The teacher whose place is in the center-most part of my heart and has been my dearest guide is Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. You may know his biography, Blazing Splendor. These days I’m writing a book about my life with stories of the many masters of realization I met. It’s not an easy task, with memories that bring tears to my eyes.
Here is a rare footage of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, my perfect teacher. He sits in the temple hall at Nagi Gompa hermitage, now a quiet large nunnery overlooking the emerald-green valley of Kathmandu from the southern slope of Shivapuri mountain. The occasion is the yearly retreat of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, held in the late autumn. The time is before the temple building was renovated as you can still see the frescoes painted by Oleshay, the Sherpa master painter.
I remember that day.
There is a strange mixture in the atmosphere of being home with one’s family, sitting in an old Tibetan temple in the Himalayas and a lecture during which the audience is instructed in how to experience the innermost being, the true nature of mind. Rinpoche lives upstairs and is in a very good mood, because he is not only about to do what he does best, but also he fulfills his life purpose, transmitting the ultimate linage of realization.
Upstairs Rinpoche has checked his bag of tricks, some extraordinary, some ordinary small things he uses as instructional tools during the teaching. A thick maroon handkerchief, heavily used. An Indian statue of the Buddha, inside which is a piece of Angulimala, the disciple of the Buddha, a converted murderer of 999 people. A roll of thick handmade paper, two pieces of cardboard. The huge amber rosary given to him by the Karmapa and, most importantly, a little brocade pouch with amrita, the nectar of immortality; the eating of a tiny piece ensures rebirth in the higher realms.
With a satisfied nod, he turns to me and says, “Dzogchen practice is mostly done without a roof. After the lecture, tell everyone to walk off alone on the mountainside, sit down and work with the questions I’m going to give them. Just hearing is no use. Buddha must be discovered from within.”
He allows me to carry his bag.
On the way into the hall, four young people have strewn golden-colored flowers. While turning the corner, we pause to gaze out over the Kathmandu Valley. On this late autumn morning, crisp and sunny, the sky is indescribably blue, the valley below covered with a blanket of white clouds. A vast lake of milk.
In this video, so typical of his direct teaching style, with no hesitation and complete confidence, Rinpoche explains that the basic nature of every living being is identical in essence with that of all buddhas, how to know this for sure, how to see the difference and how to progress from where we are at present.
He was a true master of meditation and realization.
Books by and about Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
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