What kind of Lama are you?

What kind of Lama are you?

Lama Jampa Da’o Rinpoche, disciple of the great Géluk master Jampa Gélek Gyaltsen Rinpoche, once visited Ngakpa Shabkar Rinpoche in his retreat at mTso-sNying – the island at the center of lake Kokonor. They exchanged teachings, and Da’o Rinpoche requested Shabkar Rinpoche to sing him a song of realisation – as he had heard that he was well known for his ability to improvise spontaneously. So Shabkar Rinpoche sang him a song of appreciation for the teaching he had received.

When Da’o Rinpoche heard the song he was pleased, and said: “Your song was excellent; but from your appearance, it is difficult to ascertain whether you are a monk or a layman. What kind of Lama are you?”

Shabkar Rinpoche replied by singing another song that teased Da’o Rinpoche a little for his lack of knowledge of other traditions:

The great garuda dwelling above the crest of Kailash,
She has a body shaped like a woman
Yet like a bird she has feather plumage and wings,
She is neither woman, nor bird, nor inbetween!
She is the multicolored garuda.

The turquoise dragon dwelling in space,
He has the body of a snake
Yet like a bird he soars in the sky!
He is neither snake, nor bird, nor inbetween!
He is the turquoise dragon.

This ragged yogi who dwells in the mountains
My body is clothed with robes like a monk’s
Yet like a layman I have long hair,
I am neither monk, nor layman, nor inbetween!
I am a ngakpa.

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