The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THE GROUND 273

do this: When we started on our last journey from Kham, he

left all his possessions behind him and went in complete

secrecy, not intending to teach but to travel on pilgrimage. Yet

once they found out who he was, people everywhere

requested him to give teachings and initiations. So vast was

his compassion that, knowing what he was risking, he sacrificed

his own life to keep on teaching.

It was in Sikkim, then, that Jamyang Khyentse fell ill; at

that very same time, the terrible news came that Tibet had

finally fallen. All the seniormost Lamas, the heads of the lineages,

arrived one after another to visit him, and prayers and

rituals for his long life went on day and night. Everybody took

part. We all pleaded with him to continue living, for a master

of his greatness has the power to decide when it is time to

leave his body. He just lay there in bed, accepted all our offerings

and laughed, and said with a knowing smile: "All right,

just to be auspicious, I'll say I will live."

The first indication we had that my master was going to

die was through Gyalwang Karmapa. He told Karmapa that

he had completed the work he had come to do in this life,

and he had decided to leave this world. One of Khyentse's

close attendants burst into tears as soon as Karmapa revealed

this to him, and then we knew. His death was eventually to

occur just after we had heard that the three great monasteries

of Tibet, Sera, Drepung, and Ganden, had been occupied by

the Chinese. It seemed tragically symbolic that as Tibet collapsed,

so this great being, the embodiment of Tibetan Buddhism,

was passing away.

Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö died at three o'clock in

the morning, on the sixth day of the fifth Tibetan month. Ten

days before, while we were doing a whole night's practice for

his long life, suddenly the ground was shaken by an enormous

earthquake. According to the Buddhist Sutras, this is a sign

that marks the imminent passing of an enlightened being. 3

For three days after he had passed away, complete secrecy

was kept, and no one was allowed to know that Khyentse

had died. I was told simply that his health had taken a turn

for the worse, and instead of sleeping in his room as I usually

did, I was asked to sleep in another room. My master's closest

assistant and master of ceremonies, Lama Chokden, had been

with my master longer than anyone. He was a silent, serious,

ascetic man with piercing eyes and sunken cheeks, and a dignified

and elegant but humble manner. Chokden was known

for his fundamental integrity, his deep, human decency, his

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