The Oral History of Kham
Over the several few years, we have all had the good fortune to receive teachings from Karma Senge Rinpoche, Trungpa Rinpoche's nephew. In addition to being an extremely genuine person and a suburb teacher, Karma Senge is a living repository of stories about his famous unclestories that he learned from his grandmonther (CTR's mother) and stories that he collected during his extensive travels throughout western Tibet. Recording and translating what he knows is one of our most important tasks.
Bob and Lindy King's visit to Kham last summer yielded a treasure trove of material, including interviews with Chime Palmo, Khenpo Gangshar's widow, and Karma Senge Rinpoche. But their interviews need to be re-interpreted by someone who speaks the Surmang, Kyere and Sechen dialects and has a good understanding of English. The good news is that we know such a person, Khenpo Tsering. The bad news is that he's a very busy man. This past February, I worked with Khenpo Tsering on one of the Bob and Lindy's recordings, a conversation with Chime Palmo. Khenpo Tsering's reinterpretation of that conversation added a depth of understanding that was missing in the original interpretation, which had been done in the field by Chime Palmo's granddaughter. We are looking forward to many more working sessions with Khenpo Tsering.
Jessie Litven, who is a relatively new apprentice member of the Nalanda Translation committee, worked very successfully on transcribing and, to some extent, re-interpreting two conversations that I had with Karma Senge in Halifax in 2005. Jessie is planning a visit to the Surmang region later this year (2007). She has demonstrated an extraordinary aptitude for colloquial Tibetan. While in Surmang, she plans to learn the dialect, become familiar with local lore about the eleventh Trungpa tülku, and gain a general knowledge of places, people, and the history of the region. She will also record interviews for the Chronicles with people there, including Karma Senge Rinpoche and other members of Trungpa Rinpoche's family. The knowledge and experience that Jessie gains in Kham will be an extremely valuable asset for the Chronicles.
Needless to say, understanding Rinpoche's early training, his early activities as a tertön, and the many other stories about his life in Tibet, are key to our developing understanding and appreciation of his life as a whole. In the end, we anticipate that our Surmang collection will be one of the jewels of the Chronicles library and it should provide material for at least one of our annual books about Rinpoche's life.