Tara Rinpoche's Memorial

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having it to say and listened to to remember and accept
and to chase the truth as a photographer toes words

oh

good morning

i would like to dedicate my talk this morning and are being together
two
the remembrance of our dear friend and grade teacher tire toga per share
who died the evening of the twenty seventh in dharamsala
and whose body will be cremated
and on tomorrow morning which means five thirty this evening
so i would invite any of you who can to hold him in your thoughts in particular during that time beginning at five thirty this evening
when this a ceremony of cremation will be taking place
i'd also like to take this as an occasion to consider together
this business of ancestors or elders as we refer to them sometimes in the buddhist tradition
because of course on the occasion of the passing of a great teacher one does think rather poignantly about those who have gone before us certainly that has been true for me and the last few weeks since i first discovered the term for show was dying
so what i want us to consider is both
the ancestors those who go before us
and also implicit in that consideration is our relationship or response to impermanence
the great thorn of our lives
one of the things i've bumped into and the last few weeks as periodically strong
sadness has arisen in me is to recognize that it arises repeatedly around my clinging to some expectation that i would be worth time i'm crocheting again we were planning a retreat this winter
can so when i focus on what is not going to happen it takes my attention away from all that i have received and when i focus on all of the great benefits that have come to me and to all of us through his guidance and inspiration and teaching what comes up
his joy and happiness and not grief
so a lot of my practices in the last few weeks have been for myself and certainly not for him he's been just fine
he's the last one we need to worry about
the monks from the gaucho monastery have sent several faxes they love the telephone and now they love the fax michigan
and they have repeatedly described term crochets state of mind since he first got sick in the beginning of may
or at least visibly on well as being serene and calm
and then they say but of course what would one expect from such a great practitioner
as the naamyaa monk said in the museum recently when someone jumped in the middle of their sand mandala
a day or so from it being completed and destroyed it
one of them said later oh this was a big test of our practice
link test for our state of mind is what we're saying we're doing what we're actually doing here is a good test
there is at this time of year not even at this end of the valley but at the lower end of the valley and along redwood creek where i live
there's a particular bird called the swainson's thrush that comes at this time of year only
so i've been hearing the sound of the swainson's thrush call when i call the watery flute sound for a few weeks
and it always brings up for me some sense of this time of here
that almost by pit passes the frontal lobe
it's so visceral
this particular bird has a lovely call a lovely song
which sometimes goes on and on
and interestingly whenever i hear the swainson's thrush car
i vividly aware that i will only hear it for a short time
so there is a kind of poignancy in hearing the song of the swainson's thrush that comes up in in a way that includes the fact that i will not hear it at the end of the summer and begins
of a fall because it goes away
friday morning after
we had finished are sitting together at the church and tiburon where i practice with a group of people on fridays my husband came to the door to tell me that the call had just come saying that russia had died
and so several of us gathered here to ring the big bell a hundred and eight times to mark the occasion of his passing over
and again i was struck by the beauty of the sound of the bell
as the small group of us were standing in line each of us taking a turn to hit the bell
and with this wonderful big bell that we have here when you hit it a number of times something happens with the sound that the bell makes it becomes very large
and resident
and it goes out down the valley
when i was struck as we were hitting the bell and listening to the sound of the bell at so much of my joy in hearing the bell includes the fact that the sound fades away
my joy does not arise in spite of that impermanence quality right includes it
and how much in the same way tiled room for chaise presence in the world has been like the sound of happen
so recently i've been doing this prayer that a friend of mine sent to me she said this is a traditional prayer to recite
at the time when a great teacher is passing
and it is in the version of it that i have called reverence to you holy elders quite lovely
and it is a prayer to the sixteen our hearts
or saints if you will great practitioners from the early days of the buddhist path
and in many systems includes one or two additional our hearts who were not know monks but we're layman
i was thinking this morning as i was writing out a list of the names of the our hearts how may be the contribution
here in this country are in the west to the list of our hearts will be that eventually there will be a woman our hearts name on the list i hope so
fortunately some of the paintings of these are hearts they're pretty androgynous looking and that helps
and in this prayer the prayer begins with that
some recognition and reverence for shakyamuni buddha
that buddha who lived in the world as a human being
