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T. lobsang rampa doctor from lhasa

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WE went along past the shops with brilliantly lighted windows, and in those windows were materials and goods of a kind which we had never seen before. Some of them we had seen pictured in magazines which had been brought to Lhasa over the Himalayas from India, and before reaching India from the U.S.A., that fabled land. A young Chinese came hurtling towards us on the weirdest thing I had ever seen, an iron framework with two wheels, one in front, one behind. He looked at us and could not take his eyes away. Through this he lost control of the framework, the front wheel hit a stone, the thing turned sideways, and the rider went straight over the front wheel to land on his back. Some elderly Chinese lady was almost swept off her feet by him. She turned round and berated the poor fellow, who we considered had already suffered enough. He got up, looking remarkably foolish, and picked up his iron framework with the front wheel buckled. He put it across his shoulders and went on sadly down the hill; the street of steps. We thought we had came to a mad place, because everyone was acting most peculiarly. We went slowly along, marveling at the goods in the shops, trying to decipher what price they would be, and what they were for, because although we had seen the magazines from America none of us had understood the slightest word, but had entertained ourselves with the pictures alone.

Further along we came upon the college which I was to attend. We stopped, and I went inside so that I could report my arrival. I have friends still in the hands of the Communists, and I do not intend to give any information whereby they can be identified because I used to be most intimately connected with the Young Tibetan Resistance Movement. We most actively resisted the Communists in Tibet. I entered, there were three steps. I went up these and into a room. Here there was a desk at which a young Chinese was sitting on one of those peculiar little platforms of wood, supported by four poles and with two more poles and a crossbar to support the back. What a lazy way of sitting, I thought, I could never manage like that! He looked quite a pleasant young fellow. He was dressed in blue linen as most of the Chinese were. He had a badge in his lapel which indicated that he was a servant of the college. At sight of me his eyes opened quite wide, his mouth started to open as well. Then he stood up and clasped his hands together while he bowed low, “I am one of the new students here,” I said. “I have come from Lhasa, in Tibet, with a letter from the Abbot of the Potala Lamasery.” And I proffered the long envelope which I had treasured so carefully during our journey, and which I protected from all the rigors of travel. He took it from me, and gave three bows, and then, “Venerable Abbot,” he said, “will you sit down here until I return?” “Yes, I have plenty of time,” I said, and I sat down in the lotus position. He looked embarrassed and fidgeted nervously with his fingers. He stepped from foot to foot and then swallowed. “Venerable Abbot,” he said, “with all humility, and with the deepest respect, may I suggest that you get used to these chairs because we use them in this college.” I rose to my feet and sat down most gingerly on one of those abominable contraptions. I thought—as I still think—I will try anything once! This thing seemed to me to be an instrument of torture. The young man went away and left me sitting. I fidgeted, and fidgeted. Soon pain appeared across my back, then I got a stiff neck and I felt thoroughly out of sorts with everything. Why, I thought, in this unfortunate country one cannot even sit properly as we did in Tibet, but here we have to be propped up from the ground. I tried to shift sideways and the chair creaked, groaned, and swayed, and after that I dared not move again for fear that the whole thing would collapse.

The young man returned, bowed to me again, and said, “The Principal will see you, Venerable Abbot. Will you come this way.” He gestured with his hands and made for me to go ahead of him: “No,” I said, “you lead the way. I don't know which way to go.” He bowed again and took the lead. It all seemed so silly to me, some of these foreigners, they say they will show you the way and then they expect you to lead them. How can you lead when you just don't know which way to go? That was my point of view and it still is. The young man in blue led me along a corridor and then knocked at the door of a room near the end. With another bow he opened the door for me and said, “The Venerable Abbot, Lobsang Rampa.” With that he shut the door behind me and I was left in the room. There was an old man standing by the window, a very pleasant old man, bald and with a short beard, a Chinaman. Strangely, he was dressed in that awful style of clothing which I had seen before, that they call the western style. He had on a blue jacket and blue trousers and there was a thin white stripe going through. He had on a collar and a coloured tie, and I thought what a sad thing that such an impressive old gentleman has to get rigged up like that. “So you are Lobsang Rampa,” he said. “I have heard a lot about you and I am honoured to accept you here as one of our students. I have had a letter about you in addition to the one you brought and I assure you that the previous training which you have had will stand you in very good stead. Your Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, has written to me. I knew him well some years ago in Shanghai before I went to America. My name is Lee, and I am the Principal here.”

I had to sit down and answer all sorts of questions to test my knowledge of academic subjects and my knowledge of anatomy. The things that mattered, or so it seemed to me, the Scriptures, he tested not at all.

“I am very pleased with your standard,” he said, “but you are going to have to study quite hard because here, in addition to the Chinese system, we teach according to the American method of medicine and surgery, and you will have to learn a number of subjects which were not previously in your curriculum. I am qualified in the United States of America, and I have been entrusted by the Board of Trustees with training a number of young men in the latest American methods and co-relating these methods to suit conditions in China.” He went on talking for quite a time, telling me of the wonders of American medicine and surgery, and of the methods used for diagnosis. He went on, “Electricity, Magnetism, Heat, Light and Sound, all these subjects you will have to master in addition to the very thorough culture which your Guide has given you.” I looked at him in horror. The first two, Electricity and Magnetism, meant nothing to me. I had not the vaguest idea what he was talking about. But Heat, Light and Sound, well, I thought, any fool knows about those; you use heat to heat your tea, you use light with which to see, and sound when you speak. So what else is there to study about them? He added, “I am going to suggest that as you are used to hard work, you should study twice as hard as anyone else, and take two courses together, take what we term the Premedical Course at the same time as the Medical Training. With your years of experience in study you should be able to do this. In two days' time we have a new Medical Class starting.” He turned away and rustled through his papers. Then he picked up what from pictures I recognised as a fountain pen—the very first I had ever seen—he muttered to himself, “Lobsang Rampa, special training in Electricity and in Magnetism. See Mr. Wu. Make a note he gets special attention.” He put down his pen, carefully blotted what he had written, and stood up. I was most interested to see that he used paper for blotting. We used carefully dried sand. But he was standing up looking at me. “You are well advanced in some of your studies,” he said. “From our discussion I should say that you are even in advance of some of our own doctors, but you will have to study those two subjects of which, at present, you have no knowledge.” He touched a bell and said, “I will have you shown around and taken to the different departments so that you will have some impression to carry away with you this day. If you are in doubt, if you are uncertain, come to me, for I have promised the Lama Mingyar Dondup to help you to the full extent of my power.” He bowed to me, and I touched my heart to him as I bowed back. The young man in the blue dress entered. The Principal spoke to him in Mandarin. He then turned to me and said, “If you will accompany Ah Fu, he will show you around our college, and answer any questions you may care to put.” This time the young man turned and led the way out, carefully shutting the Principal's door behind him. In the corridor he said, “We must go to the Registrar first because you have to sign your name in a book.” We went down the corridor and crossed a large hall with a polished floor. At the far side of it was another corridor. We went along it a few paces and then into a room where there was a lot of activity. Clerks were very busy apparently compiling lists of names, while other young men were standing before small tables writing their names in large books. The clerk who was guiding me said something to another man who disappeared into an office adjoining the larger office. Shortly after, a short, squat Chinaman came out, beaming. He wore extremely thick glasses and he, too, was dressed in the Western style. “Ah,” he said, “Lobsang Rampa. I have heard such a lot about you.” He held out his hand to me. I looked at it. I did not know what he wanted me to give him. I thought perhaps he was after money. The guide with me whispered, “You must shake his hand in the Western style.” “Yes, you must shake my hand in the Western style,” the short, fat man said. “We are going to use that system here.” So I took his hand and squeezed it. “Owe!” he said, “You are crushing my bones.” I said, “Well; I don't know what to do. In Tibet we touch our hearts, like this.” And I demonstrated. He said, “Oh, yes, but times are changing. We use this system. Now shake my hand properly, I will show you how.” And he demonstrated. So I shook his hand, and I thought, how utterly stupid this is. He said, “Now you must sign your name to show that you are a student with us.” He roughly brushed aside some of the young men who were at the books, and wet his finger and thumb, then he turned over a big ledger. “There,” he said, “will you sign your full name and rank there?” I picked up a Chinese pen and signed my name at the head of the page. “Tuesday Lobsang Rampa,” I wrote, “Lama of Tibet. Priest-Surgeon. Chakpori Lamasery. Recognised Incarnation. Abbot Designate. Pupil of the Lama Mingyar Dondup.” “Good!” said the short, fat