The Male Sky Protector
My name is Yonten. I live in a small town of Pemako up high in the Himalayas about an hour away from the Buddhist monastery of Pemayangtse. I learned how to build my home with the help from the people within the village by collecting woods around the forest. As a young boy growing up in the remote mountainous valleys surrounded by lush forests, my mother would always tell me stories about the teachings of the Buddha. One of the most enchanted stories was about the hidden paradise of Beyul, shaped like a Lotus. She said that it is a beautiful place that can only be reached if one has accumulated enough merit in their lifetime. Every night before bedtime, I would always ask my mother to retell the story of Beyul over and over to me again. The place she described is a mystical place that is hidden behind a beautiful waterfall where there is peace and serenity and everlasting happiness. In Beyul, people stay young forever and do not age. My mother would softly whisper to me that in order to reach the lost paradise one must endure great hardships. Looking back, those were the happy times, but like the changing weather, that joy and happiness ended when both my parents passed away due to a severe fever which lead to pneumonia. I will always remember my mother’s last words to me, “do not be sad my son, all things are impermanent, no one can escape old age, illness and death. Be strong my son, you will understand what I mean when you are older”.
At that moment, I did not really understand the true meaning of impermanence. I was very attached to my parents, and since I was the only child, I grew up with a lot of love and affections. Although we did not have much, my parents would devote most of their time to helping orphans and donating their crops to some poor families within our village. They often tried to visit the monastery every Sundays. Their sudden death left me feeling very depressed and alone. I told myself that I would one day become a doctor to help in the healing of illnesses, so that others would not suffer, the way I suffered.
After the news of their death, a sympathetic spiritual Guru by the name of the Dalai Lama from the monastery whom my mother often talked about took me in and taught me the practice of Tibetan medicine along with the daily teachings of the dharma. For instance, the Dalai Lama taught me that the potency of the Tibetan medicine can be determined by the taste of the herbs, usually the bitter it is, the more healing power it has. My field of expertise was in traditional Tibetan medicine and acupuncture. The Dalai Lama said that the nature of diseases can be examined in terms of the five elements of: earth, water, fire, wind and space. Therefore, illnesses are caused by the imbalance of the five elements. He told me that the main causes of diseases involved disturbing emotions and attitudes such as: attachment, anger, close-mindedness and stubbornness. For example, a wind disorder can be related to be attachment, like when someone we love die or leaves us, we may become heart broken and depressed, which makes us more susceptible to high blood pressure.
Reflecting back on my earlier days, I was blessed to have such a kind teacher, who was also my spiritual guide. I found refuge in the Monastery until I was about twenty-eight years of age. Every morning and night I would meditate and reflect on the arising and subsiding thoughts. At first, I found it very difficult to concentrate on one single thought as my mind would be distracted by other thoughts and I felt that I could not sit still for hours on end. After a couple of years, I learned to control my thoughts by focusing on my breathing. What the Dalai Lama encouraged me to think about during my meditation was to truly realize that all things are impermanent. One of the phrase I would usually repeat is, “And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, devoid of clinging and be liberated from samsara.” I knew that I did not want to become a monk because I have not attained enough wisdom and was unable to detach myself from the world. However, I made a promised to myself that my life would be devoted to helping those who are in need. Like the story of prince Siddhartha, I wanted to go beyond the confinement of the Monastery and embark on my own journey, a journey towards personal growth and development. I was at the age whereby I wanted to explore, travel and see the world.
My parents were ordinary farmers who work earnestly to farm the land and provided for me. Although we were not very wealthy, my parents always taught me to have compassion towards all sentient beings. They named me Yonten, because in Tibet it means, one with good qualities. My mother told me that to live a meaningful life, one must always help those who are in need. The idea of compassion has been ingrained in me. When I left the monastery, the Dalai Lama told me that there will always be a place for me here when I am ready to return. It has been about five years since I left the monastery. My daily life now involves waking up very early in the morning to collect medicinal herbs from the forests.
One day on the way home, I heard rumours from many of my ill patients that there was a prophet from Deer Park who was visiting our town. He predicted that there would be an approaching hailstorm the size of a grapefruit! After hearing about the rumours, my breathing began to accelerate and multiple thoughts arise in my mind. How will the hailstorm affect the daily lives of the people in the village? What will happen to those who work so earnestly to farm the lands? How will I as a doctor prepare for it? Quickly, I begin to gather up all the ingredients and herbs that I could find and started to prepare for the natural disaster. I thought to myself, “in case people become injured or fall ill from the storm, I would be able to nurse them back to good health”. The prophet in town says that in order to stay protected from the hailstorm, he has been giving away about nine amulets to help prepare for it. I was curious about the amulet, so I visited the prophet and he gave me an amulet and described it as, the, “ Male Sky Protector”. At first glance, the amulet looked a bit strange to me as it represents the image of a snarling dog . In order for the charm to to work its magic those who take possession of the amulet must pray to the “Sky Father” by the name of Khenpa and ask for his protection. After speaking to the prophet, I felt very worried because I care deeply about the people in the village.
The prophet informed me that he only has limited amulets to give out and I was one of the lucky few who received the very last one. After speaking to the prophet, I was intrigued by what I saw and decided to do a little bit of research on it. According to a book that I found, it says that if all nine amulets are placed together, it can be combined to create a protective force field and will not protect just one person, but a whole group of people. That night before bed, I started to think about how I can find all the people who possess the other eight amulets and began to plan ways to find them as soon as morning comes. As I started to think, and as I held the amulet in my hands, I began to meditate to detach myself from all my worries and prayed to Buddha to help protect us from the upcoming hailstorm.