Acknowledgements and gratitude due
to Mr LG for difficult technical work and typing, Mr Rikzin Dorje
for proof-reading and corrections and bb for generally the two.....
Life In Tibet
I was born in 1931 in the Phen-po District of Central Tibet My original
lay name was Tse-chu and I belonged to a small and humble family.
The whole of the first half of my life was a tale of misfortune and
I was married at an early age to the eldest daughter of another family
in my village. Besides the poverty of my family, I faced a chain of
misfortunes from the beginning of my marriage. My wife gave birth
to three children, but all of them died one after another shortly
after their birth. My poor wife after facing the death of each of
her three children, eventually died herself. So, I lost my wife and
all my children at the very beginning of my married life. As was customary
in most parts of Tibet I was married again to the younger sister of
my late wife. The first child of my second wife also died in the same
way. I was then advised to have a special ritual performed called
''Cutting the Thread of Evil'' (Sri gcod). I requested a local lama
to perform it after which a son was born to my wife. This child, although
the fifth born, was the first to survive. I neither belonged to a
religious family nor was I religious in the earlier part of my life.
l did not even wonder what religion might be, during all those days
of my worldly life. The first and the only instance I can remember
as something like a religious experience occurred when I paid a visit
to the great historical hermitage of Drag-Yer-pa, a site north-east
of Lhasa blessed by the presence of Padma Sambhava, Atisha and others.
The purpose of my visit was just to offer some butter lamps for my
late wife. I requested one of the hermit monks there to heat his small
kettle of butter. He invited me to his cave and offered me tea. While
I was drinking it, the hermit, without saying anything, sat upon his
seat and started reciting Mani quite audibly as he might have been
accustomed to doing. I noticed that although the monk had nothing
in his cave he really seemed happy and contented. The light of peace
shone in his face. I was deeply impressed by the hermit's way of life,
and the soothing sound of Mani resounded in my ears long after I had
left the hermitage. However when I returned home I behaved just as
I had before for that casual experience had not brought about any
change in my life.
In 1959 when the communist Chinese took over central Tibet I could
not believe what had happened. The idea of attempting to escape never
entered my mind. Instead I thought that it was just a temporary setback
and that the Chinese would eventually be defeated and driven out by
the Tibetan army and voluntary guerrilla force. The Chinese invasion
of Tibet awakened a strong nationalistic feeling in my heart which
made me forget everything except the fight to drive them out of Tibet.
I openly pro- tested against Chinese rule on many occasions. I was
so angry with them that any natural feelings of fear and concern for
my personal safety totally disappeared from my heart. The rage of
my nationalistic spirit grew further when I saw that most of the local
Tibetan officials had simply become flattering stooges of the Chinese.
I directly challenged such traitors on several occasions and spat
on their acts of treachery towards the Tibetan people at such a crucial
time. Within a short period, I became well-known among our people,
as well as to the Chinese authorities. My unbiased support for the
cause of our people won me their genuine support. I was unanimously
elected to the newly created post of Uy-on, or District Official.
The Chinese officials accepted this for they thought it was a good
opportunity to mould me into the shape they desired.
I was able to take advantage of the situation. I was doing well with
the Chinese authorities, as well as with my underground activities
against them. The Tibetan guerrillas were very active in those days
and the Chinese ordered the district officials to collect and surrender
all the arms and ammunition in their districts. I collected most of
the arms in my district, but did not surrender them to the Chinese.
I stored most of them underground to be used at the time of our revolt.
Only the old and outdated weapons
were surrendered which the Chinese never understood.
Not long after, stricter measures were taken against the possession
of arms. Al1 of the houses were to be raided and not a single weapon
could escape seizure. Special Chinese officials were soon in Phen-po
District to conduct the raids. There was no way to protect the hidden
arms from being discovered, so eventually I would face arrest and
imprisonment. I held a secret meeting with my fellow guerrillas to
discuss the grave developments. We decided to kill the Chinese officials
and lead a revolt against Chinese rule. The newly-arrived Chinese
officials were well- protected and it was not going to be easy to
kill them. Our best and only chance would be when they came to meet
with the local officials. I was the only Tibetan who would attend
so I volunteered to shoot the two highest Chinese officials at the
Everything was prepared and I took a loaded pistol with me. I was
not so much nervous as anxious about my entrusted role.
While waiting for the Chinese officials, we received a report about
the escape of some of our men. It seemed the Chinese suspected there
would be a guerilla attack on the meeting and the official party did
not arrive on time. I realized that everything was over and that there
was nothing left but to await my arrest so I decided to try to escape.
I told my Chinese colleagues that the report could not be true and
I was going to check it myself. I rode away on my horse and without
even informing my wife and son made my way directly to the mountains.
Our plot had leaked at the last minute. The punishment for my crime
would be execution or at least life imprisonment.
After going some distance, I could see that I was being chased by
mounted Chinese soldiers. I climbed a nearby mountain and hid myself
among the rocks. I could see everything below very clearly. The Chinese
soldiers surrounded the mountain on all sides and waited for me to
come down. I could also see that there were mounted Chinese all over
our village. After several hours the Chinese withdrew, so I started
coming down. I was too hundry to hide anymore. But what I did not
know was that the Chinese were still watching me through their binoculars.
I went straight home for some food. Just as I began to eat, someone
rushed in saying that the Chinese soldiers had surrounded my house.
I immediately climbed up on the roof and jumped off from the back
side. Luckily I did not break a leg. When the Chinese came in to arrest
me, I had vanished again. This time I escaped to the upper village
where my brother lived. This village was comparatively safer as it
was quite high and far from the main town. I had firmly decided within
myself to leave Phen-po for good. l told my brother the whole story
and suggested he should come with me.
At first he tried to dissuade me, but when he realized I would not
listen, he assured me that he would come too, but that we should wait
until morning. I had complete faith in my brother and suspected nothing
but to my dismay, my brother had secretly called the Chinese to arrest
me. My brother's betrayal, which I still cannot believe was a great
blow to me. I felt defeated and thought that I should happily face
the Chinese punishments which I probably deserved. I was arrested
and imprisoned. As expected, I had to undergo all kinds of inhuman
torture in prison. Every day I would face questions, beatings, and
hard labour. I was brought in front of the public and suffered insults
and beatings from all of them.
I had to undergo a series of beatings, but my body was able to withstand
them all and nothing serious happened to my health.
But, one day, a local woman appeared before me to abuse me. She rode
upon my neck, punched me about my temples and spat in my face. As
a result I developed an eye ailment which nearly blinded me.
I had not yet received the final sentence for my crime. Since it had
to come from a higher military officer, I had to wait and in the meantime
I was imprisoned with hard labour. One night I went to the toilet
which was near the prison gate.
I saw that the gate was open and there was no guard. Along with another
prisoner I ran through it and escaped.
The two of us had nothing to eat, but after a night on the run we
reached Lhasa, half dead with hunger and quite sure that we would
be re-arrested if we remained there long. Although I had no idea how
to get to India, I had heard that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had
already escaped there so my only wish was to do the same. I met a
lama and sought his advice. I requested him to make prayers and offerings
to the Dharma Protectors and after this was done, I left Lhasa all
alone for India.
When I had exhausted the little food I had been able to carry from
Lhasa I had to survive by begging. Very often I would not even get
one meal a day. After several days I was able to reach the border
with Bhutan. The passes were all blocked by heavy snow- fall, which
would remain for months, so day and night I walked on top of the snow
without proper shelter. After some time, the soles of my shoes were
totally worn out, so I had to walk bare foot on the frozen snow.
Soon my feet started bleeding but as there was no place to stay and
rest, I walked on. I remember that as I walked I left bloody footprints
in the snow. Finally in this poor condition I reached Bhutan, where
I found many Tibetans. It was a great relief to have crossed the border
safely. In Bhutan I found I could not mix easily with my fellow Tibetans,
because of the heavy burden of mental anxiety I was under. A rumour
was spread among the Tibetans that I was a Chinese spy. It broke my
heart, I could not take such a thing, and so I went out crying and
shouting like a madman to prove my innocence. I told the people that
none of them had suffered in the way l had, and asked why Chinese
spy should suffer so much to escape from the Chinese. An old Tibetan
lady consoled me and gave me food and clothing.
As a Refugee in India
Since Bhutan was not my final destination, I did not want to remain
there very long, even though I now had food clothing and shelter.
I really wanted to see His Holiness and stay some- where near him.
Someone advised me on how to get into India.
I was told to follow the railroad tracks across the border. I did
so, and at midnight I found myself at a railway station where I was
received by Indian policemen with batons and rifles. Without saying
a single word, they beat me so badly that I fell unconscious. The
police had mistaken me for a Chinese spy again. After finding that
I was innocent and extremely wretched, they let me go where I liked.
I was completely confused about where to go and how to get there.
I kept saying, ''Dalai Lama'' to whoever I met, as if to ask how I
should get to wherever His Holiness lived.
Then, I met a nun pilgrim who spoke Tibetan. She helped me board a
bus for Darjeeling where she said there were many Tibetans.
In Darjeeling, I met many Tibetans, but I was really shocked to find
them all busy making their own living. No one was doing anything for
the 'Freedom of Tibet'. Even after facing such misery, my only desire
was to do something to drive out the Chinese and return to my country.
But here everything was too discouraging. I was unable to accept the
true sutuation in Tibet. In order to suppress my anxiety and sadness,
I started drinking and became well known in the town as a drunkard.
In order to start the first Tibetan refugee settlement, I was sent
along with hundreds of other Tibetans to the south of India. I did
not like the idea of establishing settlements, as I thought this meant
that we were not going back to Tibet. Since the settlement consisted
of nothing but jungle, we camped in tents and worked all day cutting
down trees. Being single, I would work hard during the day and drink
off my day's earnings in the evening. Work and drink became the major
features of my daily life.
After some time I heard of the establishment of a special Tibetan
unit of the army in India. Without a second thought I rushed to join
up. I was greatly encouraged, thinking that we would now fight the
Chinese. I remained in the army for nine years, but due to my persistent
anxiety my health remained poor. I completed all the basic training,
and did twenty-two parachute jumps, almost breaking my head once.
I also participated in the Bangladesh War in 1971.
Beginning of Religious Life
Eventually, my past experiences, my continuing poor health, and the
teachings of my spiritual teachers brought about a great change in
me. I became deeply religious and started doing my preliminary practices
in the army camp. This was the beginning of my religious life.
During my time in the army I was constantly troubled by an ailment
due to which my appetite became poor and my overall health became
very weak. One reason for this was that I was not always on good terms
with my companions and would get into quarrels with them. Such breaches
of military discipline would then lead to punishments. In order to
alleviate my health problems I performed one hundred thousand prostrations.
Then I approached the late Venerable Cho-gyal from Namgyal Monastery,
who was a spiritual teacher there.
When I sought his divination about my problem, he clearly mentioned
an old injury which I had sustained when I was hit by a stone during
a fight many years before. Struck by his insight I gained a great
faith in him and requested him to give me religious instructions.
He very gladly taught me the Guru-Yoga of Avalokiteshvara, the Compassionate
Buddha, written by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. From then onwards,
I would automatically visit him whenever I had free time, and very
often he would give me advice. At this time, apart from knowing the
alphabet, I could not read and had a difficult time learning. But
with effort I taught myself and gained such satisfaction that I even
dreamt of reading scriptures. After this, Ven. Cho-gayl began to teach
me the meaning of religious texts, verse by verse, and I was surprised
how quickly I understood. In this way, I feel that I practised to
the best of my ability during my stay in the army.
