Our meeting was pure chance; I was planning to meet my friend Jim in Jersey for lunch, but an acquaintance asked if we would accompany his friend and Lama Kunga Rinpoche to a few museums that afternoon. We couldn’t turn down this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have an audience with an enlightened master.
Lama Kunga Rinpoche was born into nobility in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1935. Kunga Rinpoche’s father, Tsipon Shuguba, was the last treasurer of the Dalai Lama’s Lhasa government. At the age of seven, Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnation of Sevan Repa, a heart disciple of Milarepa, Tibet’s great 11th century poet-saint. By his sixteenth birthday, he was ordained as a monk at Ngor Monastery in the Ü-Tsang province of central Tibet. After attaining the rank of Vice-Abbot at Ngor in 1959, Rinpoche and his countrymen found themselves fleeing into India from the Chinese invasion. In time, Rinpoche moved to the United States where he maintains the Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center in Kensington, California.
Wandering through the Asia Society’s displays, our conversation turned to Nagas, luminal beings in Buddhist cosmology, appearing in a form somewhere between human and snake, often associated with strange objects seen in the sky.
During lunch, I returned to the topic of Nagas. One of the companions at our table asked, “What’s your interest in Nagas?”
“I’m interested in any sort of UFOs.”
At this point Rinpoche interrupted us both, with his sharp grin and low, direct voice: “I have UFO story for you.”
I wish I had recorded Rinpoche telling the tale, but it would’ve been tremendously disprespectful to begin recording at the table.
He had been travelling with his family through the central Tibetan mountains in 1948. Where or why they were travelling, he didn’t say. One night, making camp and gathering around a fire, a white saucer-shaped craft rose up from the mountains behind them. The object drew a low, silent arc through the sky, dipping towards the ground before ascending beyond the mountains. Rinpoche illustrated the scene by holding up his tea saucer, upside down, carrying it over the table in the arc he was describing. The Lama simply explained his encounter, “What it was, I cannot say. But you know what else happened in 1948? Crash.”
Rinpoche was, of course, one year off, recalling the date of the Roswell incident. That “crash” took place in July 1947. A minor quibble to an astounding tale from an exceptional human being. What’s your take on the incident? Tell us on our Facebook page, at Twitter, or in the comments below!