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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
FORUM | UNSEEN REALIZED BEINGS 63 we actually are. Tara and her compassion are not separate from the ground of our being. A useful reference here is a com- mentary by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche called A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar, which skillfully and compassionately takes apart the assumption that only space-time perception in the ordinary, conventional, empirical sense is really real. BUDDHADHARMA: If we’re not able to see or touch them, how do we know when we’re in relationship with these nonmate- rial beings? LAMA TSULTRIM ALLIONE: I’ve had differ- ent experiences of these beings over the years. The latest one was in Bhutan last November. I was climbing up to Taksang (Tiger’s Nest), the famous pilgrimage place there, and I started to get really exhausted and dizzy. It’s quite an intense climb. I was with about sixty people, my students mainly, and our guide suggested I go to Machig Labdrön’s cave instead, which was on the way and not as dif- ficult. She was a teacher in Tibet in the eleventh century and I have a strong kar- mic connection with her. So everyone else went to Taksang and I went to Machig’s cave. I just sat there and thought, well, I probably have a cou- ple of hours to meditate here. Then all of a sudden, there was a palpable presence of Machig Labdrön. It was as though my body was imbued with bliss and empti- ness at the same time, and then she was there, this kind of white-light presence in front of me. It was her form, but it didn’t look like what you’d see in a Tibetan thangka. She looked like a white-light being, and she transmitted certain teach- ings to me, a very specific meditation working with the channels and winds of the subtle body for longevity, which I wrote down. It was all so intense— certainly as intense as any human encoun- ter I have ever had. Now when I do this practice she gave me, I recall sitting in that cave. I kind of go back there and find her again, through that gate. I think that’s the power and importance of pil- grimage. These pilgrimage places are like gateways into these other dimensions; that’s why we go there and practice there. ROB PREECE: There is something for me about how I align or attune myself to a particular emanation or manifestation of these beings. If I can open myself to that—and this could happen through meditation or when I’m teaching or in different locations where I find a gate- way—something very definite begins to come through that is out of the ordinary. There are a number of ways I experi- ence that. One is a felt sense—my body and my whole being become awakened to something, or there’s some sort of opposite | Tara 7, 2009