As time went on, my mind became more and more religiously inclined.
As a result, during my holidays I would come to Dharamsala to receive
teachings from His Holiness and his two tutors, Kyab-je Ling Rin-po-che
and Kyab-je Tri-jang Rin-po-che. Sometimes, while travelling in Ladakh,
I received teachings from Denma Lo-chu Rin-po-che. These instructions
greatly increased my resolution, but since I was still in the army
I could not practise religion with complete freedom. Nevertheless,
I was now determined from the bottom of my heart to make use of my
life, and when I looked back on my past I felt great regret for having
wasted my time. I decided that it would be very foolish to continue
to live in such a fashion.
In the army I tried my best to do some religious practices, but they
had no strength. When I had to take part in the Bangladesh War, my
practice limped on like a lame man. Before the war broke out, I had
done the meditation retreat of Vajra Yogini. When the war was over,
I performed the ritual fire offering, with the help of Ven. Cho-gyal
in the army camp. This ritual serves to compensate for any faults
committed during the retreat, or for anything that was not done or
was done improperly.
Soon after this I took a short leave, in order to make arrangements
to receive oral transmission of the Buddha's scriptures, which were
to be given by Tre-hor Ge-she Lob-sang Thup-ten in Dharamsala. I returned
to the army base once more, where I finally said goodbye to military
Becoming a Monk
I reached Dharamsala on the 13th of the sixth Tibetan month, 1972.
The oral transmission started on the 15th of the same month.
Before I left the army, I had spent money carelessly, so when I reached
Dharamsala I had only Rs. 800. The oral transmission lasted for about
eight months. During that period, I did purification practices such
as prostrations in the early mornings and evenings, and received the
oral transmission during the day. At this time I received first the
novice ordination and then full monk's ordination.
When the oral transmission ended, I had spent almost all my money.
With what remained, I decided to stay another four months in Mcleod
Ganj, Dharamsala, receiving further instructions. I was motivated
by the same determination, which I had developed in the army, to practise
the Buddha Dharma till the end of my life, whether I was able to gain
any realization or not. I did not worry about my livelihood, I decided
to begin begging for food as soon as the little money l had was finished.
It did not occur to me to look for a benefactor. Various signs gave
me the confidence that I would never suffer from the lack of food.
During my one year's stay in Dharamsala, I received a complete initiation
and discourses on Yamantaka from His Holiness inside his residence.
Then I received a brief instruction of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment
from the late former Abbot of Namgyal Monastery. These were the most
important instructions which I received when I first came to Dharamsala.
After that first year had passed, thinking that the teaching which
I had received was enough, I decided to go into the mountains to meditate
Retreat into the Mountains
By then, my money was completely finished and taking what little rice
and wheat flour remained and my old worn out bedding, I went into
the mountains. I found a cave which I covered with my army groundsheet
where I lived throughout the summer in retreat.
As for food, I usually ate only at noon. While I was in retreat I
had only some dry bread to eat and black tea to drink. However, I
never felt disheartened with such poor food, but instead it gave me
joy. The cave was not only very damp, but also too small, so that
I could not stretch my legs out when I went to sleep.
Sometimes snakes would stick their heads in through the opening of
my cave. There I remained throughout the summer without losing heart.
Generally speaking, if anyone had seen me then they would have thought
I was living in truly unbearable conditions, but I never felt troubled
by it. This was due to my strong determination to make my life meaningful,
and now that I was actually practising religion, I pursued my retreat
with a joyful heart Because I maintained such an attitude, even though
I was living in poor material conditions during the day, at night
I had very auspicious dreams of meeting His Holiness, other Lamas
and Ven. Cho-gyal who had been my spiritual teacher while I was in
the army. I also dreamt of ladies offering me delicious foods. Such
encouraging signs appeared to me from the beginning of my retreat.
At the end of my summer retreat, I approached Den-ma Lo-chu Rin-po-che
and asked whether I should stay where I was by building a small hut
or not. He recommended that I should not build a hut for the time
being, so I shifted to a small hut, which was used by the shepherds
in the summer, and I stayed there for the winter.
That year His Holiness was to give the Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya.
Since my spiritual teacher was the former abbot of Namgyal Monastery,
I went to see him to ask him what I should do. Should I go to receive
the initiation or should I stay in my hut? He replied that as I had
received the initiation once in Dharamsala, it would be better if
I stayed where I was and that although this initiation is very precious,
in Bodhgaya there would be too many people, which would not be good
for me. I decided to follow his advice and stay in the hut for the
first three months of winter.
In the meantime, I exhausted my food supplies, so one day I went to
see the hermit Gen Ye-she Thop-den, commonly known as Gen Drub-top,
who was staying close by my hut. I offered him a bundle of wood which
I had picked up on my way. I told him that as my food was completely
run out, I intended to go begging in the nearby Indian villages for
one week. He kindly gave me Rs. 300 with which I bought more food
and returned to my hut. As it turned out I did not need to go begging.
Some of my friends also started coming to offer me food, and so I
was able to spend another three months in the same hut.
As the summer was approaching and the shepherds were about to return,
I would have no place to stay, so I climbed another hill where I found
another small cave, in which I stayed another three months. I found
this place comfortable and not once during my stay did I have any
dislike for it.
It is a fact that hindrances will arise while a religious practitioner
is doing his or her practice. I too had the same experience. During
my stay in the small shepherd's hut my neighbour was an old Indian
man, who had no family and lived alone. Usually Indians would not
stay there throughout the winter, but since I was staying he remained
too, thinking that I would be a companion for him.
