Skip to main content


Slow train coming

  The space is pervaded with green, with the chirping of birds and the sweet smell of pollen. We are in the countryside of Dordogne, and it would be difficult for anyone to find a more idyllic setting. In general, I try not to read the news, especially here, but whenever I do, that idyllic image is replaced by another one: the slow train, picking up speed downhill. The machine engineers are incompetent and instead of stopping it and repairing the faults with care, they keep on loading it with coal. Its lights are on in the darkness; they illuminate only the small patch in front, so the passengers could see the end, but only in a fashion.  Why are we in a such a hurry to destroy our civilisation? Do we have so much that we are bored with it? There was this boredom in the air before the epidemic in 2020. I had the feeling that people, especially the young ones, were waiting eagerly for something to happen. Anything. Just not that day after day boredom. They were trying to shake it off –

A Book of Many Colours

River of Memory, Dharma Chronicles

Lama Jampa Thaye’s newly published book cannot be pinned down easily. On one hand, it is a very personal account of events; on the other hand, as one reads on, it becomes clear that its narrative concerns one thing only, his Buddhist life. From his experiences in early childhood to present days, everything flows into the stream of Dharma. However, if you are looking for the usual touchy-feely literature associated sometimes with Buddhism nowadays, you will not find it here.

The book has the subtitle ‘Dharma Chronicles’. This is, undoubtedly, a gentle nod to Bob Dylan’s book ‘Chronicles’, which becomes clear from the poetry of Dylan  woven into the book. That, together with the names appearing on its pages — Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti — brings the atmosphere of the Beats and the following 60s to life. ‘Chronicles’, however, is poetry and one never can be sure if Dylan really talked to that man in the shop or was it just the beginning of another song, while Lama Jampa’s memories and dreams are always firmly bound by the teachings received and given. A poet's measure of his life is his writing, while that of a Buddhist teacher is the wisdom he has received and transmitted.

The events in the book blend finely with the wisdom of the Buddhas; sometimes the author explains how to deal with the suffering of samsara, sometimes he shows us the place of a particular teaching on the map of the wider Buddhist system. At times, he muses over contemporary problems, but even that is done through the means of the Dharma. 

The names of poets, from times past and present, lay next to the exotic names of ancient and modern Tibetan lamas. Folk songs like ‘The House Carpenter’ and classic works like ‘The Divine Comedy’ are followed by Bodhisatvacharyaavatara’ and ‘Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance’.  Regardless of their origins being in the East or the West, the importance lies nowhere else but in the lineage. “For me, it’s the tradition passed from person to person that transmits that power’, states the author. ‘No one person made this stuff up’, he says about the folk songs. ‘It passed through each poet and singer — they gave something to it, but none of them owns it. The dharma’s the same. That’s why I knew that I had to find the living tradition.’ 

And the living tradition is the red tape running throughout this book. It is the strength of the past and the hope for the future. Despite the slight sadness seeping from time to time through the pages, acknowledging the changes imposed on the dharma by the modern world, it is the tradition that gives the author the confidence. ‘ …it is a task that has been accomplished before, in many times and places, and it can be done again.’

We just need to follow the path and read the signs.


  1. Never has a Lama in the shape of a gentleman travelled so much...

    Guinness Book of Records jobby !

    X 👏 X 👏 X


Post a Comment

Popular Posts