Why don't you come along?

John de Jardin,
interviewed by Stuart Hertzog,
Oct 17, 2004, Victoria, BC.

I met the boat and we all went to Worpswede, and Rinpoche mentioned that he wanted to take a little holiday - to do this cruise down the Canal du Midi in southern France. I had very little money - I was on my way back to Canada - and had a ticket from London.. I was intending to head up to London to get a plane home.

Rinpoche said, "Why don't you come along? There will just be the four of us - Grant is coming too. I'll lend you the money to do it." So, great! A holiday with Rinpoche - an offer I can't refuse, right?

Now, this was near the beginning of his health problems, and I guess just coming off the boat, he'd been on this terrible diet for a while.. Polish Ocean Lines. Later we found out it was heart-related.

So anyway, we drove down - hotels had all been booked - picked up the boat and took it along the canal, through all the locks. That was the trip - through the locks of the Canal du Midi - a spectacular, beautiful voyage, by the way. And right from the start he was really being tough on me - very tough.

It was supposed to be a holiday, but.. and Grant, my buddy from Winnipeg - his shit didn't stink. He could do no wrong. Everything was great with Grant, and I was, like.. garbage. He was really annoyed with me all the time.

This sort of built up to a point where.. anyway he started having these problems. In fact we had to call Elizabeth - a nurse who lived in Paris - to come down to meet the boat and have a look at him because he was experiencing a lot of pain. But he wouldn't go to a hospital.

Anyway, it all built up to a point where one evening he was lying down after supper and he was experiencing these problems and he was in pain, and I was doing the dishes. I was feeling a lot of tension. Actually, he brought me to a point - I think it was on the same day or a day earlier, when we were going through a lock and I was trying to tie up the boat or do something, and he yelled at me. He was, like: "Come on! What's wrong with you? You're supposed to be a seaman, can't you get it right?" And I screamed back, "I'm doing the best I can!" And he just sort of looked at me and muttered. But that really felt awful to yell back at him like that.

[SH:] It was a breakthrough?

It was a breakthrough but it was also a terrible dichotomy.. feeling I hated his guts. I just hated him, this miserable old bastard who was on my case all the time, and I really was trying to do my best, making this effort. But he was my Teacher, my Lama! Anyway, it all came to a head when.. he's lying there and I'm doing the dishes. He calls Terry in and I hear very clearly (whispers), "Get him out of here!" And something broke, something cracked in my being, and I just wept.

Even remembering it now.. it was just awful. Whatever self-loathing there was in my psyche came to the surface at that moment, and I just felt so worthless. It just broke something open in me, and I guess I let go.. I just kind of let go of that. And something shifted at that point, and he was still kind of hard on me the rest of the trip, he was keeping me moving.. but at the very end, when we got back to Hamburg, he had me come into his room and I was doing the feet or whatever, and he actually blessed me, he put his hand on my head and said, "Good work!"

And the whole nature of the relationship shifted from that point on. I've never had him be harsh with me since then, and I've actually felt.. but it was some time later in an interview that I said to him, "Look, I know there' s been a lot of me projecting my 'father stuff' onto you, and I realize that that's not what this relationship is about - it's about my liberation, not about that." He said, "Good."

That was still a couple of years in the future, but something really shifted after the Canal trip. But what I want to point out is that this was a man who was quite ill, trying to enjoy a holiday, and he was prepared to have somebody right there with him who hated his guts, who was in terrible emotional turmoil, and he never hesitated, never thought twice about it. It could have all been easy going; he was sick - why not let up on the teaching for a while and have a more pleasant atmosphere?

But that's the kind of uncompromising being he was. If he saw that he could help somebody push through something, then his own comfort - or anyone else' s - was not considered. It was just the Teaching.. the Teaching.. helping beings move through to liberation. That was the only thing that mattered to him, in my experience. And I saw it over and over again. Once you're tuned in, once you really understand what he's doing.. I could give you many more examples, but that's the one that is really the archetype for me.

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