390 APPENDIX THREE hundred thousand suns, shining from Vajrasattva's body and entering me, and I just take it in. When I see a beautiful person walking down the street, I might in the beginning think, "What a nice-looking person," but the next instant I am offering that up to Padmasambhava with my full heart, and letting it go. You have to take real life situations and make them your practice. Otherwise you will have only an empty belief that gives you no solace, no strength, when hard times start. It's just a belief: "Oh, some day, I'll go to heaven. Someday I'll be a Buddha." Well, some day you won't be a Buddha. You are a Buddha, now. And when you practice, you are practicing at being who you are It's very important to take situations that are occurring in your life and use them. As Rinpoche keeps saying, if you have practiced calling out and asking for help, then in the bardos it will be natural to do the same... I made a mantra out of this line by Dudjom Rinpoche: "Lama of unrepayable kindness, I only remember you." Some days, it is all I can manage to think; it is the only practice I can get out. But it works great. So ... happiness, self-responsibility, gratitude ... don't confuse a dead, ritualistic practice for a living, ongoing, changing, fluid, opening, glorious practice. Because, and it's my experience right now—and I know it sounds like words perhaps, but I know in my heart it's not—I see Padmasambhava everywhere. That's just my practice. Every person, especially the difficult ones, who make life difficult for others, encountering them is the blessing of the master. To me this illness is the blessing of the master. It is grace. So much grace I could chew on it. But this has happened because I have trained my mind... When I started, I used to judge things constantly in my mind. I would judge this person; I would judge that one. I would judge the way he looked; I would judge the way she sat; I would judge, "I don't like today, it's too rainy, too gray. Oh, poor me ... Oh love me ... Oh help!" So I started with that. It was just a constant commentary in my mind. But I made a start. I would write myself little notes and stick them on my refrigerator. "Don't judge!" When you live in your mind—that is choosing between this and that, "This is good ... this is bad, I don't want it," between hope and fear, between hate and love, between joy and sorrow, when you are actually grasping for one of those extremes—the essential peace of your mind is disturbed. A Zen patriarch says: "The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences." Because your buddha nature is there. Happiness is everywhere. So I began to work with my conceptual mind. At first it seemed like an impossible thing to do. But the more I practiced at it... I found out: If you leave the risings in their own place, they are perfectly fine, where they are. Just be with them, and be happy, because you know you have the buddha nature.
TWO STORIES 391 You don't have to feel like you have the buddha nature. That's not the point. The point is trust, which is faith. The point is devotion, which is surrender. That, for me, is the essence. If you can trust what the master is saying, and study and try to bring the teaching back to yourself in difficult times, and train your mind not to fall into its habitual patterns, if you can just be with what is happening, with bare attention, after a while you notice that nothing stays around very long. Not even negative thoughts. Especially not our bodies. Everything changes. If you leave it in its place, it will liberate itself. In a situation like mine, when fear becomes so obvious to you, and so predominant, and you feel like you are being swallowed by the fear, you must take your mind in hand. I have realized that fear is not going to kill me. This is just something that is passing through my mind. This is a thought and I know that thoughts will liberate themselves if I just keep my hands off. I also realize that's what happens in the bardos, when and if you see a vision coming at you that might be frightening; it's not coming anywhere other than from you! All those energies we have kept damped down into our bodies are being released. I also discovered, early on, when I was training my mind, there is a certain point, a certain line you must draw, and beyond that point you cannot let your mind go. If you do, you risk mental problems, you risk moroseness, you risk being a real downer for everybody around you: that would be the least. But you could flip out. People do flip out, get unbalanced by believing what their minds are telling them about reality. We all do it, but there is a certain line beyond which you cannot go... I used to have panic attacks. I thought there was a big black hole in the ground in front of me. Since I have allowed myself the privilege, and the grace of being happy, all the time, I don't see black holes any more. Some of you have been dearer to me than my family. Because you allow Padmasambhava to come to me in just another way, through your care and your concern and your love. You don't seem to care that I have AIDS. No one has ever asked me: "Well, how did you get it?" No one has ever intimated that this might be a curse on me; except one old friend of mine who called me a week or so ago and said, "Aren't you afraid that this is God's curse on you?" After I stopped laughing, I said, "You believe that God has cursed the earth and the human body is impure. I, on the other hand, believe that blessing is the original starting point, not a curse." From beginningless time, everything has already been accomplished, pure and perfect. So what I do now is just rest in the radiance. It's everywhere. You can't get away from it. It is so intoxicating that sometimes I feel like I am just floating in the radiance. I am letting Padmasambhava, as he flies through the sky of the mind, just let me tag along. Now if I were sitting out there listening to this, I would say, "Okay then, why aren't you healed?" People have asked me that. It's