My dear one,
I didn’t think well while you were here in New York. I only asked you to take a picture of the Twenty-one Taras done by a very good artist. Now I am sending you several pictures.
The tsatsa of Lama Tsongkhapa is very precious because you can’t find Lama Tsongkhapa images like this—very joyful and not skinny, but very full. This is from Domo Geshe Rinpoche, who built the gompa in Tibet called Domo Drugkar Gompa, where I became a monk.
This great yogi Domo Geshe Rinpoche and some other lamas were in Tsang together with their guru—probably their root guru—and one day the root guru sent each of them to a different place. The guru told one of the lamas to go to Tsang and said to him, “You won’t benefit sentient beings, but you will be able to do your own practice.”
Domo Geshe Rinpoche was sent by the guru toward Domo near Sikkim to live in the forest. There the gorillas used to offer fruit to him. The shepherd of one of the rich families in Domo used to go to the mountains to look after animals and while there he sometimes saw a monk coming out and sometimes he saw gorillas coming out. He told the family, his boss, and the family told him to go and see the monk and invite him to come to them. So the shepherd went to see the monk and invited him to come down to the house. The monk accepted and came down and stayed for one year in the shrine room of the house. Then after one year he asked the family if they could build a monastery and they started to build him one.
That family’s name was Bumpo Tsang and they were a rich family in the area. They started the monastery and it was a good monastery for a long time. I became a monk there, but I only stayed there for six months. At that time all of Tibet was taken over by the Chinese. It was 1959 and the monastery was full of spies. There was all kinds of mess and Chinese leaders used to come sometimes to give talks. I offered my first examination there on one volume of a text, but I didn’t get to memorize the second volume because I escaped. But I memorized the text in the mornings and evenings in Pagri, which is a big place where I lived for three years. In the mornings and evenings I would memorize the text and every day we would go to do puja for the families who were benefactors of Domo Geshe’s monastery. We went every day except maybe once a year.
I think Lama Govinda came to Tibet and met Domo Geshe Rinpoche, and maybe heard some teachings from him. That’s why he wrote The Way of the White Clouds and a second book, [Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism] which is a mixture of tantra and science. The Way of the White Clouds was one of the first books available in the West and our very first student, Zina Rachevsky, the Russian princess, read that book and came to look for a guru at Domo Geshe’s monastery [in Ghoom, Darjeeling.] Maybe she was looking for Domo Geshe.
I was staying in a room in this monastery with my teacher who looked after me and my teacher Lama Yeshe. One monk called Drukdra, Sound of the Dragon, met Zina outside. He could speak a few words of English so he brought her to my room, opened the door and said, “Oh, here’s your friend.” She was blond and had a Tibetan sweater from the Darjeeling bus station. My teacher offered Zina some Tibetan tea poured from a Tibetan kettle into a monk’s mug and that day she drank it completely. That was the only day I saw her drink Tibetan tea. From that time onwards I never saw her drink Tibetan tea again. It was by meeting Zina that we started Kopan monastery and built Lawudo at the same time. Gradually all the other centers happened and now there are 170 or maybe more, and we have forty-four geshes or maybe even more.
Therefore, this tsatsa is very precious. Before it didn’t have anything behind it and then the artist Peter Griffin, who made many tsatsas, made the back side.
I have also sent you a picture of my Chenrezig thangka that I carry with me. That is my meditation thangka.
There is also a stupa [image] that has many mantras. That is Lama Atisha’s stupa. I saw a small one of these a long time ago, but could not read the mantras. I wished very much to see a clear one and then some years ago one nun went to Wolka Choeling in Tibet where Lama Tsongkhapa made many mandala offerings in the stone. The abbot of that holy place gave her a larger copy of this stupa with the mantras. The benefit of this is that if you wear it, then you don’t get pollution when you meet people who have broken samaya with the guru.
People who have heresy, anger and so forth to the guru and have broken their connection with the guru are the most dangerous people. For example, if a person like that was at Vajrapani Institute it would pollute everything at Vajrapani. Then even if somebody were to drink the water at Vajrapani their mind would degenerate, and they would lose all the realizations they had developed and go to hell. We receive very heavy pollution to the mind from such people, then the mind degenerates and we go to hell. It becomes very difficult for our mind to develop compassion and realizations.
If you keep this stupa with mantras on your body, then you won’t get pollution from people like this if you meet them. Also wherever those people have been the place is polluted and if you are at that place you also get polluted from the land. But if you have this protection you won’t get that pollution. So it is very, very important to wear this. Usually I wear this, but recently when I was in Australia I didn’t have this protection on my neck for maybe one or two days and there were Dolgyal people demonstrating near to where His Holiness was teaching. I didn’t feel good on those days because the road we drove on was near where they were protesting.
I think I gave you maybe three or four Namgyalma protection [amulets] at the house in New York, and I might have explained them to you.
The other thing is maybe the Tara painting that I did for Mummy Max, the African-American. Sometime after we met Princess Rachevsky, we met Mummy Max, who helped us build Lawudo Gompa and Kopan Gompa in the beginning. She is a student of Lama Yeshe and she looked after Lama for many years. When Lama was going to pass then he sent her away. I drew the Tara for her at Kopan Hill.
I also sent you a picture of a Vajrayogini that I have at my Aptos house. This Vajrayogini was painted by a monk in China and it took him six months to complete. He did it very secretly and never showed anybody. The drawing is done with coral and it is very precious.
There is one picture that looks like a naked woman holding a damaru and bell. That is Machig Labdrön from Tibet. The chöd practice became popular through her and so she is recognized as the embodiment of one mother, Mother Prajnaparamita. Chöd is “slaying the ego.” There were lamas practicing chöd before Machig Labdron. This wasn’t my photo but belonged to a nun from New York. I just sent it for you to recognize.
There was a nice green Tara that the nun had at her altar, which was very nice art. Then there is my picture of the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha with a yellow body, holding a wish-granting vase in the left hand and a wish-granting jewel in the right hand.
I don’t remember everything I sent you, but maybe the list is finished now. Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers ...