Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Hind Pocket Books

Of profound visions and a higher calling

Running Toward Mystery || Tenzin Priyadarshi, Zara Houshmand

At the age of six, The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi began having visions of a mysterious mountain peak, and of men with shaved heads wearing robes of the color of sunset. At the age of ten, he ran away from boarding school to find this place which he saw in his visions.

Running Toward Mystery is the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi’s profound account of his lifelong journey as a seeker. At its heart is a story of striving for enlightenment, the vital importance of mentors in that search, and of the many remarkable teachers he met along the way, among them the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Mother Teresa.

Here’s an excerpt from the book.




I was six years old in 1985, when the dreams and visions had started. The very first time too, there was no question that I was wide awake. I was with a friend who lived in the same compound, at Evelyn Lodge, where our bungalow was. I had gone to his apartment to ask him to play and we were walking toward the cricket field when I saw what looked at first like streaks and patches of orange in the sky. Was it sun- set already? That would mean it was time to go home, but it couldn’t be. We hadn’t even started playing. Then the colors resolved into shapes and their outlines became clear. Men in robes of that saffron sunset color, with shaved heads, were milling about. There was a deer and a small hut. Some of the men went into the hut and came out again. It was as vivid as if I were watching a scene from life.

“Do you see that?”

My friend followed my gaze, squinting into the sky. “See what?” He swung the bat at nothing. I pinched myself. That was what you were supposed to do if you thought you were dreaming. It made no difference. Slowly, as we continued to walk, the scene faded into the sky and disappeared. Later, when I got home, I told my parents, but they said I must have imagined it.

I worried that there was something wrong with my eyes. But I had no trouble seeing the blackboard in class, or the ball when it was my turn to bat, or the mangoes hanging in the orchard, waiting for my arrows. And if it was my mind that wasn’t right? Well, it was right enough in all other depart- ments. My grades were excellent.

And so it was forgotten, no big deal, and the memory would have been lost in the jumbled closet of a child’s mind if I hadn’t seen the other things later. There was a place that I dreamt of again and again, but even when I was awake it ap- peared very clearly to my mind’s eye: A rocky peak loomed above a plain, wrapped in woods and scrub but with boulders and a cliff face exposed. I had a bird’s-eye view, but I could see no buildings, no human mark on the landscape, nothing to hint at where this place was or why it should rouse in me a lingering sweetness, a yearning. It was as perplexing as the man who kept visiting my dreams, and just as persistent. There were other people who appeared at times, some with shaved heads and some with dreadlocks, wearing different shades of yellow, orange, or red. But he was the one I saw most clearly.

I was old enough to know that dreams, however weird they might seem, are normally rooted in the workings of our own minds and that waking hallucinations are not normal. I didn’t have a theory—not even a half-baked hint—about what these intrusions in my mind might signify. They seemed to come from beyond me, beyond the world of logical sense, a genuine mystery that begged to be solved.

Now I lay there in the darkened room, listening to the random snuffles and snores of a hundred sleeping boys, and felt a mounting sense of urgency. I wasn’t going to get any closer to the answer by lying here wide awake until the morning bell.

To find it, I needed to go out and search for it. After all, mysteries are how adventures begin.

It was time. I crept out of bed slowly. There was just enough shadowy light spilling over from the foyer to see by. Moving as quietly as possible, I put some clothes into a small daypack. I sat on the edge of the bed, so I didn’t have to risk the noise of pulling out the desk chair, and wrote a note to my parents. Just a few words that revealed nothing so much as a ten-year- old’s hubris—that I was leaving on a spiritual quest and didn’t know where it would take me, but they shouldn’t worry. I slid the note under the wooden lid of the desk.











More from the Penguin Digest

error: Content is protected !!