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

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

274 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGcourtesy of heart, and his extraordinary memory: He seemedto remember every word my master said, and every story,and he knew the smallest details of all the most intricate ritualsand their significance. He was also an exemplary practitionerand a teacher in his own right. We watched, then, asLama Chokden continued to carry my master's meals into hisroom, but the expression on his face was somber. We keptasking how Khyentse was, and Chokden would only say:"He is just the same." In certain traditions, after a masterhas died and during the time he remains in meditation afterdeath, it is important to maintain secrecy. It was only threedays later, as I have said, that we finally heard that hehad died.The Government of India then sent a telegram to Peking.From there the message went out to my master's ownmonastery, Dzongsar, in Tibet, where many of the monkswere already in tears, because somehow they knew he wasdying. Just before we had left, Khyentse had made a mysteriouspledge that he would return once before he died. And hedid. On New Year's Day that year, about six months beforehe actually passed away, when a ritual dance was being performed,many of the older monks had a vision of him, just ashe used to be, appearing in the sky. At the monastery mymaster had founded a study college, famous for producingsome of the most excellent scholars of recent times. In themain temple stood a huge statue of the future Buddha,Maitreya. Early one morning, soon after the New Year's Daywhen the vision had appeared in the sky, the caretaker of thetemple opened the door: Khyentse was sitting in the BuddhaMaitreya's lap.My master passed away in "the sleeping lion's posture." Allthe signs were there to show that he was still in a state ofmeditation, and no one touched the body for three wholedays. The moment when he then came out of his meditationwill stay with me all my life: His nose suddenly deflated, thecolor in his face drained away, and then his head fell slightlyto one side. Until that moment there had been a certain poiseand strength and life about his body.It was evening when we washed the body, dressed it, andtook it from his bedroom up into the main temple of thepalace. Crowds of people were there, filing around the templeto show their respect.

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