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Lokouten        Chapter 3       

 

Chapter 3
The secret spouse of Tchögyal

 

 

«So, why did you came for, Tchögyal?»

For the first time since he was given the title of Rinpoche, Sangye Tchögyal felt somewhat shy. It must be said that his request, although perfectly correct according to Tantric Buddhism, was quite daring and very personal. So he was hesitant to reply to his old friend Lama Kyoungpo Neten, abbot of the nunnery of Kurukulla Gompa, southern Tibet, near the Bhutan border.

Sangye Tchögyal was both a Tibetan Lama and a high level scientist at the International University of Shedrup Ling. To combine these two very difficult achievements did not prevented him, however, to get an Olympic bronze medal in archery. Tall, athletic, completely bald, soberly dressed in a dark traditional Tibetan robe, he could just look quite impressive and mysterious. He was well known in Tibet and in the world, thanks to the incredible redemptions he was able to produce with many people, while causing them a FAE, a controlled NDE. This is told in the two previous books, The missing Planets» and Dumria». Lama Kyoungpo Neten, by contrast, was a discreet character, noticed only by those who really had to meet him. He was looking as a small old man, with a gentle and wizened face. His gestures were slow and rare. His sparse white hairs were cut very short, and he was always wearing the garnet red robe of the Kagyupa monks (note 4).

The fact that a man, a monk, was leading a monastery of nuns, had nothing exceptional in this Tibet of the year 2102; but in fact many nunneries were run solely by women. And this was not the tradition. The strict Buddhist tradition says that to ordinate a monk, it was enough to have a group of five monks. But to ordinate a nun, this group had to include nuns, as logical, but also at least one monk...

The legend traces this curious discrimination to the Shakyamuni Buddha himself: he had to be pleaded lengthily before he granted the ordination to a first woman, his adoptive mother Prajapati. No need to search into the Sutras: no serious philosophical explanation comes to justify such a refusal. It remained this tradition that the nuns of ancient Tibet and all eastern countries accepted with fatalism for twenty five centuries. Especially, candidate nuns in old Tibet had to undertake a long and dangerous trip to China in order to obtain the «good» ordination.

But when, in the end of the 20th century, the monastic lineages arrived in Europe and in the United States, countries of the human rights ... and women's rights, the candidate nuns were much less fatalistic. They even frankly arose the issue. The first monasteries were founded in these countries since about 1980, but it was not until 2050, however, that stable and large enough communities started to multiply, as it is not simple to be a monk or a nun in a world which speaks so much of freedom (especially sexual). But they succeeded in doing so, little by little. These monks and nuns, even if they were a small minority among Buddhist practitioners, ended up creating stable communities of serious practitioners, respectful of all traditions. Except of one. One day at a convention of westerner nuns, several candidates were ordered by five nuns, almost all of the United States. Five nuns perfectly ordinated according to the tradition, who even made the trip to China. Five nuns, who were all Tulku or Rinpoche (note 5). But five nuns and zero monks. Five nuns who, by doing so, were kindly but frankly saying dang to the usual macho custom of having mandatorily a man overseeing the ordination of women. So they created a new lineage «without ordinator».

Of course this made a big discussion among the Buddhists in general, and especially in the monastic communities. As always, an intervention of His Holiness the 15th Dalai Lama was needed. His Holiness had just resumed his duties at this time. He concluded, as usual, cautiously, but clearly: «Historically, in India, varying interpretations of the basic rules produced many monastic lineages, which divided, flourished or disappeared. In Tibet, there are four major lineages, which interpret some rules rather differently. So, what is happening today has nothing inconceivable, and even nothing new. The new interpretation does not question the foundations of the monastic discipline, but what will really bring it value is the scrupulous observance of monastic vows and commitments, and the constant effort put into a serious practice motivated by compassion for others.»

Once this «family scene» between monks and nuns settled, the new lineage «between women» grew and became important, even in the East and in Tibet. And many disciples showed a particular zeal to satisfy the requirements set forth by His Holiness. But the ancient tradition did not disappear, and we could still find people considering the new lineage as «inferior». And every monastery or nunnery having its own history, it could happen that a monastery of men was directed by a woman, and even a nunnery of the new «American» school could be led by a man. Indeed, the choice of a master is only very secondarily related to his gender. Of course, if the abbot was of a different gender from his followers, he or she was dwelling out of the monastic community itself. Some nunneries of the United States even pushed things up to a typically American excess: to pay a constant attention to invite a strictly equal number of male and female teachers.

All this explains why Lama Kyoungpo Neten lived in a house in traditional Bhutanese style, about a hundred metres from the great white and red temple of the nunnery of Kurukulla Gompa. But the very reason why this man was leading a nunnery was that he had the goddess Kurukulla as yidam (note 7).

This place was really beautiful, with wooden lodges painted of nice pastel colours, stretching on the hillside, facing south, on flowered terraces supported by dry stone walls, amid lush trees. Even the birds were not uncommon, and their songs could be heard all day. Otherwise, the only sounds were the hiss of the creek which was flowing at the bottom of the valley, or the deep call of the large horns, for the practice. Motor vehicles were banned, except for works.

Lama Kyoungpo Neten's house was on the farthest terrace, near the entrance of the domain. It was a small building with a ground floor and a first floor, in whitewashed stone, surrounded, at the level of the first floor, by the traditional ochre-red band, telling that the Buddhist Dharma was the law in this house. The roof carpentry was in blue pine, a noble wood which, in the Himalayas, is ageing in a nice dark brown. The windows of the first floor were forming balconies, also in blue pine, overlooking the ground level walls, and painted with intertwined flowers in the lovely Bhutanese style. Only large solar arrays, discreetly integrated into the roof, indicated that we really were in the 21st century, and not in a tale of ancient Tibet. One could enter here through a small lawn surrounded by shrubs, that Lama Kyoungpo did not mowed often. A garden gnome with faded colours, in a pure western subdivision style of the late 20th century, was looking strangely out of place.

The ground floor was including the kitchen, an office and storages. Most of the first floor was occupied by a single large room, open to the east and west with large windows and balconies, and other smaller windows to the south. Spots of the spring sun were slowly exploring the intricate patterns of the carpets. The walls were adorned with many colorful thangkas, but all were surpassed in beauty by a large representation of the goddess Kurukulla, above the altar.

O noble goddess of passionate wisdom, your red body, your naked breasts, your long black hair floating in the wind, adorned with jewels, surrounded with flowers and greenery, you bend proudly and happily your bow, ready to send your arrows of wisdom to whoever asks, and even to those who would not want them!

Beside the altar, was the bench where Lama Kyoungpo used to meditate. Before him, was a medium height table for the sacred texts, and a lower one for the tea. There was no bed anywhere in the house, as Lama Kyoungpo used to sleep in the Lotus position, on the bench.

Lama Kyoungpo, sitting in the lotus position on his bench, was staring at Tchögyal, with this look of great gentleness and ancient wisdom on his wizened face, which made that all his nuns were finding him lovely. From time to time, birds were coming on the window sill, to peck grain he was always offering them, and this rustle of wings disturbed so little, that it was as if they were part of the ritual. Lama Kyoungpo knew that the number of birds in an area depends mainly on what they have to eat in the winter, so every winter he was feeding them abundantly.

Tchögyal had to reply.

«I miss the wisdom».

Lama Kyoungpo took a little astonished look:

«Wisdom? But you have much more than me, of wisdom. I would be unable to make FAE like you, and in science I am utterly zero. I'm just a small geshe (note 8) barely able to teach the basics of Dharma to some wayward nuns.

-Hey, no false modesty, Kyoungpo La (note 9). Your wayward nuns, you however sent a dozen of them to the paradise of Aganishta, more than I did with my FAE. But there is one thing you have, and that I don't. The Wisdom. To practice the union of the wisdom and the method.»

Lama Kyoungpo left his cup on the table, from astonishment.

«Heeey, Tchögyal, you won't start this at the age of 56?

Ah, I am 56 years old, you think? I did not noticed. Everything still works perfectly, from head to foot, through what it takes to unite the wisdom and the method. I always say, age is a matter of mindset. I really have other things to do than to grow old. And I promise you, if I die leaving a body, I shall offer you the bone of my Vajra, to make a ritual flute (note 10).

This time, Lama Kyoungpo fell laughing.

