Mutton Curry

There are a few shelves of western dharma books in OT Rinpoche’s house and on one of them I found these two stuffed sheep, or are they rams? Whatever they are, they struck me as being rather unusual ornaments given the opulent gilt and marble in the rest of the house.

It occurrs to me that they might be some kind of ritual substance. I vaguely remember a friend being given a sheep familiar to keep by her bed when she was sick (on the advice of a lama) with the instruction that she should write down her dreams. Loads of other stuff was involved that I can’t remember, but a toy sheep was definitely part of the mix. Maybe these examples were created for a similar purpose? Or maybe OT Rinpoche just has a thing for woolly animals?

They reminded me of a car ride with Khyentse Rinpoche from the Dordogne to Roqueredonde in the south of France. It was mid-summer and extremely hot. The roads were narrow and the local drivers we met cavalier, to say the least. At one point, though, instead of narrowly dodging badly serviced French cars we found ourselves gridlocked by a flock of several dozen sheep. It was a relief, in many ways, to be still, and for a while we sat in silence. Then Rinpoche spoke.

“Mutton curry,” he said, completely deadpan.

Another moment of silence as we processed the implications of those two words, then appalled delight broke out amongst vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, and Rinpoche smiled, wickedly.

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