Sherab Dorje's memoirs are now available, and endorsed by none other than our own Erik Pema Kunsang: "An entertaining and original work of literature by a well-known western Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, hailed as 'deeply moving and...remarkably well written.'"
Here's a touching excerpt involving a meeting with Tulku Urgyen:
One day, I came out of a meditation session just as the sun was setting over the valley. The sunset was prolonged, spectacular and beautiful, stealing my breath away. Just then, the pattern of light and cloud, shade and shadow, color and movement, shifted entirely, and the sunset seemed to start all over again. I was dumbfounded.
Then there was another complete shift; and another. It was as if the animating engines of the world had been tuned to play its entire greatest hits package of once-in-a-lifetime sunsets in the span of a single evening. Now, I had flown under rainbow arches over the Caribbean at sunset, and seen a lot of beautiful desert, ocean and mountain sunsets in my travels. None remotely compared to this.
After hours seemingly had passed, with one sunset transitioning into another, and just when I thought that no sight could ever be more sublime, I happened to glance up toward Tulku Urgyen’s balcony outside his room on the floor above the temple hall. There he stood, beaming from ear to ear, meeting my gaze, laughing and laughing, as if to say, this display of phenomena is quite a bit of fun when you have total mastery over it, isn’t it? He turned and went back inside, and suddenly the show was over.
Tulku Urgyen had a way of turning anything into a reminder to observe the nature of mind. I asked him for instruction on the meditation practice of Vajrasattva, the second of the four extraordinary preliminary meditations. This practice involves a detailed visualization of purifying all of one’s physical, verbal and mental impurities. Tulku Urgyen’s approach was to perform even this practice without complexity, simply by remaining within the state of recognition of the essence of mind while visualizing and reciting. How amazing!
***In all my life, I have never entertained a moment of doubt that Tulku Urgyen is Guru Rinpoche, the wellspring of Tibetan Buddhism, in person—so precious were the gifts of his presence, and pointing out instructions introducing the nature of mind. I can think of only one, fleeting moment of tension between us.
One day, years later, when he had moved up to a small room that stood alone on the roof of the temple, I sat outside Tulku Urgyen’s room all afternoon waiting for an opportunity to enter and seek clarification of a practice point.
He was very busy; somehow Tulku Urgyen could stay in retreat, and yet serve a seemingly endless stream of visitors, high and low of social station and spiritual pedigree, without wavering from his practice. He was always consulted regarding the affairs of Ka Nying monastery, the retreat center in Parping, and who knows what else.
I was finally allowed to enter, and there was a quick exchange. Acting slightly annoyed with my willfulness, Tulku Urgyen said, “Why don’t you go down to Boudhanath and take teachings from a truly great master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He really knows a lot about the dharma and can answer any question.”
I looked him right in the eye and glibly replied, “I don’t want to, and I won’t go down to see His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse, or anyone else, because I have already found a perfect teacher right here, and have neither need nor interest to look elsewhere.” That really cracked him up.
pp.32-33Copies can be purchased online at Blazing Wisdom Institute