“Gendun Rinpoche did seem to be able to work miracles. The summer of 1976 brought a huge drought across Europe which went on for many months. Christian bishops and priests were praying for rain and still it didn’t rain. Gendun Rinpoche started to pray for rain too. One of his faithful French disciples who lived in a makeshift shelter in a field on a nearby hill was convinced that Gendun Rinpoche was about to conjure up a storm. ‘Oh, my shelter! It will get blown away,’ he cried. A few days later a storm started brewing. I was with Rinpoche in his room as the winds rose to gale force. The rain was crossing the window in horizontal blasts. Rinpoche was reciting mantras and holding a bowl over a piece of his bed-spread repeating the words ‘Sherab Dorje’ from time to time. At last the storm abated and Rinpoche’s faithful disciple put his head around the door. ‘My shelter! It will have been blown away. Where shall I stay tonight?’ ‘It’s fine, go home. Don’t worry,’ replied the Lama. Sure enough when he got back to his field his shelter was just as it had been. The only sign of the storm was his bucket that had been blown from one end of the field to the other.
Rinpoche later asked after ‘Sherab Dorje’, but I didn’t know who he was talking about. ‘Sherab Dorje,’ he explained. ‘My disciple who was worried about his shelter.’ ‘Oh you mean Daniel!’ I said. Later I mentioned this to Daniel, who looked puzzled. ‘That is my first lama’s name,’ he said. I realised that Rinpoche must at some point have asked for Daniel’s name and been told the name of his lama instead. He had been protecting his shelter by covering a place representing it during the storm, repeating what he thought was the man’s name to complete the connection. It doesn’t seem to have mattered that he was repeating the wrong name because he was so convinced it was the right one. I was reminded of the story of the great Tibetan poet saint Milarepa. He had protected the field of an old lady from a storm he had conjured, by covering it with something, in a similar way to the way Rinpoche had done.
When I asked Gendun Rinpoche about supernormal powers, he told me that at one time in retreat he had found he was able to see through walls and various things like that. He said it in a simple way as if he had been astonished when it happened. He then went on to say that gradually as his meditation went deeper that kind of thing stopped happening. He assured me that things like that can get very distracting and are not the point of Dharma practice. It can be a good sign when they fade away. When full realisation arises all those kinds of powers manifest spontaneously so there is no need to cultivate them beforehand.”
Lama Shenpen Hookham
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