Friday, January 11, 2008


Dear Readers:

Sometimes, when Rinpoche was very sad, he would stare at the palms of his hands. Then, he would fold his hands together, look up and smile, and say, "My heart is a confusion of emptiness." Today, my heart is a confusion of emptiness as I try to decide what to write.

One of the teachers Rinpoche respects so highly is Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche. Today, one of Khyentse Rinpoche's students has written about Tenpa Rinpoche's magnificent poem, Old Dream of River Sky, on their sangha's internal web site.

She writes, "The devotion that comes through in this poem is, in my experience, unequaled in contemporary guru yoga writing. Please do yourself a favor and read it. My own experience was one of the immediate arising of devotion."

Then, in what I consider a moving tribute to Rinpoche's presence in all of our lives, she composed the following:

this dakini
begins to dance again
happiness with joy arising
the sound of your voice
across time and space
a support
for what was nearly lost -
how to create a few steps
back to what has always
been known
how to dance naked
through an old dream
of a river sky

This is something that every Dharma student will immediately understand. I think he would be so very pleased by this.

All of his life, Tenpa Rinpoche loved poetry. Shortly before her death, I interviewed Rinpoche's mother, and while we were chatting , she asked if I would like to see the first poem he ever wrote. I replied with some enthusiasm, so she went rummaging through an antique red desk, and after a few minutes showed me this:

two dragons dancing
one is dark
one is light
like a dream
and a sky
never see one
without the other

He wrote this when he was six years old.

Many years later, Rinpoche wrote another poem, called Grand Education. This has never been published anywhere before:

It will be like this.....

You will bring yellow flowers
and you will say:

You will cry
and you will think
of what you lost.

And I will say that
it is not necessary.
And it isn’t...

It isn’t necessary
for you
to do
anything at all.

In any struggle
between life and death,
just stop struggling.

It is just like changing clothes...
and here is a grand education:

It is easy when you
make it easy,
it is hard when you
make it hard.

As many of you know, Rinpoche has been quite ill for some time and has now been hospitalized again. For those of us who are close to him, this is neither unexpected nor unusual. When he was first diagnosed with what is essentially a deadly serious illness, he spoke to us and very quietly and calmly explained what the future would hold. He told us that this was a perfect opportunity to study impermanence, and that we should not permit our emotions to override good sense. He spoke eloquently, as only he can, with strength, clarity and the unmistakable wisdom that comes only from a true master.

That does not make it any easier to accept.

Today, when my heart is a confusion of emptiness, I hold his words very close and I try to stop struggling.

"Grand Education," Copyright (c) 2008 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche. All rights reserved.

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4 reader comments:

axissixa said...

What can I say...Rinpoche, I've never met you, but the play of mind's design through your words has inspired my practice.

I know that you know when you will leave this place. I hope that our connection however tenuous will always be meaningful.

Thank you Susan and all the best to you during this time.

sortofbunny said...

Thank you Susan. Your words are not only moving but hold wisdom for me as well.

sortofbunny said...

As he has been a deep well for others
may the depth of his wellness
rise to the surface
and wash over his being
cooling the fire of suffering
he has taken on for others
May he rest easily
and without struggle
and when the time comes
may he open his eyes with a smile and say simply

Last night and this morning, during Guru Yoga, I sang to him,
offering the sound of my voice across time and space. It is something anyone can do in their prayers.

Oh Ah Hum

Palzang said...

The Arizona and Maryland sanghas of KPC send our prayers winging to you, dear Rinpoche. May your health be strong and your energy limitless. We need you in the world and pray for your long life and good health.