just like all of us and who attained this great awakening this great consciousness which has been the source for our practice and study
for those of you who don't know much about the our hearts i encourage you to meet them
they're often depicted as craggy eccentric funky types
and are described in this prayer as being the ones who opened first of all they received
the teachings from the border
so that's part of their function
they then are described as opening the treasure chest of the true teachings and spreading those teachings upholding holding the teachings
i suppose that means
living once you say what you're teaching at have i understand it
protecting the teachings
in being examples of ah the possibility of
that condition called unexcelled entertainment
they're also revered because they maintained the manner of listening that means listening to the suffering of beings and the world not turning away to being free or liberated from suffering and abandoned
in all of us but listening staying with
the world of samsara of suffering
one of the central practices in the buddhist tradition is this acknowledgement remembering turning to the ancestors because of course the tradition is about that which is passed literally mind to my
mind and body to body from one practitioner to another
and one one begins to realize the degree to which this is a literal an exact description of what happens
the longevity and breadth and depth of the tradition is a marvel
so these days i have been thinking a lot about those who have gone before because now for a few days time and per has joined that crowd
those who have gone before
so every morning i bow to
the ancestors we all do here at green gulch in the morning upon the recitation of the names of the ancestors in the buddhist and ancestors
but threw out
many schools of buddhism this practice has followed as a way of acknowledging and remembering and appreciating who has gone before
and i think one of the things that happens for many of us is as we recite the names of the buddhists any ancestors as we do bows with name names we recite wondering while who are they what were they like what did they teach
when we do the full moon ceremony we call up we refer to we remember
the buddhas and bodhisattvas
we began with the seven buddha's before a buddha
so we acknowledge that there are those who went before a shakyamuni buddha as well
there's a lovely verse in this sub prior to the elders that goes sir
how about a him at who's incomparably beautiful golden form one cannot gaze enough one face two hands sitting in full lotus one hand gestures to the earth the other gestures meditation
pray bless us maintain our teachers life and spread the doctrine
so this is of course a reference to shakyamuni buddha
who is described as having the marks of a buddha one of them being this beautiful golden glowing body

i have a particular association with shakyamuni buddha and time and per share because for me the bodhisattva vow the vow to seek enlightenment for the sake of all beings with the pot
stability even in this lifetime came alive for me in knowing time machine
such was his inspiration his capacity for inspiration
so i'd like to tell you a little bit about him because i think that he is an example of a possibility great i think the whole project tradition challenges us to consider seriously that is to pick up
up the possibility of enlightenment for the sake of all beings in our our lives each of us
i don't know about you but i know for me for many many years i always thought that was a beautiful story to read about but it was like it was happening somewhere else some thousands of years ago out in this lifetime
there is a great ancestor named a tisha who lived in the eleventh century was a bengali
is said to have taken buddhism to tibet
he carried a particular kind of stupor on his back and whenever any it's some great realization would happen for him or he'd need a great practitioner or be in some sacred place he'd take the stupa off his back and put it down on the ground and do prostrations so there's a particular kind of
stupid which is like a picture of a tisha
and he's in the lineage that leads to sankalpa who is the great reform practitioner great philosopher
remarkable being who lived in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century and was the reformer of the kadampa lineage which then under some capa came to be the lineage in which his holiness the dalai lama entire toku our practitioners
a tisha has written a wonderful book which i recommend to all of you called the lamp illuminating the path to enlightenment and it is in many ways a source text for the tradition that we follow here akron lunch
satara toku is in this lineage that looks back to a tisha into sankalpa
tartu ago was born in nineteen twenty five an eastern tibet in a place called markham
he sent there was a village near where he was born called tara and that was why but that was where his name came from
he was enthroned as a high incarnate lama at drepung monastery when he was six
so he became a monk at six
we had some very interesting and lively debates last year during a retreat i did with him
and what i said how come if you've been a monk since you were six hear such an authority about bliss
bliss which is described as sad something we all know about
because we all know about bliss through the orgasm at are we experience in sexual union
and when he gets a pretty lively conversations about at is this celibate monk for a life know about such matters
