Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Namtar of the Wee Lama Boy

The story begins with a visit I made to the Hopi land in Arizona, in 1966, with my friend Chesley Milikin. He had come to America from England to be Master of the Hunt somewhere on the east coast, and he couldn't stand that, so he went to work for the Indian Land and Life Commission. He wanted to tell the Hopis that they'd found a lawyer in Los Angeles who was prepared to go to Washington for no pay, to fight the Omnibus Bill (which he called the Ominous Bill) before it got slipped through Congress. Which was going to take away certain Northern Indian's fishing rights and the Hopi's land, which is a complete desert. I can't imagine how anyone would want it unless there are some heavy deposits of something there. The Hopi's themselves say they are sitting on the power of Tuwakwachi, which is their name for America. This is also the place they call the heart of the mother. They live a completely pure life and they stick to their trip. Anyway, the plan was eventually thwarted by this lawyer. Good for him.
When we arrived there we, walked into the middle of a great big meeting where they had this corn bag, If you're holding that bag, no one can interrupt you. The meeting went on and on all day and then at some point they said that we were "Heralds of the Purifier." I asked Chesley where his trumpet was, because it seemed rather ridiculous. It was ten years later that I learned they consider the Purifier to be the Gyalwa Karmapa.
I was getting together an issue of the Oracle, a well-known San Francisco underground newspaper, which was to be devoted to American Indians, so I was collecting allot of "Indiana" from various places, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go with Chesley to see the Hopi. They led me to this great rock on which petroglyphs were drawn and I was allowed to make a rubbing of them for the Oracle, which was very difficult because there was a high wind and I only had a little drawing book and some wax crayons, so i had to tape it all together. One of the Hopi's, John Lancer, was standing there with a lamb under his arm, it was very biblical. And some kind of odd things happened there. I was thirsty when we arrived in Oraibi and his wife gave me some water out of a jug. It was like a two minute acid trip, it was really strange. There must be something in the water.

Etching by Hetty MacLise.

Dan Kachungva, another Hopi, who's supposed to have been 133 at that time, took me out into the desert and things got rather peculiar. I began to be a little afraid. They asked me several times where was my other son. I had taken my only child, Jason, with me. I kept telling them there was no other son and they were looking rather perplexed. Then they started off about this Hopi prophecy about the purifier. They showed him to me on the rock, amongst these petroglyphs. It shows a line going all the way around the rock, which is huge, and that's the path of the Great spirit, which goes on and on. Another line comes up from the bottom of the rock, which has a circle with a cross on the top side of it. It's got a slash through it, to say "You don't take anything from this man who comes with the cross. You don't take his women, his water or his words." And there's the Great spirit, a stick figure holding two long poles.
Above it is a box with three wheels on top and they say these are the three great rumblings on the earth. After the box comes a crooked line going up and that marks Purification. The Great spirit appears again, with two poles. And there's a figure, the Purifier, with a kind of mushroom shaped hat on his head , with his hands out, holding what looks like rough diamond. maybe a dorje, above and below each hand. The hat was the vague shape of Gampopa's meditation hat. It shows him with the Great spirit and a water bowl which has rain clouds painted on it, and a corn plant; meaning peace and plenty.
They said that the path of the Purifier was identical with the path of the Great spirit, and the Purifier would come wearing a red hat, a red cloak, bringing a red God and that he would make rain. They said they would try to trick him to find out if he was the Purifier. They would tell him that they hadn't had any rain. They never have any rain. And he would make rain because he felt sorry for them. They said he would come from either east or the west. Now, this is what confused me completely. If he came from the west he would be merciful. If he came from the east, "get up on you houses for he would have mercy for no one." Well, when Karmapa arrived ten years later, he came from the west. He approached the mesa from Tuba city. That's all the west and the east business meant. With the Hopi, it's all right next door, right on front of them. They didn't mean from China or Russia. I thought they meant the Communists were coming, with all this red and east and west, and they mentioned something about me joining his tribe. I thought that was very unlikely, i would never become a communist, although stranger things have happened.

Anyway, that was that. We left and I did the Indian Oracle issue and put the petroglyph in and the Hopi prophecy and the years rolled on. They told me that there would be some space of time between our arrival and the arrival of the Purifier and then another somewhat equal space of time between the time of the Purifier arriving and the day of Purification. They said if you followed the path of the Purifier, which was the same as the Great spirit, you would be okay on the day of Purification. Otherwise, you might not be and it rather looked like the way this line was carved, all zig-zags ending nowhere, quite a nasty mess. I thought hopefully I might be connected up, it didn't sound like bad thing. I forgot all about it, it was tucked away in the niches of my mind along with all the other memorabilia, but never brought to the surface until ten years later.

I remained in San Francisco for the next five years, playing at the Paper doing what i loved, to colour and shape pages such as never had happened before on newsprint. I even squeezed colour onto the press over a split font - it meant that no two issues were the same colour wise. Then Angus entered my life one Christmas eve quite dramatically - bursting through my door begging for sanctuary. Heavens above - well it was Christmas! I let him stay in Jason's room; who had gone to Kesey's ranch and i was without him for Christmas and felt very lonely. I did not take long for me to discover that i had gone and done something I had stubbornly refused to do - after two failed marriages it surprised me but, here was the love of my life, and when we were joined at a charming surprise ceremony in the park and everything else fell apart. We left and went to New York City, his spiritual home, and when to stay with out mutual friend Ira Cohen, at his magical loft.

Photo's by Ira Cohen.

Ossian was conceived about a week later. I remember, when I was about two months pregnant, still in that loft, sitting in a rocking chair looking out at the East River, and I felt the baby start to kick. I thought, "No, this is impossible, two months is too young. I must have terrific wind today." I had this thing about playing one record over and over, which happened to be Tibetan music. I had never heard any before and Ira had these albums put out by UNESCO or something, all different countries, and there were two Tibetan ones and this one had a picture of a gompa on the front and I'd never seen a Tibetan gompa. There was one little band, which i now recognize as the drum part of the Mahakala puja. I'm sitting in this rocking chair and suddenly I feel this thing inside me going boom, boom, boom, in time to the record. No baby does this at two months, but it did, every time. I was obsessed with playing this record and in the end, the people who lived with us in that loft asked me to stop. So I'd wait till they went out, and I'd deliberately stay home so that i could put the record on. I thought it was a pregnancy trip, like wanting to eat all those weird things, but this was not for food, but for this music.
You should hear Ossian play drum now, he's a great drum player. I don't know if the previous was a drummer. I think before he was a painter. I've seen thankas painted by him, they have little blue rabbits behind figures like Milarepa. And apparently he was very funny, he was always joking. But he could be very heavy, too.

Now, none of the signs were noted, because we always had a rationale. We knew nothing about Tibetan tulkus, nothing about signs. We'd heard of the Dalai Lama, and I had some connection with Tibet because an uncle of mine had tried to get there when he was young, but failed. We then moved to Massachusets to live with Benno Friedman in this lovely house that his mother had left him, full of marvelous antiques. I was much more pregnant by this time; I was getting really huge. I was also working in the movie, 'Alice's Restaurant.' One day, I'd come home from shooting in the snow, the day we'd shot the funeral scene. I was cold, so I was in this enormous bathtub and you know how when you're sun burnt and you touch your arm, how it goes white? I was nice and warm, a little bit pink, only the top of my tummy stuck out of the water, and something white appeared on my stomach and I called "Angus, come have a look at his, something's appeared on my tummy." Now Angus was heavily into glyph of any kind and he came over and shouted "Glyph!" and he got a piece of paper and copied them, and I remember the figures. The first time I was reading Tibetan, with my teacher, Lama Sonam Gyalwa, I had a Karmapa prayer and I remember sounding out K-A-R-M-A. I stopped and realized that was it, that was what i could see, definitely, no doubt.

Those were things that happened while I was pregnant.

When he was born at, seven months, feet first, he was turned around by the doctor three times, and three times he turned himself back again. They were giving me alcohol drips to close me up. When the time came to go to the Great Barrington Hospital, which was the best around, it was weird, because I didn't feel ready. But a week later at 3:00 a.m. he put his foot through the water bag and at 3:36 .a.m. he came out feet first, a nice dry breach birth. As he appeared, the very first snow began to fall and that is the snow that stays in Massachusets; it starts with small flakes coming in the direction of down, There was a window that looked out over the fields, the sun was low, it was shining in; and then a round, a completely round rainbow appeared in the window. Everybody who was helping to deliver the baby, which was quite a number by this time, saw it too and said "Oh, how lucky for the baby." Of course, I, having to have a rationale for everything, thought that the sun was very low and was hitting the snow, making a prismatic effect.
Ossian did not look like the other 'preemies.' They put him in a room by himself and I thought he was dying. He was in a special kind of incubator, but they said nothing was wrong. He wasn't jaundiced, in fact he was perfect. He was fat, like a rubber dolly, lying there. He didn't look tiny, though he only weighed three pounds. He was all fat and he looked like he'd been lying in the sun, tanned, with jet black hair standing straight up, about two inches of it, and his eyes were wide open and black. As they wheeled him past me, he gave me such a look; I was fixed by those eyes.

Photo By Ira Cohen.

Then a very funny thing happened. His room was opposite mine and I heard this terrible fan-tan going on. There was a very starchy ward sister of whom I was rather afraid and there was this little lady who swept the floor whom i liked. Suddenly I heard this sister going off, screaming "What do you mean by doing this?" There was a big glass trolley with dressings and swabs and bottles of this and that, and she said "This bottle was filled with distilled water. What's happening in this hospital? The discipline is going down the drain. Why is it full of milk?" I started giggling, it was kind of funny. The other lady said "I don't know nothing about it." The sister said "I want to clean the preemies eyes and ears, so get me another bottle." Now, that was the tulku's milk. Ossian tells me he should have had that milk, but he was on special formula. It was thrown out because American hospitals don't know anything about tulku milk either! But I remember something came over me when I heard that conversation and I giggled hysterically.

Etching by Hetty MacLise.

We had to leave him at the hospital and I kept going back to visit him. Finally the great day came and we brought him home to Benno's house, which was run on a trust. His mother left him money, she was a big antique dealer, so this mant that a truck would drive up and a lawn mower would now mow the lawn, the oil man would see to the boiler, oil it and fix it. We never had to see to anything. Logs were delivered, the gas bottles were always put outside the kitchen and taken away by some man from Great Barrington, everything was paid for by the solicitors, even Benno didn't have to sign anything. So, the house ran like magic. There was a thick snow by the time we got home. The Christmas tree was up. We didn't have him home for Christmas, but I showed him the tree and he was there for New Year. I remember, Angus threw five very precious chyrstal glasses over his shoulder into the fireplace, toasting his son. I had been very nervous about bringing him home. He'd had to stay in that hospital till he weighed six pounds and the district nurse said she would come every day to check up on him. He had to be kept at a temperature of 78 degrees and the house was always heated up at 68 degrees, so we had this beautiful embroidered Chinese screen and an old rocking cradle of Benno's and an electric fire in our bedroom. I had to feed him every two hours with formula. I was planning all these things and had everything organized and the minute I stepped over the threshold woth Ossian in my arms, the gas failed. No more gas, nobody could understand it. We started to use the electric heaters and a hot plate to warm the bottles, and then the electricity went. There was a little dial on the wall of the kitchen and it started to go down. We went down to the celler and all peered at the boiler; nobody knew what to do, it had gone off. The whole house was blown out. So we were reduced to fire. Only fire. I don't think man has discovered anything greater than fire. We lit a huge fire in the drawing room; we put him in front of the fire. We put the Chinese screen around the fire. I was heating up these bottles in a pan over the fire. We were completely reduced to the simplest simplicity. He did that. That was his first action on coming home; he blew the house out.

