‘May all deluded wandering beings rest in effortless Great Perfection!’

This message, in Mandarin, Tibetan and English script, stands at the entrance to the Pema Tung monastery compound (3900 m) in the Dzogchen valley, Kham, Sichuan.


Padma Sambhava, the lotus-born, is sleeping at the door,
the skull-topped khatvanga propped in the corner.
Both sun and moon nestle at his feet,
five-coloured, pure lights illuminate his Diamond Heart.

When he wakes, he will enter without ceremony,
inviting us all to drop everything
and celebrate the manifest bliss and emptiness
that surrounds each life,
each death.

Yes, we are deluded beings, wandering,
yes, the Chinese script is writ large,
the Tibetan script subjugated but not erased.
In the heavy, armoured air,
the perfumed air,
it is hard to understand
but the Great Perfection transcends all politics,
all history.

Above Pema Tung,
above rhododendron paths,
a web of caves conceals
the still precipice of the mountain,
the unearthly calm
of Tsho Kama


*Padma Sambhava 8th century A.D., revered for centuries, credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet

*khatvanga a long, studded club, originally created as a weapon, adapted by some lineages of historical tantra

*Pema Tung loosely translated as the ‘Lotus Ground’

*Tsho Kama the second of three holy lakes (at 4600 mtrs) above Dzogchen valley