i'm not quite sure how he convinced me that he really did know what he was talking about at he did at the same time you convinced me that he was absolutely rigorous about maintaining his vows of all sorts including celibacy
i'm a little embarrassed now when i think about
yeah but debate
he completed the training which leads to what we would probably describe as a kind of phd to the tenth power called the cache la rumba degree
with highest honors in nineteen fifty five
and he then did subsequent studies and training at kyoto tantric college and monastery
until nineteen fifty nine when he fled from tibet
and went to india
and with the reestablishment of the to a contract college and monastery in india first tyndale house a and later and bonjela up in north eastern india he was the abbot of the monastery for three terms which is very unusual in that tradition usually someone is avid only for one two
but because it was a very fragile time for the tibetans and for that particular a monastic sangha
he was the abbot for that long time nearly ten years and is
recognized as being insignificant factor or element in the
successful establishment or this great monastery college and monastery
in the beginning stages of their exile in india the tibetans were put to work building roads in india which for any of us who've been in india know what that's about it means baskets with hammers and you crack the rocks into little pieces to make something we would call gravel
and then you put that on the roads it's all handwork it's dusty it's heart these were people who were used to the high clear air the himalayas and they were now down and tropics the sub continent dying by the thousands
and so his holiness the dalai lama as time on crochet if he would go from one road crew to another and attend to the spiritual life out of the tibetan people during these very difficult times when they were first finding their way in exile so he was known as the road
gang while
i sometimes when i would look at him seated on the high seat in his monastery with all of his regalia and i would think of him as the road gang lama and sort of chuckle
and of course many of the tibetans who were children at the time were very impressed by him a remember his great kindness and so when they reached adulthood
they would come to him and say please i want to be ordained i want to enter your monastery i want you to train me
he had that kind of impact on them
he was subsequently appointed to be the abbot of the my yana monastery in bodhgaya which is the site where the buddha was enlightened or shakyamuni buddha was enlightened and was the abbot at that monastery up until the time of his staff and he
was in december given the great honor of being one of the to so-called prime ministers in the tibetans system there's a prime minister of the eastern region and one of the western region and they take turns than ascending to the position of gunjan tray and per share which is like being
sort of like the pope
i'm not quite sure how you describe that different from the dalai lama but it's a different position and so tired when per share was given that great honor in december
cut the shirt say
so he was the prime minister the eastern region
he was one of the first llamas to come to the west he went to england and nineteen seventy seven with a group of monks from the gaucho monastery
and one of the things that made him quite remarkable i think for those of us who had a chance to take teachings from him here in this country is that he was very easily able to drop all of his cultural trappings
ah for any of us who've been around the tibetan seeing we know there's lots of this kind of balinese the tibetans come in from before a high lama and they all look like they're doing some form of groveling in kind of this surf and
it doesn't read for them the way it reads for us entire room for yeah i think very quickly understood that all that bowing and scraping stuff should be left in in the our to bed
and he was just very as my daughter would put it very regular
in fact for many of us we had no idea that he was this big deal that he is hidden in the tibetan seen
what we knew was that he had this shining countenance
that he was the demonstration of all of the attributes that way study about and aspire to
in addition to be in a being an incarnation reincarnate lama he was also by virtue of his own training and practice a quite realized being in this lifetime without any reference to any prior lifetimes and so quite roma
lockable because he brought together these various strands of the british tradition is it has flowered in the to seen
i first met him in the winter of nineteen eighty five in bodhgaya
and my first memory of him was sitting in his room in a chair mean the western fly on the wall while many tibetans came to pay their respects and appreciate what everyone's so wild fish a tin can out from under his bed where he was sitting sitting
and offer me a piece of tibetan cheese which would be a great treat but which would be so hard that it would take me an hour or hour and a half to show very small piece of cheese the little bit like figuring out how to chew or rock
but i was quite clear that he was given me something that in his eyes was a great delicacy
so between the hard cheese and the cups of buttered salted t
i thought i
the and i thought he was a nice guy
but i didn't speak or understand any tibetan i really didn't have much sense of who i was with except that i had a very strong
response at the level of a hat response to him he was very open and extremely kind
he basically he and his attendant kringle i took care of me and a group of people that i was with including my thurman
