Before and After

I was browsing through my photos this morning (avoiding work, of course) and suddenly noticed how much has changed in the seven years since I first came to Bir. For example, the white house (below) is OT Rinpoche’s as it was in 2004, and the orange one is the same house as it is now.

As Emily pointed out during the drupchen, walking through the front gate and into the grounds of that immense marble edifice is becoming more and more like wandering into a magical realm, even a buddha realm. But of course, my perception is fixed so tightly on the ordinary and the mundane that I have no genuine experience of what a buddha realm is really like, so I’m just guessing.

Middle age brings with it a certain amount of nostalgia. Most of the teachings I received during the first seven years or so that I called myself a ‘buddhist’ went in one ear and out the other. But I can remember drinking in every story Philip told and storing it away in my mind for a time I might understand it better.

Yesterday I thought about when Dudjom Rinpoche visited Europe and Phil said he had been a little shocked to see that his attendant was generally quite drunk and that he smoked. Then, one day, Phil happened to catch sight of them in a more private moment, and was deeply moved by the pure love and devotion it was clear the attendant felt for his master. Devotion, it seems, covers a multitude of sins.

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