This photograph was taken at the end of Khandro Déchen’s four years study for her Bachelor of Nursing Degree.
Khandro Déchen comments:
This apparently translates into Latin as ‘baccalaureate nosocomia’
which makes it feel as obscure as that period of my life feels now. I
do not quite know what to make of this photograph – or even what to
say about it. It seems a long time ago in another life. I cannot
quite relate with the person in the picture. She looks as if she may
have been me. Perhaps if I donned the clothes—should I still
possess them—I might feel like the young woman in the photograph.
type of retreat in which we engage in the Aro gTér Tradition is
connected with the teaching of the Nine Bardos – particularly the
gYo-wa Bardo. The practice involves entering retreat with
photographs taken at various stages of our lives and spending time
trying to relate with the images as ‘me’. What usually happens is
that we fail to relate. This is useful as an experience inasmuch as
we realise that we are not solid, permanent, separate, continuous,
and defined beings throughout our lives. We realise that we have
died many times within our lives. Naturally we experience every day
of our lives, but to practice this in retreat is a powerful means of
destroying the illusion of continuity which supports what Ngak’chang
Rinpoche calls ‘the on-going me project’.
What is most important about this photograph is that it was around
this time that I met Ngak’chang Rinpoche and became his
disciple – along with Ngala Nor’dzin and Ngala ’ö-Dzin. I vividly
remember the experience of taking refuge in Ngak’chang Rinpoche’s
magnificent, colourful shrine room which was the main room of his
ground floor flat. At that time he gave refuge as a separate private
event for each of us. It felt like I was entering a fresh dimension
where there were so many questions to ask, and yet I could not frame
them with words.