124 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING and negativity on your whole being, the wisdom of insight can slowly dawn. And in the all-revealing clarity of its sunlight this insight can show you, distinctly and directly, both the subtlest workings of your own mind and the nature of reality. THE WISE GUIDE Two people have been living in you all your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to. As you listen more and more to the teachings, contemplate them, and integrate them into your life, your inner voice, your innate wisdom of discernment, what we call in Buddhism "discriminating awareness," is awakened and strengthened, and you begin to distinguish between its guidance and the various clamorous and enthralling voices of ego. The memory of your real nature, with all its splendor and confidence, begins to return to you. You will find, in fact, that you have uncovered in yourself your own wise guide. Because he or she knows you through and through, since he or she is you, your guide can help you, with increasing clarity and humor, negotiate all the difficulties of your thoughts and emotions. Your guide can also be a continual, joyful, tender, sometimes teasing presence, who knows always what is best for you and will help you find more and more ways out of your obsession with your habitual responses and confused emotions. As the voice of your discriminating awareness grows stronger and clearer, you will start to distinguish between its truth and the various deceptions of the ego, and you will be able to listen to it with discernment and confidence. The more often you listen to this wise guide, the more easily you will be able to change your negative moods yourself, see through them, and even laugh at them for the absurd dramas and ridiculous illusions that they are. Gradually you will find yourself able to free yourself more and more quickly from the dark emotions that have ruled your life, and this ability to do so is the greatest miracle of all. Tertön Sogyal, the Tibetan mystic, said that he was not really impressed by someone who could turn the floor into the ceiling or fire into water. A real miracle, he said, was if someone could liberate just one negative emotion. More and more, then, instead of the harsh and fragmented
THIS LIFE: THE NATURAL BARDO 125 gossip that ego has been talking to you all your life, you will find yourself hearing in your mind the clear directions of the teachings, which inspire, admonish, guide, and direct you at every turn. The more you listen, the more guidance you will receive. If you follow the voice of your wise guide, the voice of your discriminating awareness, and let ego fall silent, you come to experience that presence of wisdom and joy and bliss that you really are. A new life, utterly different from that when you were masquerading as your ego, begins in you. And when death comes, you will have learned already in life how to control those emotions and thoughts that in the states of death, the bardos, would otherwise take on an overwhelming reality. When your amnesia over your identity begins to be cured, you will realize finally that dak dzin, grasping at self, is the root cause of all your suffering. You will understand at last how much harm it has done both to yourself and to others, and you will realize that both the noblest and the wisest thing to do is to cherish others instead of cherishing yourself. This will bring healing to your heart, healing to your mind, and healing to your spirit. It is important to remember always that the principle of egolessness does not mean that there was an ego in the first place, and the Buddhists did away with it. On the contrary, it means there was never any ego at all to begin with. To realize that is called "egolessness." THE THREE WISDOM TOOLS The way to discover the freedom of the wisdom of egolessness, the masters advise us, is through the process of listening and hearing, contemplation and reflection, and meditation. They advise us to begin by listening repeatedly to the spiritual teachings. As we listen, they will keep on and on reminding us of our hidden wisdom nature. It is as if we were that person I asked you to imagine, lying in the hospital bed suffering from amnesia, and someone who loved and cared for us were whispering our real name in our ear, and showing us photos of our family and old friends, trying to bring back our knowledge of our lost identity. Gradually, as we listen to the teachings, certain passages and insights in them will strike a strange chord in us, memories of our true nature will start to trickle back, and a deep feeling of something homely and uncannily familiar will slowly awaken.