Lama Norlha Rinpoche was a disciple of Kalu Rinpoche who was considered to be the greatest Yogi of the previous generation of Tibetan Lamas. Kalu Rinpoche sent Lama Norlha to the US in 1974, I believe, and he started a small monastery in Wappinger’s Falls NY. I met him there in 1975 or 1976, but it was only in the last few years that I started to visit him as much as I could. This was because I heard that he had spent 2 years with my Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, in 1963/64, after he had escaped from Tibet to India.
He told me the following story.
He had found a small broken down abandoned kutir(hut) in the hills above Haridwar and had just finished settling in to it, when a man came and started yelling at him and kicking his stuff around. After few minutes the man left. Lama thought to himself that maybe he should leave, because the kutir might belong to this man. But he decided to stay anyway. After a couple of hours some Indian people arrived with tea and snacks for him and told him that there was a Baba who wanted him to come for a meal at a house nearby.
Lama went with the Indians and he was surprised to see that the Baba was the same man who had yelled at him and kicked his stuff around. That was my Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, Maharaj-ji. He told Lama that the kutir was not safe as there were many poisonous snakes there. He asked Lama to come stay with him. Lama did. They spent much time together and loved each other very much. Maharaj-ji called Lama, “Tibeti Baba” and said, “We’ll stay together our whole lives…we love each other so much.” For 2 years Lama and Maharaj-ji spent much time together. When they went to the bazaar, Lama told me that the shopkeepers would accept whatever Maharaj-ji offered them for there goods. Maharaj-ji would often say “Who will feed my people when I’m gone?”
Lama told me that he believed Maharaj-ji to be the greatest Siddha in the Himalayas.
After 2 years, early one morning, there was loud banging on Lama’s door. He opened it and Maharaj-ji was standing there He said, “Don’t listen to them. Don’t listen to them. Don’t listen to what they say.” And then he turned and walked away.
Lama was confused…he had no idea what Maharaj-ji was talking about. However later that day Kalu Rinpoche’s brother arrived there. He had come to bring Lama up to Darjeeling, where Kalu Rinpoche was living after escaping from Tibet. Lama had been Kalu Rinpoche’s meditation master in Tibet and had led retreats for Kalu’s disciples.
Lama came to Maharaj-ji and said, “Baba, they want me to go with them to Darjeeling.”
Maharaj-ji said, “Don’t go. Don’t go. We love each other so much. We’ll stay together our whole lives.’
Lama answered, “But Baba, he is my Guru.”
Maharaj-ji said, “You must go. If you don’t go your sadhana won’t bring fruit.”
Lama: “But Baba, We’ll meet again.”
Maharaj-ji, “Yes, We will meet again, but after you have died.”
Lama told me this with such joy and happiness remembering those times with Maharaj-ji.
Another time I was with Lama Norlha and I asked him if he and Maharaj-ji had talked about philosophy.
He said, “Oh yes, we talked a lot.”
Then he looked at me and with great seriousness, he said, “He liked my view (spiritual understanding of things.)
Then Lama leaned towards me and in conspiratorial whisper and a sweet smile said, “But he liked his view better!”
Whenever I spent time with Lama he would always give me food to eat and talk like Maharajj-ji, mimicking his voice and teasing manner.
About a month ago I had heard that Lama was in hospice and I went to his monastery, KTC. I was hoping to see him but didn’t want to be a burden. When they told him that I was there, he agreed to see me. He had not spoken much for about a week. He was sitting up in a chair because he had much trouble breathing.
When I came and bowed he started talking to me in Hindi and handing me things to eat. I just fell into his lap and he put his arms around me and held me. It was unbearably sweet. He asked for a protection cord and with great difficulty tied it around my neck. After a few minutes I got up to go and as I bowed to him I said “Ram Ram”. I don’t know what made me do that, but he immediately lit up and started say,
“Ram Ram Sita Ram, Ram Ram Sita Ram” over and over again in a very loud and powerful voice.
Everyone there was amazed. Need I say that this is very unusual for a Tibetan Rinpoche. I was infused with happiness and joy…and whenever I remember Lama, I am filled with love.