Warm Dütsi

I’ve never been given warm dütsi before. It’s very earthy looking and sticks together in clumps, but it was the warmth of it that stayed with me. OT Rinpoche distributed it, and told us afterwards that he gave less to those who only put out one hand to receive it because from a Tibetan perspective it was more respectful to use two hands. I held out an empty envelope to collect mine, but he didn’t mention how he felt about people who employed that method.

I have a slightly guilty confession to make. It’s extremely rare first of all to see anyone tell Sogyal Rinpoche what to do, and even rarer to see Sogyal Rinpoche willingly comply. So to watch as OT Rinpoche guided Sogyal Rinpoche through the receiving of the siddhis sent a shiver of excitement down my spine. Childish, I know, but there it is.

On Sunday morning I went back to the Rigpa Centre to attend a teaching by Sogyal Rinpoche. He was on spectacularly good form. He spoke of how Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche affected complete strangers, who often showed him great respect without having a clue about who he was. Sogyal Rinpoche said he thought they reacted that way because Kyabjé Rinpoche just was the nature of mind. That’s how I felt about Sogyal Rinpoche on Sunday morning. He was beautiful, radiant, compassionate, funny, absolutely ‘there’ and, from my point of view at least, seemed to be transmitting the nature of mind almost like a radio beacon. 

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From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

OK, so I must warn you straight away: this is not a post about OT Rinpoche or Sogyal Rinpoche or the drupchen or anything remotely to do with Buddhadharma. Please come back later in the week if you want to read any more about all that stuff.

Today is another Miriam day. Why I even navigated to youtube at 10am on a Monday morning is a mystery to me. Perhaps it’s another symptom of middle-age? Or one of the countless unconcious maneuvres I employ to delay the start of the working day (which is itself pitifully short)? I really don’t know. But there I was, looking up Rupert Everett on youtube (I’m reading his memoirs), when suddenly there she was with Graham Norton in a clip I haven’t seen before. I adore her (as I’ve mentioned once or twice before). The precision of her diction, her exquisite comic timing and her wicked sense of humour all cheer me up enormously, and samsara being what it is, the extreme mirth she inspires has left my cheeks wet with tears. May she live for a very, very long time. 

Rabjam Rinpoche’s Range Rover

OT Rinpoche told a funny story the other day. It came up as he was speaking about the hardships some of his ex-monks were facing in “the Pure Land of Belgium”, where life had turned out to be much more expensive and difficult than they could possibly have imagined—”Living is expensive, eating is, of course expensive. Even dying is expensive!” They had dreamed of coming to the west where they imagined everyone was spontaneously rich, but the reality was quite different. And in this context, Rinpoche told his story.

A few years ago, Rabjam Rinpoche bought himself a shiny new Range Rover, and the moment he laid eyes on it, OT Rinpoche wanted one for himself. But he had a problem: he was broke.

Undeterred, Rinpoche remembered that HH Dalai Lama often said western people seemed willing and able to help whenever money was needed, and decided to launch an appeal. The Chokling monks were doing a drupchen for Sogyal Rinpoche that year in Bir, and so OT Rinpoche had a notice written explaining precisely why he needed money and displayed it prominently next to a collection bowl.

A few days later, once all the rituals had been successfully completed, a monk was sent to pick up the bowl. It contained just $15 (US).

At around that time, two women asked to see Rinpoche and brought with them a beautifully wrapped gift. As they presented their offering to Rinpoche, they said they were giving him something they knew he really needed. Intrigued, he opened his present and found a Range Rover. It was exactly like Rabjam Rinpoche’s, except that it was plastic and only three inches long. But it was, without doubt, a Range Rover…

Mixing the Mendrup

It was mixing the mendrup day today. Everyone (except me… too lazy) was up and ready for a 4am start, and there were pots of potions cooking in the wintergarten when I arrived. By lunchtime, the smell of the mendrup had permeated (as they say) every inch of the Berlin centre, and was particularly sweet and heavy outside OT Rinpoche’s room on the top floor.

OT Rinpoche told Philip that this batch of mendrup had turned out quite well, and added that he usually put the majority of the mendrup he makes into the sea. For creatures whose karma it is to be born at the bottom of the ocean, he explained, it’s just about the only opportunity they’ll ever have to make contact with the dharma.

OT Rinpoche, it seems, takes his promise to help all sentient beings extremely seriously.

A Tease

OT Rinpoche was in rather a good mood today. So good, in fact, that he paused the morning’s recitation session to say a few words—and, in the course of things, told a funny story about Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

Apparently, when the big statue that can now be seen in the Manjushri Hall at Deer Park, had been completed, Khyentse Rinpoche asked OT Rinpoche what should be used to fill it.

Now, said OT Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche, being a great scholar himself, would certainly have known the answer, but for reasons of his own, asked anyway. OT Rinpoche also told us that Khyentse Rinpoche really loves to tease him—which is something I can confirm myself, having enjoyed the spectacle many times over the years. But on this occasion, said OT Rinpoche, it was his turn.

In these modern times, he said, it might be a good idea to use modern symbols for the Enlightened Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddha. A camera, for example, to represent the Enlightened Body; a tape recorder for Enlightened Speech; a computer could be Enlightened Mind; and a $10 bill for the Enlightened Qualities (because it’s money that makes all the other activities happen). Naturally, OT Rinpoche put forward very good reasons why these modern objects would be perfect for the job, but my notebook has yet to see the light of day and I don’t trust my memory.

Needless to say, perhaps, the westerners present all enjoyed OT Rinpoche’s outrageous suggestion enormously (not only was it funny, it took our minds off our aching knees), but the monks absolutely loved it, and laughed almost uncontrollably. The only piece of information missing was whether or not Khyentse Rinpoche took the advice…

Behind the scenes…

Today, I dragged my aching carcass to the second session of day 2 of the drupchen, and once I got there was extremely glad of it. The atmosphere was dripping with Guru Rinpoche, in all his many manifestations. Lovely!

Here are a few snaps of what’s going on outside the shrine room. This is the buddha at the front door of the centre—beautiful, no? His shape and form are those suggested by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who has exquisite taste and a deep affection for ancient Indian style. The third picture is of the room where the monks keep all the ritual paraphernalia, but what they do with the bright red concrete mixer, I have no idea! And the fourth picture is of the back of the centre. It’s so warm here in Berlin, that the Lotus Lounge is able to offer refreshment al fresco—which makes meal times really quite luxurious, for a drupchen.