Chinaman, as he peered down at my writing. “Good! We shall get on. I want you to look round our place now. I want you to get an impression of all the wonders of Western science there are here. We shall meet again.” With that he spoke to my guide, and the young fellow said, “Will you came with me, we will go along to the science room first.” We went out and walked briskly across the compound and into another long building. Here there was glassware everywhere. Bottles, tubing, flasks—all the equipment that we had seen before only in pictures. The young man walked to a comer. “Now!” he exclaimed. “Here is something.” And he fiddled about with a brass tube and put a piece of glass at the foot of it. Then he twisted a knob, peering into the brass tube. “Look at that!” he exclaimed. I looked. I saw the culture of a germ. The young man was looking at me anxiously. “What! aren't you astounded?” he said. “Not at all,” I replied. “We had a very good one at the Potala Lamasery given to the Dalai Lama by the Government of India. My Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, had free access to it and I used it often.” “0h!” replied the young man, and he looked most disappointed. “Then I will show you something else.” And he led the way out of the building and into another. “You are going to live at the Lamasery of the Hill,” he said, “but I thought you would like to see the very latest facilities which are enjoyed by students who are going to live in.” He opened a room door and I saw first white-washed walls, and then my fascinated gaze fell upon a black iron frame with a lot of twisted wire stretching from side to side. “What is that?” I exclaimed. “I have never seen anything like that before.” “That,” he said, with tones full of pride, “that is a bed. We have six of them in this building, the most modern things of all.” I looked. I had never seen anything like it. “A bed,” I said. “What do they do with the thing?” “Sleep on it,” he replied. “It is a very comfortable thing indeed. Lie on it and see for yourself.” I looked at him, I looked at the bed, and I looked at him again. Well, I thought, I must not show cowardice in front of any of these Chinese clerks and so I sat down on the bed. It creaked and groaned beneath me, it sagged, and I felt that I was going to fall on the floor. I jumped up hastily, “Oh, I am too heavy for it,” I said. The young man was trying to conceal his laughter. “Oh, that is what it is meant to do,” he answered. “It's a bed, a spring bed.” And he flung himself full length on it, and bounced. No, I would not do that, it was a terrible looking thing. I had always slept on the ground, and the ground was good enough for me. The young man bounced again, and bounced right off and landed with a crash on the ground. Serves him right, I thought, as I helped him to his feet. “That is not all I have to show you,” he said. “Look at this.” He led me across to a wall where there was a small basin which could have been used for making tsampa for, perhaps, half a dozen monks. “Look at it,” he said, “wonderful, isn't it?” I looked at it. It conveyed nothing to me, I could see no use in it. It had a hole in the bottom. “That's no good,” I said. “It has a hole in it. Couldn't make tea in that.” He laughed, he was really amused at that. “That,” he said, “is something even newer than the bed. Look!” He put out his hand and touched a lump of metal which was sticking up from one side of the white bowl. To my utter stupefaction water came out of the metal. Water! “It's cold,” he said. “Quite cold. Look.” And he put his hand in it. “Feel it,” he said. So I did. It was water, just like river water. Perhaps a bit staler, it smelled a bit staler than river water, but—water from a piece of metal. Whoever heard of it! He put his hand out and picked up a black thing and pushed it in the hole, in the bottom of the basin. The water tinkled on; soon it filled the basin but did not overflow, it was going somewhere else, through a hole somewhere, but it wasn't falling on the floor. The young man touched the lump of metal again and the flow of water stopped. He put his two hands in the basin full of water and swirled it about. “Look,” he said, “lovely water. You don't have to go out and dig it out of a well any more.” I put my hands in the water and swirled as well. It was quite a pleasant sensation, not having to get down on hands and knees to reach into the depths of some river. Then the young man pulled a chain and the water rushed away gargling like an old man at the point of death. He turned round and picked up what I had thought was somebody's short cloak. “Here,” he said, “use this.” I looked at him and I looked at the piece of cloth he had handed me. “What is this for?” I said, “I am fully dressed.” He laughed again. “Oh, no, you wipe your hands on this,” he said. “Like this,” and he showed me. He passed the cloth back. “Wipe them dry,” he said. So I did, but I marveled because the last time I had seen women to speak to in Tibet they would have been very glad of such a piece of cloth to make something useful from it, and here we were spoiling it by wiping our hands on it. Whatever would my mother have said if she could have seen me!