«The bone of your... Ha ha ha ha! You're really too much, Tchögyal! Okay, I must admit, you really need the wisdom. I must have what you are looking for, among my wayward nuns. But, even if I am Kagyu at heart, I will do this in the Gelugpa way (note 11). I only accept if she agrees to give back her monastic vows. So that everything is clear in the mind of everybody. You understand, I have 22 years old girls who asked this to me, when they even not did the preliminaries (note 12). Of course I said no. For an advanced practitioner like you, it is different, it is a very good reason, and it will also create a lot of merit to her. But why do you want to do this, suddenly, you who always were chaste as a monk?

-I cannot explain it. It was not my project. My idea was to completely stop science, and practice only meditation, except for helping my disciples in retreat. And suddenly, I made a series of dreams, all the same: a large black sphere coming down from the starry sky, at night. It was expecting something from me, as if it was calling for help. And to be able to respond effectively, I had to succeed in the yoga of the Union.

-A black sphere? This is strange. Do you have any idea of what it is?

-No. But it is good, anyway. It is black because it is secret, few people are allowed to see. But there is light within. A great light. It is a kind of huge mandala (note 13). You know, I often have intuitions of this kind, for example when a retreater needs some help, at a precise time, or that unexpected events are about to occur. I am feeling the same thing now, but it is much larger, as if millions of people were depending on me. And the deadline is coming soon. Before the end of this summer.

-Heey. Yes. Well. We shall see. For the wisdom, I may have what you need. I see two or three who will fit well. But perhaps you have your own idea.

-Yes, I had noticed... the chant leader, at the Puja (ceremony) of the Losar (Tibetan New Year, which occurs in February).

-Dang, you are going to steal my oumdzey (master of songs), I shall have to train another. Well, this is impermanence (note 14). In any case, I see that you know how to choose, it is one of the two or three I was thinking at. Her name is Yonten Drolma. She received all the initiations of the lineage for long, and she is very involved in the completion stage of the secret Tantras. I think she is my most advanced student.

-Perfect. It is what I was feeling, when I saw her.

-In more, she is a divine singer. She is an artist, and she did a lot to make this place beautiful. When I first arrived here, there were only shacks with corrugated steel roofs, and not a single tree. She worked hard, not hesitating to handle the shovel and wheelbarrow. All these trees, she planted them. The walls are mostly her work. She is a real woman, not a chick.

-Very well. I shall not ask her to carry the wheelbarrow, but truly I would not know what to do with a chick.

-And steadfast on discipline and ethics. Her only trips out were for humanitarian help, I saw her taking care of disgusting sick people, covered with pus and sores. But now she spends more and more time into meditation, she is even in semi-retreat for three years, in her lodge. She is forty six years. And, you know, she is not Tibetan, but European.

-Hey? Really? This I did not noticed, however. It's unbelievable, the Dharma has become so cosmopolitan, now. And it is more and more. The Karma of Tibet, from centuries of isolationism.

-Yes, she is German. Her original name was Gertrud Hazelbraun. But she no more wants to hear it. Today, she knows so well our country and our customs, that everyone thinks she is Tibetan. She arrived here at the age of fifteen, so she has now thirty years of practice. She had escaped from her parents, but when they found that she was here, they realized that it was serious. So they left her to follow her path, and they even supported her. At first she wanted to reform everything in the monastery and in the Dharma, she was talking a lot, expressing pride, and even aggressiveness. But now it is the Dharma which reformed her. Her aggressiveness has become a strong will for practice, it has become pure Boddhichita (note 16). It is often like this with Westerners: in the beginning they are entangled in their pride and psychological problems, but those who accept the transformation of their mind, they go fast and far. I am sure she will make an excellent wisdom.

-Hey, it is you, who did a perfect job.

-But no, no. It is her karma. Don't you know, she is vegetarian from birth, never any alcohol or other drug, you imagine, her body must be perfectly clean, perhaps even perfumed. In addition, when she arrived, she was wearing long blond hairs, she was cute. Today, with her shaved head, we cannot figure it, but you will see. I ask her to come?

-Errr..., Y... es, call her.» Tchögyal starter stammering like a young lover!

«Haha! This is good omen for the practice of the union!» mischievously remarked Kyoungpo Lama. Then he pulled out a cell phone, one of the very few technological items in his home, and he typed a name in an internal line of his monastery. After one minute of talking, he confirmed that Yonten Drolma was coming.