This old man was a devotee of Shiva and had acquired some magical
powers. Since we were neighbours, I often used to offer him a glass
of black tea with a little butter in it. He liked the tea very much
and became very attached to it. One day my butter ran out, and I thought
that it would be pointless to offer him the black tea without any
butter. This upset him though I did not realize it at the time.
As a rule, he would offer me chapatis and some vegetables, and generally
speaking he was a nice fellow. One day, however, he used his magical
power on my tea and it would not brew. No matter how much tea I put
into my pot, the water remained tasteless. The water had no flavour
even if I put salt in it. I could not understand it.
At that time it was snowing in the mountains, so I thought it might
somehow be due to melted snow in the river but after some investigation
I came to the conclusion that this strange occurrence had nothing
to do with such things. After some days, as the situation had not
changed, I thought I should go see Gen Ye-she Thop-den and ask him
I went to him and offered him some wood and asked whether his tea
was brewing or not. I also sought his advice regarding my plans to
go out begging. He told me that he was able to brew his tea as he
always did. Then l remembered that the problem had begun after I had
stopped giving tea to my Indian neighbour and realized that his magical
power must be causing the trouble. But there was nothing I could do.
Even my sleep was disturbed: I dreamt of my body transforming into
something like a legless frog. Sometimes my body transformed into
the shape of a sack. At yet other times I dreamt of a red-clay pot
and various kinds of pups. I did not know how to combat the old man's
magical power, as I did not have any such power myself, except for
my faith in the Three Jewels. As this was the first experience I had
of such things in my life, I had no means of confronting his magical
When I got back to my place, l divided my remaining tea leaves into
two lots, one of which I gave to the old man. I explained that since
my butter had finished I had thought that there was no point in my
offering him just black tea. I also showed him how to brew the tea,
and that very night I was able to make a rich brew as usual.
As a result of this event, I decided that it would be dangerous if
a practitioner did not acquire a little power in the course of his
Shortly afterwards I decided to move away from him and find a more
remote place to stay. One day, when he was about to go out to work
in the local slate mine, I told him that I would be moving to somewhere
lower down the mountain. Actually, I climbed to a much higher more
remote place and in this way I escaped from him. I stayed there for
Following this encounter, though many other ways are explained to
ward off black magic, I thought it would be wise to possess some power
of my own. I decided to stay in a small cave near the Tibetan Children's
Village, and do an intensive retreat meditating on the Solitary Yamantaka,
the wrathful aspect of Manjushri.
I then set about making the necessary preparations for the retreat.
Cham-do Ge-she gave me two kilograms of barley flour which I used
for making offering cakes. Gen Lama-la, who is another of the hermits
there, gave me Rs.40 with which I bought some other things I needed
and immediately went into retreat. I performed the retreat without
haste, which involved repeatedly meditating on the deity Yamantaka,
his attributes and environment, and reciting a specified number of
his mantras. It took me about five months.
During the retreat I saw many auspicious signs in my dreams such as
the sounds of butchering in general, grass-cutters, vultures and so
forth, predatory hawks and women selling meat.
Every night I had dreams and some of them were very frightening. During
the latter part of my retreat I had sufficient supplies, but during
the earlier part I had to go twice to beg for food from the store
at the Tibetan Childrens' Village school. Some of the other hermits
nearby also offered me food and other necessities which they had begged
for themselves. When it came to the time for me to perform the Ritual
Fire Offering, I had gathered all the necessary materials. Having
completely relied upon the deity Yamantaka, the signs of hindrance
lessened and my heart became relaxed. I stayed there for one year,
and then went up to Triund, where I stayed in a small cave for about
forty days, but I found the passing trekkers rather disturbing.
To reach my next place I had to climb up for some time, but as I did
not stick to one place for long, I shifted to a lower cave, which
was in the midst of the forest. This cave was very damp and was a
very uncomfortable place to stay. I also had other difficulties there
although I had auspicious dreams. From the point of view of my facilities,
I was really in a miserable condition. This discouraged me and the
thought of leaving arose within me, which gave me great sadness.
As for the way to practise Tantra, Lama Tsong-kha-pa has firmly emphasized
that practice of the Completion Stage must be preceded principally
by practice of the Generation Stage. Generally speaking, it takes
three years to perfect the Generation Stage.
Following Tsong-kha-pa's advice I made the decision to complete meditation
on the Generation Stage first. After I had made this decision, I dreamt
of an old lady offering me very delicious food, something which looked
like melted butter and chang (Tibetan beer) in a triangular cup. The
offering was exceptionally delicious and I drank it all. Then I told
her that even if it was all melted butter I would be able to drink
the whole lot. Thus, I felt very hopeful that if I practiced, my potential
would surely ripen, so I made the firm resolution to practise genuinely.
First, I began to meditate on the Generation Stage, following the
Chakrasamvara system. Each day I did two meditation sessions.
At the beginning of each session I would meditate briefly, point by
point, on the Generation Stage. In addition I also meditated on some
aspect of the Completion Stage, though during these sessions I mainly
meditated on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment ( Lam Rim ).
During this period I sometimes felt a severe dislike for the place.
To counter such thoughts I would read Mi-la-re-pa's biography and
that helped me very much. I was moved in the depth of my heart by
his courage and eventual attainment of enlightenment.
Tears rolled down my cheeks when I read about the hardships he bore
and I prayed to him single-pointedly. After that I never had such
aversion for staying in meditation. The place was too cold to stay
in for the winter, so I shifted to a place where the villagers used
to keep their cows and stayed there for one month of autumn. It was
almost too cold for me there as well as being too remote for me to
go begging, so I moved to an empty hut near Gen Ye-she Thop-den and
stayed there for the winter.
