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

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

PREFACExviinext to my master, on a small bed at the foot of his own. Onesound I shall never forget is the clicking of the beads of hismala, his Buddhist rosary, as he whispered his prayers. When Iwent to sleep he would be there, sitting and practicing; andwhen I awoke in the morning he would already be awakeand sitting and practicing again, overflowing with blessing andpower. As I opened my eyes and saw him, I would be filledwith a warm and cozy happiness. He had such an air of peaceabout him.As I grew older, Jamyang Khyentse would make me presideover ceremonies, while he took the part of chant leader. I waswitness to all the teachings and initiations that he gave to others;but rather than the details, what I remember now is theatmosphere. For me he was the Buddha, of that there was noquestion in my mind. And everyone else recognized it as well.When he gave initiations, his disciples were so overawed theyhardly dared look into his face. Some would see him actuallyin the form of his predecessor, or as different buddhas andbodhisattvas. 2 Everyone called him Rinpoche, "the Precious One,"which is the tide given to a master, and when he was presentno other teacher would be addressed in that way. His presencewas so impressive that many affectionately called him"the Primordial Buddha." 3Had I not met my master Jamyang Khyentse, I know Iwould have been an entirely different person. With hiswarmth and wisdom and compassion, he personified thesacred truth of the teachings and so made them practical andvibrant with life. Whenever I share that atmosphere of mymaster with others, they can sense the same profound feelingit aroused in me. What then did Jamyang Khyentse inspire inme? An unshakable confidence in the teachings, and a convictionin the central and dramatic importance of the master.Whatever understanding I have, I know I owe it to him. Thisis something I can never repay, but I can pass on to others.Throughout my youth in Tibet I saw the kind of loveJamyang Khyentse used to radiate in the community, especiallyin guiding the dying and the dead. A lama in Tibet wasnot only a spiritual teacher but also wise man, therapist, parishpriest, doctor, and spiritual healer, helping the sick and thedying. Later I was to learn the specific techniques for guidingthe dying and the dead from the teachings connected with theTibetan Book of the Dead. But the greatest lessons I ever learnedabout death—and life—came from watching my master as he

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