A short quarter of an hour passed, while Sangye Tchögyal and Lama Kyoungpo exchanged no words, just sipping some traditional Tibetan tea, with salted butter. It was good tea, especially since the Tibetans had understood that it is better with fresh butter, rather than rancid. The only sound was the gentle hiss of the stream, and the comings and goings of birds for food. The rays of light continued to explore the carpet, and Tchögyal allowed his thought to contemplate the dust grains in a bright sunshine, dancing like life, as the impermanence of things, never the same game but forever recommenced.

Suddenly a determined step could be heard on the path leading to the house. Somebody knocked at the door of the ground floor, which was always open, and Lama Kyoungpo replied, barely raising his voice: "Yes, I am upstairs." The step went into the wooden stairs, with a hum of mantra and a rattling of rosary. Yonten Drolma appeared: She was a tall woman, looking great in her red monastic robes. Her features, despites some discrete wrinkles starting to form, had the harmonious beauty which results from the regular exercise of intelligence, good temper and kindness. More a very visible joy of living, ready to bite deeply into any new experience. But Tchögyal, who was seeing more than the flesh eye can see, noted the well open Chakras (note 17), and the Nadis (note 17) free of obstruction. This was what he needed.

«You requested me, Geshe La?» she asked, in a spontaneous way that one could mistake for casualness. Then she saw Tchögyal Rinpoche, and, suddenly intimidated by such an illustrious presence, she looked down, out of respect.

«Sit down, I serve you the tea», Lama Kyoungpo said. Yonten Drolma sat in half-lotus position on a cushion, one foot extended before her, ready to act, as on the thangka of the glorious Kurukulla.

Some minute passed, until the tea cooled to an acceptable temperature. Then Kyoungpo Lama started without preamble: «You know my great friend Tchögyal Sangye Rinpoche. He chose to practice the yoga of the union of wisdom and method. You know that only few Lamas propose this kind of practice, very fast but also dangerous and difficult. This is why I instead advise my disciples to meditate quietly, here in our monastery, protected by the vows. But Rinpoche is a great yogi, who is very advanced in the completion stage of the Tantras. You can fully trust him, and if you would agree to be his secret spouse (note 18), it would also be very beneficial to you.» Then he had a discreet amused glance toward Tchögyal's cheeks, which were blushing a bit.

We guess the result of such a request on a woman. Yonten perfectly knew that this yoga, practiced with a man and a woman (the method and the wisdom) is not just a visualization. She should have physical relations with Rinpoche. While she never had with any man. And that this idea went long ago out of her head.

But a flurry of other thoughts rushed into her mind. On a community of over three hundred nuns, she was the one chosen. She who was a Westerner. Chosen for a greater capacity, for a role of trust, of which depended the future of a being of great evolution. Yonten began, by a long training reflexe, the visualization of Tchöd, to remove a burst of pride. But she had no time for it, as other thoughts were tumbling into her mind. If she accepted, her life would be completely changed. This garden monastery of paradise which was her whole life, these flower adorned terraces that she built at the pain of her shoulders, she would leave them. And this beautiful temple where the statue of the Buddha greeted her, with his deep and kind smile, while she herself, as a teenager, was just discovering life after a grey and lonely childhood. And all her friends and all her happy or painful memories, these thousands of moving hours spent into the temple, meditating and singing, the pleasure of working together, the hardships, the problems they had to face, bereavement, moments of doubt and sorrow ... All this would, in a matter of some minutes, switch abruptly from the present to the past, from reality to memory...

She looked up, toward Tchögyal's eyes. He too stared at her. Lama Kyoungpo was sipping his tea, looking completely indifferent, as neutral as if he was not here. Yonten was perfectly free to refuse. And to continue this life she loved so much, steadfast on the solid foundation of her fully respected monastic vows. To continue her moving songs in the temple. To keep laughing happily with the other nuns, in the refectory, or when they went bathing in the creek at the end of this beautiful valley, in a small sunny meadow forbidden to all visitors, where even Kyoungpo Lama pretended to ignore their benign mischiefs. To continue smelling and admiring the flowers of this garden, where she was passing every day. To continue immerging herself into the depths of her own mind, during the meditation sessions. But if she accepted, she would then depart, leaving the sight of her spring garden, and share the hustling life of this man, whom one never knew in which part of Tibet he was, if not just in another country. Or even on Dumria, as a common joke was saying.

