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Lions Roar : November 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2006 44 side of his body, and he seemed to you like a completely different person. You write, “Now he was much more heavy and solid and he had an unfathomable quality.” Did you ever talk to Rinpoche about the accident and how he felt it changed him? Yes, we did talk about the accident. He regarded it as a message that he had been setting himself apart from people in a way, that he had been offering some sort of illusion to people because of their state of mind at that point. He felt that by wearing robes, he had created a subtle division between himself and his stu- dents, and that the car accident was a sort of cosmic message that he needed to fully plunge into absolute, direct presentation of the teachings in the West. At the time, there was an intellectual approach to spiritu- ality, which the English have always gravitated toward, and people tended to translate Buddhism into Christian terms to a certain extent, as opposed to connecting with the psycho- logical component and understanding the practice lineage. This phase that Buddhism was in may have been one of the rea- sons why Rinpoche decided to give up his robes. He wanted to work with people more directly and to cut through this sort of conceptualization. It was on your second visit to his center in Scotland, Samye Ling, that he invited you into bed. He was 28 and you were 16, correct? I signed myself out of my boarding school—to tell you the hon- est truth, I don’t think I was 16 yet, I think I was still 15—and I found my way up there. He wasn’t really receiving visitors at that point but I was quite insistent that I get to see him, and that’s when we ended up having our first sexual encounter. In the eyes of a lot of people, a sexual encounter between a 28- year-old spiritual teacher and a 15-year-old potential student would be considered at the very least outrageous, and at the very worst exploitative. But you didn’t feel that way, apparently. In the book you write, “It was in fact exactly the invitation I was hoping for at that moment.” For him there was a slightly different cultural context, you know, because people in Tibet tended to get married a lot younger than they do in the West. From my perspective, I really was not attached to the conceptual norms I had grown up with; to a cer- tain extent I’d rather radically rejected my culture. I really wasn’t looking at it from the reference point of whether it was appro- On the porch of Tail of the Tiger (now Karmê Chöling) in Barnet, Vermont, soon after their arrival in North America. PHOTOCOURTESYOFSHAMBHALAARCHIVES,PHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWN