October 10th 2021
Today is the birthday of the great Tibetan, Djabje Lama Chime Rinpoche who is a very impressive 82 years old. He is my root teacher/ root Lama, as it is described in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I ‘took refuge’ with him when I was 27. Taking refuge means I accepted him as my spiritual teacher, and to symbolise this, I offered him my head, my mind, and symbolically, my hair. He snipped off a piece of hair, and in that moment – ‘cut the root of suffering’.
I first met him in Central London when I was 24. I was looking for him… that is, looking for a spiritual teacher from the age of 21, but that’s another story.
Rinpoche, as he is called, a term of deep respect (‘precious one’) was on zoom yesterday with many of his students wishing him a Long Life and celebrating his birthday. There was cake – and a bonfire. I wasn’t there.
I wish I had been, but I don’t attend everything that is offered by his lovely, loyal Sangha these days. I don’t need to.
Maybe I do need to, should or ought to.. I’m just not going to every event. I don’t think I need to keep physically seeing this ‘tulku’, this extraordinary, reincarnated wisdom holder from eighth Century Tibet. He has given me more than enough. I am already deeply grateful, for one lifetime, to have met him, known him, heard him teach, countless times.
Especially in my younger years, my twenties, and thirties, it was a blessing of great joy and hope just to lay eyes on him. As I matured and learnt more about myself the energy changed and I have internalised things more.
Strangely, I had just today revisited a composition of mine, written in 1997, Devotion that Moves the Heart – A Prayer Calling the Lama from Afar, inspired by Rinpoche’s teachings, as a new friend Hayden, had asked me to send me to send him some examples of my music .
This piece came to mind to send. It’s one of the few pieces I’ve composed that is excellently recorded, and mastered, and is a good example both of my vocal composition and harmonic language.
As I pressed the play button, I also glimpsed on Facebook some of my Buddhist Sangha friends posting about Rinpoche’s birthday. How strange, I’m listening to this piece – written 24 years ago – which I haven’t listened to for many, many years – and it just so happens to be this Tibetan Lama’s birthday celebration today. It felt meaningful.
And then I thought of Henckel.
Henckel is a spiritual signpost. He prefers not to use the term teacher or guru. I am attending his zoom meditation sessions twice a week and I thought this piece, which I was about to send to my new friend Hayden, might indeed be a nice present for Henckel and his wife Virginia. As I listened to my word setting of the text, I could hear many similar spiritual messages passing through both this prayer and Henckel’s fluent and spontaneous meditation talks.
Henckel (whose background includes the West Indies) isn’t teaching Buddhism, but is drawing on Hindu mantra, Sanskrit soundings, the Vedas and Christianity, in his own blend of wisdom, in what he calls Self Knowledge Through Meditation. And then I thought about his new book, Volume 2, from his transcribed talks, also called Self Knowledge Through Meditation which I had just received by post, yesterday..
I could use the envelope he used to pop in a copy of my CD, Devotion, which has the complete extensive prayer printed in the CD booket. The prayer was written by Jamgong Kultru, the Great, – a nineteenth Century scholar from Tibet.
I think Henckel might be interested to know about it… I thought…. doubtfully.
With ‘signposts’ and ‘teachers’ you can never really know much about them – what they might like or not like, as people, because somehow, they remain impartial and inscrutable, almost just vehicles, trained or self-trained, to transmit this high frequency intelligence, way beyond the intellect.
Who they are as ordinary people, is harder to really know for sure.
How strange I thought, sending Henckel this CD, in the same envelope that he has just sent me his book – and gifting him this music and prayer, which echoes back for me twenty four years, to 1997 when I was studying and meditating with the Lama regularly.
So, I’ll post it tomorrow, not knowing in the slightest if it will be an appropriate or inappropriate thing to do. Maybe it won’t interest him, as he is totally absorbed in his own work. Maybe he’ll thinking I’m showing off, it’s my ego parading a product?
The composition took me over a year and getting the ‘product’ together took me another two years. There were conversations with the translator Michele Martin and a note from Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, the translators, giving permission for me to use the text. There were conversations with Chime Rinpoche himself about copyright material and there was a letter sent to the monastery in Nepal.
It was not a quick matter in the slightest. It was a labour of love, from start to finish. I was extremely grateful to David Temple for conducting the recording, and the only live performance that was done at the October Gallery. I was also grateful to Steve Parr for his wonderful recording at Hear No Evil studios, West Brompton.
The composition came from a place which I summed up in a poem that I wrote at the time –
In a time of great uncertainty
when all things remained
unnamed and there was only
time and space between
existence and death, there was
no other path but for me
to create lines of song to accompany
this magnificent text.
May it bring joy and peace
to those who hear it.
October 12 update – I sent the CD to Henckel and Virginia on Monday… and found out last night Monday – that today is HIS birthday! He is a very impressive 78 years old. He received the gift on the best day of the year – I had NO idea it was his birthday…. it seems the synchronicity is continuing…
You can stream, and purchase, Devotion that Moves the Heart on Spotify
I also have CD hard copies with the eight page booklet with the complete extensive prayer printed out.
£17.50 incl p and p.
Drop me a note to order your CD copy.
Jenni Roditi © 10.10.21