them a part of his life. Rick sat in his chair and faced us all and told

us how he felt about dying. I hope that these excerpts will give you

some flavor of this moving occasion:

When I thought I was dying, two years ago, I did what was natural:

I cried out, and I was answered. And it took me through several

weeks of horrible fevers, where I thought I was going to go in the

middle of the night ... This devotion, this crying out... When this

is all you can do, we have that promise from Padmasambhava that

he is there. And he doesn't lie: he has proved himself to me many


If it were not for Padmasambhava, whom Rinpoche teaches us is

the nature of our own mind, our own buddha nature, if it were not

for that glorious shining presence, I couldn't go through what I'm

going through. I just know I couldn't.

The first thing I realized was that you must take personal responsibility

for yourself. The reason I am dying is that I have AIDS. That

is my responsibility; no one else is to blame. In fact there is no one

to blame, not even myself. But I take responsibility for that.

I made a vow to myself and to whatever gods there may be,

before I came into Buddhism, that I just wanted to be happy. When

... I made that decision, I stuck to it. And this is very important in

doing any kind of training of the mind. You must make the decision

that you really want to change. If you don't want to change, no one

is going to do the work for you.

Our part... is to work with the daily aspects of our situation. First

is to be grateful that you are in this body, and on this planet. That was

the beginning for me—realizing gratitude for the earth, for living

beings. Now that I feel things slowly slipping out, I am becoming so

much more grateful for everyone and everything. So my practice now

centers on this gratitude, simply a constant offering of praise to life, to

Padmasambhava, who is living all of these multitudinous forms.

Don't make the mistake I did for so many years, that "practice"

means sitting straight and saying mantras, thinking, "I'll be glad when

this is over!" Practice is much bigger than that. Practice is every person

you meet; practice is every unkind word you hear or that may

even be directed at you.

When you stand up from your practice seat, that's when practice

really begins. We have to be very artful and creative in how we

apply the practice to life. There is always something in our environment

we can connect with, to do the practice. So if I'm too dizzy to

visualize Vajrasattva above my head, I stand up, and I go and wash

my morning dishes, and the plate I'm holding in my hand is the

world and all its suffering beings. Then I say the mantra ... OM

VAJRA SATTVA HUM ... and I'm washing away the suffering of

beings. When I take a shower, it's not a shower; that's Vajrasattva

above my head. When I go out in the sunshine, it is the light, like a

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