By Adèle Hulse
I have now completed eight years of work on Lama Thubten Yeshe’s biography, which has produced an archive of 1,500 pages of “story.” I have interviewed and received letters from hundreds of Lama’s students from all around the world and have included everything they told me in these pages.
Some names have been changed to protect people’s privacy in certain cases but basically it is as they told me – in fact, I have maintained a verbatim style in order not to damage, color or alter their stories. Only about five students refused to contribute, usually because they felt their stories were “too personal.”
I considered no detail to be not worth recording, with the result that when a mass of material related to certain events is examined, the picture becomes very clear. So clear that unreliable witnesses are easily identified. I do not believe people wish to become unreliable witnesses but over the last 25 years as stories got told and re-told, exaggerations and embellishments polluted the truth. I am satisfied that the research done has reduced this weakness considerably.
I have had a three-month rest from the work – my first lengthy break from it. I started again at Tibetan New Year, early February, this time working to reduce those 1,500 pages to a publishable easy read of about 600 pages. These will be interspersed with a couple of photo sections. I have several thick albums filled with photos entered in chronological order – but these do not include all the photos there are of Lama. Creating an FPMT image bank on a website is another project altogether and one I hope to assist with later on.
“Not the Dalai Lama” would be the words I most often have to say to people when then ask who I am writing about. I then explain that Lama Yeshe was one of 10 Tibetan teachers who first spread Tibetan wisdom in the West. I add that of those 10, seven were conservative and three were “wild cards.” Of those three, Lama Yeshe was the only one who was a monk – his wildness was not in his lifestyle but in his ability to make people cry with laughter as they learned to open their hearts and change their lives. “Ooh,” people say, “I like the sound of him!” Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche were also the first two lamas to enter Australia, where I live.
It’s not over yet, but writing this book has already changed my life. Believe me, my life needed changing. Lama Yeshe changed the lives of so many people. Every day I say a prayer to be able to live long enough to finish this book. I am very happy the work has taken so long and I have been able to be so thorough. When it is finally published we will be able to say, “This book took 10 years.”
In earlier issues of Mandala I indicated the book might take less time but I make no apologies for the delay. Who wants to read a trumped up story of a buddha’s life? I have no doubt that when this book eventually becomes available it will introduce Lama to people who never met him and that their lives will be changed too – not because I am such a clever writer, which I am not – but because of the qualities of Lama Yeshe’s holy body, speech and mind.Tags: adele hulse, big love