Lonely In Copenhagen
This is the 12th in a series of reminiscences by Ven. Lama Lodu Rinpoche
Suddenly I found myself on my own in Copenhagen, where my teacher Kalu Rinpoche had left me to teach Buddhadharma to a group of young Danish students. I spoke no Danish, only a few words of English and there were no Tibetans to talk to so I felt somewhat cut off from my own culture. I began to miss my teacher, His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche, very much as well as my Dharma friends, the lamas who had traveled with me day and night throughout Europe for the past six months. Although Denmark is a beautiful country and Copenhagen a lovely city with kind and generous people, I had never known such loneliness before.
Rinpoche had appointed two young Danish Dharma students, a young man and young woman, as my translators. They had both been to India and knew something about Tibetan culture and Buddhadharma. Neither of them was fluent in Tibetan but with the Tibetan they did know, plus signs and signals, we managed to communicate. They and the small sangha they were connected with provided me with a house, cook, housecleaner and driver. To a young lama from India, this was unimaginable luxury, but I wasn't able to enjoy it because it was such a lonely and alien lifestyle for me. In fact, it all sort of depressed me. I had everything I could want materially, but no one to talk to except these two translators.
I would do my daily practice but no members of the sangha came by to see me and there was no group practice or any schedule for teachings. I really wanted to teach--after all, that was what I had been sent there to do. I wanted regular group meetings with questions and answers; I knew that we could somehow manage even with the language difficulties. But my translators said the Danish students would find me too foreign and strange. They said it wouldn't work and that I should teach them so they could then teach the others. I had no choice but to agree to this odd arrangement.
During the day the woman translator would come to my house for Dharma talks, which she would tape, transcribe, and then translate into Danish. At night, the young man translator would give teachings to the group based on these transcriptions. I felt bad about this and that it was not right, but there was nothing I could do. I was accomplishing the most I could under the circumstances. The translators and sangha continued to shower me with material luxuries that brought me no pleasure at all.
More than six months had gone by like this when one day a young Danish student came to my house to sit with me during my daily Mahakala practice. We tried to communicate and somehow he managed to ask me to teach him to practice Mahakala but I told him he must first get the initiation. I was amazed when he said he had already received it--from the translator! I said only the most accomplished lamas are permitted to give such initiations and I was not at all sure if the translator was so accomplished. I had serious concerns that the translator may be misrepresenting the Dharma. The young student kept coming to me and I learned that the translator was giving the Vajra Yogini and other highly esoteric initiations every night. I was very upset now and felt I must leave, but did not know how to do so without causing trouble and bad feelings.
I learned that there was a Gelugpa tulku working in a museum in Copenhagen and I managed to get his phone number. He invited me to dinner with him and his Danish wife and I told him I was unhappy and wanted to go back to Sonada. He said Kalu Rinpoche had brought me here so I should stay and do what he had asked; to do otherwise would be to disobey my teacher. He wanted to know why I was so unhappy but I didn't want to tell the whole situation so I just said I didn't like being in Copenhagen. This man was kind and sensitive and I felt a little better after talking to him, but his time was limited and there was only so much I was willing to confide, so my dilemma continued. Day by day I waited until one day I heard that His Holiness the Karmapa was on his way to Europe and would make a stop in Copenhagen. Now I was counting the hours until I could see him and try to set things right..
The series will continue in future newsletters...
Lama Lodu Rinpoche's Autobiography