Author Topic: FOOTPRINTS ON THE JOURNEY - The Diary of Khenpo Sodargye  (Read 1677 times)

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FOOTPRINTS ON THE JOURNEY - The Diary of Khenpo Sodargye
« on: January 08, 2016, 05:36:00 pm »
- The Diary of Khenpo Sodargye
At long last, I have finally completed this manuscript. I can’t help letting out a deep sigh of relief.
That this diary now makes its debut is not without twists and turns; after a good initial start it nearly didn’t make it. This bride-to-be “young maiden” has been hiding out for almost two years. It is only now that she, after nearly turning into a fading beauty, gingerly and bashfully, steps out to meet her future “parents-in-law”. But even at this moment, my mind is still vacillating. I can’t decide if I should have it printed. Many years from now, I am afraid, I may be plagued with regret over a decision made in a moment of weakness.
The genesis of this diary came from my reading of Opening the Door to the Mind: Training on the Graded Path to Enlightenment by Gyalwa Lodro Gyaltsen Palzang while I was staying in Xiamen. At that time I was free from trivial responsibilities and had the leisure to read and savor very much this wonderful teaching. But to hoard such a Dharma feast selfishly runs against my sense and sensibility. Why not select a few excellent passages daily from it and share them with others? It would benefit not only myself but also others. That is, one gets twice the results with half the effort. Why not go ahead with it?
Thus the rudimentary form of this diary started to take shape. Yet serendipitously, I was so enthralled by Opening the Door to the Mind that I could not resist translating it from beginning to end. Having finished that, I ran into an awkward situation as to what to do with the bulk entries in my “diary.” I tried to resolve the dilemma by revising it, but never got the job done due to my indolence and limited vigor.
I found some high-sounding justifications for myself: The purpose of my writing a diary is not for winning public applause or bouquets of flowers; rather, it is for reflection on my own conduct, thoughts, and everything I do, such that I could keep my efforts going and make progress. Why put so much emphasis on external perfections? What’s more, as the adage says: “Reviewing old material, one gains new insights;” by reviewing the entries once more, there shouldn’t be any harm but there could be many benefits. Why worry and toil over changing the diary beyond recognition? Armed with my own rational excuses, all of a sudden, I felt relieved.
Although called a “Diary” in the beginning, the entries of this book were not necessarily made on a daily basis. Sometimes I had to make up for a few days’ content because of a stagnation of thoughts resulting from being overly busy. At other times my mind would bubble with ideas that rushed over me like pounding waves or the galloping of wild horses, and could not be contained on the pages. My pen, trying to keep up with the torrent of inspiration, would jot down in a flowing and bold style many days’ entries in one stretch.
In the early phase of this work, ample time allowed me to finish articles of a few hundred words quickly with seemingly little effort; this made me very confident and proud of myself. However, after returning to the Gar Five Sciences Buddhist Academy in the second half of the year, I was immediately ensnared by many heavy and trifling matters. My thoughts were jumbled; it became almost impossible for me to sort out clear thinking for even one diary entry. I can’t describe the frustrations over the feeling that my inspiration had dried up. It was like riding a tiger and I found it hard to dismount. What’s more, there was a leap month of October in that year, a realization that almost made me throw away my beloved pens, if not for the encouragement from many Dharma friends. Biting the bullet, I trudged on, but I felt like a destitute person being chased by creditors, running here and there to hide, but finding no way to flee from the ever growing pile of debt.
I was just too exhausted to deal with it, and so had to leave it half done. Yet as someone with a strong affinity for writing, I managed to fabricate an excuse to get out of this embarrassing situation: At some point in the future, when not too busy in the second half of a year, I would catch up with the unfinished part of my diary. I even thought of a perfect title for my diary-to-come—365 Days Out of 730 Days. But in truth, finding a not-too-busy half-year in the rest of my life is almost out of the question. So my wish was never realized. This draft of my incomplete diary ended up at the bottom of the drawer, sinking into deep sleep for nearly two years.
Then, on a bitterly cold winter day—January 7th, 2004—the Master of the Three Worlds, the Protector of all beings and our most beloved Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel, H.H. Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche, left this world. Totally caught off guard by his sudden departure, every student was stricken with utter sorrow, grieving even more than when losing relatives. My frail body collapsed at this heavy blow, almost unable to recover; the sense of total loss whipped again and again on my already painful heart. Long after the Cremation Ceremony, I could find nothing to fill my hollow and blank mind. Our teacher chose to show us what impermanence is by this stark reality, which will be forever engraved in our bones and hearts. I was shaken and made keenly aware of the impermanence of all phenomena as never before.
