For the vast majority of the past 10 years of my life, I have told people with all sincerity that the cords hanging around my neck, which contain the blessings of several living Buddhas from the Himalayan region, are my health insurance. The effectiveness of my “policy” has been tested several times, from a high speed bike accident on the Manhattan bridge (the other bike involved smashed into pieces, but neither of us sustained an injury) to climbing slippery dead trees in a lightning storm to hang prayer flags at a New York meditation center. The cords seem to be quite effective at protecting me from danger.
The protection is provided by a sacred knot that is prayed over and blessed by a high master and worn around the neck of faithful disciples. One of my main protectors was an amulet that contained the protection cord knots of the major living Buddhas of my tradition, such as HH Chatral Rinpoche, HH Trulshik Rinpoche, HH Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche and HH Dodrubchen Rinpoche. I wore this amulet along with the highly coveted “sungdi nakpo” of the late HH Minling Trichen Rinpoche every day for the past five years. The sungdi nakpo is a black compilation of 9 knots that was blessed by a living embodiment of Guru Padmasambhava (the 2nd Buddha and founder of Tibetan Buddhism). Its protective powers are renowned throughout the Himalayan region and I still meet people today who swear by them and wouldn’t trade them in for $1,000,000 cash. Another cord that I have worn every day since 2004 is a medallion containing the sacred image of HH Chatral Rinpoche on one side and Guru Padmasambhavha on the other side. It was given to me and personally blessed by HH Chatral Rinpoche himself. One time, a Tibetan man asked to see it and wanted badly to keep it himself, on account of how hard it is to meet with HH Chatral Rinpoche and how powerful the blessings and protection of the medallion are. His friend had to pry it out of his hands in order to return to me.
During the 1950’s and 60’s, the Tibetan resistance army from Kham (eastern Tibet) was very famous for their protection cords and amulets which reportedly made them impervious to harm. Even the Chinese soldiers began to believe in them and the power of the cords was feared even more than the fierce soldiers themselves. At night, a Tibetan soldier would hide his protection cord and amulet, which were far more valuable than any weapon could be, in case he was captured by a Chinese soldier.
I had the good fortunate to go to the home of HH Chatral Rinpoche last month and make offerings. In return, I received a new protection cord from him, which I will cherish for the rest of my life. This week, my protection cord collection grew quite a bit, not through my initiative, but through circumstances attributable to fate. First, I met with a Buddhist lama friend of mine who was a student of HH Dudjom Rinpoche. He gave me a rare blessed object on a protection cord that he says he rarely gives out and asked me to keep the details a secret.
A few days later, I met him again to take a day trip and he said he felt we should visit Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche, a highly realized Tibetan Buddhist master. The experience was amazing, complete with many profound blessings and a special three-in-one protection cord that he only gives out in special circumstances. The first of the three is a special kind of 9-knot sungdi nakpo that provides protection against nine types of dangers, in the tradition of the Tibetan Buddha Padampa Sangye. The second is a special Guru Padmasambhava protection group of knots that he said he prayed over for several months. The third is an amulet with a double vajra on the front and a special mantra on the back, filled with many sacred protective substances.
With all of these protection cords working for me, I many never need health insurance again!
All of these recent blessings led to some exciting news: that I received a Journalist Visa for Bhutan. That means I will be able to spend 10 days in this amazing country. Normally, that is not possible for income-less people like me because a Tourist Visa entails a minimum of $2,500 in fees for 10 days (not including transport to the country) My total expenses will be a fraction of this. For this good fortune, I sincerely thank all the masters I have met and Guru Padmasambhava for answering my prayers.