Three years after the passing of the beloved Akong Rinpoche, a group of Dharma brothers and sisters gathered under the guidance of Ken Holmes as we set out on a journey through the 7 point mind training of Lojong.

Ken served as the precious mentor, we were his open audience and Tara Rokpa Centre was the space in which this was all held. Amidst the teachings, Ken lovingly shared stories of the tremendous Bodhisattva work that Akong undertook in his life, and our hearts filled with inspiration, and love for the man that founded the very centre in which we sat.

After many precious opportunities to practice, we took some time out to sing Ken’s song that was written the day before Akong Rinpoche’s passing. Understandably, when the news of Akong’s death spread to all those who had a deep connection with him, it was a time of great pain, and so, Ken had not managed to look at the song since then.

With time gone by, Ken felt that this stay at TRC was the time to revisit these lyrics. With his recorder on, we sat together in the shrine room, learning the tender lyrics that poured from Ken’s heart. The sweet sounds from his guitar moved through us and filled the room. We tapped into our individual experiences of Tara Rokpa Centre and managed to sing his song with meaning, love and profound joy.

We spent a great deal of the 9 days discussing karma, and I think it became clear to see just how grateful we could all be, that our karma had lead us here, to TRC, together, with Ken, his teachings, and of course, his guitar.

Deep down in Tara’s valley
Is a rare and special place
That envelopes you in its beauty
And restores you with its grace
And restores you with its grace

Up high on Temple Hill
As you connect with the mandala wide
Both mind and nature thrill
Under colourful African skies
Under starlit African skies

In her flowing life-filled rivers
Waters fall, no trouble at all
Baboons croon and long grass quivers
Nature flows and harmonies call
Nature flows and harmony calls

The sun ablaze high in the heavens
Or crackling fire around which we sit
Energise, synthesise, warm the bones of the wise
Who meditate, integrate and therapise
Who meditate, integrate and therapise.

But as mother, Tara Earth is supreme
Holding and loving you in her arms
In a thousand hues of browns and greens
She heals and protects with secret charms
She heals and protects with secret charms

Tara’s wind, with its thousand perfumes
Brings pure, fresh air lifting up the mind
While in mud and brick of temple and rooms
Twisted life-knots relax and unwind
Twisted life-knots relax and unwind

Deep down in Tara’s valley
Is a rare and special place
That envelopes you in its beauty
And restores you with its grace
And restores you with its grace

Ken Holmes, Oct 7 2013

Jami Selikow