By Dakpa Tenzin, Tibetan-English translator for Madam Pia Kryger, and former Manager of Tibet Charity in Nepal
My name is Dakpa Tenzin. I was born in a Tibetan refugee Bawa-family of nine children during a time where all Tibetan parents were living a life filled with hardship due to the communist Chinese occupation of Tibet. Bawa, or Bathang County, in the Kham province in eastern Tibet, is blessed with her head Lama, His Eminence Ba Lakha Lama who is very compassionate and highly respected.
He is considered as holy as H.H. the Dalai Lama in that region and even small kids call out his name when they stumble. Even among Bawa-children born in exile, H.E. Lakha Lama is on their tongues when they pray.
I became a monk at the age of eight and, while I was studying at a monastic school, I studied very hard to learn English with the aim of being a translator for H.E. Lakha Lama’s wife, if they ever were to travel to the Bathang region. I had this thought from a very young age, although I had not much idea of their lives in a western country. This thought was so precious to me.
In 2000, when H.E. Lakha Lama traveled for the first time from Denmark to visit our monastery, all the monks from the four Bawa Khangtsens in Drepung and Gaden Monasteries felt honored to arrange a grand reception. And most of all for me, being assigned to be the interpreter for his wife was without doubt my life’s dream come true. I was a bit nervous at the rare opportunity to be the interpreter for the first lady of the Bathang County. However, since then I have become their closest disciple and friend. Rinpoche is the 20th reincarnation of Lakha Lama and the senior-most lama in the region. We are all nervous about approaching him, but he is so humble and down to earth, and so is his wife Madam Pia. I am the luckiest person from Bawa, to have had such a precious time to serve them. Since then, I have traveled with them to so many places in India and Nepal. The most precious time was in the Bathang region in Tibet where I was their interpreter. Bathang is my late father’s birth place. If he was alive, he would be very proud to see his son serving his root lama.
I have witnessed the close bond between Rinpoche and the Bathang people in Tibet. People were dying to receive his blessing. Everyone, from the youngest kids to the oldest people cried when they had a glimpse of him and his wife. There are so many true accounts of sick and depressed people recovering after being blessed by him. Most surprisingly, not only people from Bawa itself, but also nearby regions, want a piece of his clothing – even a sock – to protect them from evil spirits. Sometimes I was kept busy changing his socks every minute. I cannot write everything here since I have limited space, but one night in Zongtsa town people were lying on the road to stop Rinpoche’s car and begging him stay overnight in their town. Months with Rinpoche are not enough for Bawa-people, they all wish for him to return to Tibet forever. Madam Pia also wishes that Rinpoche could spend more time in Bathang, but the Chinese administration does not allow it, which is very sad.
I have had the great privilege of serving H.E. Lakha Lama, Madam Pia, and their charity organization, Tibet Charity, for ten years. These have been the most precious years of my life. I have also been invited to his residence in Denmark several times. I always pray that both of them have a healthy and long life. Through them I have so many good friends in Demark and Sweden to whom I am always thankful. Rinpoche and Madam Pia have done great humanitarian work for the neediest, and not only for Bawa-people but for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. I love them both so much.
By Halfdan Muurholm, producer of the TV-documentary, ”Lakha Lama – 2860 Soeborg,” and Chairman of the Buddhist center Osal Ling in Aarhus, Denmark.
Edited and translated from Danish by M. Wendelboe
In 2006 I produced the TV-documentary, “Himlen over Danmark” [edit. “The Sky Above Denmark”]. In one of the episodes, I was focusing in on Christian Stadil [edit. a well-known Danish businessman] and Buddhism. During the shooting I asked Christian if he had a lama or teacher, which is common practice within Tibetan Buddhism.
With a brief hesitation Christian answered, ”Should I think of one person who really inspires me it would be Lakha Lama, who lives in Soeborg” [edit. Copenhagen, Denmark].
“Could we pay him a visit?” I asked eagerly.
Straight away Christian called Lakha Lama and half an hour later we were knocking on the door in Niels Bohrs Allé in Soeborg. Lakha Lama opened the door and invited us in for coffee. Immediately I knew that this first meeting with Lakha Lama would make a great impact on the rest of my life.
I met Tibetan Buddhism back in 1981, in Nepal during a trip around the world. Meeting with monks and lamas left an indelible impression in me and I remember that in the following years it often crossed my mind that I wanted to spend more time on Buddhism before dying. Maybe when having more time as a retiree. I woke up from my absurd way of thinking the day I met Lakha Lama—as it is commonly known nobody can tell the time of their own death.
Later I had the opportunity to produce a documentary about the extraordinary life of Lakha Lama. It was made for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) and called, “Lakha Lama – 2860 Soeborg.” This was also made into an international version called “Karma in Exile”, which was sold and shown in several countries, such as Poland, Russia and England.
When I was with Lakha Lama and Pia Kryger in Nepal for about three weeks it became clear to me during the shooting that I could never again postpone a closer study of the Buddhist philosophy and practice. Throughout the time we were recording I was impressed that Lakha Lama kept a completely open and transparent attitude without any hint of holding back or hidden agenda. Lakha Lama took me all over, willingly answering all my questions. This kind of a main character is a blessing to any TV-producer.
Later I met with other students of Rinpoche in Aarhus and together we founded Osal Ling, a Buddhist center associated with Phendeling [edit. in Copenhagen]. Lakha Lama has always been a dear and frequent guest at the center, where until recently he has given people from there and the surrounding area clear dharma teachings in his very humble and down to earth manner. I will always be deeply grateful to Rinpoche for insisting very directly that we need to be our own master and for his inexhaustible focus on the Middleway. Without a doubt, Lakha Lama is the person who has made the greatest and most pivotal impact in my life—I am deeply grateful for that.