Photo By Benno Friedman.

After Ossian's birth, Angus came down with an extrordinary coma. Nobody could understand how he got it. He was put in Bellview Hospital where they took all his white blood cells and changed them. He had a vision where he thought he was in a big landscape with great giants and enormous tigers and great hunters. He was brought out of this and we went to the Albert Hotel, in the Village, and Angus recovered there. Strangely enough, that's where his mother met his father. His mother was rather intrepi; she was a lady who had decided to be a reporter and she was on her way to report something in Mexico. The father was Eugene O'Neil's general factotum, secretary, at that time.

Angus had gone down to New York from Benno's because he had to do a concert. (Twice he'd been dragged off the stage at the Filmore East thinking I was about to give birth. He was doing this concert with John Cale and they were also going to do some tapping with the Velvet Underground; there was a record in the air.) Anyway, he'd gone back to New York after Ossian came home and shortly after that I got a phone call from a friend saying I should get down to New York immediately because Angus was very ill. Ossian had been given the go-ahead by the doctor to be able to go anywhere by this time. So we bundled him into this cardboard box packed with cushions and Benno drove from Great Barrington to New York in under two hours. We arrived to find Angus in Bellview and I left Ossian with Benno and this nice girl called Irene Nolan, in the very ritzy apartment of this beautiful looking girl called Paula Pritchit, who had been in some film of Conrad Rooks'. I left Ossian with them in her beautiful studio in the Village and went across to Bellview to see what on earth was happening to poor Angus.I think Ossian performed a miracle there, because we had always wanted Benno to have a nice lady; he was always bringing home these photographic models, who were kind of useless. He was such a nice guy and the house was so beautiful, it really needed a lady. And blow me down if they didn't fall in love over Ossian, as they were babysitting him that night. Irene had been a girlfriend of Piero Heliczer in the early days, so it's all tied up with the Andy Warhol crowd, Edie Sedgewick, that lot.

Photo by Billy Linich. (Collection: Malanga)

Photo by Donald Greenhaus.

For the next 2 or 3 weeks I went back and forth from the village to Bellview and then we were in the Albert Hotel where Angus started to recover. We were there about two months and Ossian got his name there. He was named Ossian Kennard MacLise. Kennard was Angus' father's name, an old family name.
We then moved to a marvelous loft. It wasn;t in a very good situation, but it was absolutely wonderful. Right down in the lowest of the Lower East side. I was working for the East Village Other, it was their loft. Ossian hated going out on the streets of New York. He never cried when he was a baby, but he used to get rigid if we took him out, so we decided it might be best not to. We made a large area in one window with plants and it got plenty of sun, so it was like a garden, with lots of light and air. We bought a huge old fashioned perambulator, a marvelous thing, all champagne figured velvet and wicker work. I used to attach balloons that float, hydrogen balloons , and those whirly things, all around the edge of the perambulator and we'd wheel him out in this. He was really quite happy in the pram, beacause he couldn't see out.

Photo by Gerard Malanga.

The summer of Woodstock was his first summer. We spent that whole summer back in Great Barrington. I used to go back to New York on the weekend to help paste up for the East Village Other. We didn't take him to Woodstock, we went there and helped set it up and pull it down too, but we left him with Angus' mother. I was quite busy entertaining without looking after a little baby. He used to sit in a little bowl of water and splash until the water was all over. He was always surrounded with butterflies that summer.

Photo by Don Snyder.

At the end of the summer we went back to New York and it was rather ghastly. I began to feel as though I couldn't take it any more, and then we moved to Canada. A friend of ours had bought a place on Hornby Island, which she called 'the Shire.' It was really a curious place. In the end, we couldn't stand it; Angus left and then I left. It got too much, there were visitations and communal dreams and everybody saw things that weren't there and it began to get quite weird. The Native Americans used to say it was a sacred place; they would go there to pray but they never lived there. It had everything, even oyster beds, it was incredible.

Ossian disappeared twice when he was a baby, and the first time was at 'the Shire.' H e was alone in his room in the Bunk House, and Jason was at home in bed with a cold. I was out getting bark off the trees for the stove, 'squaw wood,' and Ann (the girl who had bought the place) was doing something in the kitchen. I used to put the wooden latch down on the door because we had this huge dog who was always getting on my bed with his muddy paws, so it was like a automatic thing that I would go out and put the latch on the door. So i'd locked the two children in the room without really thinking of it. Now, Jason was in my bed, all tucked up, and Ossian was at the foot playing with toys. According to Jason, he suddenly disappeared. Jason became
absolutely terrified and there was nowhere in the room where he could have hidden. No cupboards, Jason looked under the sofa, and his thought was that I would be very angry with him, that he'd lost the baby. Quite suddenly, Ossian was just there again, and Ann came in the room at that moment. She asked what was going on in there, she'd felt a curious feeling and Jason was by this time in tears. He said "Ossian's just sdisappeared and come back again."
Just at that moment I walked in and I dumped the firewood and looked at Ossian. I saw that Jason was sheet white and Jason wasn't that imaginative, he wasn't that kind of a child. We thought he'd had a blackout from fever, but no, and I looked at Ossian and said "Did you go somewhere?" and he nodded his head and kind of smiled. I said "Well, don't do it again because you frightened your brother," and he looked awfully sad suddenly.
There was another day, not too long after that, Ossian had just learned to turn himself around and round and I was doing leather work at that time. I was sitting making bags and vests and suddenly I heard this sort of humming noise and I looked over at him and he was turning around very fast. I said "What are you doing? Stop it!" He started to really spin and he was making this funny humming noise and I told him to stop again and he stopped. I said "Whatever you're doing, don't do that." It seemed like he was about to take off.

