01.06.2015 Spirituality

A Lama Reborn

Last month Jeremy Ball introduced us to Thuksey Rinpoche, a great spiritual leader of Ladakh. He continues with the encounter between Andrew Harvey and the reincarnated Thuksey Rinpoche, a leader of the new wave of Tibetan spiritual leaders

Of course, when Andrew met Thuksey Rinpoche in 1981, he was already an old man whose body was failing. A few years after that first meeting, Thuksey Rinpoche left his body. However great lamas can control their next incarnation. Their mindstream is so pure and strong and well defined, growing ever purer through their practice, that they can guide what could be loosely described as "them", to the next being to be the carrier of their wisdom mind.

Thuksey Rinpoche burst forth once more into the body of a baby born in a tiny remote village high up in the mountains of Ladakh close to the Tibetan border. It was close enough to feel the imprint of his previous country but in the place of his new becoming.

The baby boy's mother passed over in childbirth and gave up her precious jewel as a gift to the great mother, to the earth and to Ladakh, a gift to those ready to receive and live a new way of being in this world. The boy was soon recognised by his former disciples and senior lamas and then by the Dalai Lama himself.

His Holiness visited the child in Ladakh and then went into a short meditation retreat at Gotsang Cave, a hermit's cave above Hemis Monastery, where the transmission was given to him from the heart of the Buddha that this boy was indeed Naropa, Thuksey Rinpoche returned.

The young Thuksey Rinpoche was tutored by the best available lamas and teachers in the Drukpa Kagyu tradition, with most notably its leader Drukpa Rinpoche taking him under his wing.

What happened in Tibet was a great tragedy. The Chinese came in and plundered and murdered and desecrated and committed a genocide that they continue covertly to this day. It was one of the great tragedies of the 20th Century and sadly continues.

Yet in the wake of this, not all, but a significant number of a "new breed" of Tibetan lamas and spiritual teachers have begun to come forward. Moving away from a solely mental, disembodied spiritual practice they are focusing on a far more engaged Buddhism, one of living in the body and helping people in practical ways in their daily lives.

This could have come about for many reasons:

1) being forced to come down from the meditation cushion and yogic cave that was Tibet and into the verdant wildness of expressive India awoke the feminine grounded aspect of existence;

2) being smacked in the face by the unbalanced masculine aggression in the way China reclaimed herself from colonial servitude. This shock of aggressive force could have awakened Tibetans to the overmasculinisation of its monasteries and spiritual practice; and

3) perhaps the smashing of monastic structures opened cracks in the hardset concrete of the collective mind, allowing more personal expressions of spiritual practice to burst through.

Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, it was time and out of the seeds of destruction the Tibetan community has now brought forth several wonderful, engaged Buddhists.

The Dalai Lama himself is one, far more inclusive and "ordinary" than some of his predecessors, relieved of the cloak of seriousness and some of the weight of history, able to reinvent the role and become more human.

Another is the leader of the next generation, Drukpa Rinpoche, who has changed the expected brief considerably from increasing knowledge and maintaining scriptures to utilising those scriptures to serve humanity by focusing on becoming a vehicle for and of it.

Others include His Holiness Kharmapa, Ling Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche and many more. Of course, all this as an ideal already existed but somehow there was an adjustment back to this ideal and a wonderful deepening or feminising of the institutions to bring them closer to a majestic balance.

And now, of course, the young Thuksey Rinpoche born in 1986, now in his late twenties, is carrying that vision forward, making it his own and delivering an example to youth everywhere of how to be spiritually engaged in society. Thuksey Rinpoche has the stature and personal presence of a national president, speaking clearly and kindly and confidently, engaging with everyone, making everybody feel welcome and included, like a younger version of Nelson Mandela. And with the strength to look anybody in the eyes and neither be intimated nor seek to intimidate but to speak forth his truth from a clear mind and uncluttered heart, full of compassion and concern for all.

A major part of Thuksey Rinpoche's role is teaching the dharma, the Buddhist self administered programming system for the mind, to relieve oneself of hurt and pain and make one's life worthwhile through service to life. Yet he spends at least as much time and energy engaged in community projects.

As an example, he is strongly committed to restoring Ladakhi culture from the cultural demise that the country has experienced with the influx of Western tourism in the last 20 years. Thuksey Rinpoche's foundation project is a large school campus he has created where local children come as day students and children from remote villages, who would not ordinarily have access to education, can board. There they learn practical skills and trades to be of use in the community and earn a living, traditional skills like Ladakhi cooking, handcrafts, music, folklore, language and dance, English, normal school subjects and, not least, Buddhist philosophy and practice.

When you are in love with life you are in love with nature, and Thuksey Rinpoche is involved in several environmental projects including reforestation, restoration of waterways, cleaning up litter and organic farming. Throughout the Himalayas (except where China has invaded and used them for food), there are many wild dogs, most living in trying or tragic circumstances, Thuksey Rinpoche has set up a sanctuary for wild dogs so they can live out their days in peace. There is also a sanctuary for native animals, who with the coming of roads and rifles are finding it harder to maintain their place in the world.

Last year, in 2014, 33 years from when Andrew Harvey first met the old Thuksey Rinpoche, Andrew returned to Ladakh under very different circumstances; now a spiritual teacher and many times published author and this time travelling with 40 of his students. In this journey Andrew met once more his spiritual father, now in a new body and who would become his son to help guide and nurture. Of course, it was a great re-uniting and their deep spiritual bond was rekindled.

Read about the emergence of the "old" Thuksey Rinpoche in Guru of Ladakh - http://novamagazine.com.au/article_archive/2015/2015-05-guruh-ladakh.html

Jeremy Ball

At 26, following a “shamanic intervention”, Jeremy closed his business and left London to visit sacred sites and elders, later creating Transformational Tours and SacredFire.

When not roaming mother earth, you will find Jeremy at home in Byron Bay's hinterland, playing with his children and planning the next adventure. jeremy@transformationaltours.com.au