“Wait no more!” This calling started ringing in my ear, tapping at my heart that had almost gone numb. It dawned on me that I could not keep on making long-term plans and waiting for one of these days to complete the diary. Retrieving the dust-covered draft and flipping through the pages, I was absent-minded until I caught sight of some teachings from our revered teacher in it. How lucky that I had written them down and how precious these entries seemed, now that our teacher had left us! If I could make the diary available soon, wouldn’t it help many of us to struggle through this chilly and dark period? Thus, without much fanfare, I made simple edits to my words and sent it off on the road hurriedly—incomplete as it was in many aspects. What would be the fate awaiting this diary? I cannot but worry about its future.
Assessed from the viewpoint of writing, this humble little diary is nothing when lined up against the works of numerous professional authors in the world. As to the command of Chinese phraseology, I cannot compare with even an ordinary Han Chinese, let alone with those of great masters behind whom I could only be left in the dust. This diary, on all accounts, can only be qualified as a faithful recorder which takes glimpse after glimpse into the adventures of my mind; it faithfully reflects the thinking process, the everyday life, the perceptions, the daily encounters with the world and its people, of an ordinary Buddhist. Lacking any unprecedented idea, profound or complicated theory or shocking proclamation, this diary can only be likened to a plain musical movement. Spontaneously assembled from a few fragmentary pieces, it nonetheless plays out the vicissitudes, bit by bit, of my life throughout the year. Leaving marks on life’s vast desert plain, it is like the footprints that trace the actual passage of my time.
You may find in this diary, besides being commonplace or merely echoing others’ words, some of my judgmental views and criticisms of others. They contrast glaringly to my own advice to others, for example, to not become too distracted by the outer world, and to not get involved in sectarianism, turning only inward to the mind, and so on. What’s more, I also noticed the over-usage of aggressive statements and little mention of my own faults. Some of the quotes or teachings—my favorites—that I recommended with enthusiasm may not strike a chord in others.
For each practitioner, various experiences may arise while walking on the spiritual path. Some prefer to keep such experiences to themselves; their silence provides me with the exact opportunity to show off. Unwilling to be neglected, I am here prattling like a melon salesman extolling the sweetness of my fruit. In Compendium of Trainings, it says: “In the bark of sugarcane, there’s no sweetness, no matter how one chews on it. Should one teach Dharma without going through deep meditation, he is just like the bark of the sugar cane”, and: “It’s a fault to babble like an entertainer giving a show, it does not provide any service as you might have imagined, you may actually diminish your own merit” Here I, the “entertainer,” ignoring advice and overrating myself, present the lazy lady’s foot-wrap, or “sugarcane bark” of mine, as an offering.
Nonetheless, I do know my limitations. If you ask me to make recommendations about my own work, no doubt the translation and commentary on The Words of My Perfect Teacher and the commentary on A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life are at the top of the list. But how can the discursive thoughts of an ordinary person be compared to the wisdom of the supreme beings? So, if this diary does not interest you at all, please do not hesitate to leave it on the shelf. I really don’t want to take on the blame of wasting others’ time.
On the other hand, should you like to read something leisurely during breaks of your practice, leafing through the pages of this diary may be more meaningful than spending time on worldly entertainment that caters to desire, hatred, and delusion. Furthermore, if this little book arouses in you or those around you even only momentarily the respect for the Three Jewels or compassion for sentient beings, all my hard work will have not been in vain.
Here I am making these silent prayers:
Manifested as a beam of light this diary may be,
The wild wish for it to match the brilliance of the sun or the moon I do not have.
Only, like an inconspicuous little star in one moonless dark night,
May its feeble light shine in the gloomy darkness!
Manifested as cool comfort this diary may be,
The wild wish for it to sweep away summer heat as the autumn gale I do not have.
Only, like a nameless little tree on a sweltering hot day,
May its shade provide cool shelter for beings tormented by heat!
Manifested as a medicine this diary may be,
The wild wish for it to be a panacea to cure all diseases I do not have.
Only, like a soothing palliative for the jittery and the restless,
May it offer peace and comfort during a time of distraught!
Oh wild geese, high in the sky,
Flying back north in the spring
Could you please tell me:
Will my wishes ever come true?
I dedicate this book to all my Dharma friends who, like me, will forever remember our most revered Guru!
Written with reverence at Larung Gar Five Sciences Buddhist Academy
On the birthday of H.H. Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche
January 3rd, Year of JiaShen

To be continued...

« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 05:53:51 pm by UK Bodhi Association »


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