142 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING transmission from the master's wisdom mind and heart to yours can take place, revealing to you the full splendor of your own buddha nature, and with it the perfect splendor of the universe itself. This most intimate relationship between disciple and master becomes a mirror, a living analogy for the disciple's relationship to life and the world in general. The master becomes the pivotal figure in a sustained practice of "pure vision," which culminates when the disciple sees directly and beyond any doubt: the master as the living buddha, his or her every word as buddha speech, his or her mind the wisdom mind of all the buddhas, his or her every action an expression of buddha activity, the place where he or she lives as nothing less than a buddha realm, and even those around the master as a luminous display of his or her wisdom. As these perceptions become more and more stable and actual, the inner miracle disciples have longed for over so many lives can gradually take place: They begin to see naturally that they, the universe, and all beings without exception are spontaneously pure and perfect. They are looking at last at reality with its own eyes. The master, then, is the path, the magical touchstone for a total transformation of the disciple's every perception. Devotion becomes the purest, quickest, and simplest way to realize the nature of our mind and all things. As we progress in it, the process reveals itself as wonderfully interdependent: We, from our side, try continually to generate devotion, the devotion we arouse itself generates glimpses of the nature of mind, and these glimpses only enhance and deepen our devotion to the master who is inspiring us. So in the end devotion springs out of wisdom: devotion and the living experience of the nature of mind become inseparable and inspire one another. The teacher of Patrul Rinpoche was called Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu. For many years he had been doing a solitary retreat in a cave in the mountains. One day when he came outside, the sun was pouring down; he gazed out into the sky and saw a cloud moving in the direction of where his master, Jikmé Lingpa, lived. The thought rose in his mind, "Over there is where my master is," and with that thought a tremendous feeling of longing and devotion surged up in him. It was so strong, so shattering, that he fainted. When Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu came to, the entire blessing of his master's wisdom mind had been transmitted to him, and he had reached the
THE SPIRITUAL PATH 143 highest stage of realization, what we call "the exhaustion of phenomenal reality." THE STREAM OF BLESSINGS 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 handand 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.