Lama Lodo Rinpoche's Autobiography Leaving Gangtok
Reminiscences by Ven. Lama Lodu Rinpoche
I was in the hospital in Gangtok for nearly 6 months, recovering from tuberculosis. Because my case was not severe, it responded well to the medicine, rest and good care I was receiving. I was also being given good food-milk, eggs, fish-and so I was getting healthy and strong. I wanted to leave the hospital but the doctor said I must stay. Tuberculosis is very contagious and the doctor more or less threatened me, saying that if I left and became sick again, he would tell every doctor an in Sikkim that I had left without his permission and should not be given any medicine.
One day I heard that His Holiness the Karmapa was going to be visiting the clinic next door to the hospital, to get a chest x-ray before traveling to Calcutta. I asked the doctor if I could see him and he said yes. The next morning, I had a brief visit with His Holiness. He took one look at me and said I looked healthy and didn't belong in a hospital. I told him if I left they'd refuse me medicine in the future. His Holiness advised me to leave that night, go to Rumtek and wait for him to return from Calcutta, when we would discuss next steps.
So that night I snuck away from the hospital, carrying only the few books I had, and walked to Rumtek to await His Holiness's return. When he returned he first told me I should participate in a 10-day Mahakala ceremony, then we would talk again. He also asked if I would like to return to my solitary practice, which had been interrupted by my illness. I said yes. Over the course of the next few days, we spoke several times and he tentatively put out the names of several different teachers, saying I might study with this one or that one. It seemed to me that he was watching to see my reaction. When the Mahakala retreat had ended, he told me that if I wanted to have a truly great teacher and serious practice, I must leave Sikkim at the first full moon of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, and go to find Kalu Rinpoche, the greatest master of the Karma Kagyu lineage and a true Milarepa of the present day. He said that only Kalu Rinpoche could replace the teacher I had lost. He also told me I must not tell anyone of this plan.
So I began preparations to leave for Bhutan, where Kalu Rinpoche was conducting traditional three-year retreats close to the Tibetan border. I sold the only things of value that I owned: a Tibetan carpet, a silver bowl, and the retreat hut that I had built. These brought in about 50 rupees-not much!
One day, shortly before it was time to leave, His Holiness asked me to come see him and, with his secretary, wrote three letters of introduction for me: one to the Bhutanese border officials, one to the head of the monastery I was going to, and one to Kalu Rinpoche. He gave me these letters, a beautiful and valuable monk's robe, and 500 rupees. I could see that the secretary was as shocked as I was. Later, as we were walking away, he said that in all the years he had worked for His Holiness, he had never seen him give such a gift to anyone. "Be careful!" he said-"this must be really serious." I was delighted to receive such a generous gift but I didn't really understand their importance of it until years later, when I could see the full impact of this blessing.
At the next full moon, I set out before dawn, as instructed, bound for Bhutan. I started the journey with a lama I knew who was going to the next village. As we walked, he noticed many auspicious signs and said he thought they were indications that I would fulfill my goals.
As I began this journey, I was still full of sadness for the teacher I had lost. When he died, it was as if the sun had gone behind a cloud. And although the kindness His Holiness had shown me was a ray of light and a great comfort to me, I still longed to see my teacher's face. I had no idea how this present journey would change the course of my life.
Lama Lodu Rinpoche's Autobiography