By now I really was impressed. Water from metal. Basins with holes in that could be used. The young man led the way quite jubilantly. We went down some steps and into a room which was underground. “Here,” he said, “this is where we keep bodies, men and women.” He flung open a door and there, on stone tables, were bodies all ready to be dissected. The air smelt strongly of strange chemicals which had been used to prevent the bodies from decaying. At the time I had no idea at all of what they were, because in Tibet bodies would keep a very long time without decay because of the cold dry atmosphere. Here, in sweltering Chungking, they had to be injected almost as soon as they were dead, so that they could be preserved for the few months which we students would need to dissect them. He moved a cabinet, and opened it. “Look,” he said. “The latest surgical equipment from America. For cutting up bodies, for cutting off arms and legs. Look!” I looked at all those gleaming pieces of metal, all the glasswork, and all the chromium, and I thought, well, I doubt if they can do things any better than we did in Tibet.

After I had been in the college buildings for about three hours I made my way back to my companions who were sitting somewhat anxiously in the quadrangle of the building. I told them what I had seen, what I had been doing. Then I said, “Let us look around this city, let us see what sort of a place it is. It looks very barbaric to me, the stench and the noise is terrible.” So we got on our horses again, and made our way out, and looked at the street of steps with all the shops. We dismounted so that we could go and look, one by one, at the remarkable things there were for sale. We looked down streets, down one street at the end of which there seemed to be no further road, it seemed to end abruptly at a cliff. It intrigued us so we walked down and saw that it dipped steeply and there were further steps leading down to the docks. As we looked we could see great cargo vessels, high-stemmed, junks, their lateen sails flapping idly against the masts in the idle breeze which played at the foot of the cliff. Coolies were loading some, going aboard at a jog-trot with long bamboo poles on their shoulders. At each end of the poles were loads carried in baskets. It was very warm, and we were sweltered. Chungking is noted for its sultry atmosphere. Then, as we walked along leading our horses mist came down from the clouds, and then it came up from the river, and we were groping about as if in darkness. Chungking is a high city, high and somewhat alarming. It was a steep stony city with almost two million inhabitants. The streets were precipitous, so precipitous indeed that some of the houses appeared to be caves in the mountainside, while others seemed to jut out and to overhang the abyss. Here every foot of soil was cultivated, jealously guarded, tended. There were strips and patches growing rice or a row of beans or a patch of corn, but nowhere was ground wasted or idle. Everywhere blue-clad figures were bent over, as if they were born that way, picking weeds with tired fingers. The higher class of people lived in the valley of Kialing, a suburb of Chungking, where the air was, by Chinese standards, though not by ours, healthy, where the shops were better and the ground more fertile. Where there were trees and pleasant streams. This was no place for coolies, this was for the prosperous business man, for the professional, and for those of independent means. The Mandarin and those of high caste lived here. Chungking was a mighty city, the biggest city any of us had ever seen, but we were not impressed.