We stayed at the Shire but the winter got rather heavy with much snow and so we left. Angus left first and we went to Aspen, Colorado, with Ossian and Jason, who was very into skiing. There was a very good school or him there. This was 1970, so Ossian was two and a bit. We had our Christmas in Aspen and then Angus went to New York. He telephoned me and said he was working with Gerard Malanga and Andy Warhol, doing this and that and would I come. So, I went and Jason stayed. We lived in a loft with alot of other people, in a tent, and again, it got a bit much, because the whole of Max's Kansas City was there the whole time. So Angus and I took a small flat, but that didn't help and I was thinking "OH, Lordy, Lordy, here i am back in New York ad I don't like it." Angus and I were working with the music and we did put on some shows at that time.
We had some friends who were psychiatrists, like Jean Huston and Bob Masters, who were into all this alpha wave stuff, which was very new then. I was sitting in their livingroom one day. They had a beautiful place, with a sarcophagus in the corner and masses of books and Jean asked if I would play some games with her. She put this thing on my head and she had all these dials and I was sitting in this chair, looking at the sarcophagus, feeling nice and restful and suddenly Jean said "Oh, you've registered an Alpha wave! You must have a high consciousness. Were you meditating?" I thought to myself "Here we go!" She started talking about how I should go to India. I told her we didn't have any money and she said they would pay our way. I thought if I go to India, I'd have to have somewhere to go, something to do. She still insisted and I told her if anything turns up, I'd let her know.

About a week later, Sheldon Rochlin, a film-maker friend of ours, came over from Pondicherry and asked if Angus and I would like to go there with him to make a film at the Ashram in Auroville. There was the place to go, so I went back to Jean and asked if the offer still held. She said she'd pay our fare, and would buy some of Angus's tapes. Which she did, she bought the tapes of Angus's music and Sheldon had gotten a grant which covered everything. Jason refused to come, as he was in this great school in Aspen, staying with a nice lady in a beautiful log cabin on top of Ajax Mountain, a very healthy life, so I agreed that he should stay there for about six months while we went to India.

We landed in Delhi and our first meal was with the Jain brothers in their beautiful tantric gallery with all these wonderful things I had never seen before, and they gave Ossian this superb silk suit which was embroidered in gold, a strange, slate/indigo colour. He looked like a little prince wandering around Delhi. I put on my first sari which fell off in the middle of Connaught Circus, because I didn't know how to put it on. That was Delhi, we were only there for a day, and then we flew to Pondi. We ended up staying a whole year making the film.

The Mother used to give these darshans, where she would stand on the balcony facing onto a rather narrow street packed with ashramites, who were mostly Bengalies and the people from Auroville, who were mostly freaks. On this particular occasion, I was on the roof with Sheldon and the video camera, we were videoing the darshan. Angus was with Ossian in the crowd, he had him on his shoulders, Now, Angus was 6'4", so Ossian was way up there, he could see perfectly, and Angus said that just as Mother appeared, he felt Ossian go off his shoulders. He thought he'd fallen backwards, so he turned around, but he was packed like a sardine and he couldn't move and he was saying "Where's my child?" He was completely panicked, Ossian couldn't have gotten out between anybody's feet, it was a mystery, Angus didn't see much of that Darshan. After it was over, I saw Angus running around like
a chicken with it's head cut off. He said "I've lost Ossian. He's vanished!" We started to look for him and found him just around the corner of this big house of the Mother, fiddling with someone's motorbike. We were furious and went up to him and asked where did he go? "I went to see Mother." I thought to myself, "He did that number on Jason and he'd started that number on me with the humming and turning round and round..." and I begun to worry.

We had met this adorable old Doctor Hadjari, who, when Sri Aurobindo died, was really upset, he wouldn't go to the cremation. He had some kind of vision where a hole opened up and there was a pink light, beautiful smells and he saw three figures. One was Sri Aurobindo and i forget who the other two were, and they were discussing how they should pass this certain information on to him. It was decided that they would see him every day at a certain time for the next three years, which aparently they did. This dear old gentleman had this visitation every day and he wrote vast tomes of this great vision which were pretty incomprehensible. He said the age of Krishna was over when the mantra of Krishna was made into a popular song and vulgarized and that the next age would be the Golden Age. He was also a homeopathic doctor who had cured several cases of cancer and was curing a case of advanced lukemia when we met him. He never went out of his house. Angus was extremely fond of him, as was I. He was one of the nicest people in the Ashram.

Photo by Ira Cohen.

Photo by Wendy Tisdill.

Do forgive us, we've been away, but here comes the rest of the story ....

