October 28th 2017 –
Tengboche Monastery sits between Tashinga and Panboche on the route up to Everest Base Camp and other points north and east. It’s the home of the Rinpoche, who is believed to be the reincarnation of a previous Rinpoche, or holy teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. Binoy knows the Rinpoche so he arranged for us to receive a blessing from him, and a cup of tea in his residence as it turned out.
First a little background. The Rinpoche at Tengboche Monastery was selected to be Rinpoche at the age of five in Namche Bazaar; he is now 85 years old. Here is how it happens. When a Rinpoche is close to death he may have a vision of the name of a village or town in which he will be reincarnated. When the Rinpoche dies there is a wait of several years before a group of monks strike out to find the reincarnated Rinpoche. They seek children of an age that corresponds to the number of years since the Rinpoche passed away. During the interviews with the children the monks spread out some of the belongings of the deceased Rinpoche, mixed with other objects, and ask the child to pick out the objects that were ‘his’. And voila! The old Rinpoche that passed away is now a child Rinpoche. Talk about job security.
As we entered the residence of the Rinpoche the first thing I noticed was a treadmill, probably built in the 1960’s. I can’t imagine the Rinpoche cranks it up to jogging speed, but he did say that in the summertime he likes to use it to stay in shape. Not the first thing you would expect to find.
He welcomed us into a room where he was finishing lunch and sitting on a slightly raised platform in the corner. Binoy and I were both blessed with a tap on the back of the head. It was over pretty quickly to be honest, so we settled in for some milky tea with more than one spoonful of sugar.
Binoy explained to the Rinpoche that I was attempting to summit Ama Dablam, to which he replied “that is a difficult mountain”. Great. I wasn’t expecting tips on the route selection, but a little more encouragement would have been nice. The conversation continued as the Rinpoche asked questions of Binoy about politics in Kathmandu, and Binoy translated my questions.
After some time had passed, the Rinpoche picked up some prayer sheets from the table and started to read them to himself, and drink his tea. We took that to mean the audience was over. We received a further blessing and left.
I’m glad we went. It was fun to meet the Rinpoche, and he is truly someone that tries only to speak words of meaning.
Part of me wanted to ask him to take a spin on the treadmill.