place." And he did live, astonishing the doctors, and remaining

seemingly at ease in his situation—humorous, playful, smiling, as

if he were rejoicing at everything his body suffered. Then I thought,

with the clearest possible conviction, that the Karmapa had submitted

himself to all this cutting, to the manifestation of all those diseases

in his body, to the lack of food, in a quite intentional and

voluntary way. He was deliberately suffering all of these diseases

to help minimize the coming pains of war, disease, and famine,

and in this way he was deliberately working to avert the terrible

suffering of this dark age. For those of us present, his death was

an unforgettable inspiration. It profoundly revealed the efficacy of

the Dharma, 6 and the fact that enlightenment for the sake of others

can actually be achieved. 7

I know and I firmly believe that there is no need for anyone

on earth to die in resentment and bitterness. No suffering,

however dreadful, is or can be meaningless if it is dedicated to

the alleviation of the suffering of others.

We have before us the noble and exalting examples of the

supreme masters of compassion, who, it is said, live and die in

the practice of Tonglen, taking on the pain of all sentient

beings while they breathe in, and pouring out healing to the

whole world when they breathe out, all their lives long, and

right up until their very last breath. So boundless and powerful

is their compassion, the teachings say, that at the moment of

their death, it carries them immediately to rebirth in a buddha


How transformed the world and our experience of it would

be if each of us, while we live and as we die, could say this

prayer, along with Shantideva and all the masters of compassion:

May I be a protector to those without protection,

A leader for those who journey,

And a boat, a bridge, a passage

For those desiring the further shore.

May the pain of every living creature

Be completely cleared away.

May I be the doctor and the medicine

And may I be the nurse

For all sick beings in the world

Until everyone is healed.

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