Kopan Monastery, Nepal — August 14, 2011
From Ven. Roger:
It was dark, maybe 9 p.m., and there was something wriggling on the path going around Bouddha Stupa. It was a baby jet black snake! We got it onto an open piece of cardboard with a little difficulty. Rinpoche wanted it to come with us around the stupa. Rinpoche gave it the name, “Thubten Tharpkye.” For the next 10 circumambulations of the stupa (he /she) got some really good karma. At the end, after dedications (ending around midnight — almost no one is around at that time), we had to say good bye to Thubten Tharpkye. We placed him safely in the drainage system from where he must have come and will spend the rest of his life.
A few days later we were circumambulating Swayambhu Stupa around the base where there are so many stupas, some are very large. It is quite amazing. We usually go after dark when it is quieter and people have finished doing kora. But we walk on the road and so you have to be really careful of the Nepali cars and trucks racing along with horns blaring. Rinpoche walks slow and you have to take care to balance him as the road has holes and cars and trucks try to pass as close as they can to you. Sometimes you have to move quickly out of their way! We do one circumambulation (3 km). The last time this took nearly four hours with the stops to make offerings and prayers. We always stop at the large (about 20 ft high), very beautiful Guru Rinpoche statue and Rinpoche chants prayers.
One night Rinpoche was just finishing prayers to Guru Rinpoche when there were sounds from the dark behind us. They say there are a lot thieves and drunks around after it gets dark. I looked around and could see someone lying on the ground in the dark and moving. It sounded like a woman but the noise coming from her was strange and not words that could be understood. Then to her left was a man in rags looking in really bad shape, really out of it. The old woman started to come towards us wailing strangely, the man was keeping his distance. Rinpoche asked me to offer them 100 rupees each. I only had 50 rupees (in change) for each and gave that. Then Rinpoche, in a very gentle ceremonious way, offered to each of them long beautiful khatas. To the man he offered a long blue khata and to the woman he offered a long green one. Then Rinpoche offered a long red one to the Guru Rinpoche statue. We then moved on slowly to complete the kora.