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The story of Apa Gaypo Tenzin who was led to enlightenment by Lama Drukpa Kunley

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On his return from the Long Rong valley, the Lama entered an arid region which he named Lokthang Kyamo (Arid Land). Here he met an old man called Apa Gaypo Tenzin. The old man's sons had left home and all but his youngest daughter had married and gone to their husbands' homes, leaving him bored and with nothing to do except follow his devotions. He prostrated at the Lama's feet.

'I am most fortunate to meet you,' he told the Lama. 'My elder sons have established their own homes, my youngest son has entered a monastery, and my daughters have married. I am bored with life and need the teaching that will prepare me for death. Please instruct me.'

'Yah! Yah!' said Kunley pensively. 'I will teach you a Refuge Prayer` which you must recite whenever you think of me. There is one stricture which accompanies it - never discuss it with anyone.' And he taught the old man this Refuge which gives release from samsara.


'I take refuge in an old man's chastened penis, withered at the

root, fallen like a dead tree;

I take refuge in an old woman's flaccid vagina, collapsed,

impenetrable, and sponge-like;

I take refuge in the virile young tiger's Thunderbolt, rising proudly,

indifferent to death;

I take refuge in the maiden's Lotus, filling her with rolling bliss

waves, releasing her from shame and inhibition.'


'Remember to recite this Refuge whenever I enter your mind,' repeated the Lama.

'I thank you with all my heart,' Apa Gaypo said fervently. 'Now please teach me a prayer that will strengthen my aspiration.'

The Lama taught him this:


'The branches of the Great Eastern Tree grow and grow,

But the foliage's spread depends on the tree's roots' extent.

Drukpa Kunley's penis head may stick, stick in a small vagina,

But tightness depends upon the size of the penis.

Apa Gaypo's urge to gain Buddhahood is strong, so strong,

But the scale of his achievement depends upon the strength of his



'Keep this prayer in your mind!' Kunley directed him.


The old man returned home. 'Did you meet the Lama?' his daughter asked him. 'Did you receive his instruction?'

'He gave me a Prayer of Refuge which I learned by heart,' he replied.

'You are neither intelligent nor educated,' said his daughter. 'Was it short and concise? Please repeat it for us.'

Apa folded his palms in prayer and began, 'I take refuge in an old man's chastened penis. . .' and so on, in exactly the way that the Lama had taught him. His daughter ran away in embarrassment.

'Are you crazy!' demanded his wife. 'A Buddha Lama's words are always quite pure. Either you misunderstood the Lama or you have forgotten what he told you. And even if you have remembered the words correctly, it is shameful to imitate the Lama. You must never repeat this in front of the children!'

'The Lama told me to repeat it whenever I thought of him,' Apa insisted, 'and that I will do.'

Later, when the family was gathered for their evening meal, Apa folded his hands and again repeated the prayer.'The old man has gone mad,' they whispered to each other, and taking their bowls with them they left the table, so that when Apa reopened his eyes he was alone. When his wife returned she told him that he must stay in a room apart if he persisted in his madness. Apa insisted that he would continue even at the cost of his life, so the hayloft in the roof of the house was prepared as his room of confinement, and he moved in there and continued to pray day and night.


About a month later on the evening of the full moon, strains of lute and piccolo were heard through the house. Apa's wife, unable to hear her husband's voice in prayer, grew apprehensive, thinking that perhaps he was crying and moaning in nervous depression. 'Go take your father some chung,' she told her daughter.

The girl went up to the loft with the chung and found only a heaped quilt on the bed. She threw off the quilt and found a sphere of rainbow light with the syllable AH in the centre of it, shining white and radiant.

'Apa! Apa! Apa has gone! Come quickly!' she screamed in superstitious dread.

When the family and neighbours had gathered, the sphere of light flew off into the western sky, trailing behind it the voice of the old man. 'Drukpa Kunley has delivered me into the Potala Mountain Paradise of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. You prudish people must stay here! Give the Lokthang Kyamo to the Lama as an offering.'

When the Lama visited that house, he built a stupa over the spot where Apa had died and put the old man's rosary inside as a relic. Later the abbot Ngawong Chogyal built a monastery around the stupa, and today that monastery is called the Khyimed Temple.

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