It suddenly dawned upon us that we were very hungry. We were completely out of food, so there was nothing to do but go to an eating place, and eat as the Chinese did. We went to a place with a garish sign which said that they could provide the best meal in Chungking and without delay. We went and sat down at a table. A blue clad figure came to us and asked what we would have. “Have you tsampa?” I said. “Tsampa!” he replied. “Oh, no, that must be one of those Western dishes. We have nothing like that.” “Well, what have you?” I said. “Rice, noodles, shark's fins, eggs.” “All right” I said, “we will have rice balls, noodles, shark's fin and bamboo shoot. Hurry up.” He hurried away and in moments was back with the food we wanted. About us others were eating and we were horrified at the chatter and noise they were making. In Tibet, in the lamaseries, it was an inviolable rule that those who were eating did not talk because that was disrespectful to food and the food might retaliate by giving one strange pains inside. In the lamaseries when one ate, a monk always read aloud the Scriptures and we had to listen as we ate. Here there were conversations going on around us of an extremely light type. We were shocked and disgusted. We ate looking at our plates the whole time in the manner prescribed by our order. Some of the talk was not so light because there was much surreptitious discussion about the Japanese and the trouble they had been making in various parts of China. At that time I was quite ignorant of it. We were not impressed, though, by anything to do with the eating place nor with Chungking. This meal was notable only for this; it was the first meal that I ever had to pay for. After we had had it we went out and found a place in a courtyard of some municipal building where we could sit and talk. We had stabled our horses to give them a much needed rest and where they could be fed and watered, because on the morrow my companions were going to set out once again for home, for Tibet. Now, in the manner of tourists the world over they were wondering what they could take back to their friends in Lhasa, and I too was wondering what I could send to the Lama Mingyar Dondup. We discussed it, and then as if on a common impulse we got to our feet and we walked again to the shops and made our purchases. After that we walked to a small garden where we sat and talked and talked. It was dark now. The evening was upon us. The stars began to shine vaguely through the slight haze, for the fog had gone leaving just a haze. Once again we rose to our feet and went again in search of food. This time it was seafood, food which we had never had before and which tasted almost alien to us, most unpleasant, but the main thing was that it was food, because we were hungry. With our supper complete we left the eating place and went to where our horses were stabled. They seemed to be waiting for us and whinnied with pleasure at our approach. They were looking quite fresh, they felt quite fresh too as we got upon them. I was never a good horseman and certainly I preferred a tired horse to a rested one. We rode out into the street and took the road to Kialing.

We left the city of Chungking and we passed through the outskirts of that city on the road to where we were going to stay the night, to the lamasery which was going to be my home by night. We branched to the right and went up the side of a wooded hill. The lamasery was of my own order and it was the nearest approach to going home to Tibet as I entered and went into the temple in time for the service. The incense was wafted round in clouds and the deep voices of the older monks and the higher voices of the acolytes brought a sharp pang of homesickness to me. The others seemed to know how I felt for they were silent and they left me to myself. For a time I stayed in my place after the service had ended. I thought, and thought. I thought of the first time I had entered a lamasery temple after a hard feat of endurance, when I was hungry and sick at heart. Now I was sick at heart, perhaps sicker at heart than I had been the time before, for then I had been too young to know much about life, but now I felt I knew too much of life, and of death. After a time the aged Abbott in charge of the lamasery crept softly to my side. “My brother,” he said, “it is not good to dwell too much upon the past when the whole of the future is before one. The service is ended, my brother, soon it will be time for another service. Will you not go to your bed for there is much to be done on the morrow.” I rose to my feet without speaking and accompanied him to where I was to sleep. My companions had already retired. I passed them, still forms rolled in their blankets. Asleep? Perhaps. Who knows? Perhaps they were dreaming of the journey they had again to undertake and of the pleasurable re-union which they would have at the end of that journey in Lhasa. I, too, rolled myself in my blanket, and lay down. The shadows of the moon lengthened and became long before I slept.

