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

realjannaweiss

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

THE NATURE OF MIND 43

seven years old. It took place in that special room in which

Jamyang Khyentse lived, in front of a large portrait statue of

his previous incarnation, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. This was

a solemn, awe-inspiring figure, made more so when the flame

of the butter-lamp in front of it would flicker and light up its

face. Before I knew what was happening, my master did

something most unusual. He suddenly hugged me and lifted

me up off my feet. Then he gave me a huge kiss on the side

of my face. For a long moment my mind fell away completely

and I was enveloped by a tremendous tenderness, warmth,

confidence, and power.

The next occasion was more formal, and it happened at

Lhodrak Kharchu, in a cave in which the great saint and

father of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava, had meditated.

We had stopped there on our pilgrimage through southern

Tibet. I was about nine at the time. My master sent for me

and told me to sit in front of him. We were alone. He said,

"Now I'm going to introduce you to the essential 'nature of

mind.'" Picking up his bell and small hand-drum, he chanted

the invocation of all the masters of the lineage, from the Primordial

Buddha down to his own master. Then he did the

introduction. Suddenly he sprung on me a question with no

answer: "What is mind?" and gazed intently deep into my

eyes. I was taken totally by surprise. My mind shattered. No

words, no names, no thought remained—no mind, in fact,

at all.

What happened in that astounding moment? Past thoughts

had died away, the future had not yet arisen; the stream of

my thoughts was cut right through. In that pure shock a gap

opened, and in that gap was laid bare a sheer, immediate

awareness of the present, one that was free of any clinging. It

was simple, naked, and fundamental. And yet that naked simplicity

was also radiant with the warmth of an immense compassion.

How many things I could say about that moment! My

master, apparendy, was asking a question; yet I knew he did

not expect an answer. And before I could hunt for an answer,

I knew there was none to find. I sat thunderstruck in wonder,

and yet a deep and glowing certainty I had never known

before was welling up within me.

My master had asked: "What is mind?" and at that instant I

felt that it was almost as if everyone knew there was no such

thing as mind, and I was the last to find out. How ridiculous

it seemed then even to look for mind.

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