Namo Guru Manjughosaya-Namgyal!

Lama Mark Webber (19Dec2008)

This morning when I woke up, I especially felt the great blessings of Dharma riches and jewels that were literally pumped into my veins by that great teacher. In fact, this discovery is a beautiful mystery - that nothing really got pumped in however much is revealed, and it is available to all; like pealing back layers of gauze. It brings mist to my eyes to consider how deeply shaped and influenced I am by his vast mind, ideals, and principles. Like a bright kernel in my heart and a stupa above my head, I am so often speechless with joy. He was a big guy in so many ways!

Namgyal Rimpoche was a great father to me, always encouraging my talents, not letting me slip into what was easy. One day in Norway, when I was 20 years old, during a walk, Rimpoche asked me what I wanted to be? I replied, "like you, a meditation master!" He said. "That is OK, but not enough!" For one week, everyday we would go for a walk. (Perhaps this was the last few years he would do that: go for walks!) And he would ask me again what I wanted to be. I would reply, "If not a meditation master, then a such and such". Every walk I would offer something of my history, another becoming that I could see myself taking on like a costume: the ‘meditation master’, the ‘doctor’, the ‘acupuncturist’, the ‘chemist’, the ‘biologist’, etc. And everyday he would say, "That is OK, good". Then he talked about the occupation’s merits, "But try again!" At the end of one week, he turned to me and said, "Mark, become no-thing!" My god! What a momentous instruction! Like a nail driven through a wall. I really heard it. An instruction I have kept close to my heart.

He was remarkable. A few words of his, here and there, of pith and essence, support and unsupport, testing and retesting, could shift your being deeply. He raised the banner of question and determination, challenge and enquiry, love and wrath, compassion and bright clarity throughout my being. He was great. He constantly challenged everything - everything you were holding on to. He always taught and demonstrated the essence, non-clinging awareness, one minute with fierce determination, the next moment with love and humility, the next with pride and mystery, then with abandon and humour. Above all he kept raising the banner of victory for all who had the eyes to see. Namgyal Rimpoche had the highest of ideals and some quirky notions, some I don’t even agree with to this day, but that does not matter a drop. What was really important was that he did not miss a moment of awareness of Dharma, probing to the very heart of the matter. If you did well, there was always more. If there were profound experiences, then there were more discoveries to be unearthed! And so too, he never stopped questing and discovering. That was so beautiful to witness. I enjoyed watching the joy in his voice and face when he unearthed another gem of realization, another way to teach liberation, a new sparkle of the natural state. Namgyal loved to teach, as he said to me before he died, "That is my duty". He was very compassionate, so awake and so utterly human.

No phenomena and no Dharma was ever stale to his mind. He had the most wondrous ability to cut away all chaff and penetrate to the essence. He drove right to the heart of liberation and understood in a continuous stream the unity of the path and the fruit, the factors of enlightenment. He kept raising the banner of victory, often fearlessly, showing the investigative mind unified with mindfulness and awareness. He was a great explorer. He blessed everything in his path - sometimes by dissolving everything in his wake! Yes, he was fearless, he understood that liberation is not about institution building but both building and dissolving. He really practised and manifested non-clinging. And that could frighten the boots off many and bring anger to some! He lived the ancient tradition of the bhikkhu, the wanderer in search for truth and to teach freedom; always more discoveries to be made.

Rimpoche did not make it easy for some of us to meditate, but that made us stronger. He always pointed to awareness, not to the meditation, even while teaching the most arcane points of technique. He was a tracker and a hunter of detail to bring out the majesty of God. Rimpoche was a big collector too! He loved to collect things, so to better gain understanding and share the amazing splendour of nature and the crafts of beings. He displayed and discussed the joy of life and the wonders of all that is; detail, detail, detail. He brought forth a universe of gifts for all manner of people and creatures to experience, but above all he showed, from the moment I met him, the vast Guru Mind, Buddha nature.

I remember the first time I met him. In the early 1970s Chorpel Dolma, my first Dharma teacher invited Rimpoche to bless Savaka House in Toronto. I was vacuuming and tidying up the teaching space when a tall man entered. There was instant recognition, a smile and a warm hello, "Oh, you, hello there". As if we had known each other for many years. But what really struck me was the feel of his mind in my experience - like water merging with water it was like tasting a clear bright crystal field. There was no doubt at all in my mind that this being was highly awake and I wished to study and learn from him as much as possible. I had been waiting a whole year!

Rimpoche was very human in his quirks and ways, yet with the combination of extraordinary awakeness, knowledge, and wisdom he was an astonishing presence. He lived an awake vivid life without stories and rarely referred to his past. Liberation flowed naturally in his cells. This was a palpable experience for us and was not something he had to think about. One day, after a class in Rossland, he turned to me and told me how much he enjoyed teaching from his direct experience and not having to read, rely on ancient texts or the writings of other teachers.

His legacy will live on not because of anything particular at all; no institution, no religious dogma, and no scientific theory. But like a perfume or essential oil, so gossamer and refined - a legacy and dedication to vast exploration, to the joy of knowledge and sensing, to discovery, to visiting all places and worlds, to challenging every idea and tradition, to non- sectarianism, to fierce or gentle compassion based on realization, to contemplative mind and continuum of awareness - these are some of the main notes of the oil that lubricates this precious thread. Like Namgyal Rimpoche, any attempt to organize, define, ritualize or structure it, will of course deaden this spirit.

I rarely ever think about what I have learned from Namgyal Rimpoche or stories about him. Now that I am prompted to do so, a few simple words emerged. Via this precious transmission I have grown to love blowing the conch shell of Dharma and discovery, for as many as possible, in the midst of confusion and misery, joy and laughter.

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