that she hardly ever slept the whole night through, and often

she ended up doing her morning practice in the evening and

her evening practice in the morning. Her elder sister, Pelu, was

a much more decisive and orderly person, and toward the end

of her life she could not stand this endless disruption of normal

routine. She would say: "Why don't you do the morning

practice in the morning and the evening practice in the

evening, and switch the light off and go to bed like everybody

else does?" Ani Rilu would murmur, "Yes ... yes," but go on

just the same.

In those days I would have been rather on Ani Pelu's side,

but now I see the wisdom of what Ani Rilu was doing. She

was immersing herself in a stream of spiritual practice, and her

whole life and being became one continuous flow of prayer.

In fact, I think her practice was so strong that she continued

praying even in her dreams, and anyone who does that will

have a very good chance of liberation in the bardos.

Ani Rilu's dying had the same peaceful and passive quality

as her life. She had been ill for some time, and it was nine

o'clock one winter morning when the wife of my master

sensed that death was approaching quickly. Although by that

time Ani Rilu could not speak, she was still alert. Someone

was sent immediately to ask Dodrupchen Rinpoche, a remarkable

master who lived nearby, to come to give the last guidance

and to effect the phowa, the practice of the transference

of consciousness at the moment of death.

In our family there was an old man called A-pé Dorje, who

died in 1989 at the age of eighty-five. He had been with my

family for five generations, and was a man whose grandfatherly

wisdom and common sense, exceptional moral strength

and good heart, and gift for reconciling quarrels made him for

me the embodiment of everything good that is Tibetan: a

rugged, earthy, ordinary person who lives spontaneously by

the spirit of the teachings. 2 He taught me so much as a child,

most especially, how important it is to be kind to others and

never to harbor negative thoughts even if someone harms you.

He had a natural gift of imparting spiritual values in the most

simple way; he almost charmed you into being your best self.

A-pé Dorje was a bom storyteller, and he would keep me

enthralled as a child with fairy stories and tales from the

Gesar epic, or accounts of the struggles in the eastern

provinces, when China invaded Tibet in the early 1950s.

Wherever he went he brought a lightness and joy, and a

humor that would make any difficult situation seem less

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines