There I was, living at the tip of Africa looking for something, not really sure what, confused by the roots of my German-Indian descent: not at home, nor here nor there, standing on the halfway line between those two worlds. They say Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places on earth and South Africa the cradle of Humankind. And so I had found a lot, in fact all of those “findings” would have easily fitted into many lives, but still I would have never dreamed that this “looking” around in Africa would take me back to the foothills of Scotland, right into the Shrine room of the truly magnificent Tibetan Monastery Samye Ling near Eskdalemuir in the middle of nowhere, chanting in Tibetan and Sanskrit, the mother language of all, the texts of the Monlam Prayer book, written and composed by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa -and it was that, which finally had brought me home.
No specific location or country needed, nor dependency on fame or beauty, there it was, all laid out for me/us to see. The precious lineage, which guides and protects us, and Samye Ling the “mothership” from where the Tibetan Buddhism had spread into the West and finally found its way to the tip of Africa. The existence of Samye Ling and the Centres in Africa of course were only made possible by Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche, who I have never met, but whose leading example, despite his passing, keeps shining high and bright.
That is, why I felt I had to write this letter. To express my deepest gratefulness to him and his students, who are silently working behind the scenes here and there to keep the continuation of Akong Rinpoche’s lineage a reality. To the devoted centre in Cape Town and in particular to the Tara Rokpa Retreat Centre high up in the North, where I was able to connect to authentic Lamas, teachers and guides equally devoted to Samye Ling and Akong Rinpoche and where I met so many great fellow Dharma sisters and brothers.
And I feel even more grateful to Akong Rinpoche’s brother Choje Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and his nephew Lama Katen, who in the beginning of this year travelled despite the hardships with dear Ani Lhamo to our faraway places to find us/me here and reaffirm the connection. It was their leading example, which had motivated me to respond to their invitation, and to try everything to make a return visit possible. If I was free to choose, I would love to go there again and again for the Monlam. From the bottom of my heart I wish that all others to whom I am connected to find the motivation, and to be able to travel to Samye Ling too and feel that spirit of chanting and connecting.
Kagyu Monlam is to
Spread the seeds of loving kindness and pure Motivation,
to activate their power, and hence
bring about genuine peace, love, happiness and well-being in the world.
17th Gyalwang Karmapa
On the auspicious day of the anniversary of the Enlightenment and Paranirvana of Lord Buddha, the very last day of the Monlam, we all witnessed Lama Katen’s inauguration as the Abbot of Samye Ling. Lama Yeshe Rinpoche has officially given the responsibilities and duties of Samye Ling over to Lama Katen, chosen by Akong Rinpoche himself, before he had left. The ceremony was supported by Lama Katen’s Root Guru, Drupon Rinpoche. When Drupon Rinpoche played the personal message from Thrangu Rinpoche in Namo Buddha, Nepal, I think there were not many dry eyes left in the shrine room. It was truly moving and exciting at the same time.
I feel my Germanic rumblings are actually not sufficient to really describe anything, and I should rather stop. I would like to end this by dedicating to all mother beings, and my wish is that they will one day find themselves going to the Kagyu Monlam.