Today is the day Tsoknyi Rinpoche is supposed to return from Lhasa, Tibet, to his monastery here high atop the hill behind Swyambunath. He left a couple of months ago to teach meditation retreats in America and Europe. He's been in Hong Kong and most recently in Lhasa visiting with his wife's family. I know that the flight from Lhasa arrives around noon, so I make my trip down the hill to buy a bottle of drinking water - and get my much needed exercise - as soon after breakfast as my digestion will allow. The human body is amazing. After just a couple of these hikes, I now can do this hill now and not feel exhausted - I arrive back here with plenty of energy to take a shower and do my laundry, having just created a fresh batch of sweat soaked clothes.
At 10 AM there is a swarm of activity in the hall outside my room. Rinpoche's office is undergoing a thorough cleaning. Lunch arrives - wonderful as always. I spend the afternoon doing a little programming, and actually meditating. It's hard to settle in to meditate - every time I try, I come up with wonderful new changes to make to the computer programs. But as the days go by, it's getting easier. I make a couple of wanders down to the courtyard in front of the main building so see what if anything is happening. One of the trips is inspired by Rinpoche's mother gazing down the trail from the roof of the new retreat center - does she know something? But, no, the afternoon drags on. I figure Rinpoche has gone to visit his guru, Adi Rinpoche, who arrived in Kathmandu in late May to oversee the editing work of the Drupa Kagyu Heritage Project.
At 5 PM, it's obvious everyone is now expecting Rinpoche. All the monks have gathered in the courtyard with white katas (scarves). I stroll down again and hang out on the rooftop of the monks quarters. After awhile, the monks all line up in order by height. There are 2 monks and a young boy hanging out on the roof of one of the houses just down the trail - they will be the first to know of Rinpoche's arrival. Towards 6PM, these boys get excited and I know it's arrival time.
First to appear is a porter with a gigantic suitcase. He is followed by two more porters with two suitcases each. And finally Rinpoche and his beautiful wife come into view. He greets his mother and then notices me on the roof 2 floors up and waves. As he starts for the stairs up to the courtyard, I head over to the very end of the receiving line and take my place after the youngest of the monks and the household staff. He comes down the line. Two Tibetan oboes squeal bagpipe-like from the roof. Each monk presents him with a kata, and in return receiving a blessing - and the kata back. When he reaches me, I
present the kata the good folks at Dragon Guest House had given me as a going away gift. He drapes the kata around my neck and bumps heads with me. He says he's heard of all the work I've been up to and that we will have a proper talk later. I can tell he's tired. He and his wife go inside. The little ceremony is over, but it sticks in my mind beyond the colors and the sounds of those couple of minutes.
We did have our proper talk a few days later at the new home of DKHP. I came back down to Boudha the day before I left Nepal and he was there. We had a nice chat - he thanked me for the programs I've created. The Rinpoches are all very excited about the Tibetan word processor. Not only can they now do the usual word processing things in their own language, they can very easily send Tibetan FAXes and even e-mail. It sure feels nice to have been able to give back to the Tibetan after all the wonderful teachings I have received from them; especially from Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
It's also nice to be able to contribute to this project to preserve some of the fabulous storehouse of Tibetan knowledge of how consciousness works. They have a 1200 year history of studying the mind, and this wealth of understanding is in grave danger of disappearing under the Chinese assault on all things Tibetan.
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Been There, Done That
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/ Revised 26 July 12