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I feel honoured and so very grateful to have been able to serve Bhante as secretary in the last few years of his life. Clear and bright was his mind right up until his death, full of warmth and kindness for those that came into his sphere.
Though we were generations apart he always took interest in what interested me and our work together was so very smooth and straightforward, which is impressive given Bhante’s poor eyesight and my general lack of secretarial skills, I often felt that Bhante at 92 or 93 was working at a pace I could just about keep up with!
Some of the abiding memories of my time with Bhante will be greeting him each morning and being greeted in reply with a cheerful “good morning Sthanashraddha”. Watching Bhante reach behind him, as he turned to sit, his hand wafting the air, until he took hold of the arm of his chair, before dropping down into his seat. Taking many a lunch with him, always in silence, and standing to one side as he got up after lunch partly out of love and devotion and partly just incase he might stumble…..he never did!
On one or two special occasions I helped him tie offering scarves around blessed objects, or look through the contents of a box of treasures, passing each item to him as he recalled stories and memories of things, and him ‘showing me’ White Tara Tormas he had been given by Dhardo Rinpoche.
If I wove a basket out of willow he delighted in its construction, if I made a shawl on my loom he beamed at its colour and texture, once I designed and made a temple shrine to Padmasambhava and he circumambulated it three times to get a good look at it and of course worship the great Guru!
Intellectually I can understand people talking about Bhante carrying on in our actions and even him abiding everywhere now he is not tied to his body, I’m so glad he lived a full and complete life, and died well, passing quickly from a cheerful old age peacefully and painlessly. In my heart though intellectual understanding means little right now, for the time being I simply feel a great sadness mixed with gratitude, I miss him so.
And my final memory, will stay with me for years. The weight of my teacher pressing on my right shoulder as I carried him to the grave.
As Milarepa sang, “Their meeting and their parting mark the change of time… may we meet again in prosperity and boon”.