Source of the illustration: http://khordong-byangter.blogspot.fr/2016/06/tomorrow-15th-day-of-4th-tibetan-month.html
A reader noted in the previous episode Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche’s very blunt statement about monastic homosexuality. Not having witnessed anything myself, although I heard a lot of things and some clues made me suspect other things, I can’t tell which part of what he said was his brutal frankness, and which part was the conventional “tantrists” (sngags pa) discourse on monks – discourse that doesn’t necessarily have any more truth than the traditional jokes that one human group makes about another.
Thus, I remember a very amusing conversation, some details of which I may have missed, that I overheard between “Zimpönla” (the former valet of the 14th Karmapa) and Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche, in Jean-Louis Massoubre’s apartment, in the 1990s.
C. R. Rinpoche was sitting on a couch at the back of the room, with Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche next to him, who was visiting him; Zimpönla was standing at the other end of the room, near the kitchen door, as I recall. He spoke to C.R. Rinpoche in a tone of indignation that was certainly very theatrical, and Rinpoche replied with an equally theatrical verve. The substance of the conversation was:
“You ngakpas claim to be Dharma practitioners, but all you do is indulge in alcohol and women!
– But that's still better than you monks, who prefer little boys!”
The conversation went on like this from enormity to enormity and ended with a burst of laughter with the comparison of the Sakyapa lamas’ hat with the headdress of the women of Ladakh. Obviously, no one was offended by this Dantean exchange of insults.
That being said, in fact, sex was quite central to the conversation of Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche. It may be said that “the mouth speaks of the abundance of the heart” and that the sage from the Roof of the World was, in truth, an old satyr. I would not know what to say about the personal relationship of this lama to lust; it seems to me that, in this respect, his attitude consisted above all in confronting people with their hypocrisy or their discomfort, and it was all the more frightening because he divined, in a manner that was not very understandable, the secrets that one would have preferred to hide from his gaze.
Once, for example, when he was still walking, he said that he had gotten up at night to go to the bathroom and had seen his host (this was not in France) having sex with a woman other than his own. And (if I remember correctly) he asked him to his face and in public why he was doing this.
On another occasion, an acquaintance of mine visited him, a man whose private life I have no idea about. I was not the translator; no one could tell Rinpoche anything about what this person might want to keep to himself. Still, he reproached me strongly afterwards, assuming that I had indiscreetly spread the details of his secrets before Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche (though I never even mentioned his name to Rinpoche), who apparently told him in an excessively precise manner.
Sometimes, completely outside of this register of unveiling hidden things (which, by the way, in all the cases I witnessed, he did without any dimension of accusation or moralizing guilt, and moreover sometimes by means of somewhat equivocal words, which made the recipient of his discourse know that he had been pierced, but without the whole audience in front of which he felt confused being able to understand exactly what was being alluded to), Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche was rather amused by confusing the prudery of his listeners.
I did not witness his first teachings in Poland, but it seems that he had a lot of fun (if that is the right word) at the expense of some Polish Buddhist monks and nuns (Kagyüpas) who had come to his teachings, who had, as it should be, placed themselves in the front row with a dignified attitude. He would add obscene details to the stories he was telling, which obviously had absolutely no relevance to the central purpose of the story. Here is a perfect example that I was told:
"- There was one nun... this, what sort nun being, I not knowing. Maybe finger-sex-having-nun possible..."
There would be countless examples of this kind, but to accumulate them would bring nothing, apart from a few occasions to laugh. Here is another one anyway.
C. R. Rinpoche was invited to the Kagyü Dzong temple, near Lake Daumesnil in the Bois de Vincennes [close to Paris]. The Lama Gyurmed, who obviously liked him, had him sit on a big throne, from which he had difficulty to get up and from which he also had difficulty to get down. I will come back later, perhaps, to the teaching he gave that day (it was on that occasion that he said of me that I was very good at Tibetan grammar, but that I understood nothing about Buddhist philosophy). Anyway, probably because that was the time when he became insulin-dependent, his diabetes having worsened, he began this teaching - on meditation - by saying, “Oh, how convenient it would be if meditation could be taught by injection! Alas, it is not possible.”
As he finished his teaching (one of the most paradoxical of all those I have heard) and was laboriously descending the rather steep ladder from the throne from which he had preached, a good lady in her sixties stood up and, with her hands clasped and a devout look on her face, said:
“- Rinpoche, come back often to give us meditation injections like this one!”
To which of course he replied, within the sacred precincts:
“Come and see me after the teaching, I will stick you with a special injection!”
Next episode: click here.