One day, a gaggle of monks and perhaps even a khenpo or two turned up for some kind of transmission. Rinpoche’s secretary, Elise, thought it would take about twenty minutes, then he’d dictate the next bit of his book for quarter of an hour, and still have ten minutes to see students before lunch. Rinpoche sat on his throne and began to do whatever it was for the room full of monks. Then his phone rang. He answered it. and I expected him to ring off immediately so he could get on, but he didn’t. Neither did he speak much, he just listened. And listened. And listened. For ten minutes, twenty, thirty… Lunch was late, the book was unwritten, western students with questions had gathered like a swarm of ants in the courtyard, and even Elise, who generally keeps a very efficient finger on the pulse of Rinpoche activities, had no clue what was going on.
After more than a hour, Rinpoche put the phone down, finished the whatever it was, and finally emerged into the sunlight. We were, naturally, agog to find out what had happened.
“My father called,” said Rinpoche, smiling. “He wanted to teach me, so he did.” And that was it. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche had phoned and Khyentse Rinpoche’s schedule was shot. But Rinpoche showed no sign of irritation or impatience or anything. Actually, he looked quite radiant, and just rescheduled the assembled hoards and carried on. How I wish I could be like that…