When people see me wearing the robes of an ordained student, they sometimes ask me why I don’t use my Tibetan name: Rangdröl. In fact I do, on occasion – but most of the time I am simply ‘Virge’. And so I tell them the following story: I believe it was around the first anniversary of my becoming an apprentice when I went to an informal gathering at the home of Naljorpa Ögyen Dorje. When I walked into the house I was greeted by Rinpoche: “Virge—you little devil—I think you need a moustache.’ I was a bit taken aback, but eventually learned that Rinpoche had just seen the film ‘Tombstone’, which he had enjoyed immensely. And it seems that one of the things that had attracted his attention was the moustache of the character who played Wyatt Earp’s brother, Virgil. Now Rinpoche is fond of informing us that the only possible advantage to being born with a male body is the opportunity to manipulate our facial hair. In thinking back, I remembered showing Rinpoche a photograph taken in my early twenties when I had a nice, full moustache. So perhaps this is what clicked in Rinpoche’s mind when he saw the film. He also likes the American pronunciation of the word: ‘MUS-tache’. At any rate, I did—of course—grow another moustache, and from that day onward was known to all in the sangha as ‘Virge’. This is not quite the end of the story, however. About seven years later I was ordained as a Naljorpa in our lineage at a ceremony in Baarlo, the Netherlands. Thirteen apprentices were ordained on that day – an unprecedented number. At the culmination of the ceremony Rinpoche read out the new names of the ordained, which is symbolic of beginning a new life. I was one of the last on the list and when Rinpoche came to my name he said, ‘Naljorpa Virge…’—and after the laughter had subsided a bit he continued: “ . . . that is to say – Naljorpa Rangdröl Rig’pai Longtsal Dorje.”

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