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

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

274 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

courtesy of heart, and his extraordinary memory: He seemed

to remember every word my master said, and every story,

and he knew the smallest details of all the most intricate rituals

and their significance. He was also an exemplary practitioner

and a teacher in his own right. We watched, then, as

Lama Chokden continued to carry my master's meals into his

room, but the expression on his face was somber. We kept

asking how Khyentse was, and Chokden would only say:

"He is just the same." In certain traditions, after a master

has died and during the time he remains in meditation after

death, it is important to maintain secrecy. It was only three

days later, as I have said, that we finally heard that he

had died.

The Government of India then sent a telegram to Peking.

From there the message went out to my master's own

monastery, Dzongsar, in Tibet, where many of the monks

were already in tears, because somehow they knew he was

dying. Just before we had left, Khyentse had made a mysterious

pledge that he would return once before he died. And he

did. On New Year's Day that year, about six months before

he actually passed away, when a ritual dance was being performed,

many of the older monks had a vision of him, just as

he used to be, appearing in the sky. At the monastery my

master had founded a study college, famous for producing

some of the most excellent scholars of recent times. In the

main temple stood a huge statue of the future Buddha,

Maitreya. Early one morning, soon after the New Year's Day

when the vision had appeared in the sky, the caretaker of the

temple opened the door: Khyentse was sitting in the Buddha

Maitreya's lap.

My master passed away in "the sleeping lion's posture." All

the signs were there to show that he was still in a state of

meditation, and no one touched the body for three whole

days. The moment when he then came out of his meditation

will stay with me all my life: His nose suddenly deflated, the

color in his face drained away, and then his head fell slightly

to one side. Until that moment there had been a certain poise

and strength and life about his body.

It was evening when we washed the body, dressed it, and

took it from his bedroom up into the main temple of the

palace. Crowds of people were there, filing around the temple

to show their respect.

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