Ap Genyen Is Leaving The Lhakhang – Jurmi Chhowing


Guru Rinpoche

Copper-Colored Mountain of Glory

Land of Rakshas.

Subject: Leave of Absence


My All Conquering Vajra Master,

Before I get down to the worldly details regarding this requisition for an indefinite Leave of Absence, I apologize for the intrusion into the transcendent work with which you are engaged in the Land of Rakshas.

I’m certain the Rakshas are being tamed.

But over here I’ve to confess that I can’t handle it anymore. It’s not lack of faith – just the monotony of granting ‘stuff’. I’ve had more than a thousand years working with the Human Realm and I’ve always been fine with the changing times of the differing ages but now the matter has really come to both head and heart. And revealed itself in the magnifying face of the last decade with the strange invocation of what the Bhutanese have been calling Consumerism, Globalization, Privatization, Modernization and Democracy – foreign imports of capitalistic tendencies basically characterized by the Kleshas.

Again, I was doing quite well with the way things were: granting a cow here, a rain there and in-between, the odd harvest or two. But increasingly, things are getting out of hand. Today, matters of spirituality have nosedived to this desirous urgency for all things quantifiable. Granting wishes has become both a burden and a bore. And the want is at its apex.

Just the other day I granted the 999th Prado, and I was being selective, as it came from an honest businessman who wanted it so he could pick up hitchhikers stranded along his many busy routes. By the way – a Prado is a new kind of ‘Khorlo’ that runs on four fat rubber wheels with a spare to spare. People literally enjoy being in and driving this new ‘Wheel of Life’. They slave and even rob to own the beast. And once this beastly Yana has been granted, they come back asking for Safe Passages, Spare Tires and most recently, prayers for a decrease in the price of fuel (a foul gas that propels the medium).

This is besides other wants such as the third new wife, protection of the seventh newborn, a winning lottery, high marks for passing school and college examinations, scholarships abroad (to the Land of the Heathen), higher promotions, expanding businesses, new ventures, and the bloody victory in every archery match and good old Health, Longevity and Prosperity. And most recently, it’s been Electoral Votes (where the majority decides over the minority that will rule them for a period of four years).

I’m fed up.

The last couple of months were all about four Tshogpas. (a Tshogpa consists of a group of individuals chosen from 47 nooks and crannies and their backers) banging on my doors and windows. Thankfully the four have come down to two. My good ear is still ringing with one known as the DNT and my bad ear with the other called the DPT (I say that with gratitude to the Great Shabdrung’s slap because it has helped to halve the increasing wish-lists). This tshogpa thing is related to that democratic thing. They do this every four years. And in between, I’ve to pretend to grant more wishes for more Prados, Promotions, Stocks and Ventures; yet more Journeys, Arrivals and Destinations.

It never ends.I’m at the end of my tether. Plus I’m tired of the chemical Dalda, the suffocating Incense and the plastic Biscuit. And what gets my remaining goats, sheep, chickens, ponies and dogs in the yard, is that they also do that in your name. And in the name of Contentment (which they have begun calling Self-Reliance). How they hope to merge increasing Needs and Wants with Self-Reliance is beyond me because did you also not teach them that Desire is the Root of Dissatisfaction?

So, below the rock, I’ve had time to contemplate (for which I’m indebted to Master Jamyang). And I believe that a simple Leave of Absence might do everybody the world of good – including myself. Also – lately – I’ve been seeing my Pangrizampa Tsomen in my dreams. Over the centuries, I’ve always kept apart my duty from my sentimentality. But now (may be time is finally catching up) I long for my mermaid. And the fact that we live in the same neighborhood has been torturous and tempting.

I guess I’m caving in but I know your adamantine mind will understand.

And even if I’m granted a Leave of Absence I’ve thought about some of the curious gadgets the faithful bring whenever they visit which could solve the dilemma of my absence. They use these gadgets with applications that enable instant communication (like Visualizations). I thought about it as I do not want to abandon my responsibility completely, particularlyto the genuinely faithful, so I’ve devised a solution. The apps are called WeChat, Messenger and Skype (besides many others) and these days almost every lama, patron, monk and devotee sets up their own applications to stay in contact (a new sort of Dependent-Origination).

Although I may be absent in the lhakhang, I’ll be present online in an app called GenTalk.

I’m sorry if I sound flippant, but managing the greedy wishes of a fattening flock hungry for all the illusory things of this world is taking its toll. And the majority asks for things they do not even need; with money they do not even have. The die has been pounded so hard my number is up.

My Adamantine Guru – what to do?

I remember back in Yanglaysho how you bound me with the Dharmic Oath to protect and serve the wishes of the people but always in accord with the Dharma. And how grateful I was! It was such a giving position. I loved the job. It also freed me from the jungles of my own emotions. I also recall how strongly and purposefully the Shabdrung reminded me of my duties with the sacred slap. I never had a moment’s suspicion that all those kneeling and prostrating before me were doing so in the name of the Dharma. But now I’m beginning to doubt the motivation of every one who claims to come in your name.

The people’s aspirations are so far away from your teachings that it is hard to know what is and what isn’t. I feelshort-changed.

I rest my case, hoping you’ll grant this boon (or show me an alternative remedy).

Yours faithfully,

Ap Genyen Jagpa Melan Dorji Dradul

Dechenphu, Thimphu

Druk Yul.

(Sealed With Samaya)

PS: This was voluntary. I’m not aware of the feelings of Ap Jowo, Ap Chundu, Ap Radrap or any other Neps; but I’m certain they are in a similar predicament.

Jurmi Chhowing is a writer and the founder of Yallamma! The Writing Company. He can be emailed at iamdrukpa@gmail.com