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How Rinpoche's Visit Almost Killed Me

Mathew Emerson, May 2000

Lama Zopa Rinpoche's visit to Queensland was always going to be a hectic time but truly, I had no idea. Despite hearing a few stories about the extreme effect Rinpoche can have on people, well it couldn't happen to me, could it?

Things started to get interesting a few days before Rinpoche's arrival. I had borrowed Ven. Yangdzom's car and been driving Miffi here and there and back again as we gathered the necessary ingredients for Rinpoche's dinner. While we were in the organic fruit and vege store, someone came in and said he had crashed into a white Laser. ‘Oh bummer, that's the Venerables car!!' So I went out to have a look. He was very apologetic and explained that he backed out without looking and consequently bent both cars. It wasn't too bad so we agreed not to involve insurance companies, supplied our details and went on our merry ways. That was the warning shot.

A couple of days later was LZR Day. Langri Tangpa Centre looked like a glorious mandala offering after all the amazing work by all the amazing people. All systems were go. As we drove to the airport to greet Rinpoche everyone was buzzing along nicely except me. I was the lone sour face. Circling a roundabout on the way I was contemplating, not concentrating, when whack! I crashed into the back of a new Honda Integra. Due to my recent refresher course in crash scene etiquette I knew what to do, so grabbed pen, paper, ID and leapt out. Muttering supplications to Tara, I was stunned to find the other car undamaged.

Apart from the faintest trace of white paint from Yangdzom's car on his bumper, not a scratch. Anyone who has pranged one of these new-fangled plastic cars will appreciate what a miracle this was! Unfortunately Venerable's car was a bit bent, but fortunately none of the passengers were. After this enforced hiatus we proceeded to the airport, where Geshe-la arrived late and Rinpoche arrived early (miraculous in itself!). As you can imagine I was not in the best frame of mind so the ray of sunshine that is Rinpoche was most welcome.

The next week was taken up with the CPMT meeting and other Dharma activities. We stayed at Margaret's house half an hour away from the Institute. I managed to drive Miffi around without too many hair-raising incidents and things seemed to be going all right. Everyone was looking forward to Rinpoche's weekend teachings.

The Saturday was great but on Sunday I opted to miss the first sessions and only attend Rinpoche's teachings. Looking back now I realise I had become blasé driving on those country roads and it was inevitable that I crashed into something. As it happened it was a tree. Driving up on the Sunday afternoon there was a slide in the dirt, anticipation prior to impact, impact, post-impact assessment and then recriminations.

There isn't much traffic on that particular road so there was plenty of time for recriminations. But eventually someone came along and I was able to get the whole tow truck/smash repair bill rolling. After much agonising I very tentatively drove Margaret's lovely new car to pick up Miffi and Margaret and take them home. At 3 o'clock in the morning, when Rinpoche's teachings finished, I told Ven. Yangdzom that after weeks of trying, finally I had managed to smash her car properly. And she wasn't in the least surprised. Nobody was!

After all this I needed a holiday. The safest course of action seemed to go home and hide. Rinpoche flew out on Thursday so I thought that was it. On the Saturday I developed a very low grade fever, hardly worth mentioning. While I was in the shower that night I passed out three times. I fell over, stood up, fell over again until the third time, somehow, I cracked a rib. It took forever to stand up, longer to get out and the journey into bed is a complete blank. The next twenty minutes or so were spent with the worst fever in history. Every cell of these five aggregates was tensed to the point of implosion. Then it was finished. My ribs still hurt like hell but that was pleasurable by comparison.

In the post visit wrap-up things could have been a lot worse. For example. The tree I crashed into stopped me plummeting down a bloody big hill. Other people could have been hurt. And it could have been my head that got cracked. Ironically, paying the excess insurance for the big smash was less than the bill for the two little smashes. Even while Rinpoche was ripening this mindstream's karma, he was protecting its aggregates from harm and providing amazing opportunities for Dharma practice.

I accepted some of the opportunities while most are apparent only now, but all are valuable and I thank Rinpoche for his kindness. Also I thank anyone and everyone who was involved in this, especially Ven. Yangdzom who as always was kind, supportive and gracious even in the face of extreme provocation. And Miffi for providing the physical conditions and her friendship, and Margaret for her hospitality in the lovely sanctuary of her home, and finally to you out there, sentient beings, who are so kind. I dedicate any positives to your happiness. (Exit stage right to "I Have Survived").

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