So i went to Dr.Hadjari and asked what is this trip, about the disappearing. He said "Oh, this is a very simple thing. Really nothing. It's obvious to me that this little boy had great siddhis in his last life. He is really young, he cannot help what he is doing. He's doing it automatically. He has no control, because he is so young. So, I asked what we should do about it, because I had a vision of me in an airplane, for instance, and he disappears and comes back, and where does he come back to, the airplace or the middle of space? It was worrying to have a kid that kept vanishing, even if it is a very simple siddha, thank you very much. I asked how he did it and Dr.Hadjari picked up a copy of the Times of India which was on his table in front of him, and he held it up and kind of whisked it around. Then he began to glimmer and said that it was very simple and he told me to bring Ossian back tomorrow to see him. So, we brought him over the next day and he took Ossian into his little back room, drew the curtain across, and I don't know what passed between them but he never did it again. Dr.Hadjari put a stop to the vanishing. Thank goodness.
On his third birthday, Ossian had a darshan with the Mother and I went with him. I had him on my lap and i could feel a kind of rippling energy between Ossian and this lady. I could feel it in his body. It was like when wind blows over corn, that silky rippling. I had written her a letter saying that young people come for darshan on their birthdays and they have to wait a long time and wouldn't it be more sensible to meet at exactly 12:30 so the children don't have to wait and be tired and cross. She wrote back saying this is a very good idea, so we arrived with Ossian at exactly 12:30. We went in and there's always a lady with her and she shooed the lady out. She was completely alone and she held her arms out as we came in. Ossian had very long hair then and I'd put flowers in it and he looked absolutely beautiful. She said "Il est venue, il est venue." And I thought "What does she mean, he has come, we're not late or anything." They did the ripplig act between them some more.

Photo by Cartier Bresson.

One day, as we were filming on the road to Auroville, we had Ossian there and he was holding his teddy bear and a great elephant was standing in the road. Ossian kept saying "Nelephant, Nelephant." All of a sudden, without any warning, the elephant gently let his trunk down and picked up Ossian in his trunk, curled his trunk around, touched him to his forehead and put him back down. Still clutching Teddy. I remember the Mahout looked surprised, so I don't think he told the elephant to do it. I felt a scream rising within me, because i had no idea what the elephant was going to do, but I felt it was really all right, I trusted the elephant. Ossian enjoyed the trip.

Shortly after that we decided to leave Pondy. My second husband had died during that year and I got some money, so we decided to pick up and go. It was getting quite hot, Ossian had cow pox, boils all over his legs from some nasty infecion, and I remembered all my British Raj relations used to talk about going to the hills. But I didn't know quite where to go in the hills. Then a friend came back to the ashram who'd been up to Nepal for a holiday and she said you could get things like pie and cheese in Kathmandu. We'd been living on dhal and bananas.

She told Ossian there was a temple ona hill that was covered with monkeys, that it was called the Monkey Temple. And he said "Monkey Temple? Monkey Temple! I want to go to Monkey Temple! Can we go now? Now!"

It go so bad, on and on about the Monkey Temple, so we decided to try Nepal. We had no idea where we'd stay when we got there. And then, out of the blue, a friend wrote inviting us to come up there and stay with him. So, that made our minds up further, plus Ossian going on and on about the Monkey Temple, so we decided to try Nepal. We had no idea where we'd stay when we got there. And then, out of the blue, a friend wrote invititng is to come up there and stay with him. So, that made our minds up further, plus Ossian going on and on about the Monkey Temple. We took the train; we had the carriage to ourselves by painting Ossian's face with red spots and everytime the train stopped we'd put him in the window so nobody would come in and we had a marvelous journey till we got to Agna and a jolly sikh who didn't mind the red spots. It was a great train, it took 3 days to Delhi. We came first class with fans and it was beautiful.

We flew from Delhi to Kathmandu and I remember looking down on the valley and it was monsoon, we came in August 1971 and it looked like silvered jade. The sun was shining on the water paddies as we landed and it was magical. We came directly to Swayambhu because our friends were living there. When we got on that long straight road where you can see Swayambhu in the distance, Ossian let out such a squeak, you can't imagine. "Monkey Temple!" We got out of the taxi, we unloaded our luggage at a cafe, and he kept begging to go up to the temple. Our friend found us a room in a house, it was huge with vast windows and Ossian had his own room at the top with his own little wooden spiral staircase up to it, so we had a very good place.

We would visit Swayambu stupa every day and when I heard the long horns, the radongs, playing, I would be drawn by the sound, coming from the Karma Kargyupa Monestary. I would sit on the steps outside, listening to the horns. Then we started going in and the monks didn't take any notice of me. I really was wanting to know these people, I was thinking about Tibetans in an anthropological way at that time. I kept going up to Swayambhu and I bought prisms and vitamin tablets and a whole lot of rainbow coloured balls and handed them out to the little monks up there. We put Ossian in a Nepali nursery school and he would come up to the monestary after school. He was quite a nuisance, making alot of noise, running up and down. I was nervous because there had been no Western woman there before and the monks at first said "No, no!" about his antics.

Then two monks came and wanted to learn English, so I started teaching them, and, in a way, they were our entry into that monestary. One day I went up there and they were all in their petticoats and tee shirts painting. Someone had donated an enormous amount of paint because there was some rumour that Karmapa was going to arrive. He didn't, but I offered to help paint their house. I painted away. I saw little boys slapping paint on the statues in the niches around the walls, so I said to one of the monks, Ahbo, who spoke English, (he was the only one who did) that I was a painter and if they would allow me to, I could do them a little better than the boys were doing. So, it took me eight months, I sat there in the cold, bundled up every day. I did them with glazing and they looked very beautiful, like porcelain, when they were furnished. There were 80 statues altogether.

Around that time, I remembered that with the Americans if you have a clan name they relate to you better, so I thought perhaps it would be nice if I got a Tibetan name. I didn't know I would be taking refuge. Satchu Rinpoche, who was in charge, said that Ossian should come also; he was really very insistant. When you get your Native American name, you're really alone, and I was so egotistical, I didn't want him there. I thought he'd knock something over or do something ridiculous. But we went together and we mumbled something in front of Sabchu Rinpoche and I suddenly felt terrifically light, very happy. As he threw the rice, the sun caught it and it looked like a golden rain falling, and Ossian seemed to be able to say the mumble-mumble much better than I could, in fact, he spoke up. I was really surprised. So, Sabchu Trulku gave us our names; I was Samtin Drolma and he said Ossian's name was Karma Tsultrim, and that that was half his name and he would get the other half later. I asked if I would get my half later and he said that was my whole name. Samtin is the paramita of meditative concentration; and Drolma is the green Taram mother of all Buddhas. Tsultrim is the paramita of good behaviour. I wondered if he said Ossian would get the second half of his name because he's a boy, or because he was so young, I couldn't see any reason why he would get the second half of his name later, because Karmapa called his Karma Tsultrim Mnawe Senge, and I often wonder if Sabchu Rinpoche always knew. If he did, he didn't say anything.

