitta.
The magic word for me was ‘Manjushri’, Buddha of Wisdom. I knew next to nothing about him, or anything else fo that matter, and had certainly never done the practice, but just the sound of his name thrilled me. For once I was determined to make the effort to receive this lung in the right spirit, and as Rinpoche started reciting the text, I settled myself down, assumed a loose half-lotus, straightened my back and breathed out deeply. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a couple of violent red slugs bearing down on me and although I sensed their evil intent I did my best to ignore them. I raised my eyes and allowed them to rest lovingly on Khyentse Rinpoche, intending to pour all my devotion into my gaze (I was young and romantic), when quite suddenly he stopped reciting. He had completed the lung. I’d ‘missed’ it.
Bugger! How did that happen? The only lungs I had received until then had gone on for hours, if not days. How could this one have only lasted fifteen seconds? It’s an easy question to answer, actually: the text is barely twelve lines long. At the time, though I felt stupid, even a little cheated. Rinpoche must have gone on to teach, while I spent the rest of the day going over and over how stupid I’d been and feeling prickly and uncomfortable.
Gorgeous photo by another anonymous photographer, I’m afraid. And by the way, Rinpoche took his sunglasses off before he gave the lung.