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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 31 |fall 2005 Splendor are some of the last links in that long chain. Why did you not simply tell the life story of Tulku Urgyen? Tulku urgyen made it clear long ago, when I first brought up the idea of col- lecting his memoirs, that he did not want the story to be about him. Speaking of personal greatness detracts from what one has done, he would say. Tooting one’s own horn is distracting. dilgo Khyentse once used the example of someone who has gold in his pocket and doesn’t speak about it, because he might get robbed. In fact, Tulku urgyen even thought making a book of these stories was pretty pointless. I think I tricked him into it, though, in the sense that I would just ask to hear about a teacher he knew person- ally. Then I would ask about another and then another. But when I started asking about what he felt or knew or thought about, he wasn’t interested in that. So I asked him if it wouldn’t be worthwhile for other people to hear about these teach- ers, to which he responded, “Of course.” Finally, as a way to string the stories together into some kind of structure, we tried to correlate the times and events of his life with the various stories. Tulku Urgyen’s life, then, became simply the device that held the stories together? Yes. The material in the book comes from more than seventy-five hours of taped conversation recorded over a sixteen-year period. He did not sit down with me and start saying, “I was born, and then...” It wasn’t like that at all. For about half of the stories, I had prepared specific ques- tions about people whom Tulku urgyen had met. There were certain events he had referred to at times when I didn’t have a tape recorder, so I asked him to recount them again. He was such a great − and faithful − storyteller. He could tell the same story twice in ten years with almost no varia- tion. In his homeland in Nangchen, Tibet, it’s considered bad form to interpolate. When you quote somebody, you don’t add any words or interpret. You say it exactly as you heard it. When someone repeats what they have heard much later on, it’s the same as when it was originally said. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche with Erik Pema Kunsang at Nagi Gompa, Rinpoche’s hermitage in the Kathmandu Valley. PhoToGRaPheRUnKnown