For weeks, the pile in front of Khyentse Rinpoche as he sat at the dining table had included a noxious, foul-smelling kind of deodorant spray. The donor of this particular gift was never identified. It was the kind of deodorant that I remember from childhood. It’s sweet, sickly perfume was unpleasantly offset by an ocean of chemical stabilizers (etc.) that together created the kind of pong that impregnates everything within a hundred yards and never washes out. I kept expecting Rinpoche to give it away, but every day the brightly coloured, frankly gaudy, cylinder stood guard over the papers and books and bowls and statues that, as yet, had not been assigned a home.

Too soon it was time for Rinpoche to leave for Delhi and we gathered in the courtyard to wave him off. His beloved white Ambassador was waiting at the gate, its doors open and its boot heaving with baggage. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the Tibetan Khenpo, Shiva Zangpo (Pema Maya will know how that’s supposed to be spelt), running up the stairs to the dining hall. My heart froze. I knew instantly what he was going to fetch. And sure enough, moments later he reemerged with the can of deodorant concealed under his zen and made a bee-line for Rinpoche’s car.

Rinpoche had just emerged from his house as Khenpo sprayed the car’s interior liberally with the contents of that hideous canister. We gasped (I think Tara was standing with me), but could do nothing as Rinpoche had already reached the car, along with Elise, his secretary, who was accompanying him to Delhi. Before we could do or say anything, the Ambassador rolled out of the gates. We looked at each other in horror as we imagined the ghastly stench that Rinpoche and Elise would have to endure for five hours! (I think Pawo must have been driving, but I can’t remember).

After much discussion (we had nothing else to do now Rinpoche had left) we decided that Khenpo’s reasoning was sound. If something had been presented to Rinpoche as a gift then, logically it must be the very best of the best. But, of course, having been brought up in Tibet and focussed entirely on Dharma throughout his life, how would Khenpo know the difference between elegant perfume and tear gas? His heart, we knew, had been in the right place.

The next day we phoned Delhi and asked Elise if Rinpoche and she had survived the trip. She had no idea what we were  talking about. We mentioned the cannister and our concerns about asphyxiation, but she said she’d noticed nothing at all. If anything, the car had been particularly fresh and clean. Understandably surprised, we concluded, after further extensive discussions and tests of that poxy canister (which was still standing in Rinpoche’s pile), that siddhis come in many different forms and pure perception is more effective on a practical level than we had ever suspected.

2 thoughts on “Perceptions

  1. Khenpo Zhiwa Zangpo is his name. 🙂 He is back to labrang now? Thought he moved to shedra to do his retreat, at least that’s how I was told. I really like him. 🙂

    Interesting story.

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