John Tischer

Here's the story I met the Vidyadhara in 1972. I had heard two people talking about him in the waiting room of a clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was living at the time. I overheard them say something about this cool Tibetan teacher that smoked cigarettes and drank liquor while he gave his talks, and something clicked for me. So, I moved to Boston with my girlfriend, staying with some old college friends for a while, and we visited Tail of the Tiger so i could meet this Tibetan. I had a long conversation with Karl Springer and told him I felt connected to Buddhism and was looking for a teacher. He set up the interview. The first time I laid eyes on Rinpoche was when I walked into his bedroom for a private interview. The moment I saw him I realized I was looking at the goal, someone who had accomplished the path. Here was someone more present than anyone I`d ever met, and yet there didn't`t seem to be anyone there. Naturally, it didn't`t compute, so my mind was spinning, trying to understand what I was seeing. After a long silence, Rinpoche spoke first. He said "Don`t work so hard". We both chuckled and I mumbled something like "yeah, I am working pretty hard". More silence. Finally, I looked up at him and said: "Isn`t there an easier way?" He chuckled again and just shook his head. That was the end of the interview. I knew I wanted this man to be my teacher. My girlfriend was put off by the whole scene, and we broke up and she went back to the Midwest. I started writing letters to VCTR, telling him everything about my history, sending poems, trying to connect with him. I wrote about ten letters but never received any reply. Finally, I got frustrated and wrote him, demanding that he tell me whether I could be his student or not, and that I would take further silence as a no, and in that case, I would go to Japan and check out the zen monasteries. A short while later, I got a response in the form of a poem. It went: "A Poem for John A lonely search The world is mocking Hopelessness is dynamite. Plumbing Meditating Theatre Study Learning Sanity. Vocabulary is a pawn, But a good idea. The aspirant is never happy, But his inspiration is a happy one. Join the lineage! Let`s sing and dance together. Let`s march across the endless range. I am depressed. How? I don`t know!" One consequence of getting this poem was I quit being a voracious reader. I`d found what I was looking for, though I`m still discovering what that is. John Tischer