Connecting With The Teacher

Roslyn Langdon (England)

"If you want to learn to practise meditation come to Canada in the Summer for a three week's meditation course at the Dharma Centre."

These were the words of Namgyal Rinpoche in the spring of 1974 at the Kham Tibetan Centre in Saffron Waldron where I had driven from London to meet him. I immediately booked a flight to Toronto at the end of July for myself and eighteen-year-old daughter, Melanie.

Two weeks before we were to leave, a group of Rinpoche's students began arriving at my flat in London. Amongst them were Cecilie Kwiat, Eric Hearn (Tarchin), and Anna (Wangchuk).

"Why are you going to Canada when the Rinpoche will be coming to England?" they asked me. As the Teacher had instructed me to go to Canada, I saw no reason to change my plans. Leaving the students installed in my flat, Melanie and I arrived at Marie and George Ghent's apartment in Toronto, and waited for news of the Rinpoche and commencement of the course.

It came in the form of a phone call from London - the teacher was giving a ten-day teaching there in my flat! Here was I several thousand miles from home, awaiting my first meditation course.. which was already taking place in my own home. All I could do was laugh and consider that this must be the loosening-up process I needed before learning to meditate.

I had never been to the New World before, so Melanie and I set off for New York, arriving at Grand Central Station on the day Richard Nixon resigned. From there we took a bus to Vermont, visited a friend in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then back to Toronto.

Still no news of the Rinpoche, so I decided to visit the Dharma Centre. Being young and healthy I mucked in collecting wood from the forest, and helped paint the exterior of the temple. After a week, during which time there were rumours of Rimpoche's boat arriving soon in Montreal,I returned to Toronto and Cecilie's house, to be met by the words, "You might as well turn right around as Rinpoche will be at the Centre tomorrow morning"! We spent that night informing people and booking a couple of busses to take us early the next morning.

After a short ceremony with a lot of excited and happy students, I met the Teacher on the steps leaving the temple, and expressed my pleasure at the use of my flat for his teachings. I was expecting some words of thanks, but he only asked how much longer I was staying. I was due to fly back home in three days.

"Then I'll arrange a blessing for you tomorrow in Toronto so you can go ahead and practise".

The following day I joined about a hundred others at Chorpel’s house, (I had thought this was to be a blessing just for me!), where we received a Chenrezig wongkur. Thus commenced a 30-year life-changing relationship with the Teacher.

The next time I visited the Dharma Centre was October 2003 to receive my yidam empowerment from the Rinpoche.. that of Garuda, part of the Healing Triad. Once again he wasn't there as he had passed away a few days before in Switzerland. Instead, I found myself taking part in that great moving memorial to his life, before gratefully later receiving the empowerment from Lama Sonam Gyatso.

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