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

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

40 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING

The Western poet Rainer Maria Rilke has said that our

deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure. 12

The fear that impermanence awakens in us, that nothing is

real and nothing lasts, is, we come to discover, our greatest

friend because it drives us to ask: If everything dies and

changes, then what is really true? Is there something behind

the appearances, something boundless and infinitely spacious,

something in which the dance of change and impermanence

takes place? Is there something in fact we can depend on, that

does survive what we call death?

Allowing these questions to occupy us urgently, and reflecting

on them, we slowly find ourselves making a profound

shift in the way we view everything. With continued contemplation

and practice in letting go, we come to uncover in ourselves

"something" we cannot name or describe or

conceptualize, "something" that we begin to realize lies behind

all the changes and deaths of the world. The narrow desires

and distractions to which our obsessive grasping onto permanence

has condemned us begin to dissolve and fall away.

As this happens we catch repeated and glowing glimpses

of the vast implications behind the truth of impermanence. It

is as if all our lives we have been flying in an airplane

through dark clouds and turbulence, when suddenly the plane

soars above these into the clear, boundless sky. Inspired and

exhilarated by this emergence into a new dimension of freedom,

we come to uncover a depth of peace, joy, and confidence

in ourselves that fills us with wonder, and breeds in us

gradually a certainty that there is in us "something" that nothing

destroys, that nothing alters, and that cannot die. Milarepa

wrote:

In horror of death, I took to the mountains—

Again and again I meditated on the uncertainty of the hour of

death,

Capturing the fortress of the deathless unending nature of mind.

Now all fear of death is over and done. 13

Gradually, then, we become aware in ourselves of the calm

and sky-like presence of what Milarepa calls the deathless and

unending nature of mind. And as this new awareness begins

to become vivid and almost unbroken, there occurs what the

Upanishads call "a turning about in the seat of consciousness,"

a personal, utterly non-conceptual revelation of what we are,

why we are here, and how we should act, which amounts in

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