Thursday, March 6, 2014


The chief disciples and an intimidating array of senior Lamas were gathered around the Rimpoché to receive me.  Just as I was about to pass through the doorway of the room and prostate myself, I had to stop and search agitatedly beneath the flap of my borrowed gown, delving into the loose fold above my hurriedly wound sash.  To my infinite relief, my fingers soon encountered the Kharda, the ceremonial scarf which must accompany the gift I was about to make, though I had no clear recollection of having put it there a few moments before.  Even if these eminent recluses and professors should discover my ignorance, at least they would have no cause to consider me boorish.

Then, taking a deep breath, as for a plunge, I strode forward, fell to my knees and placed my forehead on the ground.  Just as I was about to rise for the third time, I felt the touch of gnarled old fingers on my scalp and immediately my agitation left me.  The expression in the many pairs of eyes regarding me was friendly, and I knew then that I had no cause for embarrassment or fear.

John Blofeld, The Wheel of Life, Berkeley, Shambala, 1972

Kate Sanborn, Old Time Wall Papers, Greenwich, The Literary Collector Press, 1905.

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