Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pema Dorje (excerpted from "The Lazlo Mission"

(Based partially on true events...)

Pema Dorje, seven year old shepherd in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, suddenly remembered who he really was. It might have been frightening or confusing. It was neither. It was a moment of pure joy for Pema.

There was no one around to tell except his faithful sheep dog and the sheep crowding before him as they moved down the mountain toward their winter shelter. Pema looked out over the sheep at the slope, at the spread of the Kanjora valley below, at the endlessly varied shapes of stone and grass and earth and sky and clouds, and he remembered. He remembered not just his former life, but many lives before them, and especially the life he had lived in the north of India when, inspired by a great teacher, his incarnations took on a different purpose. It was then he had taken the great vow to forgo the final merging of his consciousness with Atman until all of humanity was ready to achieve similar transcendence. It was then that he was given the name of Avalokitesvara. And later he was to be known as Padmapa-ni and Loke-avara and Guan Yin. Guan Yin. That had been his most recent incarnation. A healer and a teacher. He remembered his life, and he remembered his death at a great age in a tiny village in northern China.

And suddenly he remembered something else. He ran at his sheep, yelling and waving his staff, urging them along as fast as possible. His urgency was not that of need but of excitement. He must find Samdruptse, the village where his servant and protector Chin had planted the jewel.

Later, at home, his charges safely penned and fed, Pema went to his father. “Please, I must go to the village of Samdruptse. I beg you to help me get there safely.”

Pema's father had long felt his son's destiny lay beyond the hills of his birth. “I have not heard of this village, son. Let us consult the governor to find where it may be.”

This required patience, as the regional governor passed through their district only once a year. Pema was patient. If anything, he became a better son to his family and worked hard for the family welfare. At last the day came that his father said, “Let us go to the market today. The governor is coming.”

When they gained audience and posed the question, the governor answered, “Samdruptse. Let me think. Ah yes. A small village in the foothills of the Drolmari as I recall. Or so it was in my youth. That village has grown into a fine city. It is the city of Shigatse that you seek. Six days to the north and the west. Just north of here is a fine road leading to Shigatse!”

After that it was preparations and farewells to his mother and sisters and an arduous journey across mountain ridges west and north. When they reached Shigatse, which was more than a village to be sure, but less of a city than the governor had led them to expect, Pema asked his father to take him to the temple of Avalokitesvara. But no one they asked could tell them where such a temple might be. Finally they were directed to a humble monastery on the edge of the town. “Can you tell us where we can find the temple dedicated to Avalokitesvara?” Pema's father asked the monks. They were led to the abbot, an old monk draped in robes of yellow and deep scarlet. When Pema's father asked the abbot about the shrine to Avalokitesvara, he led them behind the monastery to a small and ancient shrine hidden in the back of a walled garden. Pema immediately sat in the lotus position and began meditation before the shrine.

The abbot asked him, “Pema, you have come from far to the south. Tell me why you have sought this shrine and no other.”

“It is because this is my shrine.” He looked up at the abbot with shining eyes. “I have remembered who I am, grandfather.”

After this, there was great questioning of the youth, and the monks quickly understood this boy was the incarnation of Avalokitesvara. Pema was born in 1391, seven hundred years after the death of Guan Yin and almost two thousand years after the death of Avalokitesvara. His family was invited to live nearby while Pema was instructed in the monastery known as Nartang. As he grew, his knowledge and wisdom and intelligence and compassion impressed all who met him. Eventually he took the name Gendun Drup and established the largest monastery in Shigatse, the Tashilhunpo, and founded the line of spiritual leaders in Tibet known as the Dali Lamas. His influence was so great in that region that he renamed the Drolmari mountains behind Shigatse the Tara mountains, to honor the memory of Guan Yin.


  1. Two thousand years is a healthy chunk of time. You could fit a reincarnation or two into it.

    I like the wistful quality in this account. It lends a certain charm I'm having trouble trying to describe.

  2. Thanks much for the comment, John. And for being first to show up!

  3. Wow. That didn't even feel like fiction to me. Nice!

  4. Nice piece written in a style I haven't yet seen on fridayflash. Very mature, swift prose. In my initial reaction I was reminded of the awareness a dreamer experiences in a lucid dream...a kind of reawakening. I really enjoyed this!

  5. Great feedback. Thanks much dreamfiction!

  6. I like the dreamy, yet realistic quality of this story. I also like how you weaved his inner destined life with his real life setting. The writing about the sheep and his surroundings, and how it intermingles with his other self, is especially beautiful.

  7. I'm honored to have been read by such fine writers. Especially you, Rachel.

  8. You transported me to another place and time with this story. Almost fabulistic. Like Rachel said: dreamy. Wonderful story. peace...