Why could this man, well known to be perfectly chaste (although he never was a monk) suddenly decide to have a companion? For which project? For which exciting activity? She became aware that her own meditation, the same for three years now, was becoming somewhat tedious, and slow to yield results. Instead, with the help of such a master, mastering the most powerful yogas, she could now much faster fulfil her burning desire: reaching the highest possible states of spiritual evolution, and perhaps even powers of mind over matter, to help her human brothers and sisters to free themselves from suffering. What a fantastic opportunity was suddenly opening in front of her!

«I accept» she replied swiftly, with the total lack of reflection or distance, which characterizes the persons with a great intuition.

Lama Kyoungpo suddenly turned toward her, a small tremolo in his voice:

«Good, this is a good choice you made there. But I can accept it only at one condition: you cannot continue to be a nun. So that everything is clear in the mind of everybody. But reassure yourself, to give back your vows in this case is a very good motive.»

Yonten started to figure the consequences of what she said. Tchögyal was still looking her straight into her eyes. In this precise case, physical desire was becoming virtue, useful to the development of her mind. She just had to allow it to awake. And it awoke. She suddenly felt a desire for this tall, athletic man, without a gram of fat, still very attractive despite his 56 years and total baldness. But he was a Rinpoche! Yonten suddenly blushed with shyness, and she had to struggle a bit to answer Kyoungpo Lama without stuttering:

«I agree, I renounce to being a nun. But certainly not to practice!» she replied, brandishing proudly her rosary, as others brandish their rifle.

-Haha! This is good» replied Lama Kyoungpo, who was mimicking laughter, but his voice was trembling.

There were no further comments. Kyoungpo Lama called the steward of the monastery. She was an old nun, dressed in red getsulma (note 19) robe, widow of an important merchant in Lhassa. She was offering to the monastery her experience in management and accounting. Not very good in studies, she on the other hand was showing a great kindness and dedication, so she still was a very good nun. She was bringing a bag of female clothing, that she presented to Yonten, with a small accomplice smile, perfectly understanding what was happening.

«Aaaaley, Kyoungpo La, what the heck are you doing with all these frills into your monastery? Tchögyal teased.

-It is for when womanisers like you are coming» he replied in the same tone.

Yonten and the steward went private for a few moments, in the small office besides. Some female giggles were to be heard, while the two men were staring at each other in silence, with just a slight smile. Then Yonten returned with lay clothes. She was a woman again. Beautiful. She chose a Tibetan dark blue robe, with the multicoloured striped apron of the married women. She was only missing some hair. No luck, she just shaved her head that morning, and she needed to wait for a while before appearing in public.

Yonten handed Lama Kyoungpo her monastic robes, neatly folded. He put a hand on her head, murmuring blessing words. Then he did the same with Sangye Tchögyal, without touching his head, just presenting his hand over his forehead. Then he touched their foreheads with his own forehead, still murmuring blessings. Finally he invited them to do the same together, and uttered more words of good omen, at normal voice. «Be yourself, be Kurukulla» he concluded, at the address of Yonten.

 

Less than one hour later, Tchögyal and Yonten were walking down the rocky path to the monastery. Kyoungpo Lama at his window, was crying softly, looking his pupil going away. He retained to do so before, to avoid disturbing Yonten. For the same reason, no one was warned in the monastery. Yonten had no other personal belongings that some ritual objects and her rosary, that she always had with her. Kyoungpo Lama would make a farewell ceremony at the common practices of the evening. Sure that he would not be the only one to cry...

 

They reached Tchögyal's car, parked near a village inhabited by some male disciples of Geshe Kyoungpo La. As the car park was just beside a small bridge over the creek, the sound of the water swelled. This murmur had been for thirty years the very fabric of Yonten's life. It can be heard in every valley of the Himalayas, and yet it is nowhere the same. Clear and quiet when close, serious and deep when heard from the rocks overhanging the monastery, strong and impressive after the rain, happy with the sun, or sometimes indefinitely nostalgic of who knows what. Yonten had visualized it since years as the Mantra, and it became an integral part of her Tantric practice, a consciousness recall at every moment, heavy with happiness and hope. A poignant emotion filled her entirely, a sweet nostalgia for all this time, all these happy moments, and even difficulties and bereavements.

 

After some exchange of glances, Tchögyal started the vehicle. The noise of the ventilation erased the song of the torrent, and a completely new life began for these two.

Lokouten        Chapter 3       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.

 

 

 

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