Padma Sambhava’s cave at Chiu Gompa

‘ The truth of cessation is a personal discovery. It is not mystical and does not have any
connotation of religion or psychology. It is simply your experience. ‘

Chogyam Trungpa ‘The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation’


Red door, rough red Aum, black sash,
the heavy padlock, unlocked
for an entire mountain village.
It is not like I am dying in this cave.
That was Padma Sambhava’s fate 1300 years ago.
It is more like countless leathery faces are pressing up against history,
pressing until it yields and tips over,
into the abyss of timelessness.

Men, women shuffle forward in the shadows, one by one,
in their heavy, grimy chubas, pushing their hands,
tenderly, without thought, to my head, to my face and shoulders, sparking
transmissions of devotion, grace and forgiveness.

I am huddled just below a sacred footprint in the black rock,
the zhabje of the Precious Master.
Is my electric orange, Gore-tex ,’lama’ jacket a magnet
for these waves of greetings, this fountain of love?
Or am I, in this transcendent moment, as real as I ever was, am and ever will be?

A boy with unsteady gait is led roughly by his father,
up to the imbecilic image of Padma Sambhava, transfixed
in burnished maroon and gold, reflecting
the neon face of Mao Zedong on a 100 yuan note.

The father presses the boy’s hand against the zhabje ,
instinctively I grasp the boy’s other withered hand,
the father grasps my other offered hand,
we are locked in a divine paradox.
There is no escape and nothing to escape from.
I am weeping freely,
down my cheeks the Ganga is flowing
from Shiva’s top-knot at the summit of Kailash.


*Aum the seed syllable, the totality of sound and existence
* Padma Sambhava,
Guru Rinpoche, Precious Master, an Indian tantrika, renowned for
bringing Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century
* chuba
a long, thick sheepskin coat worn across all Tibetan communities
the lifesize footprint of a master, preserved for centuries in rock