By Glenn H. Mullin
Buddhism uses the simile of a blue lotus to represent events of extraordinary beauty, wonder and magic. The blue lotus appears but rarely, and always as an omen of great enlightened activity, of a turning point in human civilization, when someone of incomparable spiritual genius appears and inspires mankind to break free from its habitual circular patterns of movement and stretch upward to new horizons of experience. When Lama Yeshe walked this earth, blue lotus flowers blossomed everywhere.
I first met him in 1972. It was a warm October morning in Dharamsala, and I had been studying meditation in the Tibetan Library for several months. Word went out that a great Tibetan lama from Nepal was in town, and that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama’s junior tutor, had asked him to give a talk on Dharma to Western students. Fifty or so of us – the entire Western student body in Dharamsala at the time – waited in the teaching room for him to arrive. The door opened, and we beheld a small elf-like creature standing there, a wide and somewhat mischievous smile lighting up his face, his eyes twinkling like the first evening star.
I say he was physically small, but it took some years of knowing him to decide on the matter. That first day it was impossible to tell. One moment he seemed incredibly tiny, and the next to completely fill the doorway. I had the impression that he was looking exclusively at me, but later learned that each of us had the same sense of being the exclusive focus of his attention.
And then he began to move. It wasn’t a walk, really, because his feet didn’t seem to be in action. It was somewhere between a shuffle and a glide, carrying him across the room to the teaching throne. He sat down, looked at us again, and began to chant the muni mantra.
Words cannot express the sound that emanated from him. It was as though each individual sound wave was an explosion, as clearly defined as a wave on the ocean, and as explosive as a firecracker going off an inch from my ear. My body started shaking so hard that I thought an earthquake had struck. I don’t mean that metaphorically. Dharamsala is an earthquake zone, and I had already experienced several tremors during my residency on the mountain. It was so intense that I had to put my hands on the floor to steady myself. Earthquakes can be scary things. “Calm yourself, Glenn,” I said to myself. “Dharamsala tremors usually last only a second or two.” But it continued.
The lama sat there chanting, seemingly oblivious to the danger we were in. I wanted to jump up and shout an alarm, to scream out words saying that we should all leave the building before it was flattened. I tossed my eyes to the water bowls on the altar to check how intense the quake was. To my amazement, the water was utterly still. I looked back at Lama Yeshe. His eyes were on me, like suns blazing across a thousand universes.
Well, I thought to myself, so this is what Tsongkhapa meant when he said that, on meeting with the guru, some people clutch at their breast in fear.Tags: glenn h. mullin, lama yeshe