ferrous and took care of us during that time when there were many pilgrims in bodhgaya and i think because of ricochets great kindness i managed not to get deathly ill
and to receive great teachings at that time from the dalai lama on the great text by shanthi deva on the bodhisattva path
so the following june or appreciate came here and did a teaching with category roshi
the town their teachings on the graduated path in the morning and kata hiroshi gave teachings and zen in the afternoon and about thurman ranted and raved about the buddhist tradition and the messianic opportunities for the west
at night and we had a very good time
and that was really the first time i had any real access to time and per se as a teacher
because he was he didn't speak any english and at that time he didn't understand very much english although i suspect now he understood a lot more than he let on to
and i remember in particular a morning lecture he gave at the end of that teaching on the heart sutra which literally blow my mind
because i felt like the heart sutra opened up in some way that i can understand in hearing his commentary that morning
so that was in nineteen eighty six and he came again and nineteen eighty eight and gave teachings on samanta and be passenger
and that was again i think for many of us are very inspiring time
and i remember during that visit when he was here for longer period of time and he met with a number of people who practice here
and
after that visit on three different occasions he talked to me about how much we needed to study more
i actually wrote down some quotes from my notes from my third interview with him on this occasion because he was really taking me to task on behalf of all of us kind of like that he said in a center like zen center where the heart so
audra is chanted daily we must study it
we must be prepared to debate with the scientists otherwise this great tradition will not last
he said you chant the heart sutra very beautifully but changing and beautifully is not enough
and he was somewhat scandalized i think when he would ask various of us if we had read this or that commentary on the heart sutra and we would say commentary there are commentaries is i'm not impressed
so the only real challenge to science and i think what he was really referring to was the scientific formulation of the philosophical system based on materialism
in buddhism and it is the great buddhist philosophers who are able to hold a conversation
i think the language is very interesting the great figures in tibetan buddhism didn't just meditate in caves they started monasteries they gave lectures they wrote commentaries
he said we must do that too he then turned to me and he said well
have you started writing your commentary
when i started gulped
so i remember that there's some way in which is challenge if you will comes up for me now that he has passed over because the time of studying with him in particular is now concluded
gao of course other great teachers there are many great text and commentaries
the path has not at all come to an end because this great practitioner and teacher has passed over
but there's a way in which his passing brings up for me some challenge for us to practice to not waste time
you know it says there's a verse on board that we hit to announce meditation to practice as if our head is on fire
so there's a way in which i guess i feel my head is on fire and i feel the fire a little bit more intensely than ever
a friend of mine said to me this morning you know when a great teacher passes great blessings abound for all of us and we get caught in clinging to the form of the great teacher that is in phenomenal
world
i was very grateful for her reminder
there's a quote from the tao te ching my allowed to rich i have been
thinking about a lot the last few weeks
because for me it describes
it describes term bouchet and describes
several of the great teachers that i have been blessed to study with
the master gives himself up to whatever the moment rings
he knows that he is going to die and he has nothing left to hold onto no illusions in his mop mind no resistances in his body
he doesn't think about his actions they flow from the core of his being
he holds nothing back from life therefore he is ready for death as a man is ready for sleep after a good day's work

at the end of this prayer reverence to you holy elders
there are these three verses
may we be blessed by the superior unexcelled teacher who ripens fortunate disciples complete to accumulations accomplishes the deeds of the past present and future conquerors
that is conquerors of all the binds us all that leads to suffering
and is not different from their qualities and other it is the embodiment of those qualities
may we be blessed by the great holy elders who work for the sake of living beings protecting the doctrine as long as there is existence
maintaining the manner of listeners with the compassion of past present and future conquerors and their spiritual sons and daughters
may the day be blast may the night be blessed may the midday be blessed to
may the blessings of the three jewels bless us throughout the day and the night
so with these words may we dedicate our practices and our dedication to cultivation
to the happiness of all beings to the cessation of suffering for all beings
to the that happiness which is devoid of suffering
may we live our lives
free of too much attachment and too much aversion
and may we dedicate our intention to live as awake as we can be
to the safe passing over and remembrance of this great friend and teacher title over share
a our intention equally bad a tray every day
as well
huh