Monday, January 28, 2008

The Lake Dakini's Lasting Admonition

"Like drapes, suddenly pulled back and a startled window thrown wide, the bright morning promises only an immediate moment, opening into brilliantly basic space. The market and fair sounds of tradesmen, and dancing children laughing across the valley augur continuity: inherent music as close to immortality as birdsongs. Reacquainted with sunlight, remembered languages, endlessly whispered prayers of effortless character: one promise leads to another, and again we come to wander, once more here beguiled, in empty dependence upon the decisions habit makes, and that other arising from old vows."

So begins the opening chapter of Tenpa Rinpoche's last book, which he was working on when he fell ill. It is very difficult to describe this book, or to categorize Rinpoche's writing. One way to explain it would be to say it is an inner dialogue that he allows us to watch: he lets us witness the exact processes of his view, so that we can make comparison with our own experiences. I do not know if that is an accurate assessment or not, but that is how I feel.

Tenpa Rinpoche's writing is so difficult to translate into other Western languages, and only a little less so in Asian languages. I know, because I have tried to translate him into Vietnamese several times. Everything he writes is simultaneously operating on three different levels. In the above passage, for example, there is the strange beauty of the English just as he uses it: a window thrown open, the sounds one hears, and the feelings this invokes. Then there is the expression of awakened mind, or watchfulness, where we see the world through the eyes of someone who knows how to see, and who inspires us with his vision. Finally, there is what I call the "secret" level, which in the above paragraph is Tenpa Rinpoche's commentary on the moment following rebirth in the human realm, when one realizes one's human status. I call it his "secret" level because of something a lama who came to visit once said: "If Tenpa Rinpoche writes a shopping list before he goes to the store, that list will have an outer, inner, and secret meaning."

I do not think it is any mystery that Rinpoche's writing is most frequently compared to the writings of those teachers who had or have the greatest command of the English language. There seems to come a point where expressions of realization composed in English flow together, and become almost interchangeable. Again, I do not know if that is accurate, but it accurately states my own idea.

Here we are struggling to prepare a number of Rinpoche's books for publication, including his commentaries originally scheduled for release in 2007, his compositions Eastern Fortress of Evident Treasure, and Lake Dakini's Lasting Admonitions, and one absolutely stunning composition I am not yet at liberty to discuss. Susan Nevis was handling most of the editorial work, along with writing Rinpoche's biography, and I will be working on a small collection of his writings treating South East Asia. In this last case, we are hopeful that 2008 will see the publication of his masterpiece of historical writing, Investigation at Seven Mountains, which was briefly released in limited edition in the 1990s, and then withdrawn.

Before we proceed, we'll be taking time off to celebrate the New Year -- not far away, on February 7th. We hope that your new year will be filled with light and beauty: that your mind be easy, and your heart stay strong.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche. All rights reserved.

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