Before this last move, when I was doing the visualizations of my Generation
Stage practices, I sometimes used to experience an unusual appearance
of light. Although my main practice was Heruka, I also practised Vajra
Yogini daily. During the course of the self-generation rite of VajraYogini,
there comes a point where you do mental recitation, which I did twice
a day, for about twenty days. At this time I used some money offerings
that had been made on behalf of someone who had died, which obscured
the clarity of my mind. So I decided not to use such offerings that
had been make for the dead, thinking that otherwise they would eventually
be my ruin.
Now, the hermit who owned the hut where I was staying was about to
return, so I had to leave. I had no courage to become like Mi-la-re-pa
and live without food, but at the same time I was determined not to
touch offerings which people had set out on behalf of the dead.
One day, as summer was approaching, I set out in search of a cave
in the empty valley which faces the Dauladhar range, above the hill
where Gen Ye-she Thop-den was staying. Thinking I might need to stay
there for a night I took some utensils and some bedding on my back.
On reaching the valley, instead of finding a cave, I found it was
a very poor place, covered only with rocks and more rocks. Amidst
all of these rocks, I was completely disheartened Generally, I would
begin the day by reciting the Six Session Guru Yoga Prayer, Then,
after having tea, I would examine my motivation and if I could not
generate a proper attitude of wishing to benefit others, such that
it brought tears to my eyes, then my virtuous actions would not be
powerful that day and my heart would not be at peace.
May I die alone in my cave with no one around, as a wild horse dies
in an uninhabited valley; lf this wish is accomplished, I shall be
I prayed in the same manner as Mi-la-re-pa, but l could not find any
place to stay and the night was approaching fast. However just then
I had a vision of light. Even when I closed my eyes this vision did
not diminish. In fact, since it was a mental appearance, it became
stronger when I closed my eyes. Then, by analysing the object of observation,
I found it to be an empty space filled with an all-pervading light,
and a variety of flowers. The experience was indescribable.
I had been doing the mental recitation of Vajra Yogini when I had
this experience, and it was most probably on the 10th day of the 10th
month of the Tibetan calendar that a fierce, blissful heat arose within
me for the first time. The heat first started from the navel, the
experience was something like shooting sparks of fire.
That night I had a very significant dream in which I saw signs concerning
my successful visit to the West. While meditating upon the light,
I could expand it or contract it into a tiny speck Sometimes I meditated
on this light at my navel, however, mostly I followed in the system
of Five-Deity Heruka, which is also my preference, and meditated on
this light at my heart. The reason for doing this is that by taking
the light as an object on which to focus the mind, I could move its
energy about wherever I liked without difficulty Thus, 1 would be
able to focus the mind at the heart without any difficulty and meditate
there. While doing this kind of meditation a special bliss would be
generated within me.
Although this was not a fully qualified bliss, it was definitely better
than any ordinary pleasure. Therefore, I agreed with Khedup Sangay
Ye-she who said, ''After the great bliss we can experience the special
bliss if we really do the practice."
So because of this small experience, I practised this method more
and more rigorously. I recited the brief manuals of Guhyasamaja, Heruka
and Yamantaka and put my effort and strength into meditating on method
as opposed to wisdom, as the core of my practice.
When I had been following this practice for one year, I gained a significant
sign of attainment. I was able to draw the energy wind into the central
psychic channel. As Tsong-kha-pa has said, one should be mindful of
the signs when the winds start entering the central channel. In my
case, I could have become mindful of the signs but they did not appear
to me quickly. It was my experience that it was very difficult for
the energy-wind to penetrate the vital points of my body. Sometimes
I felt really discouraged, but did not give up for I could find nothing
better to do than this meditation.
Completion Stage Practice
From then on I could not continue meditating upon the Generation Stage
and was forced to shift my meditation to the Completion Stage. I really
do not know what caused this change, it might have been due to the
appearance of light or it might have been because I had meditated
upon the Generation Stage in my previous lives.
So, thinking that it would not make any difference if I could generate
the realizations of the Completion Stage, I stuck to meditating on
the Completion Stage. Sometimes even when the wind would not penetrate
the vital points of my body, I would not get discouraged, but would
strengthen my resolve to practise this meditation, even at the cost
of my life. Sometimes when the wind ran astray from the vital points,
it would descend and gather in my right and left hips, giving me severe
pain. Such difficulties occurred for two or three years. Then year
after year my practice became better and better.
As time passed people started bringing me more and more offerings,
but I went on taking the same plain food as before. I set aside all
the offerings, especially those that had been made on behalf of the
dead, and offered them to high lamas, My system of meditation is concerned
with the generation of blissful heat, but merely actualising blissful
heat within the body is not enough, it should be made to enter into
the central psychic channel, because the bliss would be incomplete
if the heat remained outside the central channel. If that were to
happen one would not remain satisfied with the bliss and many different
signs would appear. And in between these experiences there is a
danger of giving up one's vows.
Speaking from my own experience, at this stage one's desire is at
its peak. If one cannot gain a satisfactory bliss there is every danger
of becoming more attracted to women. From this point of view, I would
say that this system of meditation is very dangerous. As for myself
I was able to avoid such obstructions through the practice of mindfulness.
I did most of this meditation in the forest above the Tibetan Children's
village. The structure of my meditation on this and on other practices
was based upon the altruistic intention to benefit others. I have
gained a firm realization and appreciation of the special quality
of the altruistic aspiration for enlightenment. This is due to the
kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has continually explained
to us that each of us is just a single person, while all others are
I put my energy into cultivating the altruistic aspiration for enlightenment,
by contemplating the equality of all sentient beings, who are essentially
the same, in as much as they are devoid of happiness and trapped in
suffering. Through the strength of this altruistic attitude, my meditation
on blissful heat improved greatly.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Advice
One day, just before he passed away, the former abbot of Namgyal Monastery
advised me to seek an audience with His Holiness, and when I met him
I reported all my experiences and circumstances over the last seven
A year later, a man was sent from the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama,
to offer me sixty rupees (the office is giving each hermit Rs.60 per
month). In my heart, I did not wish to accept the gift but, since
the man was sent personally to me, I took it and with this I began
to buy some better food to eat. This improvement in my diet did not
have a bad effect on my spiritual practice. On the other hand, because
of the signs shown by the Dharma Protectors, especially Pal-den Lha-mo,
I gained confidence that my practice was improving.
Next I meditated for two years in the very high mountain regions,
moving from one cave to another. During my meditation, although I
could observe signs of progress in my meditation practice, I could
still not maintain these signs constantly. But as one year followed
another my strength of awareness steadily increased.
After another two years of such practice some Western doctors came
to examine and measure my psychic heat. They were able to gain some
understanding of psychic heat from the examination. Prior to their
visit, thinking that my renunciation and altruistic aspiration for
enlightenment were developed, I went to see His Holiness. However
he was not concerned about them and did not ask me any questions about
them. I had to explain my understanding of the philosophical view
twice, but he did not make any comment on my interpretation. From
this I guessed that my understanding of the view was incomplete. As
for the texts which I had relied on, I only had some notes on the
view. I had not even tried to read the chapter on Special Insight
in the Stages of the Path ( Lam Rim ) written by Tsong-kha-pa, thinking
that I would not understand it because I had not done any study in
At this point I perceived an appearance of Emptiness in my practice.
The appearance of Emptiness in the light I experienced was capable
of generating an extraordinary realization of dependent arising. I
could understand that Emptiness was a lack of inherent existence,
although it seemed that this realization could be confirmed, Emptiness
itself could not be confirmed. A complete explanation is not possible.
Shortly afterwards, I had another audience. Again His Holiness did
not seem to be satisfied with my understanding of the view, and suggested
that I read the Special Insight section of the Great Exposition of
the Stages of the Path ( Lam Rim Chen Mo ) and report back to him.
After returning from the audience I started reading the Special Insight
section from the Great Exposition. But I did not read it in detail.
After six months I had yet another audience. His Holiness asked me
whether or not I had read the great Special Insight section. I replied
that I had not read it. He again examined my understanding of the
view and finding that it was still incomplete, he advised me to read
either the Great Commentary of the Sakyas or the Special Insight section
of the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path ( Lam Rim Chen Mo
). He emphasized that there was no alternative.
Following his advice, I climbed the hill above the Tibetan Children's
village school. Taking the Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path
text ( Lam Rim Chen Mo ) with me, I stayed in a small cave for one
year. I began reading the Stages of the Path ( Lam Rim ) from the
beginning and when I reached the chapter on Special Insight, many
significant signs began to appear in my dreams, indicating my success
in finding the correct view.
In one dream, I saw men and women indistinguishable from each other,
men wearing women's clothes, women wearing men's robes, and so forth
which indicated the nature of Suchness.
In addition, I had many other strange dreams, looking over this chapter
really helped me in gaining a deeper understanding of the view. After
having thoroughly read the great Special Insight section, I sought
another audience with His Holiness and explained to him my understanding
of the view. I explained the ways to recognize the object of negation;
the way to understand emptiness by relying on the reasoning of dependent
arising, and to understand dependent arising through knowledge of
emptiness. His Holiness was very pleased with my explanation. Still,
he raised a slight objection to my description of the object of negation.
So, I thought that I had been unable to untie the ultimate knot in
understanding the view. After returning from the audience, that very
night, in a dream someone showed me a scripture, saying it was the
Eight Thousand Verses (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra). However, as I
could not read the title, I interpreted it as meaning that my understanding
was not yet complete. I again read through the great chapter on Special
Insight and contemplated the various means of apprehending the object
of negation. One can analyse the actual nature of persons and of phenomena,
but then I analysed and meditated mostly on the nature of the "I"
or person for several days. Then one night just before dawn, I was
awakened suddenly from my sleep. Just before that in my dream someone
had been dividing meat, saying that it had been given by His Holiness.
As I received my share, I suddenly woke up. After this I could sleep
no longer, so, still lying in my bed, I analysed the object of negation
and emptiness of true existence and gained a very special understanding
I want to emphasize here that instead of observing the nature of other
phenomena it is effective to analyse the nature of the "I"
or person. To do this it is very helpful if one can first observe
the way the "I" exists, and proceed to analyse its appearance
to the mind, investigating whether or not that "I" exists
within the five aggregates, collectively or individually. When all
these analyses are relied upon together with the logical reasoning
of dependent arising, then our understanding of the true nature of
phenomena can be really profound. This is what I felt as I lay in
bed analysing these things. Then, just as the strength of my realization
of emptiness had almost vanished, I fell asleep again.
Again I had a very special dream. I was approaching a house where
there was plenty of food and many girls were singing a Tibetan song
- AMA-LE-HO. Then I found myself sitting in a room and a girl came
up with a jug full of chang and a cup. She told me that this was an
offering from His Holiness, so I should drink it then and there. As
the cup came into my hand, I awoke and found that the day had already
From then onwards, whenever I saw any reference to the father Nagajurna
or his spiritual son, Arya Deva, concerning dependent arising quoted
in Tsong-kha-pa's texts, my heart would fill with great joy and the
understanding I had gained would become fresher and fresher. Moreover,
my understanding of the view did not diminish. I continued to experience
the light in meditation as before.
Then one day, I had an audience with His Holiness and reported my
understanding of the view. He was really extremely pleased with me
After that he did not ask me any questions, due to which I myself
also gained confidence. Next, I came down and stayed near the T.C.V.
School for one year. During that time the doctors came to examine
my psychic heat. After the examination, though I don't know what their
scientific tests showed, they accepted that heat was generated.
