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

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

THE GROUND 273do this: When we started on our last journey from Kham, heleft all his possessions behind him and went in completesecrecy, not intending to teach but to travel on pilgrimage. Yetonce they found out who he was, people everywhererequested him to give teachings and initiations. So vast washis compassion that, knowing what he was risking, he sacrificedhis own life to keep on teaching.It was in Sikkim, then, that Jamyang Khyentse fell ill; atthat very same time, the terrible news came that Tibet hadfinally fallen. All the seniormost Lamas, the heads of the lineages,arrived one after another to visit him, and prayers andrituals for his long life went on day and night. Everybody tookpart. We all pleaded with him to continue living, for a masterof his greatness has the power to decide when it is time toleave his body. He just lay there in bed, accepted all our offeringsand laughed, and said with a knowing smile: "All right,just to be auspicious, I'll say I will live."The first indication we had that my master was going todie was through Gyalwang Karmapa. He told Karmapa thathe had completed the work he had come to do in this life,and he had decided to leave this world. One of Khyentse'sclose attendants burst into tears as soon as Karmapa revealedthis to him, and then we knew. His death was eventually tooccur just after we had heard that the three great monasteriesof Tibet, Sera, Drepung, and Ganden, had been occupied bythe Chinese. It seemed tragically symbolic that as Tibet collapsed,so this great being, the embodiment of Tibetan Buddhism,was passing away.Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö died at three o'clock inthe morning, on the sixth day of the fifth Tibetan month. Tendays before, while we were doing a whole night's practice forhis long life, suddenly the ground was shaken by an enormousearthquake. According to the Buddhist Sutras, this is a signthat marks the imminent passing of an enlightened being. 3For three days after he had passed away, complete secrecywas kept, and no one was allowed to know that Khyentsehad died. I was told simply that his health had taken a turnfor the worse, and instead of sleeping in his room as I usuallydid, I was asked to sleep in another room. My master's closestassistant and master of ceremonies, Lama Chokden, had beenwith my master longer than anyone. He was a silent, serious,ascetic man with piercing eyes and sunken cheeks, and a dignifiedand elegant but humble manner. Chokden was knownfor his fundamental integrity, his deep, human decency, his

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