We used to catch the bus at the corner of Telegraph and Ashby, in Berkeley, California. We used to visit the university, and the shops on Telegraph Avenue.
He would wear his robes.
I felt like Kipling's Kim.
Just to get out of the house, we took the bus up there, one summer's late afternoon into evening. We idled along the sidewalk, until he was suddenly taken by an M.C. Escher print in a shop window.
We stood there a long time. He wanted to buy the print but in those days we never had any money.
I asked him why he liked the print. He said it was difficult to explain. He said, "This is how things are." He said, "This is how I see things." He said, "This shows something I will have to teach."
He said, "This is very high understanding."
On the way back, he asked me how I got around with no car and did I always take the bus. I told him I always walked or hitch-hiked. He said, "Teach me how to hitch-hike."
So, we hitch-hiked back down Telegraph to Ashby, which isn't very far, and we walked home, and he said, "Next time, I won't wear my robe."
It was forty-five years ago. The world celebrates what he achieved since.
I never came to much.
Suddenly, this evening around six o'clock, that M.C. Escher memory hitch-hiked back to me. Tears began falling as if there were nothing to prevent them. I was seized with such devotion and admiration for Rinpoche: at the notion he had invested such loving, painstaking care in a stupid boy; the notion he cared enough to show me a proper way to see.
So, you wrote tonight and asked me how things are, inside and outside me.
This is the only way I can answer you truthfully.
I am remembering my Great Teacher, and tears are falling, and if I had to give them a name I would name them tears of gratitude.
As humans, you know, we have a tendency to talk about love. Children talk about love with their parents. Poets enjoy writing poems about love. Boyfriend and girlfriend talk about love.
Husbands and their wives talk about love.
I don't know what love is.
That abruptly-rising memory leading to today's tears is the reflection of what really happened.
Maybe that's what love is: that beautiful vajra tent of protection given to us when we are travelling.