I was awakened by the sound of temple trumpets, by gongs. It was time to rise and to attend the service once again. The service must come before the meal, but I was hungry. Yet after the service with food before me I had no appetite. Mine was a light meal, a very light meal because I was feeling sick at heart. My companions ate well, disgustingly well, I thought, but they were trying to get reinforced for the journey back which they were this day to commence. With our breakfast over we walked around a little. None of us said much. There did not seem much which we could say. Then at last I said, “Give this letter and this gift to my Guide, the Lama Mingyar Dondup. Tell him I will write to him often. Tell him that you can see how much I miss his company and his guidance.” I fiddled about inside my robe. “And this,” I said as I produced a package, “this is for the Inmost One. Give it also to my Guide, he will see that it is conveyed to the Dalai Lama.” They took it from me and I turned aside quite overcome with emotion that I did not want the others to see, I did not want them to see me, a high lama, so affected. Fortunately they too were quite distressed because a sincere friendship had sprung up between us, notwithstanding—according to Tibetan standards—the difference in our rank. They were sorry for the parting, sorry that I was being left in this strange world which they hated while they were going back to beloved Lhasa. We walked for a time amid the trees looking at the little flowers carpeting the ground, listening to the birds in the branches, watching the light clouds overhead. Then the time had come. Together we walked back to the old Chinese lamasery nestling amid the trees on the hill overlooking Chungking, overlooking the rivers. There wasn't much to say, there wasn't much to do. We fidgeted a bit and felt depressed. We went to the stables. Slowly my companions saddled their horses and took the bridle of mine, mine which had brought me so faithfully from Lhasa, and which now—happy creature—was going back to Tibet. We exchanged a few words more, a very few words, then they got on their horses and moved off towards Tibet leaving me standing, gazing down the road after them. They got smaller and smaller, They disappeared from my sight around a bend. A little cloud of dust which had been occasioned by their passing subsided, the clip-clop of their horses' hooves died in the distance. I stood thinking of the past and dreading the future. I do not know how long I stood in silent misery but I was brought from my despondent reverie by a pleasant voice which said, “Honourable Lama, will you not remember that in China there are those who will be friends with you? I am at your service, Honourable Lama of Tibet, fellow student of Chungking.” I turned slowly and there, just behind me, was a pleasant young Chinese monk. I think he rather wondered what my attitude would be to his approach because I was an abbot, a high lama, and he was just a Chinese monk. But I was delighted to see him. He was Huang, a man whom I was later proud to call a friend. We soon got to know each other and I was particularly glad to know that he too was going to be a medical student, starting on the morrow, as was I. He, too, was going to study those remarkable things, Electricity and Magnetism. He was, in fact, to be in both of those courses which I was going to study, and we got to know each other well. We turned and walked back towards the entrance of the lamasery. As we passed the portals another Chinese monk came forward and said, “We have to report to the college. We have to sign a register.” “Oh, I have done all that,” I said, “I did it yesterday.” “Yes Honourable Lama,” the other replied. “But this is not the studentship register which you signed with us, it is a fraternity register because in the college we are all going to be brothers as they are in American colleges.” So together we turned down the path once more, along the lamasery path, through the trees, the path carpeted with flowers, and we turned into the main road from Kialing to Chungking. In the company of these young men who were of much the same age as I, the journey did not seem so long nor so miserable. Soon, once again, we came to the buildings which were to be our day-time home and we went in. The young clerk in the blue linen dress was really pleased to see us. He said, “Ah, I was hoping you would call, we have an American journalist here who speaks Chinese. He would very much like to meet a high lama of Tibet.”

