Pema Tense was nine years old in 1939 when he became a monk in the Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa in Tibet. Neither his age or vocation was unusual. Pema learned to read Buddhist scriptures and memorized long passages by heart. His teachers discovered a musical talent of his. He was great at deep throat overtone chanting that can ruin the vocals after prolonged time. He ate a frugal , satisfying diet, vegetarian more by necessity than by choice. The outbreak of the great war did not affect his humble life whatsoever. They were quite isolated in their mountain reach. The resident foreigners could be counted on one hand, other than that there was a yearly visit from the Nazi army. They came in hopes to learn of occult knowledge. Pema Tense, too, was in search of occult knowledge. Many monks of the monastery joined because it was the right thing to do in their culture. Pema joined for more religous and spiritual matters. He found little of nothing of it in the Drepung monastery. There was much ceremonial and religous observance but the knowledge behind it was, infact, lacking. Pema sought his knowledge elsewhere. He consulted his superiors of this, they suggested he needs to find a personal guru. The Guru-Chela (student) bond is a very ancient convention in the Orient. The Chela utterly bonds himself to the guru and tends to every need. Pema had found himself a guru, the Guru was said to not be taking students. Pema was not so easily discouraged. After three days of waiting at the Guru's house, Pema was accepted as his Chela. After being accepted in, the Guru stated the best teachers were the Gods themselves. He also mentioned the gods were not so easy to contact either.
So it began, Pema's formal teaching. He was told to construct a nine foot mandala. The mandala is an intricate circle made from single grains of colored sand. He was to call forth the god "Yidam." One thing about Tibetan gods is they are often had a fearsome, demonic aspect to them. So, it had been done Pema made is mandala (kylkhor). Now he was instucted to find a suitable cave to bring forth Yidam. After three days hiking through the mountains Pema, had indeed, found a suitable cavern.
Upon return Pema was instucted to set up his mandala in the cave and embark on a series of daily meditations trying to bring Yidam to visual appearance. The books and scripture he had read offered him a great starting place as to what the Yidam had looked like. It ook Pema several lonely months to bring Yidam to visual appearance. At first it was a flicker, then it was there. Hulking, enormous, and frightening.
Returing to his Guru he was greeted with enthusiasm thanks to his feat. Now, he was to hear Yidam lest he not hear what was given to teach. After a month Pema had indeed heard the voice of Yidam.
As before the Guru was pleased with his pupil. He was told to return to his cave and have the Yidam lay his hands upon Pema's forehead in blessing. This proved to be the most difficult of his tasks. It took six months to feel the Yidam's hands. When Yidam laid his hands upon Pema, Pema had felt a surge of energy at the base of his spine spiraling upward, liquid fire. All the while expanding his consciousness, breaking barriers, burning away alll negativity. He compared it to his body being lit up from within like a lamp.
Pema returned, not as happy this time. Yidam following behind his left shoulder. His Guru asked what the matter was. Pema replied he had recieved the blessing of Yidam, but he felt that Yidam wasn't a god. He felt Yidam was created by him. The Guru was pleased with his Chela.