Dedicated To Truth And Loving Compassion

-1993

Lobersing Nuns
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Dedicated To Truth And Loving Compassion – 1993
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A casual offer of assistance made to a dear friend some years ago led me on an adventure to the jungles of Orissa seeking a group of starving Tibetan nuns. Many blessings have arisen out of that “casual offer.” This latest story is particularly close to my heart.

It was February of 1986 and I had been interviewing villagers all afternoon. The stories of the renowned Yogini Ani Jetsun Dolma’s miraculous accomplishments in the jungle outside this impoverished Tibetan refugee camp were amazing. But few villagers knew any early background about the Yogini, and we all eagerly welcomed Changchub Choden, her closest student.

“Ani Jetsun practiced all the time and did not encourage visitors or even students to stay with her very long. She was fond of my mother; she knew my family well. Ours was a tradition of calligraphy. For generations my family worked closely with the priest-scholars, copying, correcting texts… creating monuments… the mani stones by the river are mine….

” I was still fairly young when Ani Jetsun invited me to stay with her. She taught me the fundamentals of the Dharma. She taught me meditation. I would stay with her months at a time and then return to my family. On occasion she would tell me stories of her life in Tibet. She was famous for practicing in some of the most terrifying cemeteries. She was a great Siddha.” The poverty of Changchub and the other students of Ani Jetsun was lamentable, and I resolved to try and get some support for them. I wrote a story, “A Life of Discipline, A Rainbow Death” about Ani Jetsun’s accomplished life and profound death. Snow Lion published my story and I received donations for them. Several donors specified their dollars go to Changchub Choden.

This whole process had taken over a year and when I tried to send the money to Changchub, the townspeople reported she had left town. A brief affair with a monk had resulted in pregnancy. It took some time for me to track her to Darjeeling. I sent her the money that I had collected for her. She wrote through a translator telling me of her tiny room and her healthy baby boy. She was employed part-time at a monastery as a calligrapher and was barely surviving. The funds were timely.

For several years we managed to send her assistance. During this time one of her teachers, the accomplished yogi Chatrul Rinpoche, called her to his monastery in Nepal. She left the baby with an attendant in Darjeeling. She and Chatrul Rinpoche were to travel to a secret pilgrimage spot, a walk of several weeks, where she was to carve a sacred monument according to his instructions.

Shortly before they were to leave he called her to him and told her to return immediately to Darjeeling. He said her son needed her. He promised to educate him in the yogic sciences after he received a preliminary education. She pleaded not to go but he was adamant, insisting on her leaving by bus immediately.

Three days of tortuous mountain roads later she arrived in Darjeeling to find her child dangerously ill. She rushed him to the hospital. One of our letters of support had just arrived, enabling her to purchase the necessary medications to save the child’s life.

I passed through Darjeeling in the spring of 1992. As she told me stories of her life with Ani Jetsun the precocious child squirmed at the end of a harness she had rigged to keep him out of the cooking oil. It was Losar time and she and a young woman helper were making magical designs of traditional fried bread.

Sangay Tempal was a beautiful boy. A mop of black hair framed his round, moon-like face and dancing eyes. One morning he was intent on showing me something and his mother had gone outside. He took hold of the harness that had made him a dancing, straining captive for two days, looked me straight in the eye and proceeded to methodically untie it. He led me gleefully to the home of his pet white rat. That finished he returned to the harness and gestured that I should hook him in before his mother returned.

A year later I was in Darjeeling for the enthronement of the young Kalu Rinpoche and stopped by Changchub’s tiny place. She was nowhere to be found, but her excited helper escorted me to the gompa above. A young monk led us through a maze of long halls. In a small neat room Changchub and SangayTempal greeted me happily. His head was shaved; he was wearing monks’ robes. Drukchen Rinpoche, head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, had announced that Sangay Tempal was the 9th incarnation of the revered Lagna Rinpoche and had welcomed mother and child to live in his gompa.

Lagna Rinpoche had monasteries in Ladakh and Tibet. His closest disciples had been guided to seek the incarnation of their master in Darjeeling. Drukchen Rinpoche directed them to Sangay Tempal. When the small child saw them he told his mother to give them “ngari khambu,” a Ladakhi word for dried apricots. She didn’t understand him but the Ladahki disciples wept for joy. It is one of the favorite treats of the Ladakhi people.

In her last letter Changchub Choden reported that they had visited Ladakh briefly for the enthronement ceremonies but returned to Darjeeling for the young Rinpoche’s preliminary education. She requests anyone interested in helping to support him during his training, or would like to support his monks in Ladakh, may send funds through Tara Dhatu.

The faith of Lagna Rinpoche’s disciples and his commitment to a life dedicated to the highest truths and loving compassion has brought him back.

What a joy to participate, even in such a small way, in this inspiring drama of love and faith.

Prema Dasara