In Bir yesterday we bumped into Lama Godi who was sitting in the coat, shoe and blanket shop by the taxi rank. I say, ‘taxi rank’, but the reality bears no resemblance whatsoever to the European equivalent. Unfortunately, a precise vocabulary for describing the scrap yard of rather high-smelling, unhappily-parked vehicles and pack of forlorn, yet jackal-like Indian drivers squatting on the concrete steps as they lie in wait for an Inji fare, simply doesn’t exist in my world. So unless we go for something like ‘crouching taxi, hidden driver,’ (did I really write that? has a demon entered my keyboard?) ‘taxi rank’ will have to do.
My companion, Ang from Malaysia, has been coming to Bir since the late 80s and knows Lama Godi quite well. So he made an offering to Lama, and I smiled and bowed with my body, as my mind fled back to my computer and a photo Penelope had sent me.
This kind of thing happens to me all the time, even with Khyentse Rinpoche, who we see so rarely these days. Too often when I am with him, my mind skedaddles off, at great speed, to check through lists of questions and difficulties, instead of allowing itself to enjoy basking in his presence, or look at its own maneuverings, or do anything remotely beneficial spiritually-speaking. Ach ja. Twenty-five years of so-called Buddhist practice, and I’m worse off than a beginner.
It reminds me of a story I heard some twenty years ago. Sogyal Rinpoche had been teaching about how older students (I counted myself as a beginner in those days, and was horribly smug about it…) who have heard the same teachings many times over can become so jaded that however applicable a teaching might be to their state of mind, it doesn’t even occur to them to apply it to themselves. The words simply slide off their slippery minds and they become like a block of wood.
One of the people Rinpoche was directing this teaching at was a man called Francois. He came from a very good French family, had been educated to within an inch of his life, was witty, generous, charming… well, you can imagine. And knowing that the teaching was aimed at him, for the next session he left a large log of rotting wood in the place he usually sat… not something anyone is likely to dare to do today.
Back to business, though… I love this photo. Penelope went to see Lama Godi at 7am in his room (there really is a room there, underneath all that stuff) and not only came away with untold blessings, but this marvellous portrait which she has very generously offered to ORM. Thank you again, Penelope.