“The road from appearance to reality is often very hard and long, and many people make only very poor travelers. We must forgive them when they stagger against us as if against a brick wall.” —Franz Kafka

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Swami, Dalai and the Tulku

I started this post in the Siem Reap airport this morning while waiting for our flight back to Bangkok. Seven days in Cambodia was more than enough. For all the beauty, nice people and stunning ancient ruins, it's a dark hard place to be. I even dreamt I was blown up by a landmine. Trust me. That wakes you up with a start.

photo by asha
Swami contemplating Ta Keo,
the cursed temple

We went back to Ta Keo three more times but the girl who said she'd keep looking for Swami was never there. So sadly, whether lost or stolen, Swami is gone and now we must move on. If one of the girls selling souvenirs at Angkor Thommanon took him, I hope he brings her much happiness. His smile truly is irresistible.

photo by asha
Swami contemplating Swami

I will say this. I had an ominous feeling about Ta Keo the minute I saw the place. Swami felt it too. I have since read that during its construction, the High Priest declared the presence of an evil omen, halted the work and the temple has remained unfinished to this very day. That was a thousand years ago. Recently the Chinese adopted Ta Keo as a pet restoration project and are hard at it, putting what remains back together. Good luck.

photo by asha
Swami leaving Angkor Wat

But here's the thing. We have decided to think of Swami as a low level Tulku. To put that in perspective, the Dalai Lama is a top level Tulku. Top level Tulkus have to leave their bodies (die) before they can reincarnate in a new body. It's much easier for low level Tulkus. They aren't incarnations. They are "incarnate emanations" which means that the original doesn't have to die for a new emanation to manifest. Get it? Copies can exist simultaneously. Slick, eh? And emanations can be just about anything, human beings, deities, rivers, bridges, medicinal plants, animals, trees, birds, art, crafts etc. I suppose even puppets and dolls. Confused yet? The Dalai Lama goes into lots of detail here but put simply, Swami is back!

photo by asha
Swami and the Big Buddha of Ko Kood

He's there, wherever there is, and he's here with us. For now he's in a strange little body made of coral, a piece I picked up on a lonely stretch of beach on Ko Kood. It had such an odd shape I couldn't resist. Okay. It called to me. And I just happened to have it with me in Angkor Wat when Swami disappeared. Of course, we will look for a little yellow guy with a big red smile. M. Lee has already begun searching online for a doll maker who has experience replicating them. Reconstructing Swami will be our winter project. As they say, life goes on.

photo by asha
Swami contemplating the full moon.
Ko Kood

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