Retreat into Remoter Regions - Further Hindrances
Again I climbed to a very remote place, deep in the forest where no
Tibetan or any other person had ever visited. Before moving there,
I dreamt of lepers and sick people without legs and arms.
However, without paying attention to these dreadful signs, I continued
to stay in that remote cave in a remote valley where there was not
a single other person to be seen.
Generally for a spiritual practitioner, his inner practice develops
as his external surroundings become more dreadful. It is particularly
important for a tantric practitioner to stay in a secluded place.
While I was staying in this cave, I dreamt of lepers without legs
and arms continuously for several days. In addition, from the time
I reached there, my back started aching severely, and I had no medicine
with me. In the past, when I suffered from diarrhea, my friends would
sometimes give me medicine, though I never cared for it, nor did I
think I needed it. Thus, even when I had this severe pain, I did not
think of taking any medicine. Instead, following the example of the
great Kadampa Lama who cured his own leprosy in this way, I meditated
rigorously on Giving and Taking, the practice of visualizing giving
benefit and happiness to others while accepting their harm and unwholesomeness.
After one month my pain had gone and the illusions caused by the local
spirit were also pacified. However, I must say that this local spirit
was exceptionally powerful. He seemed to be the master of all the
spirits in the region.
The path to the place where I used to go to get water was very steep
and far from the cave. I used to take a 20 litre plastic container.
However much I tried to be careful of the path, I fell at the same
place three times. No matter how careful I tried to be or how much
I tried to avoid it, I would fall down and since the area was very
rough and rocky I always hurt myself. Another time, I went to wash
my clothes and take a bath in a nearby stream. After I had done that
and I was returning, even while my awareness was clear, I slipped
backwards into the stream, drenching all my lower garments.
i was convinced that there must be some other force responsible for
these happenings, which caused me to become slightly angry. Since
I had gone there in order to do religious practice as perfectly as
I could, I had never broken the branches of any trees for my fire,
so that I would not disturb the wild animals or spirits.
But things did not improve. After some time, I fell twice at the door
of my cave, once while I was bringing water and once while I was bringing
a dry log for my fire. In addition to this, I had dreams of worms,
insects, snakes and scorpions, and I actually came across a huge black
snake facing me threateningly on the path to the pond.
I thought that I should now do something about it. I reflected that
even the Buddhas and Boddhisattvas had to manifest themselves in wrathful
forms in order to tame unruly sentient beings.
In the past I had been able to overcome any kind of interference by
meditating on Giving and Taking. But I had exhausted those peaceful
means. So now in order to dispel these interferences, I generated
the divine pride of Yamantaka and recited his fierce mantra, Yama
Raja, for one round of my rosary; every evening and night.
One night, soon after beginning to do this I had a dream of fighting
with a huge dark man. He did not appear to be the manifestation of
any god or spirit and I myself was also in my ordinary form. The circumstances
of our fight were like this. At the beginning of my dream I had been
circumambulating a small circular area, at the centre of which were
some children holding fine cords in their hands. The ropes wound round
my legs and got tangled. I became annoyed and demanded that the children
tell me who had told them to do this. They pointed at a huge dark
man. Then, I ask him why, and when he did not answer me, we began
to fight. After a while, he backed off and accepted defeat. Then,
I cut off nearly all the cords with my vegetable knife and broke the
remainder with stones though they did not need to be completely severed.
I won that fight and dreamt the same on two more occasions. I would
often throw him to the ground while reciting the words of taking Refuge
in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After his third defeat, the dark
man shrank in size until he was so tiny that I could put him into
a hole in the ground. I started to cover the hole with stones to put
an end to him, when I was prevented by people, some of whom looked
like sadhus, while others looked Bhutanese.
After this, I did not fall down anymore. I had overcome the interferences
through the practice of my special Meditational Deity, Vajrabhairava
Although I had intended to stay there during the winter, the nearby
stream from which I took my water became smaller and smaller and,
because of the cold weather, the pond soon froze over. So, I was unable
to stay in that cave for more than 4 months.
I moved to a cave near Gen Yeshe Thop-den’s retreat hut, where
I stayed for one year. After that, I moved to a small cave further
up the hill where I stayed for almost three years. Here, the signs
of my meditative improvement steadily increased. Before, Yongzin Ling
Rinpoche passed away, I was able to report to Him that when the weather
was favourable and other external conditions were assembled, I could
experience the Three Dissolutions in Meditation – the Minds
of White Appearance, Red Increase and Black Near-Attainment although
these are not the actual experience but merely semblances of them.
If they were the actual dissolutions, then, as they manifest, Conceptual
Thoughts would cease, which is a quality of highly realized yogis.
Thus, when the external and internal conditions were assembled, I
could become aware of all the different levels of dissolutions. Yongzin
Ling Rinpoche was really very pleased with my report.
While I was staying in the same cave afterwards, real peace and happiness
dawn on me because I gained experience of Great Bliss and Emptiness.
Something that cannot be given by others but can only be gained for
oneself. Up to this point, I had spent twelve years in these various
caves, but wishing to engage in more penetrating meditation, I ask
His Holiness if I should move to another place. He advised me to do
so and I moved to a village in Kinnuar. But I had hardly been staying
there a few months when I had to start going here and there in order
to prepare for my visit to the west. I left there in the Autumn and
in the Winter I went to Bodhgaya. During the following years, I left
for America so that the scientists and doctors there could examine
my psychic heat. I will briefly describe the circumstances of that
Scientific Test – Visit to America
Tantra has been described as a technique for transforming desire into
a path of spiritual development. Now, with the exception of highly
adept yogis who are not dependent on these, it is my experience that
we who are still on the path are dependent on external conditions.