Sabchu Rinpoche. Picture by Ira Cohen.

Not very long after that, Angus deiced to go on a trek to see a a friend of ours, Zena Rachevski, who lived in Solu Khumbu, at Thubten choling Gompa. I had started to learn to read Tibetan by that time with dear Lama Sonam Gyalwa and I didn't want to break off, I didn't feel like going for a long walk in the moutains at that point, as it was November. I also thought that it would be very good for Ossian to be with his father alone and for them to do something together. Ossian walked most of the way, till his Tibetan boots gave out, then a Sherpa carried him in a basket.

When they came back, he had this very long hair which had to come off because he;d picked yo vast amounts of lice. It was very bad, so i put his hair up and cut it with shears. His hair stood up, it was so stiff with dust and dirt and we both laughed and I told him Buddha;s hair stoof uo like that when they cut it. Then it was all shaggy and looking really weird, I couldn't cope with all the bites, so I thought of the monks. I took him up to Swayambu Monastary to shavve his head. They were very sweet, they had him in the kitchen, a big fire, they took all his clothes off and I held him in my arms. When he saw the razor he gave a yelp, not of fear, but he did make a cry. They dry shaved his head without touching one of those scabs, I couldn't believe it. They put some kind of ointment on his head and within twenty hour hours, all the sores from scratching had gone.

Right after New Year, one day, we were standing in the kitchen and Ossian was crying for the first time in his life! He was going on and on and on and an English friend of mine asked him what was the matter.

He said "I want to go back to my monastary." I said "What monastart are you talking about?" he kept saying he wanted to go back to his monastary. I finally said "This is ridiculous. Do you mean Swayambu Monastary?" "No, I want to go back to MY Monastary." So my friend asked him where his monastary was, and what was the name of it. He said something like "Menchen." He was obviously trying to say Benchen, which was the name of the previous Sang gyes Nienpa's monastary in Tibet, but he couldn't. He said "It's too far away and I can't go back there anymore, but I want to go back to it." She told him "Look, if your monastary is too far away and you can't go back to it, where would you like to go instead and I'll take you." He said "Why am I not chung-chung?" which is what they call little monks, I said "Well, you're not Tibetan, for a start off." And he said "Yes I am." "Oh, I see, you're Tibetan today, OK." I mean, Jason was a motor bike for six months, so for a kid to say he's Tibetan was all right. But he got rather het up and I decided to speak to the monks at Swayambu about it. I went up to the monastary and Ahbo wasn't around, so I went about saying "Karma Tsultrim chung-chung, re?" and they must have thought I was mad, poor lady, saying "My little boy is little." Chung-chung means little in Tibetan. The next day, I took him with me, This time Ahbo was standing in the shrine room and I said "Ahbo, he want's to be a chung-chung." Ahbo folded his arms and he pulled the most terrible face, he looked so frightening and he said "You want to come to me?"

Now anybody would have run a mile. Ossian left me, he ran over to him, took his hand and said something. I asked Ahbo afterwards what he had said and was told "Not for you." I don't think he said anything in Tibetan because he didn't know Tibetan then, but whatever he said, Ahbo's reply was a hiss, which is a Tibetan way of showing surprise. Ahbo ran up to ask Sabchu Rinpoche, who said "Yes, but not today." He said in four days time would be the right time for him to enter the monastary. So we had four days to get 400 rupees together (we were broke, remember) for his puja and to make all his robes, which had to be dyed. We did it by selling prints in the Annapurna Hotel; we the most amazing luck. My lama, Sonam Gyalwa, sat and sewed the robes all night.

Photo by Jimi Thapa.

Ossian went up to the Monastary dresssed in his robes. He was already shaved. I don't quite know what they did, I wasn't there for it. He was taken by Ahbo and I remember he came back into the shrine room with these katas around his neck and for the first time he sat down with the monks. And, boy, he wanted to. A few weeks prior to this he had borrowed a long red velvet stole from a girlfriend who was helping me paint, and he had gone outside and taken all his clothes off and wrapped himself up in some travesty of a zen and shentab, and had gone and sat down with the little boy monks. He still had long hair which he insisted on wearing like the Tibetans, with the long plait round his head, so he looked a right guy!
About 20 minutes after he'd finished with his first puja, he was allowed to go outside. He tripped over the hem of his robes, not being used to wearing a skirt, and he fell. I heard him wail and I rushed out and said "Upsy-daisy darling" and he didn't upsy-daisy. He had a gigantic hole, he's got the mark to this day, right in the centre of his forhead. The blood was pouring down all over his robe; he looked like something out of a Greek tragedy. I knew the word for water, so I asked for water and a kata, bound him up and took him to Bir Hospital. They put 3 stitches in his head, I took him back and Sabchu Rinpoche said "Very good."
"What do you mean, " I asked. "If a monk looses blood by accident within an hour of being ordained, it means that all the bad karma he might have accumulated in this life from not being a monk has gone." The next day I took the bandage off and dressed the wound and there was a black circle around it. I took him for an x-ray, but there was no contusion. There was nothing to explain this black circular bruise. I took him to Sabchu Rinpoche to ask what's this and he only said "Very good. Very good." It disappeared the next day. It didn't fade out like a bruise, it just wasn't there any more. Many years later, in London, I saw a picture of the previous Sang Gyes Nienpa Rinpoche with a round black circle on his forhead. It gave me quite a turn.