He led us along the corridor again and into another room, a room which I had not previously entered. It appeared to be some sort of reception room because a lot of young men were sitting about talking to young women, which I thought rather shocking. I knew very little about women in those days. A tall young man was sitting in a very low chair. He was, I should say, about thirty years of age. He rose as we entered and touched his heart to us in the Eastern way. I of course touched mine in return. We were introduced to him, and then, for some reason, he put out his hand. This time I was not unprepared and I took it, and shook it in the approved manner. He laughed, “Ah, I see that you are mastering the ways of the West which are being introduced to Chungking.” “Yes,” I said, “I have got to the stage of sitting in the perfectly horrible chairs and of shaking hands.” He was quite a nice young fellow, and I know his name still; he died in Chungking some time ago. We walked into the grounds and sat down on a low stone wall where we talked for quite a time. I told him of Tibet, of our customs. I told him much about my life in Tibet. He told me of America. I asked him what he was doing in Chungking, a man of his intelligence living in a sweltering place like that when apparently there was no particular reason for him to. He said that he was preparing a series of articles for a very famous American magazine. He asked if he could mention me in it, and I said, “Well, I would rather that you did not because I am here for a special purpose, to study, to progress, and to use this as a jumping-off point for further journeys into the West. I would rather wait until I have done something notable, something worthy of mention. And then, I went on, “then I will get in touch with you and give you this interview which you so much want.” He was a decent young fellow and understood my point. We were soon on quite friendly terms; he spoke Chinese passably well and we had no particular difficulty in understanding each other. He walked with us part of the way back to the lamasery. He said, “I would very much like sometime, if it can be arranged, to visit the temple and to take part in a service. I am not of your religion,” he said, “but I respect it, and I would like to pay my respects in your temple.” “All right,” I answered, “you shall come to our temple. You shall take part in our service and you will be welcome, that I promise.” With that we parted company because we had so much to do preparing for the morrow, the morrow when I was to begin this fresh career as a student—as if I had not been studying all my life! Back in the lamasery I had to sort out my things, see to my robes which had been travel-stained; I was going to wash them because, according to our custom, we attend to our own clothing, to our own robes, to our own personal matters, and did not employ servants to do our dirty work for us. I was also later going to wear the clothes of a Chinese student, blue clothes, because my own lamastic robes attracted too much attention and I did not want to be singled out for publicity, I wanted to study in peace. In addition to the usual things such as clothes-washing we had our services to attend, and as a leading lama I had to take my share in the administration of these services because, although during the day I was to be a student, yet at the lamasery I was still a high-ranking priest with the obligations that went with that office. So the day drew to an end, the day which I thought was never going to end, the day when, for the first time in my life, I was completely and utterly cut off from my own people.

In the morning—it was a warm sunny morning—Huang and I set off down the road again to a new life, this time as medical students. We soon covered the short journey and went into the college grounds where there seemed to be hundreds of others milling around a notice board. We carefully read all the notices and found our names were together so that at all times we should be studying together. We pushed our way past others still reading, and made our way to the classroom which had been indicated to us. Here we sat down, rather marveling—or I did—at all the strangeness of the fittings, the desks, and all that. Then, after what seemed to be an eternity of time, others came in, in small groups, and took their places. Eventually a gong sounded somewhere and a Chinaman entered, and said, “Good morning, gentlemen.” We all rose to our feet because the regulations said that that was the approved method of showing respect, and we replied, “Good morning,” back to him. He said he was going to give us some written papers and we were not to be discouraged by our failures because his task was to find out what we did not know, not how much we knew. He said that until he could find the exact standard of each of us he would not be able to assist us. The papers would deal with everything, various questions all mixed up, a veritable Chinese broth of knowledge dealing with Arithmetic, Physics, Anatomy, everything relating to medicine and surgery and science, and the subjects which were necessary to enable us to study medicine, surgery and science to higher levels. He gave us clearly to understand that if we did not know how to answer a question then we could put down that we had not studied to that point but give, if we could, some information so that he could assess the exact point at which our knowledge ended. Then he rang the bell. The door opened and in came two attendants laden with what seemed to be books. They moved amongst us and distributed these books. They were not books, actually, but sheaves of questions on paper and many sheets of paper upon which we were to write. Then the other one came and distributed pencils. We were going to use pencils and not brushes on this occasion. So, then we set to, reading through the questions, one by one, answering them as best we could. We could see by the lecturer's aura, or at least I could, that he was a genuine man and that his only interest was to help us.

