The Prom Reindeer

Written by Mila Khyentse

Mila Khyentse is a French teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and Dzogchen and the Dzogchen Today! project initiator.

Blog | General Introduction to Dzogchen | Reflections on life

In this article, “The Prom Reindeer”, Mila Khyentse talks about the Dzogchen qualities of Santa Claus’ eight or nine She Reindeers.

The Prom Reindeer

It’s the end of the year again. And as always at the end of the year, everyone, young and old, is waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. This modern offshoot of the medieval figure of St Nicholas couldn’t exist without his eight reindeer. He wouldn’t be able to travel around the world in a single night! And yet we don’t know much about these precious helpers of the world’s most famous old man. They appear in a very old English poem, probably from the Middle Ages, called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, which tells of an old man from the North who drives a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

Reindeer are the perfect candidates for the practice of the Great Perfection! Many texts describe the qualities needed to walk this path: humility, peace, hidden strength and majesty, intrepidity.

They appear in a very old English poem, probably from the Middle Ages, called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, which tells of an old man from the North who drives a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

The story tells us that, in the beginning, Saint Nicholas only traveled around Northern Europe on snowshoes. But as his influence spread, he soon had to cover a much wider area. Then he had the idea of inviting all the animals of the Far North to a party, a prom, and they all came: the Siberian wolf, the seal, the polar bear, the Arctic hare, the stern, the eagle, the penguin… Except one: the reindeer who, modestly, thought he wasn’t cut out for the job. So he stayed in his meadow and grazed. It’s worth pointing out that this is a SHE reindeer, not a reindeer, as only the females keep their magnificent antlers in winter. Yet it was she who was crowned Queen reindeer of the Ball, without even having been there! Saint Nicholas had spotted the qualities he was looking for: humility, peace, hidden strength and majesty. And that pleased him! He proposed a partnership to our reindeer and, to convince her, gave her the power of flight. She was intrepid and dreamed of seeing the world, so she jumped at the chance.

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She brought back seven of her fellow reindeer, and every year since, they’ve taken the good saint around the world. In 1939, a ninth reindeer was added to the team: Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, who helps Santa Claus (formerly St Nicholas) make his way through the fog.

Reindeer are the perfect candidates for the practice of the Great Perfection! Many texts describe the qualities needed to walk this path: humility, peace, hidden strength and majesty, intrepidity. The Great Perfection can also be achieved by grazing in the meadow under a starry sky on the most beautiful night of the year.

Happy Holidays to all!

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