In the text, it says that in dependence on sensual objects, the practitioner
can increase his inner realizations. However, during my visit to the
United States, instead of meeting with conducive external conditions,
I was confronted with many obstacles. I encountered many difficulties
there. In the tradition of practice, known as the “Six Yogas
of Naropa”, psychic heat is described as the root and foundation
of the tantric path. The function of this heat is to generate a pristine
awareness of Great Bliss. When the experience of bliss and heat are
equally strong and they are accompanied by the necessary conditions,
the psychic channels naturally become supple and the energy wind fluent.
So the heat which is the primary force for making the wind and channels
usable, and the Great Bliss which is dependent on this heat, are the
two essential factors of Highest Yoga Tantra. Now the tantric scriptures
explain that in order to increase the potency of the blissful heat,
it is necessary to rely on external conditions which are harmonious
to one’s mind. Although it is not proper to indulge in luxury,
imposing over-great hardships on oneself is also unhelpful.
Before reaching America, I underwent many difficulties. I had to travel
from Dharamsala to Delhi in a bus for twelve hours at night on uneven
winding roads. This rough ride shook up my whole body and make me
vomit. Then I had to travel on a plane for several hours. I did not
get time to rest well.
Through experience I had found that meditation is very much related
to climatic conditions. When I finally arrived in America, day and
night were completely reversed from what I was used to. I arrived
at ten in the morning, rested the next day and the examination started
the day after that despite my feeling exhausted which is not conducive
to good meditation. Before examining my meditation, the doctors took
some of my blood. For a tantric practitioner, the red and white drops,
of which blood forms the red, are the essential material which provide
the energy of the practice and should not be lost. Consequently, after
my blood had been taken, my body felt very heavy and lethargic. My
sleep was also unusually heavy. The test lasted for three days, on
the very first of which they took some of my blood, which make me
anxious and apprehensive that my meditation would be affected. I deeply
regretted this unwise beginning. The next day, they conducted an examination
of my brain and on the following day, the real test on my winds and
heat were to be done. During our stay in America, the weather was
generally cold, the water was frozen in the lakes and rivers and it
was snowing. On top of that, the laboratory where they conducted the
tests was purposely refrigerated. They took away my upper robes, leaving
my upper body exposed except for a thin vest. If I had been able to
meditate there, in this, it would have been alright, but due to the
coldness of the laboratory and the loss of blood, my strength had
A series of tests was conducted to measure physical condition before
entering meditation. This took a lot of time and my body became frozen.
Then I was suddenly asked to begin meditation. The cushion which was
made of sponge, did not give stable support to my body. Because of
this, I felt that the energy wind had become frozen at the navel and
would not enter the channels, even after half an hour. As described
in the text, the frozen wind caused a shaking and shivering of the
body. However hard I tried to suppress it, I was not successful. So
I became worried that my meditation was not going to work that day.
Therefore, I stopped for a while and removed the cushion. Sitting
on the floor, I meditated again, changing the focus from the navel
to the heart. This time, the winds quickly became flexible. Due to
the blessing of the Three Jewels, I was able to withdraw the energy
winds into the psychic channels, which is difficult to do even under
Usually, I focus my visualization either at the navel or at the heart
depending on the conditions at the time. If the power of the heat
is diminishing it can be revived by doing intensive visualization
at the navel. In order to withdraw the wind into the channels it is
better to do the visualization at the heart. On this occasion since
the wind did not enter into any of the channels, when I started meditating
again, I focused on the heart. Because of the opposing conditions
I have mentioned, my meditation was not as strong as usual. But the
scientists who witnessed it thought that it was really marvelous.
Karma Ge-lek who accompanied me, told me that from start to finish
it took five hours, but to me it seemed to have lasted only a couple
of hours. Later Karma told me that the process of measuring my physical
condition prior to meditation and the first part of the meditation
session during which I had difficulties, lasted about an hour. Then
for four hours they did all kinds of tests measuring the rate of my
breathing, my pulse, the temperature of my body and so forth. In short
they conducted whatever tests they liked.
When the meditation session was over I could tell from the scientists'
faces that they were satisfied, and they said so too.
With their instruments the scientists could see such things as heat,
movement of wind and blood, and my brain waves. There are certain
things however which cannot be seen by their instruments, such as
the non-dual wisdom of Great Bliss and Emptiness, which is the root
of all Realisation. Therefore the tantric texts say that it is the
basic principle of Tantra to generate a subjective blissful wisdom
realising emptiness through the withdrawal, abiding and dissolution
of the winds in the central psychic channel. Through my experience
I have found this to be true. If one's blissful heat is increased,
it is not difficult to make the winds and channels supple according
to one's own will. Therefore without the subjective wisdom of great
bliss realizing emptiness, it would be impossible to gain control
over the winds and channels. Lama Tsong-kha-pa Himself has praised
the wisdom of Great Bliss as the life of the tantric path.
After returning from America, having collected my bedding and so forth,
I am for the time being staying in Dharamsala in order to receive
some teaching from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and report on my visit
to the various officials concerned. So this briefly, is the story
of my life.
At present I have not gained any realization that can be seen by other
people. Nevertheless I have a peace and happiness that few people
possess. Whether you are famous or not, realization is dependent on
your own efforts and must be experienced by yourself.
In the Autumn of 1988, Lob-sang Ten-zin left Dharamsala to attend
a teaching given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Manali. While there
for whatever reason, he fell ill but did not consult a doctor preferring
to cure himself through meditation as he had done before. After the
teaching he returned to his hermitage above Dharamsala, but his condition
did not improve. A fellow hermit asked a doctor to visit him and he
confirmed Lob-sang Ten-zin's own feeling that his ailment could not
be cured by medicine.
He died in Dharamsala on one of the major holy days of the Buddhist
calendar that commemorates the Buddha's descent from the Heaven of
the Thirty-Three, where he had been teaching his mother. A true yo,,i
he remained in meditation for a number of days after his death.