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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 59 |summer 2005 How do you understand your rebirth as a female in England? Well, it wouldn’t have been very much use being reborn in Tibet. I mean, look what happened to Tibet. It made a lot more sense, I think, to be born in the West. Why I got reborn as a female, I don’t know, but I think in my past life I must have had some sympathy for the female. But I certainly wasn’t a female last time, which was why I felt so strange in a female body when it first came. When “it” first came? I mean that I didn’t understand why I was in this body. When I heard that our bodies change when we got older, I thought, “Oh good, now I’ll get back to being a boy again.” But it didn’t happen like that. Now I’m glad that I’m female. I think we females have a lot of work to do for other females. So it’s good to have a female body this time. So what do you know of your past life? Not much. I’m not really interested. Definitely I was a disciple of my lama, which is why faith arose on just hearing his name. The day of my twenty- first birthday, he came to the Young Lamas’ Home School, where I was teaching English. I was very excited. But when I went in to see him, I was so frightened that I just stared at his feet, at his shoes. I couldn’t even look at him. So I had no idea what he looked like, whether he was old or young, fat or thin. I just knew he was my lama. I must be the only one to ever ask a lama to give them refuge without knowing what the lama looked like. When I did look at him, I had a very strong feeling of meeting someone whom I had known for a long time. It felt like, “Oh, how lovely to see you again.” The deepest thing inside of me had suddenly taken external form. It was very strong and very simple at the same time. I never doubted, for one second, that this was my lama. Nor did he. So when I said I wanted to take refuge, he just said, “Of course,” even though we had just met. And when I said I wanted to become a nun he said, “Of course, of course! What else would you like to do?” He also said that in past lives he was always able to keep me very close to him, but that in this lifetime, as I had a female body, it would be more difficult. It was very painful when my lama died, incredi- bly painful. He was only forty-eight, so we weren’t expecting it. How did he die? He had heart problems, and he died in Bhutan. When Tibetan lamas die they stay in a realization of clear light nature of the mind for several days or weeks, and so he was in samadhi for quite some time while they worked out where his body would be taken. During that time the body is sitting up in meditation and it becomes very youthful and beautiful. Did you see him like that? I didn’t, because he was in Bhutan, but I have seen other bodies in samadhi; the body often gives off a very beautiful perfume and doesn’t decay at all. It remains perfect. And apparently, though I have never myself felt it, if you feel the heart region, it’s still warm. The brain is dead, but the heart region is still warm and the body stays very beauti- ful. If you pray and meditate in the presence of a person in samadhi, it’s a great blessing because at that time the lama’s mind is in a state of the clear light nature of death. Tibetans are very skillful at that. They have many teachings on how to die consciously, and how to remain in the clear light. It works – you can see it. They can stay in that state for hours, days, or weeks. What is it like for you to work with your teacher in his next incarnation, now that he’s a different person, a young boy? He’s not such a young boy anymore; he’s twenty- four. But he is a different person. He’s very quiet, PhoTo:ThayerCaSe