When I was in France this summer, I met with my teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, for five minutes. He’s busy—he has commitments, a foundation to run, a lot of students who want to see him: thousands. In fact, we are all clambering to see him. Who knows what we want from him—a lot of weird things. This summer, for instance, he cautioned us, at the program in France, not to talk to him about so-called “tantric sex.” He said something like, “I don’t know what tantric sex is, and I don’t want to know. So if you think you’re having it, don’t tell me about it.” We can be pretty crazy.

Anyway, I met with him for five minutes. We were outside, on a porch in the back of the house in the exquisite Dordogne Valley where he was staying. He was in robes. I feel like he was barefoot, but probably not—he was probably wearing sandals. He walked in front of me, slowly, his back towards me, when I first got outside, and I followed. It’s when he walks, that I often see him as a prince, or these days, as a king. He has that quality.

Finally, he motioned for me to sit down in a chair by a table. Then he leaned up against that same table, about a foot from me, crossed his ankles one over the other, and smiled at me, or maybe even chuckled. We talked, and he laughed a lot, like he was happy, and having fun. It was like we were on a date—he was very near, and he was having a nice time. (We weren’t on a date, FYI, don’t worry.) But that’s what he made me feel—that he was having a nice time, just being there for that five minutes one early evening in the Dordogne Valley. It felt personal.

Like I said, he is very busy, there were other people waiting in the foyer to see him. Many people had come before me on that day, and the days before that. But he just leaned against the table, and smiled. He wasn’t anywhere but there. It sounds like nothing, but it startled me. Though it was completely simple and subtle, it was a gift. The gift was, I’m here. The gift was, You’re O.K., Deitch—you’re completely O.K.

But I don’t feel O.K. like that. I don’t feel, inside myself, that I know that kind of acceptance. No one’s ever treated me like that before, like there was nothing at all wrong. (This is nothing “spiritual,” by the way. This is not a woo-woo thing, with incense and bells and prayer.) This is what I left my summer with. This is how it is: You’re O.K., Deitch—you’re completely O.K.

Anyway, it’s time for me to tell you this. I probably haven’t conveyed it, the message. I haven’t been treated like that, and I haven’t treated people like that. So now I’d like to convey it. I’m going to start here. I’m going to start now.

(Photo: Rinpoche by Pawo Choyning Dorji; taken with a Hipstamatic iPhone camera)