Author Norma Levine visits the Mindrolling Podcast for a conversation about her experiences and the lessons learned through her relationship with Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the exiled spiritual king of Bhutan.
Norma Levine lived and practiced meditation for 5 years at Sherabling Monastery in Himachal Pradesh. She has traveled extensively in Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh, Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh; and organized pilgrimages to Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet and the hidden land of Pemako in Arunachal Pradesh (NE India). In addition to writing five books, (the fifth is The Spiritual Odyssey of Freda Bedi) Norma has written for some of the major London newspapers: The Observer, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian. The Times Literary Review in London carried the first story about the Karmapa at his enthronement in 1992 at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet: A Star is Raised and Borne.
The Miraculous 16th Karmapa
Raghu speaks with Norma about her first book, The Miraculous 16th Karmapa, the book that first introduced Raghu to Norma’s impressive work. They examine a story from the book about Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, which draws parallels between the miraculous nature and boundless compassion of the 16th Karmapa and Ram Dass’ guru, Neem Karoli Baba.
“As soon as I saw the 16th Karmapa, I was dumbstruck. I could not say a word and I never spoke to him. I thought that he was so far beyond speaking that there was no point in trying. Now I recognize it as like a pointing-out instruction, an experience that can’t be conveyed any other way except in the presence of an enlightened master. That experience with the Karmapa changed my whole life.” – Norma Levine
Explore the life of the 16th Karmapa with Lama Surya Das on Ep.45 of the Awakening Now Podcast
Chronicles of Love and Death (9:35)
Norma speaks about the subject of her book, Chronicles of Love & Death: My Years with the Lost Spiritual King of Bhutan, which documents her account of an all too human love affair between herself and a high reincarnate lama, the spiritual king of the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. She speaks about some of the auspicious circumstances, such as lifechanging encounters with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and the 16th Karmapa, that led her to this experience of comedy, tragedy, history, romance, and transcendence.
Crazy Wisdom and the Lost King (38:24)
Raghu and Norma discuss her relationship with Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the exiled spiritual king of Bhutan. The two look at the parallels between Zhabdrung Rinpoche’s methodology and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s “crazy wisdom” approach to practice. Norma shares an honest reflection on what she learned from her rollercoaster relationship with Zhabdrung Rinpoche.
“The image of the original Zhabdrung, Ngawang Namgyal, is still in everyone’s home. He is still the spiritual king of Bhutan. The Bhutanese still recognize the Zhabdrung and so does the king. But this one, this reincarnation, they never wanted to recognize him, he was like a king without a country. He was sort of lost, as if this extraordinary person had just landed somewhere without anything.” – Norma Levine