Nothing much more happened after that, except that Ossian spent his life as Karma Tsultrim in Syamambhu Gompa and Ahbo was his first monitor and Sotop was his first teacher. Udze Gigdor was his Gegen nanny and they lived in this tiny room together. udze Gigdor is the sweetest, kindest, most delightful person in the world. He loved Ossian and he brought him up so beautifully, perfectly. He was never treated differently from any of the other little boy monks, so the nursery years were great. He would do puja every day and sometimes he would come down and visit me and then go back up again. Until i got the letter from Karmapa, that was the way it was.

Now, when the King of Nepal was crowned, most foreigners had to leave.

We went to Sarnath near Varanasi, to wait till the coronation was over. There we met a very nice Karmapa who had a translator with pen pals in America. He had received a letter from one of them saying that Karmapa had been to the Hopi Reservation and had made rain. Suddenly, it was like a fruit machine, all the pennies dropped at once, crash, crash. Was this the Purifier the Hopi's had refered to 10 years ago during my visit? I thought "Okay, I don't know Karmapa. I've never met him. But maybe I could write and ask him about this. I don't know what kind of person he is but id he's anything like Sabchu Rinpoche, he will probably answer the letter." So, when I got back to Kathmandu, I got a large piece of rice paper and started decorating it with all my little woodblock prints around the edge. I asked all those questions: Did you go to the Hopi? Did you make rain? Did you wear a red hat? Dis you bring a red God, (Which he did; he gave the Red Chenrezi." A red cloak? And then Ossian came in and asked "Who are you writitng to?" I said "Karmapa." He said "Ohhhh! Can i put a drawing in?" Wht not? So he went upstairs where he had a drawing table, (the top of the house was reserved for him and his other little monk friends, they used to come and paint and cut up paper and have a good time.) He did this really nice drawing, a painting of the stupa with the black hat flying around the stupa, which, about a year previously, he had said he saw one afternoon. He kept saying "Look! Look! And I'm saying "What? What?" And he's saying "Well, can't you see it?" And I'm saying "No, what?" He was seeing a black hat flying around the stupa. Neither of us had seen Karmapa's black hat then, so I had no idea what he was talking about. I said "That's very nice for you, dear," and left it at that.
Anyway, he did an excellent drawing of it, so I thought I would tell Karmapa in my letter who this was from. So, P.S "By the way, you have a little friend who Swayambhu who loves you very much, His name is Karma Tsultrim and he's six years old." And then I thought perhaps a little picture would go very well, so I sent him a photo of Ossian in puja, looking very proper.

A few weeks went by and then I got a letter from Sister Palmo who was a Western woman who acted as Karmapa's secretary. She said Karmapa never talked about the things that he had done, but I'm his secretary and I was also there and I can answer your questions about the Hopi. He did make rain, he gave the Red Chenrezi and he sat on top of the Kiva and made some Dewachen prayers and great clouds formed and then, as he pured from the Bhunpa vase and gave the Red Chenrezig initiation. The rain fell in great torrents, which it never does, for 48 hours. They had asked him to make rain. So, I thought, Okay, there's the Purifier and of course, I had joined his tribe.

Then there were some questions like where Angus and I married, how old were we and where was our little boy born. She thanked us fir the nice drawing and said Karmapa had really liked it. She said "We are sorry to ask a alot of personal questions, but we have to know." There was really no harm, and Angus agreed, so he sent off the answers. He wrote that we wern't legally married, where Ossian was born, and how old we were.

About a month later, Ahbo was having a house warming party and Sabchu Rinpoche was coming for lunch I was at the monastary helping to get the place in ship-shape and suddenly someone came in. It was Ahbo and he came rushing in saying "You've got a letter from Karmapa!", it was in a blue envelope with a big crest on it. it was addressed to Angus and me in out Tibetan names (they'd asked if we'd taken refuge.) Karma Kalzang Doundrup and Karma Samtin Drolma. It said that Karmapa had meditated on our son and there was very good reason to suppose that he was an incarnate tulku lama. I got that far and I said "Good God!" Ahbo said "What's wrong?" "Well, I don't know. He says that Karma Tsultrim's a tulku. That he thinks there is good reason to suppose, but it is not definate." We went on reading and it said "You and Angus must sign this paper. It is very dangerous for these tulkus to be wandering about and he won't recognize him or give the name unless we sign the paper saying you will never take him from the sangha." So we did this. We figured we couldn't ruin the kid's destiny and anyway, nothing may come of it. Sabchu Rinpoche was very excited when he heard that. He jumped on his bed, lept to his feet, sprung off the bed, seized his zen in both hands and danced around the room. He snatched my hand and the hand of his niece who was also sitting there, we all joined hands and there we were, the three of us dancing in a circle, round and round, it was great. I thought " I don't care if the kid's a tulku or not, I just danced in a circle with Sabchu Rinpoche and I feel fantastic."

Then Sabchu Rinpoche went down for lunch and they said Ossian should come for lunch also. He was around the stupa somewhere, playing marbles. The only toys those children have are reject butter lamps, empty clay ones, and they made everything out of them. That and marbles. They had no toys at all. He was found by someone and brought to the monestary door, where everyone had lined up. He heard some of them say "There he is!" And he got this awful look like "What have I done now. Everyone's lined up, it must be something really bad." All the monks bowed their heads down, and I didn't, so I saw over their heads and I really did see a look of relief pass over his face for a second. It was like he'd dropped a weight.

