I was already a Buddhist when I met Ngak’chang Rinpoche and heard of the Nyingma Tradition. My teachers were monks or nuns; many were Tibetan – but several were Western. I found them inspiring and considered taking monastic ordination – but meeting Ngak’chang Rinpoche gave rise to another possibility – Vajrayana commitment. He was not a monk, yet held Vajrayana ordination vows. He lived as a Lama within the context of secular working life. Utterly dedicated, his knowledge and experiential understanding were profound – and increasingly I turned to him with questions which found no answers elsewhere. As a yogi, he gave me ‘real life’ answers to questions, rather than doctrinal answers and textural quotations. He lived in the ‘real world’ and his advice came directly from his experience of practice in the context of ordinary life, rather than from the experience of a renunciate life. He was supportive and deferential in respect of the teachings and practices I had received – but enabled me to apply them according to principle and function. Eventually I realised that the person who answered my questions and made the teachings vivid and pragmatic for me was my teacher, and I asked to be an apprentice.

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