As I read the myriad reports, and see the video in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Yushu, I am remembering an early evening during the height of the Cultural Revolution.
I walked into the backyard of the house on Webster Street, in Berkeley, California, and encountered Tarthang Rinpoche standing motionless. He was looking West, up into the sky, and as I approached, I saw tears glistening on his face.
My immediate thought was to comfort him in some way, but I did not know what to say, so I just stood there mute beside him, looking into the sky.
After an interval, and without turning his gaze, he asked me, very softly, "Do you see that sunset?"
I replied that I did.
"Is it beautiful?"
I replied that it was.
"Many good lamas died today," said Rinpoche.
We are all prisoners under that same sunset. We deceive ourselves of freedom, but we are prisoners just the same.
There is nowhere to go.
We stay here for each other: some by chance, some by vow, some by desire, some with ambition, some do not need a reason. Maybe it is so wrong of me to feel a particular sorrow when I see destroyed temples and bloodied burgandy, but forced equanimity is no longer equanimity, and I cannot escape my own humanity.
Many good lamas died today.
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