Date: 11/26/06 09:14:15
To: CASonline
Subject: [CASonline] The Retreat Monks ( II )
Biography of a modern-day Yogi.
( Extracted in-full from "Cho-Yang" - The Voice of Tibetan Religion and Culture, No. 3 )
[ Biography as offered in attachment has been scanned samsara- and virus-free ]

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 strife.

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 meeting.
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 life.
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 in retreat.
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.
Facing Hindrances
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 about it.
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 power.
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 religious practices.
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 some time.
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.
Intensifying Practice
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 fully satisfied.
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 countless.
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 years.
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 my youth.
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 of emptiness.
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 dawned.
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 or Yamantaka.
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 visit.
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 been weakened.
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 normal conditions.
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.