By Adèle Hulse
A letter to everyone out there who is asking, “When is Adèle going to finish that book!”
We started off in January 1991. FPMT board member Peter Kedge asked me to write a biography of Lama Yeshe and offered to support me. We wrote a contract scheduled to run for eighteen months. After writing hundreds of letters I took off overseas to interview and collect photos. Back home I typed it all up and allowed myself to realize that this was going to take years and years. I gently told Peter, who is a seriously successful international businessman, that this was the case.
Peter does contracts to deadlines and so do I – we drew up another running three years. I took off overseas again, typed all that up but decided not to say anything to Peter yet about the contract: what I felt was coming was still so vague a shape in my befuddled mind that I hardly knew how to talk about it anyway, and Peter likes things very clear.
After the third trip I felt I’d done as much traveling as was sensible. I knew there were still enormous gaps in the history I was collecting, but by now I had so much stuff the only thing to do was stay home and deal with it.
Next George Farley, another FPMT board member and total computer person living here in Melbourne, educated me in a program that required everything to be broken up into individual paragraphs and re-entered by date, source, subject and place. He understood the size of the work and I learnt how to manage it.
Next I wrote it all up again in a word processing format. By then I had handled the material four times, if we include the original, and I could see some of the gaps. Peter and I wrote another contract for six years, which brings us to “Right now dear!”
I am now rewriting and by August 8 had written 360 pages up to February 12, 1977, when a telegram from New York was sent to Italy’s Massimo Corona: “Lama approves Pomaia go ahead love.” Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa began.
There were eighty monks at the Mount Everest Center (now there are 300). Nick Ribush had been sent to Delhi to start up a center with the help of Sunita Kakaria.
Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Peter Kedge left Delhi on the 11th and exited transit at London Heathrow for two hours to meet with Harvey Horrocks and three others. It was icy cold at Conishead Priory in the north of England, where 12 people had been living for a year discovering just how much dry rot there was in that astonishing place. The four drove the eight hours home, filled with inspiration.
Elisabeth Drukier had met up with Denis Huet and Lama had sent her back to France. “I didn’t want to go.” Together they would start Institut Vajrayogini. Konchog Donma (Bonnie Rothenberg) was on her way to Australia where Uldis Balodis had rented an old twelve-room hotel in Melbourne the year before. The year before that, a group met on Wednesday nights at Inta McKimm’s house in Fitzroy. (Inta died recently at home with her daughter Myfanwy at Langri Tangpa Institute in Brisbane.)
Miffy was at the Chenrezig ’76 course – she was 12 at the time – and got flu. Lama played with her for a week of two-hour-long luscious lunches and jumping up and down together on the verandah of his new house, making it wobble: “Hummp!” he told a monk later, “This is supposed to be cyclone-proof.”
Tubten Pende and Ngawang Chödak were teaching in Los Angeles; Vajrapani North (Gabriel and Lois Audant’s house in Berkeley) and Vajrapani South (Sharon Gross’s house in Los Angeles, with Dick Robertson and Meredith Hassen) were about to come together at the Yucca Valley course in March ’77.
I work at story-telling rather than interpretation, with the aim of letting readers learn as much about Lama’s life as possible. When this stage is complete, at say, 1200 pages, the next step is to check it for error (which includes showing it to Lama Zopa Rinpoche), add glossaries, end-notes, appendices and index. Then there is one big carton of photographic images to work on.
Now, did I answer the question? You’ll have it in your hands by 2000AD.