My Guide and Tutor, the Lama Mingyar Dondup, had given me very highly specialized training. The result of the papers which we were given in about two days' time showed that in very many subjects I was well in advance of my fellow students, but it showed that I had no knowledge whatever of Electricity or Magnetism. Perhaps a week after that examination we were in a laboratory where we were to be given a first demonstration because, like me, some of the others had no idea of the meaning of those two dreadful sounding words. The lecturer had been giving us a talk about electricity and he said, “Now, I will give you a practical demonstration of the effects of electricity, a harmless demonstration.” He handed me two wires and said, “Hold these, will you, hold them tightly until I say; ‘let go’.” I thought that he was asking me to assist him in his demonstration (he was!) and so I held the wires, although I was rather perturbed because his aura showed that he was contemplating some form of treachery. I thought, well perhaps I am misjudging him, he's not a very nice fellow anyhow. He turned and walked quickly away from me to his own demonstration table. There he pressed a switch. I saw light coming from the wire and I saw the aura of the lecturer betray amazement. He appeared to be intensely surprised. “Hold them tighter,” he said. So I did. I squeezed the wires. The lecturer looked at me and really rubbed his eyes. He was astounded, that was obvious to everyone, even anyone without the ability to see the aura. It was obvious that this lecturer had never had such a surprise before. The other students looked on in open-mouthed wonder. They could not understand what it was all about. They had no idea at all what was intended. Quickly the lecturer came back to me after switching off and took the two wires from me. He said, “There must be something wrong, there must be a disconnection.” He took the two wires in his hand and went back to the table with them. One wire was in his left hand, the other was in his right. Still holding them he stretched forth a finger and flicked on the switch. Then he erupted into a tremendous “Yow! Switch off, it's killing me!” At the same time his body was knotted up as if all his muscles were tied and paralyzed. He continued to yell and scream and his aura looked like the setting sun. “How very interesting,” I thought, “I have never seen anything as pretty as that in the human aura!”

The continued shrieks of the lecturer soon brought people running in. One man took a glance at him and rushed to the table and switched off the switch. The poor lecturer dropped to the floor, perspiring freely and shaking. He looked a sorry sight; his face had a pale greenish tinge to it. Eventually he stood up clasping the edge of the desk. “You did that to me.” I replied, “I? I haven't done a thing. You told me to hold the wires and I held them, then you took them from me and you looked as if you were going to die.” He said, “I can't understand it. I can't understand it.” I answered, “What can't you understand? I held the things, what are you talking about?” He looked at me: “Didn't you really feel anything? Didn't you feel a tingle or anything?” “Well,” I said, “I felt just a pleasant bit of warmth, nothing more. Why, what should I feel?” Another lecturer, the one who had switched off the current said, “Will you try it again?” I said, “Of course I will, as many times as you like.” So he handed me the wires. He said, “Now I am going to switch on. Tell me what happens.” He pressed the switch, and I said, “Oh, it's just a pleasant bit of warmth. Nothing to worry about at all. It's just as if I had my hands fairly close to a fire.” He said, “Squeeze it tighter.” And I did so, I actually squeezed it until the muscles stood out on the backs of my hands. He and the previous lecturer looked at each other, and the current was switched off. Then one of them took the two wires from me and put cloth around them, and he held them lightly in his hands. “Switch on,” he said to the other. So the other lecturer switched on, and the man with the wires wrapped in cloth in his hands soon dropped it. He said, “Oh, it's still on.” In dropping the two wires fell free of the cloth and touched. There was a vivid blue flash, and a lump of molten metal jumped from the end of the wire. “Now you have blown the fuses,” said one, and he went off to do a repair somewhere.

With the current restored they went on with their lecture about Electricity. They said they were trying to give me two hundred and fifty volts as a shock to show what electricity could do. I have a peculiarly dry skin and two hundred and fifty volts hurt me not at all. I can put my hands on the mains and be quite unaware of whether they are on or not. The poor lecturer was not of that type at all, he was remarkably susceptible to electric currents. In the course of the lecture they said, “In America if a man commits murder, or if the lawyers say that he is guilty of murder, the man is killed by electricity. He is strapped to a chair, and the current is applied to his body and it kills him.” I thought how very interesting. I wonder what they would do with me, though I have no desire to try it seriously.

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