next to my master, on a small bed at the foot of his own. One

sound I shall never forget is the clicking of the beads of his

mala, his Buddhist rosary, as he whispered his prayers. When I

went to sleep he would be there, sitting and practicing; and

when I awoke in the morning he would already be awake

and sitting and practicing again, overflowing with blessing and

power. As I opened my eyes and saw him, I would be filled

with a warm and cozy happiness. He had such an air of peace

about him.

As I grew older, Jamyang Khyentse would make me preside

over ceremonies, while he took the part of chant leader. I was

witness to all the teachings and initiations that he gave to others;

but rather than the details, what I remember now is the

atmosphere. For me he was the Buddha, of that there was no

question in my mind. And everyone else recognized it as well.

When he gave initiations, his disciples were so overawed they

hardly dared look into his face. Some would see him actually

in the form of his predecessor, or as different buddhas and

bodhisattvas. 2 Everyone called him Rinpoche, "the Precious One,"

which is the tide given to a master, and when he was present

no other teacher would be addressed in that way. His presence

was so impressive that many affectionately called him

"the Primordial Buddha." 3

Had I not met my master Jamyang Khyentse, I know I

would have been an entirely different person. With his

warmth and wisdom and compassion, he personified the

sacred truth of the teachings and so made them practical and

vibrant with life. Whenever I share that atmosphere of my

master with others, they can sense the same profound feeling

it aroused in me. What then did Jamyang Khyentse inspire in

me? An unshakable confidence in the teachings, and a conviction

in the central and dramatic importance of the master.

Whatever understanding I have, I know I owe it to him. This

is something I can never repay, but I can pass on to others.

Throughout my youth in Tibet I saw the kind of love

Jamyang Khyentse used to radiate in the community, especially

in guiding the dying and the dead. A lama in Tibet was

not only a spiritual teacher but also wise man, therapist, parish

priest, doctor, and spiritual healer, helping the sick and the

dying. Later I was to learn the specific techniques for guiding

the dying and the dead from the teachings connected with the

Tibetan Book of the Dead. But the greatest lessons I ever learned

about death—and life—came from watching my master as he

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