In every moment we should be reminded of the impermanence of the conditioned world. In every meditation we reflect on Buddha’s insight that everything is impermanent. But sometimes it becomes more real.
Yes, everything is impermanent, even our teachers. One week ago we might have eaten with him, gotten teachings from him, received his blessing or been given new tasks. Forty-five minutes earlier he might have called us. Seconds before the unbelievable happened, he might have sat with us at the breakfast table. During the past week, I heard about all these events. Everybody knew what he said, did, and pointed to, when they saw him for the last time. His wisdom—his vivid, sharp mind—was far-reaching and highly welcomed by so many beings throughout the world.
The only thing nobody could understand were his clear messages that he will pass away. Impermanence, of course, but not here and now. Once he said, “I will go into pension” (this most beautiful pension in the Pure Lands). Once he said, “This is my last dinner,” but nobody understood his words. He clearly knew what was going to happen, prepared for it for more than a year, kept his secretaries busy selling private properties, founding organizations, sorting things, and gave his last advice. He thanked the students and gave them the most lasting thing—his teachings, in written and oral form. During the last year he wrote two books while experiencing, for the first time, autumn, winter and spring in his favorite place in the USA. The two weekends before his death he taught longer than ever, fulfilling the wishes of his students. He even chose to die with them–not alone, in his room, but surrounded by those close to him. In this way he gave them his last gift–the experience of impermanence. He was full of trust that they would understand it –a bit cruel in the first moment but a most beautiful honor when seen from a distance.
He was a great teacher: unpredictable, with a radiantly sharp mind, enjoying life and good style. He was the one who could see in people’s minds, take hold of their trips, and dissolve them in a second of insight. The ones who trusted him developed fast. One quality that one could see in all his students during the last week was a clear, strong, practical core of open-mindedness, flexibility and kindness.
A great teacher has passed away, the one who gave us Karmapa and who offered his life for the continuation of our lineage. May this lesson of impermanence wake us up. May every moment be lived to the fullest. May we be with our teachers when we can. And may we realize the teachings for the benefit of all beings.
I thank you, Rinpoche, for all that you gave us and for the gift of the here and now!
And please, please come back soon….
Diamond Way Buddhism
June 17th, 2014