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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
MATTHIEU RICARD 87 His bestknown work, composed in a cave above Dzogchen Monastery, is The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Composed in a blend of classical and colorful colloquial Tibetan, it is one of the most widely read teaching instructions on the preliminary practices of the Nyingma school. Revered by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, it has been translated into many languages. I feel very fortunate to have been able to collect, over more than thirty years, a large number of oral stories about Patrul Rinpoche that were recounted with great love and enthusiasm by the spiritual heirs of his lineage, some of whom actually met Patrul Rinpoche’s direct disciples. In a culture in which oral transmission still plays an important role, Tibetans are known for their ability to retain and retell stories in great detail. When hearing them, one often has the feeling of witnessing the events as they took place. They provide vivid glimpses into the ways of a highly realized being as he inter acts with people, conveys the Buddhist teachings both formally and informally, and lives his everyday life, which is both astonishing and humble, often quite humorous, and the perfect illustration of inner freedom. patRuL anD the wiDow While Patrul was traveling on foot across the vast plateaus of Golok, north of Dzachukha, he encountered a woman, mother of three, whose husband had just been killed by a changthang dremong, the huge bear of the Tibetan steppes, a beast much more dangerous than the dremong of the forests. Patrul asked the woman where she was going, and she told him she was headed to Dzachukha with her three children to beg for food, as the loss of her husband had left them destitute. Then she began weeping. “Ka-ho! Don’t worry!” said Patrul. “I’ll help you. I’m going to Dzachukha, too. Let’s travel together.” She agreed, and so they walked together for many days. At night, they slept outside beneath the sky. Patrul would nestle one or two of the children into the folds of his sheepskin coat, and the woman would similarly hold the rest. During the day, Patrul would carry