Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Master of Masters:
Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro

I vividly remember that the very first thing Tarthang Rinpoche ever did upon arriving in the United States -- he was barely getting over the jet lag -- was to cause duplicate photographs to be made of his teachers -- and the photograph for which he wished special attention was that of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. I know this, because I am the one who made those duplicate photographs.

Tarthang Rinpoche had come down to San Francisco after dropping his trunk in Grass Valley. I met with him in a flat on Laguna Street (quite near the old Buddhist Churches of America headquarters on Octavia Street). He spent over two hours showing the photographs to me, explaining who was who, and stressing their importance. When I left, he said, "Now I have put all of my teachers in your hands. Don't lose them."

I left in late afternoon, and started hitchhiking back to Berkeley. I was standing at the old Oak Street entrance to the freeway, the photographs under my arm. I was there only a few minutes, in fading light, when I was mugged at knife-point by a street gang. I gave them everything I had -- a gold ring, all the money I had left in the world -- but I hung on to Tarthang Rinpoche's precious photographs.

Nobody in the United States knew or cared who Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro was until Tarthang Rinpoche showed them in ways too numerous to mention. It is only fair to mention that Sogyal Rinpoche did exactly the same thing in Europe.

Now there is a regular movement afoot to memorialize Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro's life and teachings. There is a blog, and a documentary motion picture in production.

But the real memorial is his students, and the students of his students -- because we are all his children and grandchildren -- and I think we should use today to ask ourselves what more we can do.

And then whatever it is, just strongly do it, and have no regrets.

Please, stop what you are doing, and watch this short film. I truly believe that it has the power to wake up your heart.

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