Two Moments


I met Rinpoche in person only twice, both in the mid-1980’s in Berkeley. Once I waited in a reception line to meet him. When I finally came to the front, I knelt in front of him and thanked him for bringing the dharma to the West. He looked down, smiled, and reached for my tie knot. Immediately several Kusung leaped forward to assist him, but he brushed their hands away and continued to work with my tie knot. I was frozen in space and time, wondering what THIS was all about. He finished his work and beamed down at me and, in his high voice,

“There, now that looks better.”

And the interview was over. I was flabbergasted and immediately went to the men’s room to look at my tie. And it DID look better. Needless to say, I have never tied a tie casually since then. In fact, I dress thoughtfully ever since that day.

Some time later I was serving in his household (Michelle and Eamon Killoran’s home in Berkeley/Oakland) and was asked to bring his breakfast tray into his bedroom (not serve the breakfast, mind you). Bill Sheffell opened the door and led me in. I was so proud; make that insufferably proud and full of myself. He took one look at me and manifested WRATH. It was very un-nerving. The difference between wrath and anger is now very clear to me and service is now central to my life.