spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Writings | Health/Healing | Sogyal Rinpoche | Tibetan part 1 | next   

Excerpted from The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Copyright © 1992 by Sogyal Rinpoche. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"My own first experience of death came when I was about seven."

Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying,
Part 1

My own first experience of death came when I was about seven. We were preparing to leave the eastern highlands to travel to central Tibet. Samten, one of the personal attendants of my master, was a wonderful monk who was kind to me during my childhood. He had a bright, round, chubby face, always ready to break into a smile. He was everyone's favorite in the monastery because he was so good-natured. Every day my master would give teachings and initiations and lead practices and rituals. Toward the end of the day, I would gather together my friends and act out a little theatrical performance, reenacting the morning's events. It was Samten who would always lend me the costumes my master had Worn in the morning. He never refused me.

Then suddenly Samten fell ill, and it was clear he was not going to live. We had to postpone our departure. I will never forget the two weeks that followed. The rank smell of death hung like a cloud over everything, and whenever I think of that time, that smell comes back to me. The monastery was saturated with an intense awareness of death. This was not at all morbid or frightening, however; in the presence of my master, Samtenís death took on a special significance. It became a teaching for us all.

Samten lay on a bed by the window in a small temple in my masters residence. I knew he was dying. From time to time I would go in and sit by him. He could not talk, and I was shocked by the change in his face, which was now so haggard and drawn. I realized that he was going to leave us and we would never see him again. I felt intensely sad and lonely.

Samtenís death was not an easy one. The sound of his labored breathing followed us everywhere, and we could smell his body decaying. The monastery was overwhelmingly silent except for this breathing. Everything focused on Samten.

next ->