Apr 10, 1975

Darjeeling to see the Karmapa

Next I headed for Sikkim to meet the Karmapa. It was impossible to get an entry visa in Nepal, so I stopped in Darjeeling, and failing there I cried over my great misfortune.

On arrival, I discovered that by chance the Karmapa was in Darjeeling at the same time. He was there for something called the All-Himalayan Buddhist Conference which many great masters including the Dalai Lama were also attending. So, to my surprise I found myself at the right place at the right time.

His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Dalai Lama, Darjeeling 1975.
Among the many people I have met in my life the Karmapa is truly unique. I had met him briefly in Europe a few months previous to this and I had thought, “Here is someone who actually is mahamudra.” He was living proof of the efficacy of the teachings. I felt that if I could spend all my time with him then something would happen to me as well. I tried to spend as much time with him as possible.

I discovered that he could transform people’s experience. With just a glance, a smile and his demeanor he could suspend one’s ordinary perception completely; and not just an impressionable young Dane like myself but almost anyone: government officials, policemen, even stern Indian army colonels found themselves totally disarmed. Even his gait was divine, he walked as I imagine the
with Drukchen Rinpoche
Buddha would have walked. He was extraordinary. Although he was there again in Darjeeling I never got any formal teachings from him. It seems that he didn’t give teachings very often, but he certainly smiled and laughed a lot. He would grab my head and bang it against his belly and then he’d burst out laughing some more. And that was good enough for me, I would be so happy.

He did tell me, “You will do good practice.” That was it. But I was overjoyed, for what more could I want? However, after a few days I began to wonder what practice? So I decided that I must find a teacher. Not just someone I could have occasional contact with, but someone who could answer my questions and show me how to do what needed to be done. As I was raised in Denmark, I had been taught to not just accept anything someone said but to have my own opinions, ask questions and resolve any doubts I might have. So having so many opinions about everything, this fabric of opinions had to be either eliminated or satisfied, which is no easy task, in fact it is endless. However it had to be quenched and then eliminated. So a personal teacher was important.

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