LamaChava's mother died when he was three. His father died when he was seven. He moved in with his brother, a campesino, who made a dollar a day working in the peanut fields on the coast of Oaxaca. When he was ten years old, he dropped out of school and started working alongside his brother fulltime.
By the time Chava came to work for me, he had been in the fields for almost a dozen years. He was recommended to me as someone who would work hard --- so I hired him on to build a shack on a piece of land I had rented near the beach. He turned out to be a good brick-layer and carpenter, and a loyal worker. After we got the house built, I asked him to stay on as caretaker.
Shortly after, he married Paulina, who lived next door. I particularly liked her because she was calm, and gentle, and put up with Chava's occasional drunken fits. She had a small, graceful mole on her forehead, what they call a luna (the same word in Spanish for "moon.") It was located just above the junction of her eyebrows. I thought of it as her Mexican Third Eye.
They have two boys now, one seven and the other less than a year old. The youngest one is named Lorenzo. I'm his official padrino, or god-father.
I tell you, he's something special --- and it's not just because he has such a fine name and wonderful god-father. His hair is black, and his eyes so dark that there is no differentiation between pupil and iris. He is very pale --- the phrase they use is muy güero --- much lighter than his mother and father. They tell me that to say that someone is muy güero is a high compliment in this part of the world.
Indeed, his skin is so pale that his face reminds me of one of those Oriental masks --- like a geisha, or a player in a Noh drama. He also has a faint epicanthic fold at the corner of the eyes. The Chinese landed here fifteen centuries ago, we are told, in long sailing vessels, with huge red-and-black eyes painted on the sails. They stayed, mixed with the people of the region, and that is why the people here, like Lorenzo, have such a delicate oriental look.
He doesn't wriggle around like the other babies I know, and Chava tells me that he scarcely ever cries. He sent me a picture not long ago. They had put him in one of those cheap metal-and-plastic wire chairs, and he is sitting there, becalmed, the lines radiating out from behind him, and I swear, they pour out from his body like the rays of the sun. With his astonishing steady gaze, his round, pale face, and his gentle peace, I've been thinking that it might be time for some Tibetan lamas to come here. When they start their search for the next master.
I asked Paulina and Chava if anything funny happened in Lorenzo's first year. Were there earthquakes, any wobbling stars in the sky? Did flowers bloom in the dry sand of the beach? How about rainbows or strange birds? Did he say anything unusual during the first moments of life: "Ah hung," for instance. (If he said it three times, it's to be a dead giveaway. That's the way they found the 5th Sharmapa.)
They said they couldn't remember anything special. Like most babies, he wasn't much for talking his first year. As far as birds --- there were the usual grackles in the mango tree outside their door, screaming at the sunrise, and at the sunset, as they always do. There might have been a rainbow sometime during the year, and yes --- there had been a small earthquake, as there often is, centered in Oaxaca City.
That's enough for me. The Tibetan government-in-exile there in Daramsala may have a new tulku on their hands. I'll ask if they can ship over one or two possessions of the previous lama...bells, a dorje, beads, a hat: anything that Lorenzo might recognize.
I'll also suggest that one or more of the lamas might want to come over to meet us in Cipolete for a definitive investigation. I'll explain that I think we have a strong case with Lorenzo, because of his calm, and gentleness, and those wonderful long ear-lobes. I'll explain to them that we'd be especially honored in having the present Dalai Lama join us in the questioning. Ever since he met with that sourpuss, Jesse Helms --- and came out smiling --- he's been a great hero of me and many of my friends.
When the lamas arrive, we'll gather up some toys from the neighbor kids --- ratty little hand-made kites, beat-up soccer balls, broken dolls --- and mix them together with the bells and relics, and present them to Lorenzo.
If he is, as I suspect, a realized master come back for the benefit of all sentient beings, I'll explain to Chava and Paulina that they may have to give up their baby to a far lamasery for a few years. I know that Lorenzo will understand --- he's already shown a great patience in the midst of this particular dusty and poverty-stricken rebirth, and for him it will be like going home. His parents may take a little more convincing.
I'll tell them that there are excellent rewards for having a home-grown tulku as a son. They'll lose him for a while, but, later on, they'll get to travel all over the world and meet lots of interesting people --- presidents and sourpuss senators and the like. And they'll have the special joy of knowing that for the rest of his life, their young man will be working for world peace against all the idiots that are still, at the end of the 20th Century, for God's sakes, continuing to murder, pillage, rape.
I'll point out to Lorenzo's parents in this particular life them that there are just too many coincidences for them to deny. There's Paulina's third eye. There's Lorenzo's divine calm and patience. And there's the real give-away --- the names.
I am not only talking about his father's name, which is uncannily similar to Chagya Chenpo, the Great Seal. There is, as well, his padrino family name. Milam.
"Milam," I'll tell them, is one of the six holy teachings of Naropa (1016 - 1100). It means "Dream," and it lies right there cheek-by-jowl with Osel ("Clear Light"), Tumo ("Inner Heat"), and Gyulu ("The Illusory").
Lorenzo, born of Chagya Chenpo, son of a mother with a built-in third eye, with a loving padrino named Milam.
How could they fail to see the wonderful coincidence in all that?
--- Lorenzo W. Milam