Death seems to be sweeping with a broad stroke these days… Icons of eras not yet ended, teachers who inspire, musicians who played the soundtrack of my coming up…
It is a time to let go.
One of the most inspiring Buddhist teachers in my life, Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, passed on Tuesday — which “happened to be” one of the most auspicious days in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. I was devastated… I had plans to see him upon his visit to the area next month. Ever since the first time I sat across the table from him, the questions started forming. There was so much I still want to ask him, and his availability was like no other Lama who I have spent time with. He was wild and honest and real. Real as you need to be. Sometimes so real and gritty he was stifled by the dinosaurs of the lineage. I had to laugh at myself when I thought, but there was so much to ask, and he had so much to teach, because I know… I know without a doubt that those teachings will not disappear, and I hold the answers to all of my questions… I just need to keep reminding myself.
And I saw just how selfish I am. I instantly thought of myself. I thought of what I will miss…
I thought of the loss of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, I imagined the gut wrenching feeling of him in the formless realm and me stuck here. He is older than 80 now. When he saved me from myself at twenty, he seemed like he was a million years old and yet filled with all of the innocence and wonder of a child. Showing me that age is ageless and you can be as young as you allow or as old as you really are or even older than you wish you were in any point in your evolution. Khenpo is ageless.
I thought of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche who alongside Khenpo Karthar, pulled me out of the pain and suffering of New York City with one hug. His boundless love and humor drew me to the Dharma and into his open arms. He is, not only a magnificent teacher, but also an incredible father who has raised three daughters, one of whom might just be my teacher too…
Both Bardor Tulku and Khenpo Karthar have been like fathers to me and I don’t know what my life would be without the two of them in it.
And then, I thought of my own mortality. Which of course is the most pressing, but least scary of all.
Yesterday I watched a video of Traleg Rinpoche returning to Tibet to the monastery of his Root Guru Thrangu Rinpoche. He was traveling with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and a host of lamas and students to this sacred place, and the film captures it all. Through the tears filling my eyes, I saw and felt his overwhelming heart connection to the land and the people, I could feel their anticipation and see their joy at such an auspicious visit from Rinpoche. Such an exquisite culture and love for each other and life… I was floored by the beauty, sadness and joy… only to be reminded this morning; that the 1300 year-old Thrangu Monastery, was completely devastated by the Quinghai earthquake in April 14, 2010. 2,698 people dead, 270 missing, and 12,125 injured, many from the monastery.
It is always a time to let go.
Letting go… The story of my life, really. I spent so much time letting go of the things that I felt I needed to clutch, or wished I could have, or prayed would appear and never did… that I had to let go of the identity that I had stepped into — which related so much to letting go. I had to let go of letting go.
Then the news came in yesterday that a local musician passed away also on this very auspicious day. It was another devastating blow. As the status messages roll up the screen on facebook, I wondered how his family must be feeling. I thought to myself. Wow, it must be so intense and awful to be the family of a public figure when they pass.
And then it occurred to me. I am one of those people. I will one day have to face the same fate. One day I will have to see the status’ roll through the newsfeed, one day I too will be that family begging the public for some privacy.
I happened upon the official announcement on this musician’s fan page, and his sweet young daughter had one thing to say… “Please don’t spread that there is any news at all. Wed just like to be left alone. Thanks : )”
And the posts go on….
Despite the pleas…
I might have to go in to a deep retreat if I outlive the public figure in my family. I am already regularly confused for his booking agent, manager, PR agent etc… on a regular basis.
What will happen when I die?
Some people will miss me, some people will be sad.
Some will remember me, with all the good and less of the bad.
It usually happens that way…
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