I asked him after the whole thing was signed, sealed and settled if he knew, and he was much more forthcoming when he was little than he is now, so he said "yes." I said "Well, why didn't you say anything?" He said "If I say something, and not Karmapa, then they say I'm a naughty boy." Anyway, there's this look of relief and all the heads are bowed and without any hesitation he just started going along blessing them on their heads with his hand. Then he had lunch with Sabchu Rinpoche and it was all feasting and fun. After that they wouldn't permit him to sit on the floor with the other boys, he had to sit on the bed. And they started calling me Mayum and at first I thought "What's that? Sounds like a pudding."

Take a break, have a laugh, here we go ...

May i add, for your benefit, that this odeous song, was repeated nightly by the BBC, so that every evacuated child in the British Isles, would be guarenteed a storm of tears, before they managed to get to sleep, charming. I have never understood it.

They insisted the mother of a tulku is called Mayum and I said "Now come on, hold your horses. This isn't for real yet. Karmapa said there's only good reason to suppose."
Arrangements were made for Karmapa to visit Swayambhu. He came on St. Valentines day. All the animals went right off the moment he arrived, all the monkeys turned golden-russet, the way the trees turn in Autumn; all the birds started flying round and round the Gompa.
We went up to the Gompa the morning after he arrived, with Sister Palmo. She was great, she had amde these tulku offerings, something wrapped up in a beautiful white kata with embroidered edges. Ossian had to make the offering himself. We tromped up the little spiral staircase, past all these people, Sister Palmo going right ahead and then Ossian and then me. We walked forward towards Karmapa. Ossian was by this time standing in front of him like a lemon, holding the scarf offering, he was rather small and the ends were going down and he was trying not to drag them on the floor. Karmapa leaned forward and looked at him and all he said was "Rey", which in Tibetan means yes. He put his hands out towards him and Osssian went "Oh!" and almost dropped the kata, and they sort of rushed to each other. It was like the meeting of two old mates who hadn't seen each other for a long time.

Then, Sister Palmo said "Remember the kata", and Karmapa went on smiling and looking at Ossian, he looked so happy. He received the offering and told him to sit down. I thought this was a bit bewildering for the kid, was he just going to sit down in front of Karmapa? No, he didn't do that. There were all these thrones, about ten of them, on different levels. Ossian went around and I thought he was going to sit next to Karmapa, but no, he stood there and bowed. They told me after that he then went on to sit in exactly the right place, 6 seats away. I thought, what a funny thing to do, he's sitting miles over there, maybe he's shy or something.

Then tea was brought and Karmapa asked him "Who's Gagen?" which means the teacher you live with. Ossian said "Udze Giggdor" and Karmapa told me to get him. So I had to get Udze Gigdor out of Mahakala puka!!! All the boys who were playing the radongs kept asking me "Is Karma Tsultim a tulku?" I told Gigdor "Karmapa wants to see you." Oh, my god, he got off that bench so fast, he fairly lept over it and they were all grinning (they all seemed to now what was happening.) We went back upstairs and darling Gigdor went all pink, if a Tibetan can blush. Ossian had been with him since he was 4 and I'd never had a word or a disagreement with him, in 11 years there's been perfect harmony in the bringing up of the kid. Karmapa asked Gigdor if Ossian was a good boy and dear, loyal Gigdor said "The best", and blushed.

I vaguely remember going with Sister Palmo into the next room, where I met Jamgon Kontrul, Gyalstap and Shamar Rinpoches. All the boysm the Regents, they must have all been there, except Tai Situpa. Sister Palmo had some confab with the boys. There ewas a showing of the map, which was drawn as the birthplace of the tulku. It didn't give any name of it and they asked if it meant anything to me. Yeah, god damn it did, it was exactly the area around Great Barrington Hospital. The Husitonic River, the bridge right there, the surrounding fields. Karmapa drew the map and Sister Palmo put in the English words. Whether he copied it from a map that the previous Sang gyes Nienpa made, or whether he did it himself, I don't know.

The next day, I got called up to see Karmapa. This time he is sitting on the throne and to my horror there was a great line in front of me and a great empty, empty floor to walk across, it was worse than being presented at Court, I promise you. I went forward, Karmapa was in the middle, and all the Rumtek tulkus were in line, in whatever seniority or rank, to his right. On his left were Urgen Trulku, Dabzang Rinpoche and Sabchu Rinpoche and all the locals. Sister Palmo was standing in front to help with translation if necessary. Karmapa said to me that my son was an incarnation of Sang gyes Nienpa Trulku Rinpoche, and was I pleased? Not knowing quite what to say I stammered "behold the hand maiden of the lord", Sister Palmo; that well of humour, wit and charm standing there smiled, and said "wrong script Hetty" and I came to and after a moments thought truthfully announced that "If it were for the benefit of all sentient beings for their welfare, then I am very pleased!". He smiled and that was it, I went out.

Later that day, he gave a ceremony and there were many many Tibetans and people over all the monastary courtyard. Ossian was wearing a very peculiar hat, a large red affair with a great brocade stripe going across the front of it. It seemed as though Karmapa were presenting him in this manner, to the Tibetan people, because he was right at his side.

Karmapa was so sweet, he said he'd like to see me every day, but that he didn't know quite when, because he had so many people to see. He asked of I would mind staying around, would I mind waiting. I thought, how incredibly gracious. I assured him it was no problem whatsoever, as I lived there and anyway I was helping in the Gompa. So, I said I would either be in the kitchen or with Sister Palmo and anyway all the monks knew where I lived so there would be no difficulty in getting hold of me and I would come like a flash. So every day he would tell me little bits. What a tulku meant, enthronments, circles of protection etc etc. After a week of this nice going to see him once a day and getting things explained to me, we all took the Kargyu Nyagdzeu wongs, the father-mother tanta, which Karmapa gave for 3 months in Boudanath. Rinpoche took those, sitting up in front with all the other little tulkus, thoroughly, and 100% recognized.