Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fire on the Mountain: David Leskowitz on the Sacred Trees of Tsegyalgar West and East

I first visited Tsegyalgar East in 2005 when I first met Rinpoche, but I did not visit Khandroling at that time. Only after Emily and I stayed in Baja, at Tsegyalgar West in 2014 for a few months, did we venture to the Land of Dakinis.

At the Baja Gar, what the geko referred to as the Mother Tree, an ancient white ficus, guards a stone portal to the Naga realm (or so some have dreamed). At least, she provides the land and its visitors with a central place for a shrine where we can make offerings of sang and serkyem to the denizens of realms seen and unseen.

These unique Zalate trees are native to Baja California, and feed off the fungus covering the black stones they sprout from. The white bark that seems to have melted like wax poured from above, provides only a thin, papery skin for these venerable grandmothers. Yet somehow they endure through hurricanes and rough weather for centuries, covering their home-stones with vast root systems.

When we first saw Khandroling at the inauguration of the Vajra Hall in 2015 we were drawn, like most visitors are, to the Silver Birch cluster where, through even more papery-thin bark, our Rinpoche has carved a venerable symbol of his Vast and Luminous lineage. The parallel hit us both immediately, that an ancient stone hearth with guardian white tree marks the portals found at both of our Sangha’s sacred lands.

On our pilgrimages, wherever we went, of course Nary had already left his mark decades before. Not only did he design and implement the water pump system that provides water to drink and bathe at Khandroling, he built the spring containment and delivery system that provides year round water at the Baja Gar, too. We hear that the spring there at Los Naranjos is the only one in the surrounding mountains, a rare source of fresh water in a huge desert area. It took someone as equally rare and generous as Narayan Das to ensure that we could store the water when the season gets less bountiful, and pipe it around the giant campus.

(I wrote this before learning that Nary’s ashes are now partly merged with the earth at the feet of Khandro Ling's Dakini Birches.)

--David Leskowitz

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