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

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

36 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

again the opposite: that letting go is the path to real freedom.

Just as when the waves lash at the shore, the rocks suffer

no damage but are sculpted and eroded into beautiful shapes,

so our characters can be molded and our rough edges worn

smooth by changes. Through weathering changes we can

learn how to develop a gentle but unshakable composure. Our

confidence in ourselves grows, and becomes so much greater

that goodness and compassion began naturally to radiate out

from us and bring joy to others. That goodness is what survives

death, a fundamental goodness that is in every one of

us. The whole of our life is a teaching of how to uncover that

strong goodness, and a training toward realizing it.

So each time the losses and deceptions of life teach us

about impermanence, they bring us closer to the truth. When

you fall from a great height, there is only one possible place to

land: on the ground, the ground of truth. And if you have the

understanding that comes from spiritual practice, then falling is

in no way a disaster but the discovery of an inner refuge.

Difficulties and obstacles, if properly understood and used,

can often turn out to be an unexpected source of strength. In

the biographies of the masters, you will often find that had

they not faced difficulties and obstacles, they would not have

discovered the strength they needed to rise above them. This

was true, for example, of Gesar, the great warrior king of Tibet,

whose escapades form the greatest epic of Tibetan literature.

Gesar means "indomitable," someone who can never be put

down. From the moment Gesar was bom, his evil uncle

Trotung tried all kinds of means to kill him. But with each

attempt Gesar only grew stronger and stronger. It was thanks

to Trading's efforts, in fact, that Gesar was to become so great.

This gave rise to a Tibetan proverb: Trotung tro ma tung na,

Gesar ge mi sar, which means that if Trotung had not been so

malicious and scheming, Gesar could never have risen so high.

For the Tibetans Gesar is not only a martial warrior but

also a spiritual one. To be a spiritual warrior means to develop

a special kind of courage, one that is innately intelligent, gentle,

and fearless. Spiritual warriors can still be frightened, but even

so they are courageous enough to taste suffering, to relate

clearly to their fundamental fear, and to draw out without

evasion the lessons from difficulties. As Chögyam Trungpa

Rinpoche tells us, becoming a warrior means that "we can

trade our small-minded struggle for security for a much vaster

vision, one of fearlessness, openness, and genuine

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