Memories of Prajna

Noel McLellan recalls the Sakyong's dream at Prajna


by Kusung Dapön Noel McLellan

Last night, the Sakyong had a dream of the Dorje Dradul wearing royal robes and a gold and orange crown. The Dorje Dradul removed the crown and placed it on the Sakyong’s head. This morning, although only a few kasung were present, the Court had the feeling of a great meditation hall filled with yogis. The kusung reported that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche had arisen at dawn and was practicing and reading a number of his sacred texts. He had called for Nyima Sangpo [David Brown], his loyal secretary, and they had been alone together for hours.

That afternoon, Rinpoche conducted seventy dokusans with new Vajrayana students and then returned to his bedroom at Prajna with his secretary. For the next few days, all was quiet. It felt as though something important had occurred, but there were no clues as to what it had been. The Sakyong seemed quite relaxed, so I dared to say, “Sir, I think you’re up to something,” to which he replied, “Oh?”

In the afternoon, he gave transmission. Later that evening, he commanded that a five-coloured cord be run from the lotus of the tsokshing in the Great Stupa to the throne in the Tenno Tent. The cord must not touch the ground or cross any roads and needed to be ready by 1pm the next day. Numerous hours were spent weaving the cord and threading it over a mile through trees, across the body of Marpa Point, around the road to Prajna and to the center of Rinpoche’s gold vajra. It was ready just two hours late. After returning from a lunch meeting with delegates from Mongolia, Rinpoche did several hours of guru yoga practice in the Tenno tent.”

A few days later the Rigden ngondro was given to the Seminary. I wrote:

“A special gathering was announced for the evening. All were to dress up and assemble in the Main Shrine Tent. The air was electric and clear that day. The clouds gathered and dispersed in white, purple, and black. Occasional thundershowers occurred. To everyone’s surprise, a rich meal was served, as well as sake. After that, the Sakyong entered, dressed in an Imperial Yellow brocade jacket. He was escorted by the Makpön, dressed in a black, high collar uniform, carrying a sword. Although he is somewhat short, the Makpön was dashing. A Colour Party, of which the Kusung Dapön and I were a part, then posted the flags to the stirring cry of the pipes. The Kusung Dapön had chain-mail on his epaulettes. The sergeant wore a rather fancy highland uniform. Although his voice cracked when he called present arms, it was altogether stunning.

A rare lhasang was then conducted. The President appeared dressed in a white chuba lined with fur. With great humility he knelt before the Sakyong and requested him to bestow the wisdom of the lineage. Everyone was perplexed that he prefaced his supplication with a long story from the Hindu tradition. Nevertheless, Rinpoche then prepared to speak…”

Aside from these highpoints however, the memories of Prajna that I have the most feeling about are the many quiet ones when the Sakyong would stroll into the tall grass of the field below the house or simply sit or stand on the back porch, and one would relax into the feeling of his being, with its confluence of contentment and aloneness. On one such evening after giving a long talk, he was standing on the porch in the early evening as the day began to cool, sipping a beer. He asked me to get the secretary on duty, and when she arrived he dictated this poem:

Summer Flower

A drink from mountain stream—
Lost water comes to haunt me.
Surrounding loneliness,
Mind peers into vast blue sky.
A distant yogin’s love song plays upon my ears.
The silence of this valley
Sings the cry of liberation

Mind paces like a caged tiger.
Heart drowns in inexpressible chasm.
Let us bring it all to the path of bodhi.
Let us climb this mountain of uncertainty.
Look again!
The sun is rising.
Its golden-orange hue commands us to exhale.

26 July 1999
Shambhala Mountain Center