At the time of this photograph Ralzhig Pema Legden, and Ngala Nor’dzin & Ngala ’ö-Dzin were entitled Ngakchung (sNgags chung – little Ngakma/Ngakpa). This style of novice ordination was briefly employed by the lineage as a transitional phase between apprenticeship, which is without Vajra commitment, and lifelong Tantric discipleship bound by the Fourteen Root Vows.
Ralzhig Pema Legden writes:
The three of us look back fondly on those times. We affectionately thought of each other as ‘the only Ngak’chungs in the known universe’. It was rather an age of innocence. We had not yet started to take responsibility for students of our own. Our teaching activities were occasional excursions, briefly outlining topics at our Lamas’s request, during summer camping retreats in Wales for instance, events that have not taken place for many years now. We had not yet begun to engage with what is now the major theme of our lives, maintaining the welfare of Essential Vajrayana practice and its practitioners in the West. We had yet to appreciate the full implications of the existence and the extraordinary history of the White Sangha, summed up in the long hair and white shamthab displayed by Ngak’chang Rinpoche.