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Mahayana Teachings School at Kopan

Lama Yeshe with students, 1970From 1970: The First Group Ordination by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

When he was at Lawudo, Lama Yeshe had more private time to study and meditate. Since Zopa Rinpoche was the star, he could disappear into the background. But back at Kopan Lama Yeshe was always at the beck and call of all those who came up the hill.

During Lama Yeshe’s classes, Åge Delbanco, whom Zina nicknamed Babaji, a name that he kept for life, would make beautiful embroidered Tibetan-style bags that he would sell to rich hippies. Lama Yeshe got Åge to make a big sign that read, “Mahayana Teachings School.”

Åge Delbanco: “The condition was that if you lived there you had to go to class. But for me Lama Yeshe’s most effective teachings were those I caught in a second—a look, a frown, a word. Everybody was asking for help with their problems, but he just encouraged me to go with my inner feelings. ‘I have never asked anybody what I should do,’ he told me.

“In one teaching Lama had been talking about whether or not to interfere in someone else’s affairs. Somebody asked what he would do if he saw a drunken man beating a little boy—not such an uncommon sight in that part of the world. ‘Would you interfere then?’ they asked. ‘Oh yes, I’d ask the man if he would like another drink,’ said Lama.

“Another time an American boy full of self-pity began to whine and complain about all his troubles, pouring them out one after the other. After ten minutes of this, everyone was depressed. Lama Yeshe didn’t say anything at first. Then he suddenly burst out laughing. He laughed and laughed and laughed until the whole room joined in, including the American boy. Later, the boy said that all his problems seemed to have suddenly disappeared.

“We often went for walks together to discuss things. One day Lama turned up at my hut to go for a walk. I said, ‘Just let me fix the fire in the grate first.’ Lama said, ‘Let me.’ He put some sticks on and arranged the fire carefully and we left. We were away for quite some time, but when we returned, that fire was burning as brightly as when we left it. I thought, What trick is this?”

Lama Yeshe got involved in everyone’s problems. Knocking on the door of a girl sitting depressed and alone, he teased her out with, “Oh, dear, please, you have lunch with me…. I little bit lonely today.” The effect on her was magic, she felt so honored. He was very clever at making people feel that they were helping him when really it was the other way round. He regularly gave out mantras to youngsters with broken hearts, never ridiculing them. To one boy he gave a special mantra because the police had confiscated his passport. Everyone wanted to stay in Nepal forever, and visas were hard to renew. The boy said this mantra for weeks. Finally, to his great surprise and pleasure, the police refused to let him leave the country.

Zopa Rinpoche moved into a little storeroom on the upper level behind the main house, while Lama Yeshe remained in his small dark room below. Both lamas began sitting in meditation with students for an hour each evening.


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