Tenzing Norbu

(creators: Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay)

Gay Hendricks
Tenzing ("Ten") Norbu is a Tibetan who had been born in India where his father had been a Buddhist monk from Tibet and his mother a 20-year-old travelling American who had taken her baby son with her to Paris where she had begun “drinking herself to an early death". Ten had spent his early years “shuffling between her apartment in Paris and the Dorje Yidam monastery in India, where Apa (his father) was an abbot". After his mother died he lived full-time in the monastery until he left for California so as to “share the Dharma teachings with American teenagers" at the Tibetan Centre in Los Angeles.

He had “never wanted to be anything but a modern incarnation of Sherlock Holmes" so had given up his monk's robes and joined the Los Angeles Police Department learning "more about practical spirituality in the real world during one summer in law enforcement than I ever had in the monastery". But what he really liked was action so, never happy “shuffling papers and testifying in court", when he was "barely thirty" he decided to set up as a private detective.

One of his pleasures in life is his bright yellow '65 Shelby Mustang car. It is that, together with his huge cat called Tank and his “classic Super grade .38" gun that “present an ongoing challenge to his (Buddhist) practice of non-attachment.“ He describes himself as “an isolator by nature" and is the narrator throughout.

Gay Hendricks (1945 - ) earned his PhD in counselling pyschology from Stanford in 1974, and for 21 years was a Professor of Counselling Psychology at the University of Colorado. He is the happily married author or co-author (with his wife) of over thirty books including titles like The Corporate Mystic and Conscious Living. He also co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle which "distributes inspirational movies to subscribers in 70+ countries around the world", and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He was himself initiated as a Buddhist in 1973. He and his wife have two children.

Tinker (christened Dorothy) Lindsay has worked in the Hollywood entertainment industry for over three decades, writing and editing screenplays and two books before this one. She had graduated "with high honors" in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard University, and studied and taught meditation for several years before moving to Los Angeles. She was given the nickname Tinker after her mother saw Peter Pan on Broadway. She has been married (1979 - 1998) with two children of her own and another two she brought up.

The First Rule of Ten (2012)
The First Rule of Ten is intended as the first installment of a three-book series.
After resigning from the Los Angeles Police Dept, Tenzing Norbu has to cope with two bullet-wounds, three suspicious deaths, and the attentions of a beautiful woman, and quickly learns that whenever he breaks his first rule ("If you're open to learning, you get your life lessons delivered as gently as the trickle of a feather. But if you're defensive, if you stubbornly persist in being right instead of learning the lesson at hand, if you stop paying attention to the tickles, the nudges, the clues – boom! Sledgehammer." Or in his case, the mangled slug of a .45 automatic which had almost killed him).

Helped by his friend, computer expert Mike, Ten decides to set up as a private investigator. An ex-dope addict called Barbara Maxey asks him about the previous owner of his house, one Zimmy Backus, but soon afterwards her dead body is found - and even though she hadn't hired him and obviously couldn't pay him, he decides to investigate further. As a friend's wife reassures him, "Everybody's got to start somewhere". When his investigations take him to the Children of Paradise Sanctuary, led by the sinister and murderous Brother Eldon (who had cleverly got all of his members to sign up for life insurance), it is not long before he gets his first paying client, Zimmy Backus himself.

At first it all makes quite a lively tale, helped along by some entertaining descriptions as of “an enormous woman, part brawler part lover" who “loomed in the kitchen entrance, encased in a psychedelic, multicoloured muumuu .… Three hundred pounds of quivering love made a beeline for my friend. She wrapped him up like a burrito and squeezed. Then she caught sight of me over John D's shoulder and spring-loaded him free.
John D recognised the avid look on her face.
'Josecita, I don't think ..."
She darted behind me, and for an instant I was enveloped by two billowing breasts, hanging like warm water balloons on either side of my head. Then Josecita cackled and was gone."
And there is a particularly effective description of the opulent Jonathan Club where “I stepped into a secret world of hushed opulence …. I paused to scan the spacious room. I might never get this close to a museum-quality world again. Lots of columns, sculptures, busts, and ornamental vases. Lots of portraits of hoary men staring into the distance, calculating their net worth. I felt completely intimidated, which was probably the point."

Ten remains a practising Buddhist. As he explains, “Every situation comes with myriad karmic influences and conditions. The Buddha himself said that karma is so complex a person could go crazy trying to figure it out: the only way to simplify, he suggests, is to follow the basic principle that it is our intention that determines our karma. Good intentions produce good karma; bad intentions produce bad."

Ten certainly has good intentions, and is able to get some help by communing with two Buddhist friends he had grown up with in India and who were still in their monastery 8000 miles away. He explains, “I slipped into the covenant of subtle energy I have shared with Yeshe and Lobsang since we were children .... I sat with my eyes closed, barely breathing, sensing my two friends bobbing side-by-side like buoys, far away but tethered in the same ocean .... they let me know they were fine, each in his own way." He asked them for help then "ended with an all-purpose benediction I apply whenever I ask for assistance from unseen forces, even when they are my best friends: May answers come to me by easeful attraction rather than stressful pursuit, and may all beings benefit from these enquiries. And, of course, so (eventually) they do. But one's interest rather falters as the story progresses.

At the end, Ten gets kidnapped and there is a a violent finale in which he does not hesitate to join. He goes on to confront one of the villains, “ 'How much did you get paid for mugging the old guy at the bank?'
(the villain's) eyes blinked rapidly at this new twist in the conversation. 'Barsotti gave me 100 bucks,' he mumbled.
'A hundred dollars, huh? That's your price for hurting an old man who never hurt you or anyone else?'

He started backing away from me. 'Guess what?' I said. “I'm going to do it to you for free.' I drove my right fist deep in his groin."
I'm not quite sure what became of his Buddhist detachment here - but episodes like this do not make him a very attractive figure. I don't feel I'm in much of a hurry to meet him again.

The two authors include fulsome praise of each other on as many as seven pages of acknowledgements at the end of the book: "Tinker writes like an angel, laughs like a pirate, and dispenses good vibes to all who are privileged to know her", while Tinker says of Gail, "He swooped into my life like a comet and invited me to join him in a space where there's no such thing as can't, won 't, or shouldn't" and there are grateful thanks to all and sundry ranging from Conan Doyle to Tinker's "beloved sister, Cammy" and her brother, Bob "whose talent is only superseded by his generosity", not to mention "Daisy and Addie, my hilarious and most remarkable granddaughters". And there'a "a special shout-out "for her writers group of "talented and amazing women".

Gay Hendricks and his wife have their own Hendricks Institute counselling website, complete with a video offering advice on how to breathe, move and love, and Tinker Lindsay also has her own website, and there is an interesting article about her screenwriting career in Span magazine. And the book itself has its own website with a video welcome from the ever-grinning Gay.

Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!


Gay Hendricks
Tinker Lindsay
Tinker Lindsay
The First Rule of Ten cover
The cover is distinctly non-committal.
Return to