highest stage of realization, what we call "the exhaustion of

phenomenal reality."


Such stories about the power of devotion and the blessing

of the master do not merely belong to the past. In a figure like

Khandro Tsering Chödrön, the greatest woman master of our

day, who was the wife of my master Jamyang Khyentse, you

see very clearly what years of the deepest devotion and practice

can create out of the human spirit. Her humility and

beauty of heart, and the shining simplicity, modesty, and lucid,

tender wisdom of her presence are honored by all Tibetans,

even though she herself has tried as far as possible to remain

in the background, never to push herself forward, and to live

the hidden and austere life of an ancient contemplative.

Jamyang Khyentse has been the inspiration of Khandro's

entire life. It was her spiritual marriage to him that transformed

her from a very beautiful and slightly rebellious young

woman into the radiant dakini 3 that other great masters hold

in the highest regard. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche looked to her

as a "spiritual mother," and always used to say how privileged

he felt that of all the Lamas she revered and loved him most

deeply. Whenever he used to see Khandro, he would take her

hand and tenderly caress it, and then slowly place it on his

head; he knew that was the only way he could ever get

Khandro to bless him.

Jamyang Khyentse gave Khandro all the teachings, and

trained her and inspired her to practice. Her questions to him

would be in the form of songs, and he would write songs

back to her, in an almost teasing and playful way. Khandro

has demonstrated her undying devotion to her master by continuing

to live after his death in the place in Sikkim where he

lived toward the end of his life, where he died, and where his

relics are kept, enshrined in a stupa. 4 There, near him, she carries

on her clear, independent life, devoted to constant prayer.

She has read the whole Word of the Buddha and hundreds of

volumes of commentaries, slowly, word by word. Dilgo

Khyentse Rinpoche used to say that every time he went back

to the stupa of Jamyang Khyentse, he felt as if he were coming

home, because Khandro's presence made the atmosphere

so rich and warm. It was as if, he implied, my master

Jamyang Khyentse was still present and still alive, in her devotion

and her being.

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