I am delighted to share this passage from the first chapter of Yeshe Tsogyal’s secret biography. As I translated this, it felt oddly familiar. Mind you, I am not comparing my situation to that of Yeshe Tsoygal. However, while the time and place in her story are different, I believe the tension and struggle depicted in this exchange are not all that foreign to our own lives.
Anyone reading this has likely spent some time taking their lama’s instructions to heart, both in the refuge of meditation practice and the daily maintenance that life requires. In this passage, we are granted a unique vantage point, made more intimate by its closeness to our own experience as Buddhists living in a busy world. Here we see a dedicated practitioner, in retreat, abruptly interrupted by the embodiment of everything she sought to leave behind. Yeshe Tsogyal accuses this interloper, an ardent prince, of being “a magical apparition,” sent to haunt her with the very societal obligations—of a princess, a woman, and an object of desire—she wishes to deny.
This is a classic case of meditation interrupted. As modern practitioners leading full lives, when is the last time you were intercepted on the way to the cushion by worldly obligations, real or imagined? How often have you faced the choice between sitting down to practice and dealing with daily life? I believe that is the story being told here, in Yeshe Tsogyal’s secret biography. I hope her shared experience provides inspiration and clarity within our own practices and lives.
—Chonyi Drolma, Translator