India in less than a day. An exceptional opportunity to learn, mature, and share, courtesy an exceptional teacher who encouraged just that. Shamar Rinpoche passed three days ago, and things are already moving fully-swing: phone calls, updates, airplanes, bodies. Soon, I hope, countless other practitioners will arrive on the subcontinent, paying their respect to this authentic teacher, celebrating his kindness and remembering his qualities. I’m struck by the synchronous events that will bring me there during this time, as well, and fondly remember a highlight of our last meeting together– advice to use during these times of great transition.
On a pleasant day in early spring, I met with Shamarpa on his back porch. He was watering flowers, and we sat down to talk. The conversation was casual, touching on a few subjects: my education and practice. Going to teach the monks in India. Learning more Tibetan while I was there. The future course of Buddhism in the West. The food in Lexington. During a break, one of the numerous birds drawn to the backyard feeder perched itself on a nearby branch and stayed longer than the others. It started whistling. Rinpoche whistled back.
“Look,” he said, “he’s talking.”
A pause. It started singing again and Rinpoche returned the refrains, sometimes adding an extra verse or two; the bird responded in kind.
Half joking, I asked, “What are you saying?”. Rinpoche whistled at the bird again, then paused a moment. He smiled. “Relax! Enjoy yourself!” The bird whistled back and then flew away.