The Ancestral Canine Club
Smoking opium with the Mayor of Lhasa is the thing one does for access to an exceptionally large supply of high quality Cordyceps.
Corydyceps is a medicinal fungi, used in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine to benefit the Lungs and strengthen the lower back. While alive, it is parasitic, feeding on insects and turning their body into it’s own. The best known species is Corydyceps sinensis, first recorded by Nyamnyi Dorje, a 15th century Tibetan doctor, in his text An Ocean of Aphrodisiac Qualities.
I was meeting with Regent Wangchuk Dorje in a secret chamber of the Potala Palace. The Regent had a small digital clock on the floor in front of him, arranged so that I could see the time. 12:18AM. Next to this he had placed two cups of tea and a small Hennesey bottle. Wangchuk was mixing Californian Sativa into a joint filled with American Spirit tobacco sprinkled with opium; a Tibetan, working for the Chinese government, smoking Cali chronic, drinking Henessey w/ yak butter tea, and.., apparently.., an avid art collector!
We were sitting in the middle of the room, myself facing a nine foot painting of Palden Lhamo, while the Mayor sat directly in front of the deity. Palden Lhamo is the spiritual protector of the Dalai Lama.
“That’s a strange painting to have here,” I said pointing to Palden Lhamo.
Wangchuk finished rolling the joint up, and gave the seam a slow lick with his tongue. Looking back, ”Why? It’s magnificent!”
“This painting was housed at Chokorgye Monastery, south of Lhama la-tso, the lake where the visions of the next Dalai Lama are contemplated.”
“Used to be.., used to be.”
When a Cordyceps fungus attacks a host, the mycelium invades and eventually replaces the host tissue leaving the fungus body. Cordyceps species are able to affect the behavior of their insect host to achieve maximal distribution of spores. Evidence suggests this ability to modify the host’s behavior evolved more than 50 million years ago.
“So, it was moved to this private room in the Potala Palace?”
Wangchuk Dorje paused before he lit the joint, “Yes, it was moved here, to the Potala Palace, to this secret room, so that guests of the Rejent Wangchuk Dorje can have special occasion to gaze on her.” Blowing a large cloud of tobacco and marijuana into the room, he handed me the joint. “Do you approve..?”
I definitely approved of seeing a royal painting that only the highest order of monks were historically privileged to view. What was it doing in this little private chamber in the Potala, though? Wangchuk Dorje was a peculiar breed of Chinese government official. He became mayor after a long line of corrupt mayors held office and was from a family, with ties to Beijing, that had remained in power before, during, and after the Chinese invasion.
Helping me acquire 300 hundred pounds of the highest quality Cordyceps was one of the benefits of being a high level official in Tibet. Although, modern lab grown Corydyceps was good quality, it still did not come close to the crop I was getting; this would sell for $3000/ oz., worth more than it’s weight in gold! $3000 x 300 lbs. = $14.4MM.
(Beep) Did you see this?
Looking at my phone, I see my business partner Aja has messaged me a video of the Charlie Rose interview where Elizabeth Holmes, the Wunderkind responsible for the Theranos Walgreens partnership, is debating medical diagnosis with me. What a disaster that was! Just go for a heart to heart with Charlie, my publicist says. Introduce your new start up, Phyto-Therapeutics – keep it classy and friendly.
Thernos was the typical medical company that sounded too good to be true. And with Henry Kissinger on the Board, sure, I’ll keep er’ friendly. Though I do like the founder – cute, blonde, fanatic..,
“L-o-v-e-l-y-!”, I text her back.
Aja’s a Metal Rabbit – quiet, intelligent, and reserved – basically a minister to the King. Absolute trust of the info going out and coming in is a powerful form of advisement in itself. You need people like Aja around you when your in my position. Millions of dollars on the line and high profile to the most cut throat of industries, entertainment and medicine.
After my first startup exit in 2018, selling my shares in that mobile music TV, 3D printing thing, I helped her develop a behavior therapy called 5 Dogs. Based on the Taoist philosophy Five Elements and Chinese herbal medicine, with a nod towards Cesar Milan (still the man). It’s gone on to become a hit with middle age dog owners – especially in China. We’ll be giving a speech to the Ancestral Canine Club in Shanghai next week. They are having China’s 100,000 member party. We, 5 Dogs and China, launched the ACC three weeks ago.
If you have a dog in China, you have to join the Ancestral Canine Club (ACC). Your husband and kids have to get their own, separate memberships to handle the dog in public. Each membership costs $50 a year and serves as the dog’s license to that individual ensuring that the state will keep the dog safe and healthy. You can have up to 3 licensed family members, after that additional family members can register online for free and handle the dog. The license covers yearly check ups with Western and Chinese medicine practitioners, access to quality, low cost food sites, and the 5DOGS app to handle all dog care information and online chatting with other dog owners and professional care givers.
For a family of three, $50 x 3 =$150 – that’s about 1% percent of the average annual family income. Half of that goes to the ACC, the other half to the state. We provide access to inexpensive chinese herbs for dogs, organic dog food, and the 5DOGS app. Want to know how we worked that out with the Chinese governments? You either have something they really want or are really afraid of – both is best. That’s what we have, and that’s why we’re in China. Well, we’re in Tibet.., inside China.
“No rest for the wicked?”, says Wangchuk Dorje handing me not much of the joint back and staring at me as he blows out a large cloud of smoke in my direction. “I’d like it if you would have lunch with me and the 11th Panchen Lama – he is here in Lhasa!”
As I am led out of the room by one of the Regent’s bodyguard’s, I look back and see Wangchuk Dorje talking on his cell as he closes the door – Palden Lhamo’s eyes watching me leave. The stairwell leading down from Wangchuk Dorje’s floor is magnificent – dark, wide, and medieval. The bodyguard walks a few feet in front of me, relaxed, but aware of my movements. We walk down many stories of the stairs where I stop to look at another thangka painting of Palden Lhamo on the wall. The bodyguard stops a few stairs down and leans on the wall, lowers his head, and closes his eyes.
Palden Lhamo has dark blue skin, is riding a horse that has naked, human bodies strapped to it, cut open. She holds a sceptre raised high and drinks blood from a human skull’s head. The top of the head has been chopped off and is now her drinking cup. Surrounding Palden Lhamo is an aura of fire. On the backside of her horse is a single eye which grew where her angry husband shot an arrow, after she killed their son. He was destined to destroy Buddhism and she now sits on his skin as a saddle blanket.
Tibebetan Buddhist art focuses mainly on the figures of the religion – Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Gods, etc. Starting with a cognitive understanding of the images, the mind can imagine a three dimensional visualization of the deity. The practitioner can visualize himself as the deity and all the qualities it represents – in particularly, an empowerment of compassion, protection, and wisdom.
I continue to be led out of the palace by Wangchuk’s body guard. The bodyguard stops at a small door at the corner of the palace, leading to a long service pathway headed away and down from the palace. Passing through the door, I turn back to the guard, who stays inside facing me. For the first time that night he is looking into my eyes and smiling. His hands are together over his heart in the prayer mudra.
“The Regent Wangchuk Dorje wishes that you bring your young partnet to the lunch tomorrow. He wishes you both to hear what the Panchen Lama has to say.”
“She’s not vegetarian.”
“Neither is Wangchuk Dorje!”
Dorje’s guard drives me through the city – it’s dark and quiet in Lhasa. A few lights are shining from some of the windows, but most are dark. One of them is open and a tibetan singer can be heard on the radio, “the raven squaks, spreads its wings, and flies West..,”